Democrats, knock it off. And Speaker Ryan, shame on you. I generally admire you and believe you’re one of the most intelligent people in Washington, but as a Republican you know what it feels like when they unjustly pile on you, so you should know better than to pile on yourself- particularly against someone on your side.
Free Trade with Dictatorships: Could Donald Trump Be Right?
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is talking about penalizing companies or countries that don’t engage in what he calls ‘fair trade’. In particular he has a get-tough policy for China, a dictatorship which regularly devalues its currency to make it more difficult for its people to buy imported goods, and which also engages in dumping goods in other countries at below-market prices. I generally am a believer in free trade and like many conservatives I am concerned about his ideas. However, I see that what China is doing can cause serious economic damage to the United States, and am coming around to the more general notion that free trade only works to improve people’s lives when it’s done between people in free countries.
The virtues of free trade at lifting living standards were discovered during the Enlightenment in Europe, a period lasting roughly from 1550 until 1800. Political freedom and limited government were popular during the Enlightenment as exemplified by the ideas of that era’s two greatest thinkers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Hobbes believed in an absolute monarchy whose purpose was to enforce a social compact among its subjects to prevent them from initiating force or fraud against each other. Locke believed that the purpose of this social compact was to protect the individual rights of everyone to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.
It was against this backdrop of limited government freedom at the end of the Enlightenment when Adam Smith and David Ricardo, two of the most influential advocates of free trade, wrote about its benefits at helping raise standards of living internationally and influenced the opinions of generations of free market advocates.
The Enlightenment ended around 1800. What replaced the ideas of political freedom was a tyrannical philosophy in academia throughout Europe and the United States. The leader of this trend, German philosopher Immanuel Kant, believed that people could not think for themselves and needed to be told by an authority what values to pursue, and they had to obey under penalty of law regardless of their personal desires to the contrary. Kant’s protégés, in particular Georg Hegel and Karl Marx, picked up where Kant left off, eventually causing the development of both variants of socialism: fascism and communism. The result was a string of murderous dictatorships during the twentieth century including Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union – and the People’s Republic of China.
Because free trade advocates like Smith and Ricardo lived before the advent of the Kantian dictatorship, they could not evaluate such a system or whether it would be beneficial for free countries to trade with it. Therefore the principle accepted by free market thinkers that free trade between nations is always beneficial may not be correct.
If someone trades with a dictatorship, it won’t necessarily improve the lives of people there or abroad and may even make them worse.
When people in free countries where individual rights are respected trade with each other the benefits from doing so go to the private sector participants in the trade, allowing them to improve their businesses and livelihoods. If one of these participants truly builds a better mousetrap or other product for less money, it helps elevate the standard of living of everyone he trades with. There is therefore no reason to penalize him in any way, with tariffs, import quotas or any other protectionist measures. Rather, it is up to the people in other countries to stay competitive with him or suffer from failing to do so.
In contrast, when anyone trades with a dictatorship the benefits from doing so do not necessarily go to the private sector participants in the trade, but rather to the dictator and his hand-picked cronies. That’s because whenever anyone deals with a dictatorship they do it on the dictator’s terms – and whatever the dictator wants, that’s what happens.
If a government crony does not build a better mousetrap for less money, but can still undercut market prices when he sells it abroad because the dictator gives him a subsidy or allows him to use what is essentially slave labor, then his sale of such a product will be detrimental everywhere. Abroad, the availability of the product at below market prices can drive out of business producers who don’t receive subsidies from their own governments and have to pay their labor market wages. Meanwhile domestically the sales proceeds could prop up the dictator fiscally and perpetuate human rights abuses when otherwise the dictatorship could’ve bankrupted itself and collapsed.
There are other problems. As alluded to above, dictatorships do bankrupt themselves – and sometimes in response start wars with other countries to seize their economic assets to fiscally prop themselves up. If a country trades new technology with a dictatorship it could increase the likelihood of such wars by making the dictator more powerful militarily. Nuclear technology is the best example.
In light of the fore-going, what would be sensible? It should certainly not be penalizing free countries engaging in fair trade such as Portugal, Israel, Estonia or the United Kingdom; but China is the opposite end of the spectrum. For dictatorships like China I might favor a surcharge, like a tariff, against Chinese imports to bring them up to the market price – and no higher that they can be produced and sold for in a free country.
If a dictatorship wants the surcharge lifted, it needs to do two things: first, it needs to improve its trade policy by ending protectionist measures like dumping or currency manipulation. Second, it must improve its human rights policy to respect individual rights. This means no perpetual sweatshop slave labor; instead, companies must be allowed to accumulate their profits so they can reinvest them in their businesses and improve working conditions, and labor must be allowed to price its services at market rates. This will allow wages to eventually rise, greatly reducing the dictator’s ability to undercut production costs in free countries and allowing a more level playing field.
Free trade – with free countries, only.
Which Bathroom Should I use?
By Branehart, Esq., blogger, and lifelong men’s room user
There’s a law in Charlotte, NC that says people can use the restroom for the gender they “identify with”, regardless of whether they were born that way or actually have “the junk”, so to speak, of that particular gender. Then the State of North Carolina moved to pass a bill blocking local governments from enacting laws like this one – and, as expected, the Democrats went nuts calling the State homophobic and bigoted, and a bunch of celebrities including Bruce The Boss and companies like PayPal decided to boycott the State. Hey, I always thought Springsteen was and is a darn good songwriter but he couldn’t tell the difference between Julianne Phillips and Patty Scialfa, I mean I know they look alike but… that wasn’t too bright. And PayPal – don’t they do business in countries where homosexuals are brutally killed by law for being gay? PayPal’s just a bunch of liberal America bashers. Maybe some university in love with Immanuel Kant’s anti-thinking ideas is paying them to be; anyway, it is hypocritical to the max.
I’m not gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that – a little Jerry Seinfeld lingo there), but it does cause a problem for me in analyzing this issue. Lots of African Americans tell whites that whites can’t know the “black experience”. Well, I as a life-long heterosexual feel I don’t know the “gay experience” – more specifically, exactly what homosexuality really is. Is it voluntary? Or involuntary? Genetic? Or a result of environmental factors after birth? No way for me to know directly. I don’t want to “discriminate” – okay, let’s use a more precise term, be unjust – to someone who is the way he is through no fault of his own, so I’ll reserve judgment on homosexuality for the moment.
However, I think I have a real problem with this “transgendered” stuff. I’m not sure what that is either but, I get a bad feeling about it. What it sounds like to me is: I’m one gender but I want to be, or “identify with”, another – so I’m going to say I’m the other even though I’m the one.
This gives me trouble because as the Rolling Stones – good liberals they are! Once sang, “you can’t always get what you want”. As I (very seriously) said in my blog “So What are Values, Anyway?” (August 2015), values have to be real – and they have to be real because reality is always there, always setting the terms of our lives whether we like it or not. To go with reality, therefore, is to exercise proper humility in accordance with the requirements of our survival. To love life means to respect reality. Of course you can change reality, but only by acknowledging it first. Or, as Ayn Rand once said, “reality to be commanded, must be obeyed”.
The “transgendered” folks, however, and correct me if I’m wrong on this, don’t like that reality is an absolute. They want to control reality and spit in the face of it –if they feel like it. And, they want to go along with it – if they feel like it. Either way, it’s their feelings, not the facts, that are supreme (just as they are with the jerks in MoveOn.org or a bunch of namby-pamby cupcake nation Ivy League or University of Missouri students on the lookout to rail against the next micro-aggression from someone with white privilege).
What’s wrong with this, aside from everything? To live, we must achieve values that will allow us to do so – and to achieve them, as I said in my post “How we get our Values: The Thinking Process” (October 2015), we have to think to get them. Not feel, but think. And as I went on to say in that post, the thinking process begins with observing and acknowledging not our feelings but the facts of reality. Start with your feelings rather than the facts and you’re not thinking; you’re speculating or fantasizing, which leads to disaster. See the discussion of Plotinus’ philosophy regarding emotions in my post “The History of Thinking in Western History” (November 2015).
I went on to say, in my post “Why Liberals are such, uh, JERKS (and what to do about them)” (November 2015), that people often don’t learn how to think because they don’t learn how to handle abstract concepts properly. When they don’t learn how to handle abstractions, they feel cut off from values that can only be achieved by understanding abstractions, and from the happiness that results from achieving these values. They therefore turn against values and happiness and become the monsters they are. Rather than restate what I said about the need to reduce abstract concepts to concrete ones, I’ll just let the reader check out those three posts. What I want to say here, however, is that, and like I said I don’t really know what “transgender” is so maybe I’m wrong, it seems “transgenderism” is really hatred of thinking, values and happiness by people who don’t know how to think, disguised as some kind of uncontrollable physical condition like possibly homosexuality.
If I’m right about transgenderism then no, I don’t want people using any bathroom open to the public based on what gender they want to be; I want them using the bathroom for the gender they really are.
So what gender are you and which bathroom should you use? Here’s a simple guide:
And, speaking of Caitlin Jenner, I have a theory. There is something called a sexual fetish, which is a sexual arousal that results from observing some object that someone associates with sex. Fetishes are probably genetic as they are much more common in men than women. Some common fetishes include the shape of a woman’s legs; woman’s high boots; certain women’s hairstyles; blonde hair; lingerie; shiny satin fabric; the shape of women’s lips; high heeled pumps; etc. There was a movie, The Man who Loved Women starring Burt Reynolds, about a man who had a fetish with women’s legs.
I think Caitlin Jenner is an example of an extreme fetish. Fetishes are normally very powerful, as Burt Reynolds demonstrates (spoiler alert) when he gets himself killed running after a pair of great legs, but nowhere near as powerful in the average person who has one as they were for Bruce Jenner. He had to have the things he associated with sex – which, based on what he has done to his appearance, include just about every physical feature of a woman – or he’d go nuts. (Note he didn’t want to actually be a woman, so genital sex change surgery wasn’t an issue; and he certainly isn’t gay.)
I’m not a therapist so I don’t know the proper way to treat a fetish. But I would imagine that the Caitlin Jenner route isn’t the right one. I believe that reality is real, one’s feelings are also real, but what gives rise to those feelings may not be correct. It seems to be that, if someone always wants to observe things that get him or her sexually aroused, he should acknowledge that that’s not a proper way to go through life. What is a proper way to go through life is to do that some of the time, but most of the time realize that you have to engage in thinking and productive activity and otherwise do what you have to-to achieve your values.
