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You Should Ask Whose Property Is It February 27, 2014

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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Even for someone who learned at their grandmother’s knee that what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable the knowledge that some things are mine and some things aren’t came early.  The whole idea of freedom rests upon the idea that within the wider world which is society there is a smaller circle that outlines what is personal and what is communal.  Even in monasteries where monks have taken vows of poverty they refer to my cell, my candle and my prayers.

Private property is an essential ingredient of a free society.

Two of the greatest rewards derived from the study of History are the ability to build upon the achievements of others and the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.  One of the greatest calamities caused by the failure to study History is a lack of context.

Most people live their lives as if History began the day they were born and they forever live in a constantly flowing and ever changing now.  George Orwell said in his epic dystopian novel 1984 that, “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

The Progressives captured the majority of American education long ago and have taught generations of Americans that capitalism is bad and socialism is good.  They have also taught children since at least the 1950s that America has been a grasping imperialistic power that has prospered by taking from others.  We are seeing the fruits of this propaganda today.

Instead of memorizing the Declaration of Independence, our children have memorized the outlandish theories of Al Gore.  Instead of learning the truth they have been indoctrinated with an inconvenient truth that is inconvenient because it isn’t true. They have been taught from History books that have more about Nelson Mandela than they do about George Washington.  And this is not a new thing.  I am in my 60s and I was thrown out of public schools for standing up for capitalism by people who were pushing socialism.

If we want to recapture the future we have to recapture the present so we can recapture the past.  Today those of us who believe in limited government, individual freedom and economic opportunity live as subjects in a land dominated and occupied by people who act as if America should pay a penalty or do penance for being the greatest country to have ever existed.  We must regain and preserve our heritage of knowledge by regaining knowledge of our History or it will be erased from the consciousness of our children and replaced with the inconvenient lies of a shabby Progressive future.  A future where the sun is setting for the West rising in the East, and a paternal government seeks to take the place of god.

If we want to save America we must begin at the beginning.  Most people think the Constitution is the beginning.  Even though our Progressive masters seek to reinterpret it to bring about our end it wasn’t our beginning.  Before the Constitution came The Declaration of Independence.  This is the seminal document proclaiming to the world a new nation not ruled by kings had appeared upon the stage.  This Declaration did not spring freshly from the imagination of Thomas Jefferson.  It was not born in a vacuum.   Jefferson was a student of Philosophy and History.

When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he built many of the ideas on the works of John Locke one of the greatest influences on the Framers.  Locke had written in The Second Treatise of Civil Government, “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions…”

This in turn inspired George Mason to write in The Virginia Declaration of Rights which was published just before the Declaration of Independence in 1776, “That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

Today the concept of private property is out of fashion as our collectivist rulers try to build a classless society on such misunderstood and elastic phrases as the Pursuit of Happiness and the Necessary and Proper Clause.

Looking at the works and words of our founders and of those who framed the Constitution it is plain to see that the phrase Pursuit of Happiness was everywhere used as meaning the right to own, control and use private property which brings us to economics.

In a capitalistic system people own, control and use their own private property for their own devices.   The opposite of that is Communism which advocates the state ownership of all property.  Portraying itself as half way in between is Socialism which seeks to extract a portion of the rewards of private property for the benefit of those who do not own it.  A malignant form of socialism with a capitalist veneer, Fascism advocates private ownership and total state control of its use.

Looking at capitalism we see the miracle that was the United States.  In just a little over 150 years we rose from being 13 impoverished, war ravaged states loosely bound together into a colossus that strode upon the world stage saving freedom first from fascism and then from communism.

One of the founders of the Soviet nightmare Leon Trotsky said of the communistic system he helped create, “In a country where the sole employer is the state. Opposition means death by slow starvation.  The old principle, he who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.”

And although Socialists try to play the part of sentimental reformers who are only out to help the children their ultimate agenda shows that they are in reality merely a stalking horse for their communist big brother.  One socialist site puts it this way, “In Socialism, the laborer is the direct manager of their means of production, and receives the whole of their production. In Capitalism, the laborer is dominated by a Capitalist, who directs production and sets wages.”

As for the Fascists their program may sound familiar, “We ask that government undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate opportunity for employment and earning a living. The activities of the individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community, but must take place within the confines and be for the good of all. Therefore, we demand: … an end to the power of financial interest. We demand profit sharing in big business. We demand a broad extension of care for the aged. We demand … the greatest possible consideration of small business in the purchases of the national, state, and municipal governments. In order to make possible to every capable and industrious [citizen] the attainment of higher education and thus the achievement of a post of leadership, the government must provide an all-around enlargement of our system of public education…. We demand the education at government expense of gifted children of poor parents…. The government must undertake the improvement of public health — by protecting mother and child, by prohibiting child labor — by the greatest possible support for all groups concerned with the physical education of youth. [W]e combat the … materialistic spirit within and without us, and are convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only proceed from within on the foundation of The Common Good Before the Individual Good.”

Ask yourself where are we today?  The government issues regulations at the mind numbing rate of 68 per day.  According to a study by the American Action Forum, regulations that went into effect in 2013 cost Americans $112 billion – or $447 million for each of the 251 days the federal government was open.  This study also predicts that the regulatory burden will increase to $143 billion in 2014.  Who controls the property you own?  Who reaps the benefit of your labor?  Tax Freedom Day, the day after which you have worked enough to pay your taxes and can now start working for yourself gets later each year.  In 2013 it was April 18th, five days later than it was in 2012.

F. A. Hayek tells us in The Constitution of Liberty, “True coercion occurs when armed bands of conquerors make the subject people toil for them, when organized gangsters extort a levy for ‘protection,’ when the knower of an evil secret blackmails his victim, and, of course, when the state threatens to inflict punishment and to employ physical force to make us obey its commands.”

John Locke told us, “Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.”  He also said, “All wealth is the product of labor,” and “Government has no other end, but the preservation of property.”  These are the bedrocks upon which our system was originally built.  The next time you receive your pay look at the deductions.  Ask yourself for whose benefit do you toil?  Then look around you and think of the taxes you pay, the regulations you must follow, and the rules you must obey; then ask yourself, whose property is it?

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Why We Need Capitalists February 20, 2014

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At one time in America most people were financially independent.  I don’t mean by this that most people were wealthy.  What I mean is that they worked for themselves as opposed to working for someone else as a hired laborer.  People were farmers, or craftsmen, trappers, or frontiersmen.  Thomas Jefferson pictured America as a republic based upon the yeoman farmer.

That day has passed.  Today most people who work are employed by someone and draw a wage. As a matter of fact in America today it is not overstating the matter to say that of those who earn their own living the vast majority are exclusively wage earners.

Combine this with the reality of our modern infatuation with democracy and it is no wonder that the majority of voters continue to elect people who are pro-worker and anti-free enterprise.  This is aptly reflected in our labor laws and the radicalized National Labor Relations Board.  It is also reflected in the progressive income tax, the fact that corporate income is taxed twice, once as income to the corporation and secondly as income when the same money is distributed to shareholders.  It is further manifested in the bewildering array of regulations that spew forth from Washington strangling business in red tape.

The masses of wage earners have fallen prey to the siren songs of demagogues.  These pied pipers point to the visible difference between the rewards earned by those who risk their capital and their personal efforts to start and build an enterprise and those who earn wages to work for those enterprises.  These differences in reward are labeled as unfair.  It is either intimated or stated directly that those who start enterprises and build their bigger reward have done so by taking from those who earn a smaller reward by working for the enterprises they build.

We hear endlessly about a fair deal, a level playing field and building ladders to the middle class.  Government control is offered as a gateway to utopia where those who earn too much give to those who earn too little; from each according to their ability to each according to their need.  The Svengalis of redistribution seek to mesmerize people removed from anything except doing a proscribed task for an agreed upon amount.  They teach that free enterprise is the cause of the unfairness portrayed as America’s legacy.  Our state controlled schools drum the same message into our children until it become to them common sense.  The subservient media sing the same song in movies, on TV and in the news.

Building upon this multipronged barrage of propaganda the worship of democracy kicks in to warp our Republic.  When we combine those who succumb to the collectivist delusion among the wage earners with government workers and those who are living off the dole and we have a solid majority dedicated to restricting freedom to gain security.  A bargain our Founders warned us leads to having neither.

This is where we stand today.  The entrepreneur is looked down upon as a parasite on the economic life of the wage earners.  Entrepreneurs are portrayed in movies, on TV, and by our leaders as grasping schemers who care nothing for the environment or their fellow man, and the only reason they aren’t throwing grandma off the cliff is because someone is watching.  Try to remember the last time Outside of an Ayn Rand novel or movie that you saw capitalists portrayed as anything positive in America.  It is generally believed by the low information voters that the only way people get rich is to steal from the poor.

This is a trap; a trap that swallowed Russia and held it captive for generations, and a trap that impoverished Eastern Europe and turned China into one big internment camp.  Those who spent most of the 20th century sitting in the dirt eating leaves as a result of their campaign against free enterprise have broken their chains and are today the Tigers of East Asia and the power houses made of BRIC.

Entrepreneurs are necessary.  They are the engine that makes the wheels of innovation turn.  They are the ones willing to take a risk.  They will turn away from the guaranteed wage and the benefits all our parents taught us were necessary for a good life.  They are the ones willing to take the chance and hazard their all for something others can’t see.  They are the ones who build the organizations for others to work within. Without them economies stagnate, suffocate, and die.

If the government were to take over every business in America and ensure that every wage earner could continue to earn their daily bread does anyone think this would be the America that we have known?  Does anyone believe it would be the America that grew from thirteen impoverished war weary states on the edge of civilization into the greatest power the world has ever known?  This has been tried before and everywhere it has ever been tried it has failed.  Don’t believe the political savants who tell us this time it will work.  The ones who say they will do it differently and whose every program proves they are doing it the same.

In Russia the government actually took ownership of everything, and then ran it all into the ground.  In Italy and Germany they tried it another way.  They allowed for private ownership but with strict government control.  Here in our American version we are following the Italian and German path with crony capitalism building fortunes on political access.  Our stock market does not move in response to innovation and enterprise it moves in tandem with government policies. The Too-Big-to-Fails make the cronies at the top wealthy as they plunder the assets, buy back the stock, and enrich their friends with options.  All while making sizable campaign donations along the way to those who make it all legal.  Then when the bubbles burst they get bailed out and the tax payers foot the bill.

If we are to survive let alone thrive we have got to open the way for the innovator.  We have got to once again encourage the risk taker, quit punishing success, and stop subsidizing failure.

To give a good day’s work for a day’s wage is an honorable thing. To be a faithful and responsible employee is something we can teach our children.  However without the new energy and markets created by innovative entrepreneurs the system will eventually stop growing.  When the pie stops growing everyone ends up fighting over the size of their piece.  When the pie stops growing and the population keeps growing everyone’s piece must get smaller, except of course for those who do the dividing.

Why do we need capitalists?  So that everyone else can have a job.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Never the Twain Shall Meet December 20, 2013

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When Kipling coined this phrase in the 19th century he was lamenting the gulf of understanding between the imperial British and their subjects on the Indian subcontinent.  It has since entered general usage meaning two things that are so different they have no opportunity to unite.

In the development and discussion of liberty there are two strains which fit this description.  There is the English school of thought born out of fits and starts developed over centuries by trial and error as first the Lords and then the common people of England fought for and gained individual liberty, personal freedom and economic opportunity.  On the other side is the French School of thought which sprang from the French Revolution.  This revolution was based upon a foundation of several generations of French thinkers who labored under the extremely autocratic divine right monarchy which held France in thrall for so long.

Our Republic sprang from the English tradition, and for most of its History has developed along the lines it defined.  Today we find our traditions and our model of governance under assault not from without but from within.  After successfully defeating the Fascist totalitarians in World War II and subsequently defeating the Soviet totalitarians in the Cold War we find ourselves face-to-face with home grown want-to-be totalitarians.  Many wonder how this can be.  How can people raised in America think so differently than Americans have thought for so long?

What we face is a clique of academics who have no real world experience and who have accepted the French as opposed to the English school of thought.  Once we explore the two this will reveal it to be what one might expect from those who have inhabited the ivory towers for their entire adult lives.

So what are the differences between the English and the French theories of Liberty?

The English theory was forged in the fires of English History.  Starting with the Magna Charta wherein the Lords forced King John to accept some limitation on his absolute power, it continued on through the slow expansion of rights and the Civil War.  Leading eventually to the emasculation of the Lords, the triumph of the House, and the primacy of its Prime Minister, the English tradition grew it was not imposed.   This process was highly empirical and unsystematic.

The French theory is the product of a slow germination at first by intellectuals and academics who labored under a repressive regime of hereditary elites ruled over by kings who claimed divine right to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted to whoever they wanted.  These thinkers had no way to experiment.  They had no way to see if their ideas worked in the real world.  They thought in virtual vacuums building highways in the air to link sand castles of the mind.  Their approach was rationalistic and systematic.

The English school built upon such thinkers as David Hume, Adam Smith, and Edmund Burke.  The French built upon the works of such notables as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Nicolas de Condorcet, and François Quesnay.

The French rationalists believed that man was originally endowed with the intellectual and moral capacity to deliberately build society, civilization and government.  The English believe that all three are the result of an evolutionary process of trial and error.  The French believed that thinking man could devise new and better forms of governance and impose them from above.  The English believed that effective governance was a product of experience discarding that which does not work and perfecting that which does.