Now, if you have achieved your values (as I’m sure Bruce Jenner has – he’s one of the best athletes ever and probably has more money than God though not as much as Rush Limbaugh) and you can afford to parade around looking like Kim Kardashian, you should be free to – but don’t allow yourself to be used by crazed liberal anti-thinking Kantian professors who want you to start spouting that unthinking, emotionalistic hedonism is an okay way for everyone to live or be a poster child for the idea that reality is an unknowable chaos and that thinking is therefore useless. Oh, and uh Caitlin, you still have to use the men’s room. Don’t worry if my kids (I know I don’t have any but if I did, hypothetically speaking) see you; I’ll explain it to them.
PayPal shame on you, and Bruce, as Laura Ingraham once said, just shut up and sing.
The Pit and the Purpose
I have talked at length in previous blog posts about how thinking is the most important value people have because it gives us all of our other values. The second most important value, having a purpose in life, is also vitally important and deserves its own post, so here I go.
A purpose is an overriding reason for choosing the values one pursues. As I said in my previous post “So What are Values, Anyway?” (August 2015), having a purpose is vital because it determines, out of a huge number of potential choices, which values someone should pursue. Unlike lower animals, we as humans do not act automatically in response to what we perceive so, unlike lower animals we actually have a choice as to how to act and what to go after. This gives us the benefit of being able to control our lives and achieve happiness in ways that are unattainable to other animals. The flip side of this though, is that unlike lower animals we have the chore of consciously figuring out what to go after because if we don’t we stagnate and die.
That’s where a purpose comes in. People need to choose a purpose because we have to plan which values we’ll pursue over the course of our entire lives; there is no point where we become like lower animals and start automatically regarding some things as values, the way a grizzly automatically goes after a salmon. For most people their purpose is their career with their career choice determining what is of value to them. If you want to be a doctor, for example, you have to have as values going to medical school and doing a residency. If you want to be a lawyer you have to go to law school, etc. Some people who are independently wealthy can make a hobby their purpose; either way, whether it’s a career or a hobby, everyone still needs a purpose. If someone doesn’t organize his values according to an overarching purpose, he drifts from one thing to another like a playboy who never really becomes very good at anything, never produces anything of significant value that he can make a decent living selling to anyone, and probably ends up poor and miserable.
A purpose has to be something that is in demand (e.g., you can be an automotive engineer, not a buggy whip engineer), something that you like enough to be all-in for and something you actually have an ability to do. For example, I think I can remember actually playing basketball once in my entire life and sucking at it. For me to want to be a professional basketball player in the NBA would therefore be ridiculous not only because of the infinitesimal odds of anyone actually making it on to a team, but also because I don’t play well to begin with. However, I had very good grades in high school and college and a strong interest in philosophy, political science and law. So becoming a lawyer or a writer might be a rational choice.
A major problem today is that young people are not taught how to choose a purpose. I’m reminded of Dr. Phil’s story on The Kelly File about Chris, a forty year old man who wanted to be a ‘rock star’ and went through the motions of being a musician while failing miserably, living in his parents’ house and causing them to squander their retirement savings taking care of him. Not only do I wonder if he has any real talent to be a musician, I also wonder if he knows whether he has any real talent to do it. He doesn’t seem to, but if he does, again I wonder if he is all-in enough for doing what it takes to actualize a career doing it. Again, it doesn’t seem like it. What it seems like is that he never knew how to take seriously the need to select a purpose, and with his back to the wall, is now just playing games.
Many young people today seem like Chris, maybe not as extreme but still drifting through life trying one thing or another until they ‘fall into something’ or ‘something clicks’, and never really happy with what happens to them. This is what happens to the Leonardo DiCaprio character in the movie Revolutionary Road, for whom the last thing he wanted was to spend his life working at Knox Machines the way his father did. Guess what? He ended up spending his life working at Knox Machines the way his father did.
Of the requirements for a fulfilling purpose, it seems the one that causes the most trouble for people is that it be something that someone likes enough to be all-in for. That may be because people are told to suppress their desires and ‘serve other people’. Again a movie comes to mind, this time Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. At the end of the segment on middle age, a waiter in his 50’s tells the viewers to come with him on a ridiculously long walk from inner London out into the countryside to the house where he grew up. Once there, he tells the viewers that the thing that stuck with him when growing up was his parents telling him to “make other people happy”; he says on the basis of this, he became a waiter. He then says that he knows it’s not much, but…and then suddenly he becomes upset and angry, telling the viewers, who followed him all the way out there, to just go away and get lost as he walks away towards the house disgusted.
This is actually a very sad and troubling scene in the movie because it exposes an erroneous conflation that has been ruining good people’s lives for perhaps millennia: that if you do what you want, you become a crazed hedonistic lunatic who will hurt other people and only by suppressing your desires will you be fit to live with and trade with other people.
The truth is the opposite: only by doing what you like enough to be all-in for will you be good enough at it to be successful at trading value for value with other people. It’s a non sequitur to say that just because you like doing something, it will be useless to or a danger to other people and producing value for others can only be done by doing something you don’t like. As I said in my post “So What are Values, Anyway?” there are very few limitations on what can be a value and what can’t. One of these is that something is not a value if it is obtained by force or fraud; so therefore, as far as selecting a purpose goes, you can’t be a criminal or a manipulator, or you can be a banker but not a bank robber. But as long as you’re not driven to be a criminal of some kind, feel free to choose what you like; or as INXS once sang in their song “Hear That Sound”: “So your time has come/children watch the fools/don’t let anyone tell you/what you must do/do you like what you see/or does it make you cry/use your imagination/to start a fire.”
Enough about failures to find a purpose, it is time for a story about someone successfully finding one and living happily ever after.
One day in a park, in a wooded mountainous area on the edge of a city, a little girl about seven years old was walking on a trail with her parents. They lived in a subdivision on a mountain just outside the park’s boundaries. The girl became giddy and silly so she started running away from her parents as a joke. She ran down the trail so far they lost sight of each other and she began to get nervous she would get lost, so she started running what she thought was back the way she came. What she really was doing, however, was continuing to run away from her parents and where she previously was… deeper into the woods.
She kept running deeper and deeper into the woods until alongside the trail up ahead she saw a pile of rocks and a fence. Her anxiety changed to curiosity and she decided she’d see what was there. When she got there, however, she screamed at what she saw behind the rocks and fence; a vertical cave shaft so deep she could not see the bottom. She became horrified and traumatized because she knew what would happen to her if she were ever to fall down it. She ran screaming and crying back down the trail to her parents. She had nightmares about the horrible pit for several days afterward.
But then, a couple of weeks later, an interesting thing happened; her terror was replaced by curiosity. In her mind, several questions started coming up over and over again. Why was that pit there? Was it natural or manmade? Where does it go? Did anyone ever fall down it? Can people go down it safely and what’s at the bottom? Are there other such pits in other places?
She remembered the location of the pit in the park and knew where the park was in relation to her house and school, so one day she decided on her way home after school to see the pit. She went there and noticed the colors, shapes, striations and fractures in the rocks. She looked over the edge from as close as she could safely get to it and saw the bottom far down with what looked like a pile of debris in it. She saw birds and bats flying out of it, and lizards, snakes, chipmunks and squirrels at the top by the edge. All of this made her even more curious, so every so often on her way home from school, she would visit the pit. On one visit, as so often happens in that part of the country, a violent thunderstorm started. Although soaking wet she was fascinated when she saw the rainwater cascading down the abyss. She wondered where the water went. She saw the rocks over which the water fell seemed smooth and wondered if the water had something to do with forming the pit.
Then one day on one of her visits she became extremely lucky. As she approached the pit she saw ropes tied around trees near the edge and people going down into and coming up out of the pit! She ran over to talk to them. “Don’t play here, little girl, it is dangerous!” they told her. But she started to pepper them with the questions that had been on her mind for several months now. They started to laugh a little nervously at her intelligence and intense curiosity, and wondered what was really going on. Some of them started to give her satisfactory answers but they seemed too busy with other things to spend much time with her. Then suddenly, an old man with gray hair, big muscles, and leathery skin wearing gloves and a tank top came up a rope over the top of the pit. He seemed friendly, knowledgeable and older than the other people in the group and was obviously, the group’s leader.
He started telling her about how this was a cave that formed in a kind of rock called limestone, and it was vertical because water erodes limestone and when there’s a vertical crack between two large blocks of limestone, water will over a long period of time erode out a vertical space like this one. He explained that the water goes down the pit to something called the water table, which is the level of groundwater underground, and that people sometimes drill wells to get their drinking water from the water table. “But what if the rainwater’s polluted?” She asked him. “Well that could be a serious problem,” he replied. “If you’re this interested in caves, you should study geology. It’s the science of rocks,” he told her as the group packed up and left.
All this conversation with the cavers made her even more curious. She was stoked about following up on all the information she received! She saw the equipment they used, learned about limestone, groundwater, and geology. She became nuts about these things. When she went to high school she became part of a caving club and eventually rappelled down into the pit. She also developed a fascination with science, particularly chemistry, acing the class with perfect grades. She went to college to study geology and learned all about all kinds of rocks: sedimentary (which included limestone), igneous and metamorphic. She did extremely well in college, received her Bachelor’s degree in geology and went on to get her PhD in Sinkhole Mitigation in areas of karst topography. She eventually married a man who was a civil engineer whose firm she worked for as a geological consultant. She and her husband eventually moved to Orlando where they opened an office. She later became one of the best structural design consultants in Florida. Finally, when she died at a very old age she left her family a decent-sized fortune from the family business.
All of this success because when she was seven, she was lost in the woods. Now, that’s what a life with a purpose looks like.
The Democratic Party is the Party of the Mindless
The media incessantly try to portray the Democratic Party as something it isn’t. It has been described as the party of “compassion”, the party of “the poor”, or of “the working man” or “the little guy”. It is thought of as the party that “cares about others”, that wants to “save the planet”, that believes in “other than just trying to make a profit”, that is “for the children”, that wants us to be “citizens of the world”, that wants “sustainability”, etc. It is none of these things; in fact, these are just rationalizations to hide what it really is. What it really is, is the party of the unthinking, or the party of the mindless.
I said in my post “How we get our Values: The Thinking Process” (October 2015) that thinking is how we live because it is how we get the values we need to live. Thinking, however, is not automatic. Much of thinking is self-evident for concrete concepts that can be understood perceptually like cars, food, clothes, etc.; consequently almost everyone can figure out how to take care of relatively simple matters such as what to wear or have for dinner. For understanding abstract concepts, however, like morality, individual rights, romantic love, or financial solvency, thinking is not self-evident and the technique of reducing abstractions to concretes must be learned. If it isn’t, people will not be able to understand abstract concepts correctly or be able to use them properly to achieve values that require an understanding of abstractions, like romantic love or successfully managing a business.