The English view is deeply entrenched in Christian tradition and thought.  It does not build upon anything like the natural goodness of man, natural harmony, or natural liberty the hallmarks of the French school.  They instead realized that it was informed self-interest that was the prime-mover amongst men.  However there was no illusion that the natural liberty or natural harmony of interests would direct this self-interest to provide or develop society in a manner which promoted the general good.  The English school and the works which their leading lights produced universally saw law and structure as the necessary framework within which the invisible hand could and would benefit the general society by working for the individual good.  Or as a famous American once said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

It is obvious from even a cursory review of the works of the English school that they do not advocate for either anarchy in government or laissez-faire in economics.  Both of which are common charges casually tossed in the direction of American Traditionalists by the progressive elites who control our government and media.

Conversely, the French school not only advocated but coined the phrase laissez-faire, and Anarchy as a political theory was developed by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.  It is the French tradition which holds that liberty can be imposed from above and yet in a Schizophrenic fit of conscious these would-be liberators could say as Jeremy Bentham, the founder of modern utilitarianism, did, “Every law is an evil for every law is an infraction of liberty.”  No matter what their theories say about the greatest good for the greatest number and their goal of a worker’s paradise these are the same people who brought us the Soviet gulag and the Cambodian killing fields.

The differences between the two schools of thought are best illustrated in their fundamental assumptions regarding the essence of human nature. The French relying on their rationalistic conscious design model hold that humans have an innate ability to think and a desire to act rationally based on their natural intelligence and basic goodness. The English believe that it is the institutions and traditions evolved over time that provide a framework which allows man to constrain his fallen nature.  They see these institutions as platforms for the launching of society into a trajectory to good while at the same time restraining the darker side of human nature from doing its worst.

These two schools of thought are as different as east and west.  Though they may at present in America travel on the same road they are heading for two completely different destinations. They may even race towards each other at a furious speed, and they may collide; however, never the twain shall meet.

Though Harry Reid may call those who oppose the endless spending anarchists, and Pelosi may call those who oppose raising the debt limit advocates of laissez-faire it is they who represent the intrusion of the French school into American politics.  It is the Progressives who march around the world trying to impose liberty and democracy on cultures that find democracy abhorrent and ungodly.  It is the Progressives who are dedicated to creating a utopia from the top down.

In other words a donkey may call an elephant an ass but that doesn’t make it one.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Why Central-Planning Won’t Work October 3, 2013

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Failure to plan is planning to fail.  This truism has been a guiding light in my life and in the lives of countless others.  Without planning we would never accomplish much in life.  The haphazard serendipity of chance rarely adds up to a consistently positive result.  We all know people who seem like they can fall into a sewer and come up smelling like roses.  Most of us come up smelling like something quite different if we take the same fall.

On an individual basis planning is absolutely critical.  For society some things also need planning such as coining money, defending the nation, and delivering the mail.  All of these require planning and for all of these things it is possible to plan realistically and effectively.

There is no argument between the citizen supporters of constitutionally limited government and our perpetually re-elected Progressive collectivists and the fellow-travelers who support them about this. Some planning is both necessary and good.  However, this is where we part company.  Those who believe in a constitutionally limited government do not believe that it is possible or advisable to try to run an economy and a society through central planning.

The very attempt to use central planning short circuits the myriad of personal decisions which make up the routine functions of a free economy and that is the bedrock of a free society.  Every group that advocates central planning, no matter what they call themselves are Utopians who believe that they can do a better job making decisions for everyone than everyone can make for themselves.  That is the essence of the Nanny-state: government knows better and must protect us from our own bad choices.

There is one common feature that is clearly a part of all the various collectivist systems no matter what they call themselves.  They all call for the deliberate organization of society to accomplish identifiable social goals.  That a free society lacks this focus and its activities are guided by the personal whims and feelings of individuals all seeking their own good is always the complaint of the Utopians.

This brings the basic difference between the collectivists and the advocates of personal liberty into stark relief.  The different types of collectivists: Socialists, Communists, Fascists, and Progressives may differ as to the specific societal goals towards which they want to drive their populations, and they may differ in their methods depending upon the amount of control they exert over the choices of others.  However much they differ from each other they all uniformly differ from the advocates of individual freedom in that they wish to regiment all of society and all its resources to achieve whichever set of goals their particular brand of collectivism sees as the pathway to Nirvana.

Whatever the social goal is whether it’s called the great leap forward, a worker’s paradise, a classless society, the common good, the general welfare, or the Great Society it doesn’t take much reflection to see that these terms are so vague it’s impossible to determine their exact meaning so that any specific course of action could be decided upon.   It’s like a war on terror, or drugs, or obesity how are you supposed to know when the goal has been reached or victory achieved?

The welfare and happiness of people cannot be measured on a scale of more or less.  There are too many variables.  There are too many possible combinations of circumstances that can become either negatives or positives depending upon another set of widely diverse situations.  The “good” of any society cannot be expressed as simply or succinctly as the collectivists pretend.  It is just too complex.

To direct all of society’s energy and resource by one plan assumes that every need and desire is given a rank in order of importance and a place in order of time.  It also assumes that an absolute lineal order of occurrences must proceed from every action.  If this happens that will automatically occur.   Besides asserting through action that it is possible to order all things as one desires it also inherently expresses the idea that there is one universal set of ethics by which good and bad are obviously seen by the planners.  All of these assumptions, assertions and expressions are not only false they are obviously false.  No one is as smart as everyone.

The very idea of having a universally accepted and complete code of ethics is beyond the scope of human experience.  People are constantly choosing between different values as they go through their daily life.  What is best today in this situation may not be best tomorrow in that situation.  However, when all of society and all of its resources are to be harnessed and driven in one direction toward a preselected set of goals such a universal and complete set of ethics are not only a necessity they are a prerequisite for success.  Since this is unattainable success is also unattainable.  If this sounds harsh please view the tattered hulks and broken lives which litter the history of all Utopian collectivist societies.

Only God can plan the end from the beginning.  Only God has an ultimate and a true ethical code that is universally applicable to all people in all situations.  Only God has a right to order events to suit His purposes. He created all things, and all things exist because He holds them up. All things are His, and He has the ability and the right to do with them as He pleases.

The problem we face is that collectivism puts the state in the place of God.  Collectivists believe that government, through its bureaucracy, can make decisions and take action that could only work if designed and carried out with the aid of omniscience and omnipotence neither of which qualities have ever or will ever belong to government.

A scientist once said to God, “You’re not so much.  We have learned how to make life in our laboratories.”

God answered, “Is that so.”

The scientist proudly said, “Yes it is and I am willing to have a contest with you right now to see who can make life faster and better.”

“All right,” God said, “let’s go.”  With that God stooped down and picked up some dirt and started molding it into a man as the scientist grabbed his test tubes and started pouring liquids from one to another.

Just as God was about to blow the breath of life into His creation, he looked at the scientist and said, “Hey!  Get your own dirt.”