Non-thinkers are people who haven’t learned how to understand and use abstract concepts correctly, and thus are unable to achieve values that require an understanding of abstract concepts. The inability of non-thinkers to think and achieve certain values leads them to have contempt for human nature overall. I mean, what kind of animal must we humans be when our means of survival isn’t learned automatically or self-evidently? (This is why they love lower animals so much and give them “rights”; according to non-thinkers lower animals, because they learn what they need to automatically to live, have it made compared with us humans.) They also end up in a constant terror of a reality they can’t understand, relate to or be productive in, in which they believe if left on their own they’ll starve to death. (This is why they holler about masses of “people dying in the streets” every time someone wants to cut some government welfare program.) They respond by wanting coercive control over people who do know how to think, to be able to seize and “redistribute” what the thinkers produce to themselves so they won’t starve.
The Democratic Party caters to (or should I say, panders to?) this constituency, exploiting it to augment its power. The Democrats’ platform consistently consists of measures to take control over productive people: higher taxes on people with greater incomes, and always more regulations on businesses. If you want a tax break or relief or an exemption from the myriad of rules they place in people’s way, you have to make a deal with them – in which you have to give them what they want.
But the Democrats don’t act with control as their only aim; they act out of contempt towards everyone… even their own constituents. The Democrats’ modus operandi is as follows: they use high taxes and regulations to extort wealth from those who can think well enough to produce it, and then use this booty to buy the votes of gullible, ignorant, poorly educated or just dumb constituents. Then, once in power they screw their constituents. When the constituents complain the Democrats blame the constituents’ condition on the actions of the Democrats’ political opponents, projecting onto them the Democrats’ own contemptible characteristics.
The Democrats’ treatment of African Americans is an excellent example. Democrats tell them that America is too racist for them to succeed without the Democrats’ largess, which includes welfare payments from the proceeds of taxes ‘on the rich’, and a ‘leveling of the playing field’ with regulations that are allegedly in their favor. So African Americans vote for Democrats in dizzying percentages. The Democrats then implement policies that since 1932 have been destroying the African American community.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been a major destroyer of black neighborhoods nationwide. Created by FDR in 1934 as part of the New Deal allegedly for the purpose of kick-starting housing construction during the Great Depression, the FHA insured private lenders’ mortgages on homes that met its underwriting criteria. Part of the FHA’s criteria was that a home could not be in a neighborhood that had any black residents; it kept this policy for over thirty years until the mid 1960’s. The FHA would draw a red line around any neighborhood with one or more black residents, creating the dreaded practice “redlining”. This caused banks to stop making mortgages there because, without free FHA mortgage insurance, banks absorbed the risk of the borrower defaulting, while they could lend risk-free in all-white neighborhoods. 
The consequence of redlining was that, if people wanted to buy a house in a neighborhood that had any black residents, they couldn’t get a mortgage; they had to buy for all cash or with a very high down payment. This made homes in these neighborhoods virtually unmarketable and caused their owners, to avoid getting stuck with a worthless house on their hands, to flee to suburbs where restrictive covenants (which the FHA encouraged the use of) kept blacks from buying property (so-called “white flight”). Businesses followed and neighborhoods became ghettos, creating the rift between blacks and whites existing in the culture today.
Yet when blacks complain about the condition their neighborhoods are in, the Democrats don’t accept responsibility for creating the FHA or causing redlining; instead, they blame private banks – who may have hated redlining but still had to follow the FHA or bear an unnecessary risk of their borrowers defaulting – for discriminating against them. (And, if anyone dares to expose the real truth and explain it to anyone, according to Dr. Ben Carson they get smeared as an “Uncle Tom” sellout.)
The FHA is far from an isolated case. Democrats have told blacks their neighborhoods will receive all sorts of new economic activity from Urban Renewal – which did nothing except tear down people’s homes and businesses, leaving them with nothing but vacant lots. They told blacks they’ll receive good housing with public housing, which left them with housing that was often worse than that they left. They slated black neighborhoods for interstate highways which displaced even more people. And they left black neighborhoods with public school systems that are so awful at teaching children anything they would be an act of war had they been imposed by a foreign country. And for these results Democrats have blamed real estate developers, Republicans, car companies, oil companies, ‘the rich’ – anyone other than the Democratic Party which supported all these measures. (And yet, despite this track record, if you try to address African Americans – by making a speech to a group such as the NAACP or at a black church – and you dare to criticize the Democratic Party, the conversation’s over.)
The Democratic Party has equivalents in other countries. Often they are called the Labor Party, the Worker’s Union Party, the Socialist Worker’s Party, the People’s Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party or virtually anything else with a “power to the people” theme to it. And these power to the people parties have the same modus operandi as our Democrats.
The “People’s” parties of communist countries like China, Cuba, the Soviet Union and East Germany are excellent examples of other countries’ Democrats. These parties all told the ignorant, gullible or poorly educated the same thing: with Communism, “the people” will own everything, not just rich businessmen, leaving the implication in their minds that “everybody” would own everything. What the ignorant, gullible or poorly educated didn’t understand: that “the people” meant only the government as a “representative” of “everybody”, and not actually “everybody” – and that everyone, except a small party elite would have nothing, at least as far as any kind of indicia of ownership is concerned. And when under Communism these countries’ governments became tyrannical and their economies collapsed, their governments were quick to blame who – the “rich”, the “bourgeoisie”, the United States, etc. – everyone but the responsible party, the Communists.
So, in this 2016 election season, are you planning to vote Democratic? If so, are you mindless??
 David Wilens, Bight Ideas: How Statism is Destroying America’s Cities (Oakland, Oregon: Elderberry Press, 2006), pp. 159-64. Mark I. Gelfand, A Nation of Cities: The Federal Government and Urban America 1933-1965 (New York: Oxford University Press 1975), pp. 215-220. Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (First Edition) (New York: Oxford University Press 1985), pp. 197-238.
How Washington Turns Conservatives into Liberals: By making Them “Bring Home the Bacon”
In politics anger is now the word of the day. Disillusioned conservative voters are furious at the so-called Republican establishment, which since Reagan has nominated a string of RINOs – H.W. Bush, Dole, W. Bush, McCain and Romney. All of them lost the popular vote for President at least once (though W. Bush won the Electoral College thanks to the genius of Bill Clinton costing Al Gore Florida by deporting Elian Gonzalez to Cuba the summer before the 2000 election). In response voters turned Congress overwhelmingly Republican in 2010 and 2014 and now are backing so-called non-establishment candidates for President, with little (in the case of Ted Cruz) or no political experience (like Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Donald Trump) in Washington. And conservative activists forced Republican House Speaker John Boehner to resign because he wasn’t delivering the results they wanted.
As to why this is happening, Rush Limbaugh has said repeatedly that voters want conservatism but chronically aren’t being given what they’re asking for. They’re repeatedly voting for Republicans who say they want to shrink the size of the government and cut spending and regulations, and then once they get to Washington… it doesn’t happen. For years majorities of voters have screamed that they hate Obamacare and have been told by candidates that they will try to “repeal and replace” it, yet it never happens; health care continues to become less and less available while insurance premiums continue to skyrocket, and horribly people even die needlessly waiting for care (e.g., Linda Rolain of Las Vegas). And voters want the deficit spending to end, but Republicans keep caving in to President Obama and approving budgets that spend ever greater amounts of money.
Clearly Washington D.C. is being insubordinate to its bosses, the taxpayers. Yet why is this happening? Why does our federal government, on both sides of the aisle and despite all the popular opposition, continue to govern against the will of those it governs? Because once those elected get to D.C., they are taught that what they need to do to stay in power is to bring home the bacon.
Bringing home the bacon means doing what the elected officials’ largest political donors (known derisively as “special interests”, as opposed to the general interest of the public) want done, whether it’s passing regulations that will help them and/or hurt their competition, or securing funding for programs they want. The money these donors provide is essential to the officials’ reelection efforts, so these donors always have their ear. For example Nevada Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat, regularly ‘brings home the bacon’ for the casino industry there, making sure that the regulations the casinos want get passed and ones they don’t want don’t get passed. Many legislators in West Virginia and Kentucky have similar relationships with the coal industry and many in Michigan have them with the auto industry. The petroleum industry donates heavily to officials in Texas, Alaska, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Etc.
To some extent this is unavoidable because political campaigns cost money. And it’s also true that, when Washington doles out money, it’s our money it’s doling out – and we want it back. So to get it back, as many of us as can afford to lobby Washington do so to get it back. But when it comes back, it does so with the strings Washington wants attached to it. To make sure we like those strings, we lobby for the strings also. This leads to a war of anyone against everyone else to get control of the coercive power of the federal government to feather their own nests.
Bringing home the bacon for a particular elected official’s biggest donors very often involves deal-making with other elected officials, often with opposing agendas, to get them to vote for what he wants in exchange for voting for what they want. Because of this, for both liberals and conservatives to ‘bring home the bacon’, their agendas get watered down as they go on record periodically supporting things that go against their beliefs and which are opposed vehemently by a large number of their constituents.
None of this is really new or troublesome in and of itself. In fact, this is the way government has run the country virtually forever, and we’ve still survived and thrived as a nation. What is extremely troublesome, though, is how in recent decades the process of ‘bringing home the bacon’ has been commandeered by liberal intellectuals, who act covertly by calling themselves “consultants”.
The “consultants” are people in Washington who act as advisors to elected officials, particularly newly elected ones who don’t know yet how to obtain the support they need to get legislation passed. Although they claim to be “non-partisan” and work for both parties, the “consultants” are actually overwhelmingly on the side of liberals. Many of them are university professors and their cronies who hate America and want to see our freedom, prosperity and exceptionalism destroyed. In my post “The History of Thinking in Western History” (November 2015) I explain how American academia is currently in a non-thinking trend following the anti-thinking philosophical ideas of German philosopher Immanuel Kant, and hates countries and cultures, including the United States, which are based on thinking.