There is one thing I have learned in this life: God is God and I am not and neither is anyone or anything else.  Sounds like a pretty basic lesson; however, it took me about half of my life to learn.  If we could only get those entrusted with our government to learn the same thing maybe we would stop our slow slide into that long dark night.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

The Question is, “What’s the Answer?” September 26, 2013

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In politics and economics as in everything in life there always seems to be more questions than answers.

Some answers previously shared:

Politically speaking, I have said before in these columns that I no longer consider myself to be a conservative because there is nothing left to conserve.  Instead I consider myself a Liberal in the classical sense: in the tradition of Jefferson and Paine a believer in human liberty.  The once proud name of Liberal has been coopted and fundamentally transformed by the Socialists who have followed the advice of one of their early leaders, Norman Thomas, “The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

I say it is time to reclaim the name.

In the economic realm, I am unabashedly a believer in capitalism.  The reason for this is that it is the only system ever devised by man that requires freedom as a foundation for it to exist.  Every other economic system ever tried is a centrally-planned command system.  The king, the dictator, or the politburo decides how many widgets the country needs and that is how many widgets the country gets and everyone works at the widget factory.

As a child of the Cold War who had Marx shoved down his throat by Socialist teachers from grade school through college, I rebelled when one of my History professors told me that economics was the lynchpin of History.  It wasn’t until after the fall of the Evil Empire that I was able to appreciate this truth.  It is interesting to note that before we adopted the German style of College education in the 1890s Economics, History and Political Science were all one discipline.  How can we understand any one of them without the others?  One legged stools do not stand very well.  Information in a vacuum is still a vacuum.

So what is the question?

How can America continue to exist politically as a Republic with a constitutionally limited government dedicated to personal liberty, economic freedom and individual opportunity if our central government destroys competition?

The support of competition does not make someone an anarchist as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accuses.

The use of competition as an organizing mechanism in society precludes the use of certain types of coercive regulations.  However, it does not preclude the use regulations or guidelines.  There are important reasons why the negative aspects of this statement have been stressed by the advocates of competition while the positive have been neglected by its opponents.

It is necessary that all parties in the market place must be free to buy and sell at any price which they can agree on. It is also necessary that everyone should be free to produce, sell and buy anything that can be produced or sold.  It is also necessary that everyone has equal and free access into the trades.

Any attempt to control or regulate prices or quantities of commodities deprives competition of its ability to bring about the effective coordination of individual efforts because price changes then are no longer able to correctly act as a reliable guide for an individual’s actions.

This is not an iron-clad rule.  As long as any restrictions placed on all potential producers affect all producers the same and are not used as an indirect method for controlling prices and quantities.  All such restrictions impose extra costs however if they are imposed evenly competition can survive if not thrive.  For example, it is generally agreed that regulations to control the use of poisonous substances, to limit working hours, or to require sanitary conditions are both desirable and necessary.

The only question here is: are the social advantages gained by these regulations greater than the economic costs they impose.  Neither is the existence of social services incompatible with freedom as long as their organization and operation is not designed to restrict competition.

Thus it is shown that the advocates of competition and economic freedom are not anarchists demanding a Laissez-faire anything goes free-for-all.  They admit the need for safety and agree that as long as things are equal things are fair.

The fairness of competition is shown in one of its primary foundational principles: that the owner of private property benefits from all the useful services rendered and is liable for all the damages caused to others by its use.  When it becomes impossible to make the enjoyment of certain services dependent on payment or if the damages from its use are deflected then completion is ineffective as a social organizer because the price system has been disrupted.

Thus both restrictions on the use of property and bailouts which transfer the cost of failure from those who made the bad decisions to the taxpayers cause the market to become unhinged from reality and the creature of government direction.  We see licenses, permits, and other regulations control who can engage in what economic activity.  Look at the stock market.  Does it rise or fall because of innovation?  Do the efforts of people to create and market new products lead the DOW to new heights?  No.  The market rises and falls on whether or not the Fed is going to continue pumping fiat money into the system.

The rules of the game have been so distorted by the government that honest and open competition is almost impossible.  This is why the underground economy flourishes, because it the only place where free competition still exists.  And people will always yearn to be free.  No matter how governments try to chain their citizens down with webs of regulations and nets of laws Gulliver will always struggle and strain against the ties that bind until he breaks free.

It is obvious to all that President Obama has succeeded in his goal of fundamentally transforming America.  For example, his massive stimulus that paid off campaign debts to unions and donors and his mountains of new regulations on everything from banking to coal to student loans. There is the never-ending FED pump which just keeps pouring more money into an already bloated bubble in an effort to make a socialized crippled economy at least look like it works. And of course there is Obamacare which effectively socializes 1/6 of the entire economy.  The combination of these policies breaks the back of competition and sound the death knell of the great experiment in freedom begun in 1776.  Drip by drip, inch by inch we have been moved closer to the goal.  Now it is the Health Care take-over and the flood of fiat currency that are leading to a terminal case of bankruptcy, a systems collapse, and as our Progressive leaders hope the dawn of a new day.

When the invisible hand has been tied and competition weighted in favor of government chosen winners and losers, when the electoral game has been stacked in favor of a two headed Progressive Republicrat party of unlimited power, pride and ambition, when equal justice under the law applies only to citizens and not to officials, the Question is, “What’s the Answer.”

That answer might be, “How long?”

How long before we the American people demand that our nation founded in revolution against tyranny reject the empire and restore the Republic?  We can all see that the emperor has no clothes.  We all know the deck has been stacked, the game rigged, and the winners chosen.  How long before we demand that we are allowed to live in a nation where we will be judged by the content of our character and not by our membership in a protected or favored group, our political contributions or whether or not we have saluted the party line?

As we watch our beloved nation transformed it might be well to remember what our second President John Adams once said, “a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”  Then again he also said, “Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

I’ll Try Not to Get Arrested September 5, 2013

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Recently a person I know who saw himself as being in the forefront of the cultural revolution in the 60s and 70s proudly announced he was going to the 50th anniversary of the March   Washington. After his announcement he added the tag line, “I’ll try not to get arrested.”

Let me set the scene. Yes, this person did protest the Vietnam War by burning his draft card and applying and receiving conscientious objector status while going to school not jail. Yes he did turn his back on some traditional America traditions such as Christianity and eating meat. However, he did retain at least two traditions he learned from his family: he has always supported democrats and he is a capitalist.

Of course he would argue vehemently if anyone ever called him a capitalist since he will tell you all day long that he hates capitalists and capitalism. No, he is no capitalist, he is an entrepreneur. According to Dictionary.com “Capitalism is an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.”

Let’s see, my acquaintance is comfortably retired, living on a multimillion dollar private estate in a fashionable area. How did he grab the golden ring? He did it by his own hard work and enterprise. He invented and developed several products; he established a manufacturing company which employed others to do the actual manufacturing and sold enough products to make a living while investing for the future. Then he sold the company and lives on the dividends. But he isn’t a capitalist, he hates capitalism.