According to Douglas Brunt, author of the political novel The Means, the partisan divide among Americans is strong outside of Washington but not in it. Inside the Beltway consultants on opposing sides regularly meet to plan strategies, compare notes – and talk out of two sides of their mouths. A consultant can tell Democrats to stand firm and never back down, and to go on the offensive against Republicans who won’t support them in bringing their legislation up for a vote for being “divisive”, “extremist” and “obstructionist”. The same consultant, can then turn around and tell Republicans to “compromise” and “work with the other side”, etc. If the Republicans fail to do so, the consultants warn, they will not be able to get enough support –either from their own side or the Democrats- to pass their ‘bring home the bacon’ legislation. With no intellectual voices in Washington to listen to in opposition to this line of reasoning, Republicans become scared – and mentally feel they have no choice but to back down and cave in.
Lately the situation has become far worse. Consultants regularly tell Republicans that they will bring home no bacon if they try to force President Obama to veto a bill repealing Obamacare, which is basically bacon brought home for the health insurance industry. They tell them they will be called racists in their home states and districts – and that their donors might even be exposed and smeared – if they don’t agree to the President’s spending plans.
How do we fight back against this?
Term limits are a start; not a cure, but a start. What term limits can do is stop officials from becoming entrenched in Washington as hired guns for special interests, the way Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi (for San Francisco food producers) and Jim Wright (for Texas automakers) have. Term limits have helped keep presidents since FDR from becoming long-term imperial dictators; for members of Congress they may be able to do the same.
But more is needed… Conservatives need their own intellectual ‘consultant’ class who will counter the liberals’ control over the agenda. Instead of allowing the Democrats to get away with saying to Republicans “you get nothing if you oppose Obamacare”, for example, we need Republicans to be able to tell Democrats that they get nothing if they don’t oppose it. Or they get nothing if they don’t want to cut spending or lower taxes.
Yet, even this is not the ultimate goal. The goal for the Republicans needs to be a new attitude towards bringing home the bacon. That attitude must be that laws should be enforceable but regulations should not be.
In my post, “But Don’t Businesses Need to be “Regulated”?” (May 2015), I explain the difference between proper laws, which are binding rules designed to protect individual rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness; and regulations, which are rules that have nothing to do with the protection of rights but rather are lobbied for by special interests to turn governments into their own hired guns to reward themselves and/or punish their competition. Rules against theft, kidnapping, homicide and fraud – both civil and criminal – are proper laws that protect rights and that should be enforceable. In contrast, rules compelling people or businesses to buy health insurance or auto insurance or contribute to funds for employee’s benefits, or pay a minimum wage or prohibiting breeding orcas in captivity or requiring the catering of a gay wedding or the hiring of a certain percentage of black or Hispanic or liberal employees in the name of ‘diversity’, or any other rule in the sickening myriad of regulations that burden everyone, are not proper laws. (For the nature of individual rights and the proper role of government in protecting them, see my post “The Long Lost Doctrine of Individual Rights” (September 2015)).
Regulations are as problematic as they are because governments go on fishing expeditions to enforce them, using even the slightest violation as leverage for a rights-violating shakedown. You don’t cater a gay wedding? You’re fined $130,000 and are forced out of business. Toilet paper in the restaurant’s restrooms a quarter-of-an-inch wider than regulations allow? $500 fine per day the violation persists and up to five years’ imprisonment upon conviction… and on and on.
My solution to this: regulations should be unenforceable. Refuse to cater a gay wedding and someone doesn’t like it? They can complain all they like but they can’t prosecute, since no violations of rights have occurred… and the government can’t prosecute on its own, either. If a business kills or kidnaps someone, steals his property or defrauds him, that’s one thing – but if it simply refuses to associate with him such as by refusing to cater his wedding, that’s definitely another. Refuse to buy health insurance? The IRS should have no ability to do anything to you. Etc.
Of course, if someone could show that a particular regulation does protect rights to life, liberty, or property and he has suffered a violation of such a right, by all means he should be able to sue or press charges. But this is not what is done with regulations; rather, they are for the aforementioned purpose of providing leverage to a government for shaking down politically incorrect individuals and businesses regardless of whether an actual violation of rights has occurred.
Making regulations unenforceable would take away the incentive of special interests to turn the officials they donate to into their own hired guns to force their will on everyone. Elected officials would be free to do their proper job; pass laws that protect individual rights, then they won’t get sidetracked into ‘bringing home the bacon’.
“Hillary Rodham Clinton Acted Mindlessly”?
Recently while talking about the “banning the box” issue regarding past criminal history on job applications, Hillary Clinton made the comment that “former presidents won’t have to declare their criminal history at the very start of the hiring process.” She then continued as if she hadn’t made a mistake.
Her supporters were quick to point out that she meant former prisoners will no longer have to declare their criminal history at the very start of the hiring process. The truth is, though, she didn’t. And she didn’t mean presidents, either. She meant nothing. She meant nothing because Hillary is mindless. She does not think about any issue that is any more abstract than what is patently self-evident.
I always find it a little inappropriate when a commentator – particularly a centrist/rightward leaning one like Bill O’Reilly – says something to the effect of “well Mrs. Clinton wants such and such” or “Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq War”, or “Mrs. Clinton is more hawkish on foreign policy than other Democrats”, etc. It’s inappropriate because Hillary doesn’t want anything or believe anything, except her own arbitrary, disintegrated, la-la land emotional drivel of the moment. With this kind of mentality, the fact that she voted a certain way on a specific issue or publicly took a certain stand in and of itself means nothing.
A common criticism of Hillary is that she sounds “scripted”. There’s a good reason for this: it’s because she is scripted. She is constantly being told what to say by advisors and has little if any understanding of the substance of what she’s saying.
The media tell us constantly how smart Hillary Clinton is, yet this is probably done to hide the truth that she is an idiot. She never seems to make intelligent comments. She did fail the Washington, D.C. Bar Exam (though she passed the Arkansas exam). She does not answer reporters’ questions clearly. Dick Morris and George Stephanopoulos – hardly anyone’s idea of a vast right wing conspiracy – have both been critical of her abilities. After law school she received no job offers according to Morris, only getting an offer from The Rose Law Firm in Little Rock after Bill Clinton became the Arkansas Attorney General. Her “achievements” in the United States Senate consisted almost entirely of meaningless legislation such as renaming courthouses and the like.
Not only is she mindless, though. She is also unpatriotic.
As I said in my post “Why Liberals are such JERKS (and what to do about them)” (November 2015), mindless people do not exactly care for societies, like the United States, that are based on or value thinking. In the United States it doesn’t matter what your race or ethnicity or parentage or gender is; if you think, work hard and end up productive, you can become successful. This is how the vast majority of people in our country became prosperous, making it into the middle class if not higher. It is the American way.
But it isn’t Hillary’s way. She doesn’t get her wealth by thinking and producing values for exchange like a legitimate businessman. Rather, she seeks out and teams up with politically powerful people so she can be a power broker, using leverage to trade favors for kickbacks. This is why she married Bill, attaching herself, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, to a guy who was going places.
Because Hillary’s way isn’t the American way, she has contempt for America and the people who defend it. That’s why it should come as no surprise that while in law school she interned for a communist or was a devotee of Saul Alinsky.
Nor should it be a surprise that she not only failed to protect four U.S. diplomats from being murdered in Benghazi, Libya when the U.S. consulate there was under siege in a planned, coordinated terrorist attack. She also had the gall, as insult to injury, to lie about the circumstances of the attack to absolve herself from blame. Because the attack was planned and coordinated, as Secretary of State she either knew or should have known about it from intelligence and therefore had a duty to do what she could to protect American interests. She acknowledged it was a planned attack, as evidenced by her telling the President of Libya, the Prime Minister of Egypt, and her daughter that it was, yet she did nothing to get extra protection for the consulate. She then told the American people – including the relatives of the slain diplomats at their funerals – that it was not a planned attack at all, but rather a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim video made by an American that she could not have known about in advance and therefore could do nothing about.
Nor should it come as a surprise that as Secretary of State she had a secret, unsecure server at her home on which she saved thousands of State Department emails containing highly classified information. This server was probably hacked into by enemies of the United States including the Russian and Chinese governments, giving them access to this information and putting the country’s security at risk. Nor should it be a surprise that she lied profusely when asked about it and arrogantly continues to do so.
Her mindlessness and contempt for America make her mean, cold and “hard” – too “hard” to be likeable enough to win a presidential election – so she is constantly trying to “soften her image”. What version of image softening are we on by now, is it, um, Hillary Clinton 32.0 maybe?
What would be in store for America if this phony, malicious monstrosity of a homo sapiens were to win the 2016 presidential election? First of all, because of her mindlessness she wouldn’t be ruling the country; rather her advisers would be. These advisers are basically professors from academia who hate thinking and hate America – and have it in for us. As I said in my post “The History of Thinking in Western History” (November 2015), our intellectuals are currently in an anti-thinking trend, in love with Kant and not with America. As bad as things have become under Barack Obama, who by no means is an America lover, under Hillary Clinton’s cadre things will probably become far worse. This is not farfetched, particularly with Iran on the verge of having nuclear weapons. Rome burned while Nero fiddled. America could burn – while Hillary cackles.
How do we Republicans prevent this? Remember our ABC – Anyone But Clinton. No matter how much you dislike Rubio or Bush or Kasich or Christie or Fiorina or Trump or Cruz or whoever the heck else is running on the Republican side, remember this: any of them would be far better than Hillary Clinton. While it is true that the more liberal RINO types like Bush and Kasich could screw up and leave the door open for Democratic presidents in the future the way Bush’s father and brother did for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (see my post “Democrats Only Win the White House When Republicans Blunder”, October 2015), all is certainly not lost if heaven forbid one of them ends up the nominee. All it means is that we activists will have to work a little harder in the meantime to prevent the White House from changing hands back to the Democrats than we would if someone who is more of a Constitutional Conservative were to be the nominee. But even if you don’t like the nominee, remember ABC – and DSH (Don’t Stay Home) on Election Day.
IN MEMORY OF JOHN CHRISTOPHER STEVENS, SEAN SMITH, TYRONE SNOWDEN WOODS AND GLEN DOHERTY
Why There Is So Much Islamic Terrorism: A History of Thinking in Islamic History
Today’s talk of the town in much of the world is Islamic terrorism. Atrocities in countries all over the world by a multitude of terrorist groups including Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, The Islamic Brotherhood, ISIS, and Hamas have almost everyone wondering, regardless of where they are, whether they will end up the next victim in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet as prevalent as Islamic terrorism has become, very few people understand why it is happening – and consequently, the proper response to stop it.