I know several people like this. They have reaped the benefits of capitalism yet they hate capitalists. Or as Lenin said, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

Fifty years ago MLK participated in a march on Washington because Blacks in America were suffering from unprecedented unemployment, unspeakable inner city violence, and unconstitutional government surveillance. Fifty years later with the former revolutionaries of the 60s and 70s secure as the power elite, they have finally delivered unprecedented unemployment, unspeakable inner city violence, and unconstitutional government surveillance for everyone without regard to race, creed or color.

The only way someone could get arrested in today’s Washington ruled by Progressives and the very epicenter of Political Correctness is to counter-demonstrate on the other side of the street from the victorious revolutionaries at the MLK triumphal procession.

It amazes me that they cannot see their own inconsistency. They make a pilgrimage to worship a man who said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” and yet they support racial quotas, set asides and preferential treatment just to make things fair.

This proudly quintessential anti-war crowd now supports a regime that waged an illegal war in Libya and whose chosen leader wants to kick the hornet’s nest in Syria. These are needless wars that resulted in the establishment of Al Qaeda franchises in Libya and who knows what we will see from an attack on Syria.

The people who elected the Watergate Congress, the people who hounded Nixon out of office because they believed he had violated the Constitution now sow blindly supports our Imperial President, the purported constitutional scholar when he says, “Congress doesn’t have a whole lot of core responsibilities.” Yet the Constitution places Congress as first among equals and devotes more space to its powers than to any other branch.

As they used to remind us the powers of Congress include the sole and exclusive power to declare war.

When President Bush took us into what so many Democrats called illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan he sought a debate and received a vote of authorization from Congress. Our over-the-hill revolutionaries held vigils outside Bush’s Texas home and tried to ignite an antiwar movement. Yet when President Obama attacks Libya without even notifying Congress they said nothing.

Now there is a congressional debate over attacking Syria and that is a good thing.  And some are speaking out against a war that doesn’t have anything to do with American national interests.  But where are the limousine liberals?  Are they still supporting a president who is willing to take us to war to put the red in his line?  If they are I pray they remember that red will be the blood of American heroes and what we call so innocently collateral damage.

If you watch the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media tonight you can guess what these perennial revolutionaries will say tomorrow since their personal opinions are plagiarized.

Back during the Vietnam War they were duped into supporting the communists, and now they’re duped into supporting people who want to bring central-planning and eternal surveillance to America.

Is this naivety or hypocrisy? Is this selfless altruism combined with low information? Or is it the self-centered arrogance of people who can be proven wrong time after time yet still believe only they can see the right course.

These aging middle-class capitalists who hate capitalism, these social revolutionaries who live on private estates still see themselves as revolutionaries after they’ve won the revolution. They still worry about getting arrested after their Dear Leaders have taken over control of the police, the IRS, and the NSA. In their 21st Century utopian USSA we find that according  to a Department of Defense training material, “people who embrace “individual liberties” and honor “states’ rights,” among other characteristics, as potential ‘extremists’ who are likely to be members of ‘hate groups.’” In Amerika today the 60s radicals are the establishment and the silent majority has become the outsider.

So while I pray for my acquaintance’s safe return from his pilgrimage, I will keep writing about the need to preserve limited government and I’ll try not to get arrested.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

Choose This Day Who You Will Serve October 25, 2012

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In our current confrontation with Radical Islam the battle lines are portrayed as those between a secular society, us and a religious society, them.  I reject this portrayal as a betrayal of the faith of our Founders and of those patriotic Americans who still hold fast to Jesus as God and Savior, we too are a religious people.

America was founded as a Christian country.  Anyone who denies that has not studied enough History or has been sadly misled.  Columbus accentuated his desire to spread the Christian faith to his patrons the King and Queen of Spain and in his log.  The first thing the English did upon landing at Jamestown was set up a cross to dedicate their endeavor to Jesus their Savior.  Were these early explorers and colonists always true to their faith?  Did they always operate under principles derived from God’s Word?  Sadly they did not.  However, to say that the Christian faith was not an integral part of their motivation and worldview is simply not true.

In the latter part of the twentieth century Progressive leaders pushing a collectivist agenda decided to declare us a pluralistic society.  They sought to detach the heavily Bible influenced Constitution into the dustbin of History by substituting what they call a living constitution for the rock-solid one the Framers bequeathed us.   Mr. Obama, the quintessential Progressive in his speech to the Muslims of Egypt, Turkey, and many places spices up his apology tours by asserting that America is not a Christian country.  This statement of his belief and goal does not make it true.

All of these recent changes aside, most Americans still believe in God and the majority consider themselves Christians.   As a Christian, an Historian, and a Political Scientist in response to numerous questions I would like to share my beliefs concerning government, economies, and the rights of man.

As far as a government goes the only Biblically correct one is that God is God and we are His people.  He is the King and we are the sheep of His pasture.  As concerning an economic system God’s economy knows no lack and is exceedingly abundantly provisioned by the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills.

This being true I do not believe that God mandates any type of human government or economic system as pre-ordained, sanctified, or holy.  However, I do believe that humanity as God has created it does require certain governmental and economic conditions to develop and thrive as God intended.

God created us in His own image.  He gave us the power to create and to choose.  He gave us a mind open to learning and ever eager to improvise.  He also gave us what I believe is the most crucial aspect of our make-up: our free will or the power to choose.  We can choose to follow Him and do what He desires, or we can choose to follow the leadings not only of our thoughts but of our emotions also.  In other words we can dwell within the Kingdom of God wherein He is our King and we are His people or we can choose to live in the Kingdom of man and become the subjects of either our own designs or of whoever manages to gain control of the physical world around us.

If God wanted slaves or robots He could have created slaves or robots.  Instead He created us and gave us a mind to think and a will to choose because He wanted us to decide to love Him and follow Him freely without compulsion.  Therefore I believe that since free thought and free choice are the foundation of man’s nature freedom is necessary if man is to live as God designed.  This being the case I believe that any governmental or economic system that denies man’s freedom interferes with and attempts to supplant God’s plan, which is the definition of evil.

There are of course limits to freedom as expressed in the Ten Commandments.  Beyond this we should be free to choose our own way.   Will we follow God or will we follow man.  Within these limits and building on the moral framework the Bible provides I believe that a republic based upon the commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness using democratic principles is the governmental structure which most closely matches man’s God-given nature.  I also believe that free market capitalism is the economic system which best allows man to develop and live as God intended.  Conversely, when man rejects God and seeks to create his own utopia he builds some sort of centrally-planned command economy and the intrusive government needed to impose it upon others.

A free economy and the free government it requires allows the independent choices of many to produce the greatest prosperity for all as everyone seeks to do the best they can because they reap the rewards.  In a socialist or any type of hybrid economy between capitalism and socialism bureaucrats make the decisions and stagnation is the inevitable result.  As Gary North, a Christian economist expresses it, “The essence of democratic socialism is this re-written version of God’s commandment: ‘Thou shalt not steal, except by majority vote.’”  Or as Winston Churchill observed, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”  And that is not life as God intended.

If we look at History it is an outworking of the initial fall of man.  In the beginning God created the world including man and it was all good.  Then at the dawn of our existence we choose to go our own way instead of following God.  We chose to follow the siren song of “You shall be like God” and ever since we have attempted to create heaven on earth.  All we have succeeded in doing is to open the gates of Hell instead.  A case in point would be the age-old question, if God is good why is there evil in the world followed by the age-old answer God gave us free choice and we chose evil.

With the help and guidance of those who seek to play god themselves humanity has often been convinced to surrender their freedom for security, to bargain away their God-given nature and assume the subservient nature of slaves.

In America the purveyors of socialism cloak their designs in the language of populism.  They loudly proclaim that they seek a fair deal for everyone, except of course for the people they intend to loot.  They want fair elections as long as nothing is done to stop fraudulent voting.  They want equality enforced by unequal treatment.  In other words they seek to build the kingdom of man where they can be king.

We have a mind to think and the capacity to make a free choice.  As the day of reckoning draws near all I can recommend is, think and choose.  We can choose to follow the path of redistribution, class warfare, and collectivist dependency or we can choose to at least attempt a return to limited government, personal liberty, and economic freedom.   Don’t be fooled by the progressive media and their obvious bias.  To be free is God’s design.  For us to be a slave to dependency is man’s.

One of America’s most beloved troubadours told us, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls” and one of those secular prophets he was referring to reminded us “You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody, Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

Or as my favorite book says it, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

 

Smoke and Mirrors December 1, 2011

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Like a sleight-of-hand-artist on a busy street with a briefcase that turns into a table, three walnuts shells and a pea the perpetually re-elected and their town criers in the Corporations Once Known as the mainstream Media appear to be perennially able to fool the perpetually distracted by pulling a metaphorical quarter out of their ear.

I know a professional revolutionary.  We grew up together.  He has correctly diagnosed America’s disease as a corporate cult in a symbiotic relationship with a corrupt government.  He deftly outlines the general theory, although not the specifics of how crony capitalists and political hacks have crafted a system wherein money laundering has become national policy.  The political hacks fleece the sheeple through taxes and inflation.  They give the money to their accomplices in the flimflam corporations who funnel huge chunks of cash back to the hacks for re-election.  Every few years the sheeple rouse themselves out of their media induced coma long enough to be herded to the polls to vote for more of the same.

Yes, the professional revolutionaries and their government educated followers have correctly diagnosed the disease.  However, they have prescribed poison instead of medicine.  Their answer to the curse of Corporatism’s National Socialism is less nationalism and more socialism.  Since corporatism has built a coffin our body politic cannot seem to claw its way out of, he prescribes cutting out the crony capitalists and giving the whole operation to the political hacks. In other words if the black shirts have ruined the country let’s try the reds.  That would be as transparent as fighting the most horrendous war in human history because Hitler attempted to pull Poland into his freedom smothering embrace and then giving Poland to Stalin.

Headlines and talking heads scream for days, “The Super Committee cannot fail or the sky will fall!”  Endless hours in the 24 hour news cycle are devoted to debating, “Will the Super Committee succeed or will they fail?”  Meanwhile most of the sheeple are consumed with concern about the NBA strike, a celebrity drowning thirty years ago, or was Kim’s wedding a set-up all along.  Then we’re told he Super Committee failed accompanied by endless squabbling about who caused the failure.

It is all nothing but Kabuki, a form of Japanese drama based on popular legends and characterized by elaborate costumes, stylized acting.

Remember how the Super Committee became so super?  It didn’t come from another planet with a red sun and lower gravity.  It was instead the Frankenstein created as the cover for another rise in the debt ceiling.  The Tea Party had just made a Herculean effort in the 2010 elections and achieved an historical sweep of the House of Representatives.  Over sixty newly minted congressmen owed their seat at the table of plenty to the greatest grassroots movement America has seen in generations.  They had campaigned on changing the culture of corruption in Washington, stopping the deficit spending, severing the cord to the crony capitalists, and paying down the national debt.

Before they could even arrive the Republican leadership colluded with a recently humiliated inexperienced president and a recently repudiated Democratic leadership to extend the Bush tax cuts in exchange for more spending in the lamest of all lame duck sessions.  Then as soon as the fresh troops arrive they raise their hands in salute to the same old Republican leadership, renew the patriot Act, pass a series of continuing resolutions allowing the drunken sailors to continue spending, and then vote to raise the debt ceiling by another few trillions. Oh but they fought!  They wrangled and they refused to give the Spender in Chief more trillions of our great grandchildren’s money unless he agreed to a Super Committee backed up by automatic cuts and automatic tax increases in future deficits totaling trillions of dollars in cuts.  This was drama worthy of As Washington Turns.  If it was joke it wouldn’t be funny.

To begin with the Super Committee wasn’t filled with deficit hawks and balanced budget advocates.  It was instead filled with the most partisan members from both wings of the Party of Power guaranteeing there would be no settlement.  Obviously the plan all along was for the automatic cuts and taxes to come into play, over the next ten years.  In other words the spendaholics of this Congress are going to place limits on the credit card of following Congresses who have the ability to vote away the limits any time they want to.  How could that ever fail?

The smoke and mirrors of political theater is meant to hide the fact that all they’re arguing over is reducing the yearly deficits way off there in the future somewhere.  All they ever discussed was slowing the rate of increase.  Even if the most draconian plan so far introduced by the young firebrand Representative Ryan had been adopted the budget still went up every year, and the national debt still grew every year.  And though there would have been more and more spending with no end to the red ink in sight Ryan was portrayed as pushing Grandma off the cliff and a large percentage of the population believes it.  This is baseline budgeting wherein the proposed budget becomes the base for what is cut.  In other words our leaders can cut all day and the spending still goes up.

It is time to tell our hypnotized fellow citizens to take the blinders off.  Wake up!  The house is on fire and the firemen are pouring gasoline on the flames.

The system is broke and it is becoming very clear that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put this thing together again.  The spending goes on every second of every minute of every hour of every day.  The tax code that ostensibly is designed to pay for it all is in reality a bewildering maze meant to trap those unsophisticated enough not to hire an army of tax lawyers and accountants while legally recognized persons such as GE file 57,000 page tax returns on fourteen billion in profits and pays no tax at all.

While the hemorrhaging of our descendants wealth goes on night and day we are being set up for the next battle to raise the debt ceiling, the balanced budget amendment.  Even if this long threatened turkey could finally make it to the block what good is a balanced budget amendment?  The spendthrifts we call a government can still spend all they want as long as they raise enough money to pretend to cover at least the on budget portion of the swag.  And where do you think they will raise the money?  They will either raise taxes or print money.  Either way we pay so they can play. What we need is a spending amendment that limits spending to a prescribed percentage of the GDP.