Many liberals including American Democrats and university professors love to state that “terrorism” is no different than street crime, or even socially acceptable behavior under moral standards that can never be fully objective, i.e., that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. But I disagree with that. As Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu stated in his book Terrorism: How the West can Win, there is a real, objective difference between terrorists and freedom fighters. Real freedom fighters, e.g., the American Founding Fathers, and the Sons of Liberty of Boston Tea Party fame in 1773 – want freedom, limited government and individual rights. Terrorists, in contrast, want the opposite: tyranny- either by anarchy or dictatorship.
It should be no surprise, then, that the Moslem world produces so much terrorism. So much terrorism comes from the Moslem world because there is so much dictatorship and anarchy there. Some countries like Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Oman, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are milder dictatorships while others like Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and of course Iran are more brutal. There are also a lot of anarchies which were once dictatorships, like Somalia, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yemen is a country that seems to be perpetually teetering on the brink between dictatorship and anarchy.
Now, the question: why is tyranny – either dictatorship or anarchy – so prevalent in the Moslem world today? The answer: because the Moslem world is currently in an anti-thinking trend that is comparable to the European Dark Ages – and dictatorship and anarchy are what result when people don’t know how to think.
In my blog “How we get our Values: The Thinking Process” (October 2015), I explain that thinking is what enables people to achieve those things that are valuable for living their lives. I also go on to say that thinking is not automatic and needs to be learned –and many people do not learn it. In my blog “Why Liberals are such, uh, JERKS (and what to do about them)” (November 2015), I explain that people who do not learn how to think end up hostile toward thinking, and have radically different ethical and political beliefs than those held by pro-thinking people. If people learn to think properly, they will feel competent to produce values and live by their own efforts. They will view their own happiness as a proper ethical goal, without any desire to coercively control other people. Consequently they will regard the initiation of force or fraud against other people as immoral, and will have no problem with capitalism, individual rights and limited government.
People who don’t learn to think, however, will feel threatened by capitalism, individual rights and limited government and will want a dictatorship or anarchy of some kind. Because values are necessary to live and nonthinkers are unproductive at producing values, to survive they must seize others’ values. If the rightful owners of the desired values refuse to let the nonthinkers do this, then the nonthinkers feel they should be allowed to take them by initiating force or fraud if necessary. So, central to liberals’ ethical beliefs is coercive control over other people, particularly anyone productive enough to produce what the liberals feel they need to survive. They therefore rewrite ethics to make control over, and initiation of force and fraud against, thinkers by nonthinkers moral.
And they rewrite politics to make this control central to the systems they prefer and proffer. What are these systems? Either dictatorships or anarchies that have a mafia-type entity in place of the government: Both give the nonthinkers the coercive control over other people they want. Remember Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto: from the (thinking) Bourgeoisie according to ability to the (unthinking) Proletariat according to need.
With the prevalence of terrorism and tyranny in the Moslem world today it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always this way. Islam was truly a good system gone wrong. It was a good system because it was supportive of thinking. At one time – in particular, from the eight through thirteenth centuries – the Islamic world was extremely pro-thinking and consequently at the forefront of the arts, science and commerce. It went bad by banishing thinking in favor of mindless behavior as a matter of religious and legal doctrine, for the most part starting in the year 1501. In my blog post “The History of Thinking in Western History” (November 2015), I show how the history of the Western (i.e., European) World’s view of thinking correlated with its golden ages and dark ages. To see what happened in the Moslem world it would be useful to do the same analysis for it also.
Not surprisingly, Islamic history begins with Islam’s founder, Mohammed. He has been called many things: a murderer, monster, statesman, prodigy, genius, bigamist, child molester, gangster, mentor and, of course, prophet. Much of the negative was probably the result of him living in the sixth and seventh centuries, where people married very young (because by today’s standards they didn’t live all that long to begin with) and men often had many wives at the same time. It was also before the advent of individual rights, when people often had no means to resolve disputes other than by openly using force. The facts about Mohammed actually make him appear to be a Renaissance man before there was a Renaissance. During his life he was a salesman, an intellectual, a warrior, and a statesman. From the record he seemed to do all of these fairly well.
Born in 570 AD in Mecca, Mohammed was an orphan raised by his uncle. During his early adulthood he worked in Mecca as a businessman. He became disgusted at the polytheistic tribal society there. Rulers would change the law they would use in warfare, court trials, regulating commerce, or other acts of governing basically because they simply felt like it, using a different God to morally rationalize their behavior with each change; This created massive injustices, such as innocent people being killed, fined, enslaved or imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, in large part because of who they were or what tribe they were a member of rather than for what they actually did.
Mohammed realized that this system was ultimately geared towards keeping the aristocracy with wealth and power in a position of power, regardless of merit. He also noticed that people with great ability but without aristocratic connections had little opportunity to advance in their careers, and the wealth they could possibly create for themselves and society as a whole was not being realized. The ultimate result was a poorer and much more miserable state of affairs than, according to Mohammed, it should’ve been.
Then, in the year 610, while praying in a cave outside Mecca, the angel Gabriel allegedly came to Mohammed and gave him the first of the many revelations he claimed to have received during his life. The content of his revelations included the idea that all people are basically the same before God, and therefore should only have one set of laws coming from the word of only one God, to govern them; that all people – from the poor to the aristocrats – have a duty to submit to and obey this set of laws if they are to live in the company of other people; and if they refuse, they can be forced to do so or, if they persist, can be killed. In response Mohammed developed the system of Islam, meaning submission to the order of God.
As developed by Mohammed and consistent with his revelations, Islam included one God whose word is one consistent set of laws, promulgated by Islamic intellectuals, or clerics, and written down in a holy book called the Quran to give everyone notice so they would have a chance to follow them. Courts would be established where judges were to determine if someone obeyed or violated the Quran and would hand down judgments and carry out sentences accordingly, without regard to one’s stature or tribal affiliation or anything else that was irrelevant. Taxes would be levied by a bureaucracy to provide a rainy-day fund (similar to the modern western welfare state) for Muslims who faced hard times through no fault of their own, to finance the bureaucratic infrastructure, and pay for a military that would defend places that converted to Islam against hostile infidel forces.
Mohammed started to preach about his system in Mecca publicly in 613, angering the city’s rulers. To protect himself he and a small group of followers fled to Medina, where he had the opportunity to try out Islam for the first time. He drafted a constitution governing Medina that made peace between the tribes that ruled the city and created a bureaucracy to run it. As a consequence of Mohammed’s reforms Medina’s economy exploded, resulting in tremendous prosperity.
With his success in Medina as his resume Mohammed set out to spread his system to all the polytheistic towns of Arabia with his warrior hat full-on, threatening to mercilessly kill everyone – man, woman, or child – who failed to submit to Islamic rule. Then, once Mohammed did conquer a town, he took his warrior hat off, so to speak, and put his salesman’s hat on. Follow the Quran, he would tell people, and you will achieve a lasting peace and prosperity like you’ve never known. Then, upon submission by the people to his rule, Mohammed would take off the salesman’s hat and put on his statesman one, establishing the mosques, courts, military and administrative bureaucracy.
Mohammed delivered the goods. In town after town across the Arabian Peninsula Islamic rule allowed for peace, prosperity and cultural and scientific advances that in less than two centuries enabled people to advance from a largely nomadic, near-barbaric lifestyle under tyrannical polytheistic governments to a golden age. Word of mouth spreading Islam’s virtues enabled the Islamic empire to become the largest the world had ever seen by that time in a matter of decades.
Mohammed died in Medina in 632 AD, leaving behind a successful empire that covered much of the Arabian Peninsula with its capital in Medina. His legacy included not only the religion of Islam, with its estimated 1.6 billion followers today, but also two other relevant things. One was the four caliphates, or Islamic states, in order the Rashidun (632- 661 AD), the Umayyad (661 – 750), the Abbasid (750-1517), and the Ottoman (1299-1922). The other was the split of Islam into its two main sects, Sunni and Shia.
Regarding the Sunni Shia split, upon Mohammed’s death the vast majority of his followers wanted to continue to interpret the Quran (and notes Mohammed made that were outside the Quran) according to his wishes, including regarding the leadership of his empire. One of the most important of Mohammed’s desires- from his business experience in Mecca- was that the empire be governed as a meritocracy, with resumes, job postings and interviews of the objectively most qualified candidates to run it. Muslims who supported Mohammed’s views on these matters became the Sunnis (with “Sunni” meaning “teachings” in Arabic, referring to the teachings of Mohammed and Islam).
After Mohammed’s death, however, a small group of Islamic converts wanted the empire to be governed not as a meritocracy but rather as a monarchy of sorts, with the leaders of the empire chosen by lineage from Mohammed’s son in law. Those who wanted to follow this path became the Shia Muslims or Shiites (with “Shia” meaning “partisan” in Arabic). 
Much of the reason for Islam’s turn against thinking and consequent downfall is attributable to the philosophy of Shia Islam. In contrast with Sunni Muslims, who feel bound by the laws of Mohammed, Shia Muslims feel they have free license to speak on Mohammed’s behalf and create Islamic law however they feel like as they go along. They see no conflict in this because, as partisans of the Prophet, they are the heirs to his authority. As Mohammed’s heirs Shia leaders can implement whatever measures they want, including those favored by non thinkers that would create tyrannical rule and terrorism.
Throughout Islamic history the Sunnis have been the overwhelming majority, constituting about 85% of the worldwide Muslim population today. For much of that history until the sixteenth century they were also intellectually dominant, and in high positions in the private sector in large Moslem cities like Baghdad, Tabriz, Isfahan, Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Alexandria and Cairo. They were also the leaders of Islam’s four caliphates.
The first of the four caliphates after Mohammed’s death, the Rashidun, had four caliphs or rulers, in order Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali. All were chosen for their positions on the basis of merit rather than lineage (and consequently were never recognized as legitimate leaders of the Caliphate by Shia Muslims). The capital of the Caliphate was Medina. During its short rule the Rashidun leaders continued to militarily spread Islam, from Arabia into northeastern Africa and Persia. The economic prosperity that resulted from the stability Islam provided in Arabia over tribal polytheism spread into these areas as well after conquest.
The second of the caliphates, the Umayyad, succeeded the Rashidun after the First Muslim Civil War. Its leaders moved the capital to Damascus and installed as caliphs the Umayyad dynasty. They were descendants of the Rashidun Caliph Uthman. The Umayyad caliphs continued to spread Islam, this time into what is now Turkey and all across northern Africa into what is now Spain and Portugal, creating the largest empire in history up until that time. The Umayyad Caliphate, however, lasted less than ninety years because its leaders handled administrative issues poorly. For example they gave tax exemptions to Jews and Christians who converted to Islam, but lifelong Muslims received no such benefits. The Umayyads were also very Arab-centric and discriminated against Muslims who were not ethnic Arabs, in particular the Persians.