At one time the best tongue in cheek advice for coping with the policies of the convention of confidence men masquerading as the American government was get a government job and study Spanish.  Now the situation has descended even beyond the black humor of that cynical joke.  Today the best advice may be to hunker in the bunker, store food, and learn enough History so you can tell those who come after what America used to be.

Last year I thought it was time to take the gloves off and tell America the emperor has no clothes.  To do so this advocate of the Constitution and limited government wrote The Constitution Failed.  A book which places current events in a constitutional and historical context proving that while our nation was founded upon a document meant to limit government we now stand face-to-face with an unlimited government.  I believed it was time to sound the alarm.  I thought people were ready to admit the terrible truth; our government does little more than tip its hat to the Constitution while doing whatever it wants.   The first step in solving any problem is admitting you have a problem.  The second is recognizing what that problem is.  My hope is that The Constitution Failed will help people recognize and identify the problem so that we the people can reach a solution.

As one who has been pounding this drum and singing this song for fifty years all I can do is wonder, will the drowning Lady Liberty finally see the life preserver as she goes down for the last time?  Will she finally grasp the Constitution as the only thing that has ever guaranteed limited government, personal freedom and economic opportunity in America?  Will she remember her past and save her future or will she sink beneath the waves of government regulation and drown in the red tape of an all-powerful central government?

I wrote The Constitution Failed to make a difference.  I wrote it because I see my beloved country walking off a cliff into the abyss of socialism and I am compelled to throw out the life line.

If you want to read The Constitution Failed send me an email with your address and I will send you a complimentary copy.  I want to see the re-birth of limited government.  I want to see personal liberty and economic freedom continue to exist in this: the last best hope of mankind.   And I’m ready to put my money where my heart is, limited government, personal liberty and economic freedom.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

Organized Anarchy Leads to One Last Question November 18, 2011

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In the topsey turvey world of 21st century America those who live by the kindness of strangers wish to dictate how much kindness they deserve changing the strangers from benefactors to victims.  We have reached a point where our national motto should be “Stand and Deliver” as a runaway government devours everything in sight in an effort to satisfy the growing demands of their pre-programmed supporters.

America has taken such a bizarre turn that oxymorons are the only things that make sense any more.  Organized anarchy has exploited militant apathy to create regulated liberty so that producers must provide for slackers and the informed must follow the dictates of the willfully ignorant. You can’t fix stupid but there is a cure for ignorance.  If we could just get these products of public education and sports hypnosis to take off the blinders long enough to understand the meaning behind the matrix perhaps we could garner one more electoral victory to stop us before we step off the cliff.  Except of course the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media are working as hard as they can to make sure our choice comes down to Tweedle De and Tweedle Dum.

Our Progressive era seeks to change the old adage, “Those who refuse to learn from History are doomed to repeat it” to “Those who refuse to learn from History doom the rest of us to repeat it.”  The patients have seized control of the asylum.  The land of the free and the home of the brave is transforming into the land of the free lunch and the home of the knaves.  Symbiosis is the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms as in parasitism. What we are witnessing today is symbiosis on steroids wherein the parasite isn’t merely along for the ride but instead demands the driver’s seat.

Looking at the almost bewildering explosion of reality we call today our minds behold the organized anarchy of the occupy everywhere movement that is spreading around the world.  We are now witnessing a government supported revolution akin to Mao’s Cultural Revolution. This isn’t a revolt of the 99% seeking to devour the 1% it is the 46% that pay no federal taxes seeking to increase the production from their 54% milk cows. To call forcing one segment of the population to work to support another segment of the population paying your fair share makes theft a contribution and bondage a responsibility.

The people involved express a variety of causes.  They want a bailout for home owners who are upside down or in foreclosure.  At the same time they want those who accepted the bailout on Wall Street prosecuted.  They want student loans forgiven, wars stopped, big corporations downsized, and an end to capitalism.  Many politicians and their major media publicity machine have embraced the movement labeling it the Progressive version of the Ta Party.  This is a window on the future.  Showing the silent majority what is to come: a shabby world where the Lilliputians have not only bound Gulliver they have harnessed him to the cart and forced him to be their beast of burden.

By seeking the destruction of capitalism instead of seeking to break the umbilical cord between the crony capitalists and their bought and paid for politicians what they really seek is to force us to worship the myth of free enterprise as we sacrifice the energy and inventiveness of the productive on the altar of the indolent.

It is time to lay our cards on the table.  It is time to call a spade a spade.  Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined by competition in a free market.  Socialism is an economic characterized by collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.  Fascism is an economic system that exalts the nation above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government with severe economic regimentation.  Essentially fascism is socialism pretending to be capitalism since private ownership exists in a government straightjacket.

Which of these systems do we have?  Which of these systems is staring us in the face every day?

I challenge anyone and everyone to take this test.   Watch the stock market for one month.  Watch its ups and downs.  What you will see is that the market does not move because of innovation or production it moves in response to government actions, statements, and policies.  While we still have private ownership the government is increasingly regulating and controlling the economy.  Take the test.  Review the definitions above and you decide.  Which of these systems do we have?  Or does it have us?

America has never experienced a truly capitalistic system.  We were born under mercantilism. We grew to power under Henry Clay’s American System of nationalistic paternalism.  We have flirted with socialism in a mixed system since FDR reshuffled the deck and institutionalized the New Deal.  And now we struggle to maintain some visage of freedom at the edge of a crony capitalism whose Progressive public-private security blanket has become the pillow that smothers all incentive.  We have morphed from a representative republic operating on democratic principles into a state wholly owned by a good old boy coalition composed of the perpetually re-elected, the unions, and the crony capitalists: the Outfit.

The over educated under informed lemmings that call themselves the 99% are being duped by the Outfit.  They are a collective battering ram assailing the last remnants of American individualism.  They are using the threat of social unrest to demand the final triumph of “I want what I want” over “I get what I earn.”

What’s the cure for the Great Recession?  Is it more government spending and more government control as the Outfit and their 99% fellow-travelers tell us?  Is it “Drill baby drill” and a return to a golden-age of pure capitalism that never really existed?

First we must understand our situation.  What is the cause of the chronic state of our anemic recovery?  Is it as our president tells us and the world: Americans are soft, arrogant  and lazy?  Or have we finally reached the tipping point?  Have we finally reached the point where all the Peters being robbed to pay for Paul’s vacation have decided to change their name to Paul? Is this a recession or is it a strike?  The central planners look at the wreckage of a once great economy that their programs have gutted and say, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.”  They should be asking “How many omelets can they make if the goose doesn’t lay any more golden eggs?”

Which leads to one last question: “Who is John Galt?”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

How Do We Re-Industrialize America October 7, 2011

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Manufacturing in America peaked in 1979 when 19.5 million Americans actually produced durable goods.  In the last 30 years our manufacturing sector has declined by 40% losing almost 8 million jobs.  Nearly 6 million jobs have been lost since 2000 and since the Great Recession began we have lost an average 89,000 manufacturing jobs every month for the last two years.  Due to this dramatic constriction America has fallen below 12 million workers employed in manufacturing for the first time since 1946 and is now below levels not seen since 1941.  This dismal record portrays the stunning decline of America as a manufacturing superpower.  And while a rise in productivity has helped America maintain a prominent position in the world this has not resulted in manufacturing continuing to be an avenue for upward mobility for Americans.

So how do we re-industrialize America?  How do we get back all the jobs that have been exported in the last 30 years?  What will be the consequences of taking the bold steps necessary to make America once again the engine that drives the world’s economy?  What will be the result of failing to do so?

To set this discussion into its proper context first we must look at how America grew from a rustic agricultural nation on the edge of Western civilization into the greatest industrial superpower ever known.

In the interest of full disclosure I must confess that I am a life-long capitalist.  I believe that capitalism is the only economic system ever devised by man that requires free choice as a necessary requirement.  Every other system is either more or less a command economy.  The defense and restoration of America’s capitalist economy is today a hallmark of the conservative movement.  Many study the works of Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek.  Those of us who want to see economic opportunity unshackled espouse the principles of both the Chicago and the Austrian Schools of economics as opposed to the theories of the Frankfurt School which have moved America in the direction of a centrally planned economy.

Flying in the face of this conventional wisdom for the purposes of this discussion we must ask the question, was it capitalism that provided the environment which set America on the road to material riches and industrial power?  Culture to humans is like water to a fish.  It is everywhere.  It provides the medium through which we move.  However, since it is ever present it is not something we constantly notice or concentrate on.  Most of those who read these words were raised in a time or by people who taught American History as a positive, ever improving saga.  We were taught that America never started a war and never lost one.  We were taught that rugged individualism carved out an empire from a raw wilderness.  We were taught that capitalism paved and paid the way.

At the hazard of being branded an apostate to conservatism I must continue to ask the question, was capitalism the catalyst for America’s industrial power or do we labor under the after-glow of a time when American History was taught in such a way as to magnify present circumstances by projecting them into the past?  Are we looking to a myth of free enterprise to recreate what it didn’t create in the first place?

Was it capitalism that fostered the founding of the colonies which became the seedbed of the United States?

Mercantilism was the economic system that proceeded capitalism in western civilization.  This was a system of economic nationalism which sought to build a strong country by maintaining a favorable balance of trade and by being self-sufficient.  This was one of the primary reasons why the sea-going European powers sought to establish colonies.  They wanted to secure sources of raw materials for their developing industrial sectors and to control external markets allowing them to produce and sell products all within their domestic economy, keeping all the gold at home.

The term mercantilism was coined by Adam Smith the philosophical father of capitalism, but it was not capitalism.  Inherently Mercantilism necessitated a centrally planned and controlled economy.  What benefitted the nation was permitted and encouraged.  What didn’t was prohibited and discouraged.  It was under this system that the English colonies were founded.  The first viable English colony in the New World, Virginia was founded by the Virginia Company a joint stock company which was given a charter by James I.  This charter, like subsequent charters given to the Massachusetts Bay Company and proprietary charters given to individuals such as William Penn and the Lords Baltimore gave these companies and individuals monopolies within specific geographic areas.  Government imposed and enforced monopolies are a restraint of trade and by nature incompatible with a free capitalist system.

The colonies founded upon this restraint of trade followed suit giving monopolies to companies and individuals to do everything from making iron to importing. Government planning and control of the economy did not stop there.  The colonial governments also granted subsidies, bounties, land grants, loans and money prizes to encourage the birth and prosperity of the industries and services desired.  Through these actions the precursors of modern America were doing what is today reviled as inherently un-American, picking winners and losers.

If we fast forward to the founding of the United States do we find the unbridled free enterprise seen today to be the natural state of the Republic?

In 1791 Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton issued his third path-breaking report to Congress the Report on Manufactures.  Of all his reports this one is considered the most innovative.  It provided a stark revelation of Hamilton’s and his Federalist compatriots’ vision for America and its economy.  So did this report outline an economy based upon capitalism and free enterprise?  No it did not.  This report envisions an America “independent of foreign nations for military and other essential supplies” this is the heart of a mercantilist program.  Hamilton proposed subsidies to encourage industry.  Some of the mercantilist policies advocated by Hamilton encouraged the central government:

  • To constitute a fund for paying the bounties.
  • To constitute a fund for a board to promote arts, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce.  Hamilton wanted the fund to:
  1. to defray the expenses of the emigration of artists, and manufacturers in particular branches of extraordinary.
  2. to induce the prosecution and introduction of useful discoveries, inventions, and improvements, by proportionate rewards.
  3. to encourage by premiums, both honorable and lucrative, the exertions of individuals and of classes.

The historical evidence of America’s reliance upon protectionist and economic interventionist policies as tools in the building of our greatness can be found everywhere.  The central government built, licensed, and encouraged roads and canals to foster interstate trade by providing monopolies, subsidies and grants.  It fought wars to safeguard sea lanes and to expand territory and markets.  And it birthed, regulated and controlled the financial industry from its very inception.

The incontrovertible evidence points to the fact that America was founded, launched, and nurtured as the successor to and the continuation of mercantilist not capitalist policies.

If these were the policies of economic nationalism which helped foster America’s rise to industrial greatness wouldn’t it seem appropriate for these policies to be the ones that would help it rise again?  There is only one national figure who has consistently urged a return to economic nationalism, Patrick Buchanan.  He has pointed out for years that our rush to embrace so-called free trade has put American workers at a decided disadvantage.  The dissolution of tariff protection forced our workers to compete against people who will work for a small percentage of what Americans can afford to work for in societies with little or no regulation.

How do we get back all the jobs that have been exported in the last 30 years?

If we want to re-industrialize America we have to protect our markets and support our industry otherwise we will soon sink to a supplier of raw materials and a market to China and the other rapidly rising industrial powers of Asia.

What will be the consequences of taking the bold steps necessary to make America once again the engine that drives the world’s economy?

Such a policy calculated to re-build our industry and re-capture our domestic markets from China, Japan, and the four tigers of Asia will carry as many risks as it does benefits.  Just as any predator will react to resistance on the part of its prey so to if we enact tariffs on Chinese goods it may well ignite a trade war.  Then again anything worth having is worth fighting for.  If we want to once again rise to the top of the industrial world to once again have a favorable balance of trade we need to look to what is best for America not what is best for the U. N. or what is best for the globalization lobby.

What will be the result of failing to rebuild our industrial sector?

Some may deride this proposed return to mercantilist policies as isolationism.  However, just as a nation without borders will soon cease to be a nation any nation that fails to protect and encourage its industry will find itself an agricultural and raw material colony in all but name for those nations which do.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

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