Anger and frustration at the Umayyad’s rule opened the door to their defeat by the Abbasi family of Persia, who became the caliphs of the Abbasid Caliphate. Lasting longer than any of the other caliphates at over 760 years, the Abbasid Caliphate was not only Islam’s Golden Age but the undisputed “main event” of Islamic history. It was essentially a loose confederacy, with its capital in Baghdad and a lot of control retained by local leaders and non-religious clerics throughout the empire. Much of western Africa and Spain remained in Umayyad hands and were never even under Abbasid control. Likewise later in the Caliphate’s history Persia was controlled by the Mongols. Despite not being under Abbasid political control, however, these areas remained allied with the Abbasid Caliphate culturally.
What made the Abbasid Caliphate the Muslims’ Golden Age was the pro-thinking writings of Plato and Aristotle, which were translated into Arabic not long after the beginning of the Caliphate and accepted and promoted as central to Islamic culture. Abbasid rulers and the Islamic public developed a respect for the thinking process, including identifying things by their essential characteristics and using logic to check the validity of abstract ideas. Typical of the pro-thinking views that were dominant during the Abbasid Caliphate were those of the Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), who lived in Spain, Morocco and Egypt. According to Maimonides the use of logic is the correct way to validate ideas, and there can be no contradiction between the truth as revealed by God and the truth resulting from thinking.
In my post “The History of Thinking in Western History” I noted that the pro-thinking ideas of Aquinas and the Enlightenment philosophers led to scientific advances, most importantly those of Isaac Newton. As it was true in Europe so it was in the Moslem world, with tremendous advances during the Abbasid Caliphate. Muslim scientists improved the scientific method of analysis and designed much of the laboratory equipment used today. In astronomy they discovered the actual length of the solar year and made important observations of the movements of celestial bodies, laying the groundwork for European scientists like Galileo centuries later. In chemistry they discovered calcification, evaporation and the medicinal effects of different herbs and chemicals, many of which became the ingredients of now widely used medicines. They discovered and used the first disinfectants. In medicine they discovered the nature of the respiratory and circulatory systems. Muslims were also the first to develop hospitals and the principles of the patient-physician relationship.
Of course, the most significant Islamic achievement was the Arabic base ten numbering system with the digits 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Unlike the archaic Roman numeral system, where the values of numbers was not self-evident because people often to had to add or subtract to figure out the correct value of a given number, the Arabic system made the value of any number self-evident. This made possible arithmetic, algebra, and accounting, all of which were also Muslim inventions, which in turn made structural design and business management tremendously easier.
The Abbasid Caliphate began to decline in 1258 when Baghdad was sacked by Hulagu Khan, a Mongol leader in Persia and grandson of Gengis Khan. He burned the city to the ground, murdered the Caliph (by horse trampling) and killed tens of thousands of people. Most importantly, however, the viciously anti-intellectual Hulagu destroyed Baghdad’s libraries, throwing their documents – which contained many of the Abbasid Caliphate’s scientific and technological innovations – into the Tigris River. The brutality of the attack took the Caliphate by surprise because, even though the Mongols had ruled Persia to the east of Baghdad for some time, many Mongols were sympathetic to Islam and actually helped spread it throughout central Asia. And in fact Hulagu’s cousin Burke Khan opposed the sack of Baghdad so much he helped the Abbasids to keep Hulagu from marching to Egypt and taking over the entire territory of the Caliphate, enabling the Abbasids to establish their new capital in Cairo.
But while the Abbasid Caliphate won the battle against Hulagu, it ultimately lost the war. Because even though the Caliphate would continue until 1517, when it finally merged into the Ottoman Caliphate, its leaders were looking for ways to indefinitely extend their power and were secretly becoming Shia Muslims to justify ruling however they wanted. These rulers quietly encouraged clerics to forget about thinking and Aristotelian rationality. Corruption increased, the Caliphate’s economy slowed as a consequence, and the Islamic Golden Age slowly came to an end.
The Ottoman Caliphate was of little help in turning things around. Not only did Ottoman scholars contribute very little to Islamic philosophy and culture. By the time the Ottoman Caliphate achieved any real power Europe was on the ascendancy, in the midst of the Renaissance and on its way to a golden age of its own with the Enlightenment. Consequently European merchants were sailing all over the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, trading with Africa, India and China the way Muslims once had. With European trade so lucrative, many merchants in the Ottoman Caliphate became content to in essence work as laborers and middle managers for European bosses.
With its culture declining, its economy slowing and its rulers increasingly power hungry and corrupt, the Moslem world was by the sixteenth century vulnerable to a cultural and political descent into hell. That descent happened in 1501.
In that year the radically Shia Muslim Safavid dynasty (1501-1736) invaded Persia from what is now Azerbaijan. The first Safavid ruler and first Shah, Ismail I, took power at the age of 13(!) and ruthlessly set out to turn Persia into a Shia Muslim state. Ismail demanded conversion of all Sunnis and killed anyone who did not comply, often massacring entire towns to show he meant business. Realizing the importance of intellectual leaders in shaping the dominant ideas of a country’s culture, Ismail especially wanted a corps of Shiite clerics who would guide Persia away from Sunni Islam toward Shia Islam. When he found virtually none in Persia (which was over 70% Sunni Muslim in 1501), he had them imported from Shia strongholds such as Bahrain and southern Lebanon. Meanwhile Sunni clerics were given the same choice all Sunnis were: convert or die.
With the takeover of Persia by Ismail I, thinking was out of the picture in the Moslem world. It had been replaced by mindless hedonism on the part of rulers who claimed some partisanship through lineage with Mohammed, which gave them the authority of the Prophet and imprimatur to rule however they wanted to; and by mindless obedience on the part of these rulers’ subjects. Most importantly, because of Ismail I’s emphasis on loyalty to Shia Islam on the part of Moslem clerics, he changed the dominant philosophy of Islam’s scholars and, with them, the entire Muslim culture from pro-thinking to anti-thinking – as it remains to this day.
Subsequent Safavid rulers of Persia, including Shah Tahmasp I and Shah Abbas I, publicly tried to appear more lenient than Ismail I, allowing the economy to operate more freely. The result was a minor cultural renaissance in Persia, though nothing like the Islamic Golden Age under the Abbasid Caliphate. Behind the scenes, however, Safavid rulers continued to push for total Shia dominiation of Persia and, eventually, the entire Moslem world by establishing Madrasahs, or academies, to train clerics, and by encouraging clerics to become more involved in Persian politics.
Outside Persia Safavid rulers (and their successors after the end of Safavid rule in 1736) succeeded in turning parts of Azerbaijan and southern Iraq into Shiite strongholds. They failed to spread Shia Islam anywhere else overtly. They spread it covertly, however, by requiring Muslim clerics to become Shiites, thereby making Shiite ideas dominant in universities across the entire Moslem world. The result was many Sunnis who would, never in a million years openly declare themselves Shiites unwittingly accepting Shiite ideas. The intellectual spread of Shia ideas to Sunnis in other countries is evidenced by the anti-thinking, pro-totalitarian thought of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia (which is basically Shiite principles flavored with a little pro-Sunni, pro-Rashidun propaganda thrown in to make Shia Islam palatable to unsuspecting Sunnis) and the existence of Sunni Jihadist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Al Qaeda and ISIS. Today Shia ideas are ubiquitous and all-dominant in the liberal arts departments in universities throughout the Muslim world.
The rise of Shia Islam had a profound and negative effect on the Persian people. The British, who during the 1600’s were very interested in trade with India, frequently stopped in Persia on the way there. French-English author John Chardin, who spent many years in Persia, commented on the character of Persians. He noted that while on the surface they were polite, pious and charming people, deep down they were lazy, emotional, hedonistic, hypocritical and dishonest. And later, in 1935, Persia renamed itself Iran to honor Adolph Hitler, the newly elected Chancellor of Germany (“Iran” means Aryan in Persian).
The anti-thinking attitude of Iranians has thwarted efforts to turn the country into a modern western society. For example the last Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (who ruled from 1941 until 1979) tried to free the Iranian economy from oppressive regulations and created close economic ties with Israel, the United States and several Western European countries. He was hostile to the Soviet Union and radical Shiite clerics (including Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) whom he often spied on with SAVAK, the Iranian secret police. The vast majority of the Iranian public in 1979, however, regarded the Shah as an illegitimate leader with policies they did not like, so they supported his overthrow and the rule of Khomeini in the Iranian Revolution.
Today Iran is a fully statist dictatorship as committed to Shia Islam as it probably ever has been and is the world’s largest sponsor of international terrorism. But even more importantly, it is the intellectual center of the Moslem world, spreading its hate-filled, anti-thinking ideas to universities everywhere. The country lowers its profile by working through surrogates, especially ones across the Sunni-Shia divide to hide its tracks like Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS, to whom it gives intellectual support. No doubt, though, that philosophically today Iran is truly the heart of anti-thinking darkness, as it has been since 1501.
So where does this leave us today? Iran and its terrorist progeny want a new caliphate? Let’s give ‘em one!
They can have the Abbasid Caliphate, only new and improved – to accommodate the new ethical and political advances made by the Europeans during our most recent golden age. The Caliphate would have to respect social compact theory, limited government and the individual rights of everyone, including women. Hey, the fact that these ideas are European shouldn’t be a problem. I mean come on now, Plato and Aristotle were loved by the Abbasids and they were European! Why shouldn’t the ideas of more recent Europeans like Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith (and Ayn Rand) be accepted also?
I guarantee you the caliphate they want is nothing like the old ones, particularly the Abbasid. The cold water of the Abbasids’ Aristotelian rationality would have the ayatollahs melting like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. No, they may say they want a caliphate, but what they really want is the Third Reich.
 Mohammed’s notes became supplemental texts interpreting the Quran called the Haditha, with the Haditha of Gabriel – named for the angel that gave Mohammed his revelations – being the most important.
 Shia Islam is also called Twelve-er Shia Islam, to honor a little boy who supposedly drowned in a well and will return to the earth in the future as the twelfth Imam, a messianic figure, as part of Shia Islam’s folklore.
 Not surprisingly, Shia Islam in time had its own interpretations of the Quran and drafted its own Hadithas, often causing heated and violent conflicts with Sunnis.
 In addition to political involvement, Persian Shiite clerics additionally had immense power because Persian landowners, to secure their holdings, would donate an interest in their properties to particular clerics to protect these properties against seizure by overly avaricious rulers. This ultimately made many clerics immensely wealthy landowners who could wield incredible political and economic clout in making Shia Islam the only religion viewed as legitimate by the vast majority of the Persian population.
 The only intellectual opposition to clerics adopting Shia ideas was from the Ottoman Caliphate’s clerics, who were Sunnis but did not know how to out-argue the Shiites and consequently lost influence.
 R.W. Ferrier, A journey to Persia: Jean Chardin’s portrait of a seventeenth-century empire, pp. 110-11.
 I’ve read that some “moderate” Muslims want to go back to the Umayyad Caliphate. But nobody ever says today they want the Abbasid one; I wonder how many pieces they’d be cut up into if they did.
How Children should – and should not – be Educated
We’ve heard about the problems in American schools: incompetent teachers; ridiculous punishments under “zero tolerance” rules; bullying and assaults, sexual and otherwise, between teachers and students; unbelievable amounts of homework, cutting into families’ private lives; and worst of all, the dumbing down of kids who graduate not having learned anything. Because parents and other Americans have been intellectually disarmed to the point they are unable to figure out why any of this is happening, however, they have become helpless to stop it. So they have no choice but to accept the standard lines given like “it’s from the breakdown of the family” or “insufficient funding” or (my favorite) “parents aren’t involved enough in their children’s educations”, etc.
The real cause of all of these problems and their deleterious effects on American society is not, however, from the “breakdown of the family” or the children’s parents or a lack of “funding”. It is Progressive Education, which has been ubiquitous since the 1920’s in not only American public schools but also many private ones. The purpose of Progressive Education is to deliberately dumb down American children so they become intellectually unable to mount effective opposition to liberalism. As I said in my blog post “Why Liberals are such, uh, JERKS (and what to do about them)” (November 2015), to keep their racket of looting their victims going liberals have to intellectually disarm them so they don’t understand what’s happening and are unable to mount any kind of effective philosophical opposition to it. Intellectual disarmament means the inability to validate or invalidate abstract ideas or facts. If people are bombarded by ideas or facts that they can’t validate or invalidate, they are helpless to effectively oppose them and eventually end up accepting them by default and the liberals’ racket rolls on unopposed.
Progressive Education is the brainchild of the American philosopher John Dewey, who formulated its basic principles during the 1910’s and 1920’s. As I noted in my previous post, “The History of Thinking in Western History” (November 2015) he has been the most influential American philosopher since the end of the Enlightenment, largely because of the influence Progressive Education has had on American society.
Born in Vermont in 1859 Dewey was a Progressive Era liberal Democrat, a professor at University of Chicago and Columbia University, and a founder of the ACLU along with Roger Nash Baldwin. Most importantly he believed in the anti-thinking ideas of Immanuel Kant and Georg Hegel, softening Hegel’s political language to cater to (and hoodwink) a more freedom-loving American audience. For example in Hegel’s native Germany people accepted the idea that the authority they were to blindly obey was the state. However in the United States Americans were leery of big government, so according to Dewey people were to obey the dictates of “society” (with, of course, the state as “society’s de facto spokesman).
There is a correct way to teach children so they learn how to think properly. For this to happen though, a child can’t be given a lecture on the thinking process like the one in my previous blog post “How we get our Values: The Thinking Process” (October 2015); the language is too abstract for him, he lacks the context to understand it, and thus cannot yet make sense of it. Instead the child learns thinking from his teachers, who demonstrate the process by presenting material in a logical hierarchy with new material integrated with that previously learned. New material must always be integrated with that previously learned from which it builds off of, so that nothing is left “floating” in the students’ minds, irrelevant to anything else. In this way the student develops a mental context into which he can integrate and understand any new information he comes into contact with throughout his life, and consequently becomes able to properly understand reality and achieve his values.
The process of educating children begins in nursery school where they are taught simple, concrete perceptual-level concepts like simple entities the child is familiar with, such as dogs, cats, people, boys, girls, cars, buildings, trees, mountains, birds, fish, chairs, shirts, pants, coats, tables, plants, clouds, stars, insects, water, etc. The child is also taught perceptual-level attributes of these concretes, including temperatures (e.g., hot, cold, warm, etc.), textures (rough, smooth, hard, soft, etc.), colors, sounds (high, low, loud, soft), shapes, sizes, tastes (salt, sweet, bitter, sour), and quantities (more than, less than, equal to), with this last being the basis for some very simple counting up to ten. This base of concrete concepts serves as the foundation onto which students will be able to integrate new information.
Elementary school picks up where nursery school leaves off, teaching the “three R’s” of reading, writing and arithmetic. The proper way to teach reading, phonics, teaches children the alphabet first, presenting each letter as a distinct concept with a certain shape, specific sounds, and grammatical rules associated with it. Children memorize the letters by practicing writing them and saying the different sounds they make. From this understanding children can then learn words, which identify the concretes they know and are strings of the letters they just learned, and sentences, which are strings of the words they learned. Once they learn words and sentences they can recognize and articulate concepts and facts, and meaningfully engage in the thinking process.
A vital advantage of phonics is by memorizing the alphabet children can then easily recognize and read any of thousands of words in a particular language by simply sounding out the letters in them. If a child ever comes across a word he is unfamiliar with, he can still sufficiently figure it out in this way to identify it and look up its meaning, making its usage intelligible to him. In this way he becomes fully literate.  Children also use the understanding of quantities and counting they learned in nursery school as the base for learning arithmetic including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, exponents and roots.
Elementary school knowledge is in turn the base for the more abstract material presented in high school, which includes mathematics, history, literature and science.
Mathematics is the science of measurement and builds on arithmetic. It includes algebra, which adds to arithmetic the concept of a variable, a number that could exist in any quantity; geometry, the measurement of shapes; trigonometry, a geometry-algebra integration; and calculus, the mathematics of rate changes based on trigonometry. History gives students factual information about the social world and is primarily concerned with political history, because the organization of political systems is the most perceptually graspable aspect of societies and is a result of the dominant ideas of those societies. Literature, which builds off of reading and writing, uses fictional archetypes to present valuable conceptual information regarding the pursuit of values. Science provides factual information about the physical world and generally includes biology, the study of life; chemistry, the study of matter; and physics, the study of energy.
Throughout, the teacher always demonstrates the thinking process by integrating material within each subject into its proper context, using simpler concepts from earlier lessons as a base for more complex topics to come. An excellent example I’ve used in other blog posts to illustrate this is in arithmetic where a student first learns 6+4=10; then in algebra, a variable is added to the rules of arithmetic and the student learns 6x+4x=10x. In literature, fairly easy archetypes are introduced first, like the Gods in Greek mythology; then more complex archetypes, such as Shakespearean characters, are presented; then, complex ideas with the nineteenth century Romanticists like Hugo, Zola, Tolstoy, etc. The presentation of history is fairly straightforward, with events presented chronologically and later events shown as being caused by earlier ones. For example, in American history certain taxes and trade restrictions imposed by King George III of England caused the Boston Tea Party rebellion, which in turn caused the closing of Boston Harbor and the Intolerable Acts, which in turn caused the colonists to hold the First Continental Congress, raise an army and declare the American Revolution, a formal war on England.
The high school subjects of mathematics, history, literature and science are a necessary base for college courses that prepare students for their eventual careers. High school math and science courses are the base for courses in science, engineering, medicine, and architectural design at the college level, and high school history and literature courses are the base for college humanities courses in subjects such as philosophy, economics, psychology, political science, journalism and law. It is therefore vital that students get an adequate grounding in these four subjects.
As the student progresses, he must be tested and graded in some objective way to allow him to realize how well he is progressing. High grades mean he is learning the material well and should keep on doing what he’s been doing. Low grades in contrast mean he is learning poorly and something needs to be done to improve the situation.
None of this is characteristic of Progressive Education. Because it is designed to dumb down children rather than educate them, Dewey’s Progressive Education does the opposite of proper education: it presents material out of its logical hierarchy and out of context, so that it cannot be integrated but rather ends up an incomprehensible hash of floating, disconnected facts the student thinks has nothing to do with anything.
Dewey rationalized for this by claiming that a hierarchical, contextual presentation is “artificial” because information is not organized this way naturally “in experience”. Instead Dewey supported a random presentation of material that is “free” from “artificial constraints”, that will “be as it is confronted in experience”, and “… not externally imposed, because it is in accord with the growth of experience itself… the educator cannot start with knowledge already organized and proceed to ladle it out in doses”. He believed in the passive role of the teacher as a catalyst (“…all that the educator can do is modify stimuli…”). Dewey was hostile towards teaching important subjects and learning (“The notion that the “essentials” of elementary education are the three R’s mechanically treated, is based upon ignorance of the essentials needed for realization of democratic ideals.”). He formulated “class projects” where children “learn” out-of-context snippets rather than information organized hierarchically and placed in its proper context. He had an antipathy towards grading and tests (“Examinations are of use only so far as they test the child’s fitness for social life and reveal the place in which he can be of the most service …”). He was even hostile towards the pursuit of affluence.
Two ways in which Progressive Education has been used to present material in a random hash to dumb students down in the past include “whole language” (also known as “look-say”) reading, which causes functional illiteracy, and “new math”, which prevents children from learning math.
Whole language reading teaches a child to read words before teaching letters. With whole language reading students ‘read’ by memorizing not the shapes of a few letters but of thousands of words, putting an enormous and unnecessary mental strain on the child. Because many English words with vastly different meanings look alike, like ‘peruse’ and ‘pursue’, whole language reading-educated students often confuse them, making the meaning of what they read unintelligible. Also, in contrast with phonics where a student can recognize any word in a language by simply learning the alphabet, whole language reading makes a student illiterate regarding any words he hasn’t learned yet.
New Math was a technique used in schools in the 1950’s whereby teachers went through the motions of appearing to teach math while actually talking gibberish. For example, 2 wasn’t presented as 1+1, but rather
“the equivalence class of ordered pairs of natural numbers… an ordered pair of natural numbers is the pair (7,5). This, intuitively, means 7-5. However, (6,4), (4,2) … and millions of other pairs represent the same [number]. Two such ordered pairs (a,b) and (c,d) are called equivalent if a+d = b+c… Hence… 2 is the class of all ordered pairs equivalent to, say, (7,5). The “merit” of this definition is that one can, using only natural numbers, introduce the ordered pair…”. 
It should be obvious, no child can learn math from this garbage.
Something else schools do to dumb kids down under Progressive Education: scrambling up material in the aforementioned “class projects”. For example, students may be told as a project to develop a solution to global warming and in doing so are allegedly expected to learn out-of-context snippets of biology, chemistry, political science, history, algebra, etc. in the process of doing it. This is ineffective because students get precisely that: out-of-context snippets of information, without any integration to anything the student already knows. When material is presented this way it is impossible for students to retain and learn anything.
Related to scrambling up material is teaching subjects without a proper predicate. In many elementary schools students are taught “current events” (with an emphasis on political events) before they have had the proper grounding with history and literature courses to enable them to understand in context the significance of these events. The goal is to teach children that politics is an arbitrary bull session and the decision regarding whom to vote for can be based on mere whim. The students end up with no way of evaluating anything political. This is in part why, even several years after the fact, people believed the economic malaise of the late 1930s was still the fault of President Hoover rather than FDR, and believe the economic malaise today is still the fault of President George W. Bush rather than Barack Obama.
Sometimes schools teach literally nothing. With the advent of standardized testing, schools have become sensitive to their students’ scores. So some schools have started ‘teaching to the test’, meaning passing out old exams and having students memorize the answers to questions that will be recycled and reused on upcoming exams. The students don’t actually learn anything, though their scores look good.
Schools also terrorize students, making them afraid to act on their judgment. One wrong move, no matter how slight, and your future is ruined. Dare to say ‘bang, bang’ or point at someone with your fingers in the shape of a gun, or even bite into a pop tart the wrong way, or accidentally have a steak knife on the seat of your car while moving your belongings, and under so-called ‘zero tolerance’ policies you could be suspended, expelled or even prosecuted.
The deception continues on the college level, where bad ideas are taught to intellectually disarmed students. In addition to bad philosophies like Kant’s, professors proffer economic fallacies like those of John Maynard Keynes, who taught that it is government, rather than the private sector, that is the source of wealth; and that an economy is driven not by production of wealth, but rather by “consumer spending”.
The ruse goes on today, with Progressive Education based scams like American history courses that don’t teach American history, and “outcome-based” education and the “common core” curriculum.
Although it is rarely this obvious, an excellent example of academia using Progressive Education to dumb down American schoolchildren occurred at Celebration, Florida in the late 1990’s. The Disney Company developed Celebration, a new town, with a public school in Osceola County near Walt Disney World. Disney wanted a state-of-art public school for the Celebration Development, so Disney put professors of education from prestigious universities in charge of designing the school’s curriculum and teaching practices.
The school was marketed to parents as a place where new pedagogical techniques would turn their children into geniuses. A promotional film was made showing high school age students, after allegedly being educated with these techniques, reviewing complicated commercial contracts written in French as part of their class assignments (!).
But when the Celebration school actually opened parents found the truth was the exact opposite once they started sending their children there. The ensuing fraud and disaster could only be called Dewey does Disney.
According to the academicians’ plans kids of widely divergent age groups were grouped together in classrooms called “neighborhoods”, and were generally expected to teach themselves with teachers having a nominal role as “catalysts” rather than instructors. There were no set times for teaching subjects, nor were there lectures where material was presented by subject and in its natural hierarchy, so that students would understand it in context. Instead, students were told to select “class projects”. Also students didn’t have tests or receive grades, just vague evaluations such as “not yet”, “extending”, “in progress”, etc. There were no textbooks; instead, students were to use the internet, newspapers, and other sources that were not only potentially untrustworthy but also inappropriate for their knowledge level. Instead of transcripts, students were told to develop “portfolios” of their work which they would submit to colleges. Students were also encouraged to be less ambitious about learning.
Children raced around unsupervised in the “neighborhoods”, wasting time. Many teachers were indifferent to the students. Children learned nothing from their “class project” assignments. Students had trouble getting into college – even into the colleges that had designed the school’s curriculum(!) because they had portfolios, rather than transcripts with grade point averages. When pressured by parents to give grades instead of evaluations, teachers gave students grades for courses they never took.
Many families moved away from Celebration because of the school; when they did so, they were told by Disney not to tell anyone their reason for leaving. When outraged parents complained to Disney, professors and school administrators, the Celebration Company secretly paid consultants to support the school and publicly smear and launch personal attacks against the complaining parents. Furious parents organized a town meeting to demand that students be given textbooks, assignments, tests, grades, plus specific times for lectures in mathematics, history, literature and science. The parents succeeded in getting the changes while the Celebration School principal, Dot Davis, openly insisted such changes, which initially had been militantly resisted by the academicians who designed the school’s curriculum, nevertheless had been “in the works” anyway.
What happened in Celebration wasn’t because of misunderstandings, mistakes, or incompetence. It was John Dewey’s Progressive Education to the letter, chapter and verse from the man himself – and it is deliberately being spread by teachers’ colleges to potentially any school in the United States. And although it may be an extreme case, there are thousands of more mild cases of Celebration-itis in schools all over the country.
What has been the cost to America from Progressive Education? Economically it probably has meant perhaps hundreds of millions of American adults who are less educated and, as a consequence, less productive than they should be, working in businesses that are less productive and innovative than they should be. This causes there to be less economic activity and opportunity than there should be, and ultimately a slowdown in the increase in our standard of living. The loss in monetary terms of unrealized potential wealth is probably in the quadrillions (the number beyond trillions) of dollars (!). Culturally it has meant increased resentment, hatred and envy toward those who can think and be productive and a more destructive, nihilistic attitude among a large part of the population, leading to a coarsening of our culture. (For the explicit mechanics of this, read my post “Why Liberals are such, uh, JERKS (and what to do about them)”, November 2015.) Rather than go into any more specifics it suffices to say that if Progressive Education is not eventually stopped, America will end up full of Americans who will no longer, by the traditional definition of ‘American’, be Americans – and who will allow what makes America the greatest country in the world to vanish.
So Progressive Education must be stopped; now, about how to do it.
I really don’t see any way other than to eventually privatize all education, even on the university level, as an ultimate policy goal of conservatives. While some private schools use Progressive Education, ultimately government control over the lion’s share of educational establishments spreads it. Governments implement policies that promote Progressive Education because, as said earlier, Progressive Education dumbs people down, making effective opposition to big government extremely difficult. So while parents and advocacy groups might win individual battles like they did at Celebration, the public nature of the educational establishment will simply allow all the evils to be re-instituted at a later time and all the battles to be in vain. Meanwhile, because private schools will be in competition with each other to do the best job at educating students, they will be forced by the marketplace to adopt the best pedagogical theories and make Progressive Education a thing of the past.
However, there is one aspect of children’s education where there must be government involvement: the issue of whether to educate a child or not. Just as a child’s guardian has a legal obligation to keep a child fed and healthy, there must be a legal obligation to effectively educate him also. This means to the age of majority, around 18 or so, which in turn means: the material of nursery school – elementary school – high school. As stated previously, that includes perceptual level concepts; the three ‘R’s, and mathematics, science, history and literature. After that, on the college level the obligation stops and the child is on his own. And the education has to be effective, with for example the guardian having phonics taught, not whole language reading. (The effectiveness requirement of course must, to comply with due process of law, accommodate children whose abilities are more limited, e.g., autistic children, etc.; guardians can’t be legally responsible for doing what through no fault of their own cannot physically be done). And, as an aside, if a child is not taught to read and write in the dominant language of the country he resides in, that should raise questions as to the fitness of the guardian. The guardian needs to have a choice as to how to educate the child, e.g., whether to send the child to a school or home school him, but he still needs to be educated. A failure to properly educate a child should be considered child abuse, just as failing to feed him or treat him when he is hurt or sick.
And now, as I’ve done on previous posts, I want to close with some good news. There is a school in California called the VanDamme Academy which teaches correctly and has had amazing success, with students ready for college at age 16. Also in California is the Falling Apple Science Institute, which was founded in part by the founder of the VanDamme Academy, to teach science more effectively than has been done in the past. With Falling Apple science is taught in context, starting from Astronomy (the first science in human history) and progressing forward, explaining how each discovery led to new discoveries and developments in physics, chemistry and biology. I bought and read the first of Falling Apple’s books and now can tell time by looking at the position of the moon (and on the night after I write this I can tell you it’s going to be a waxing half that will rise around noon and set at about midnight); also encouraging: the continued popularity throughout the country of the Montessori Method, a very effective way of teaching nursery school students. (Full disclosure: I have no interest in the VanDamme Academy, Falling Apple Science Institute or the Montessori Method. I just like what they do.)
It is true Kant’s protégés are waging a war against our kids. But it’s a war that can be won, if people know the answers and how to do it. As I said at the end of my last post, Western civilization is still vulnerable. But the answers are out there.
 See Maria Montessori, The Montessori Method, passim.
 Dr. John Rehyner, “Reading Wars: Phonics versus Whole Language”, Northern Arizona University, Rev. December 13, 2008, passim.
 John Dewey, “The Progressive Organization of Subject Matter”, from Experience and Education (Kappa Delta Pi, 1938), in Reginald Archambault, Ed., John Dewey on Education (Random House, 1964), pp. 373-86.
John Dewey, “The Nature of Subject Matter”, from Democracy and Education (Feather Trail Press, 1916, 2009), in Reginald Archambault, Ed., pp. 359-60.
 John Dewey, “The Nature of Subject Matter”, in Reginald Archambault, Ed., pp. 371-72.
 Ibid. John Dewey, “The Progressive Organization of Subject Matter”, in Reginald Archambault, Ed., pp. 373, 380-81.
 John Dewey, “My Pedagogic Creed”, pamphlet, E.L. Kellogg and Co., 1897, in Reginald Archambault, Ed., p. 432.
 John Dewey, “The Nature of Subject Matter”, in Reginald Archambault, Ed., p. 372.
 From Morris Kline, Why Johnny Can’t Add: The Failure of the New Math.
 To cure bad economic teaching, see Henry Hazlitt’s Economics In One Lesson.
 Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, Celebration U.S.A.: Living in Disney’s Brave New Town (Henry Holt and Co., 1999), pp. 125-30.
 Ibid, pp. 127, 142, 145, 252.
 Ibid, pp. 128, 249.
 Ibid, pp. 128, 134.
 Ibid, pp. 143, 249.
 Ibid, p. 128.
 Ibid, pp. 248, 250.
 Ibid, p. 252.
 Ibid, p. 250.
 Ibid, pp. 253-54.
 Ibid, pp. 292-93.
 Ibid, p. 135.
 Ibid, pp. 136-37.
 Ibid, pp. 287-99.
 Ibid, pp. 297-98.