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The History of Thinking in Western History

The History of Thinking in Western History

By Branehart


While interviewing former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill in September of 2014,  Megyn Kelly confronted him with the question “do you think there’s anything good about America?”. His snarky answer: “Well I’m sure you can find 50 things that are good about it, Megyn.”

Ward Churchill was the one who became famous for calling the white collar professionals killed in the 9/11 attacks “little Eichmanns”, likening them to the savage Nazi Adolf Eichmann. The proper premise Megyn Kelly seemed to be operating from was, because there is so much that is evidently great about the United States, e.g., its freedom, stability, opportunities and standard of living, how could anyone like Ward Churchill be so against it?

But, as bizarre at it is, like Ward Churchill most of our professors today are. They’re against it because the United States is a country founded on the idea that people live by thinking, and American academia has contempt for thinking – and thus for America.

In my previous blog post “How we get our Values: The Thinking Process”, October 2015, I said that thinking is ultimately how we get the things that are valuable for our survival. Given how important it is, how can anyone be against it?

Yet, as strange as it may seem, people can be against thinking. As I explained in my prior post “Why Liberals are such, uh, JERKS (and what to do about them)”, November 2015, thinking is not automatic, and people who do not learn how to do it properly can turn against it and end up hating it, along with all of its products such as technology, as well as against people who do it well and cultures, countries and philosophies that support it. This is, as I said, why liberals are such, uh, jerks.

Things get scary in a country when its intellectuals in academia, who are the most important people for the future of any country, turn against thinking – the way Ward Churchill and the majority of his colleagues have.

Academia’s importance for any society cannot be overstated.  It is widely believed that elected officials determine social trends and professors are eccentric fuddyduddies who say crazy things nobody listens to. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything it’s the opposite: intellectuals are the source of the ideas that cause social trends and politicians merely implement them. Intellectuals have the influence they do because of their research, what they teach students and the consulting services they provide outside the classroom to businesses and government officials. From them culture-shaping ideas are created and spread, giving academia a position of the highest importance in influencing our culture and the future.

Academia has been using its immense influence to cause havoc all over the country for decades. Academicians advise officials to violate the will of those who elect them, as the statements of MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jon Gruber indicate. Their ideas are causing widespread economic stagnation, financial hardship, increased unemployment and underemployment, coarsening of our culture, a reduction in our military strength and disrespect for our national sovereignty from our enemies worldwide. Journalism schools are training future reporters to propagandize, law schools are teaching future attorneys to ignore individual rights and shred the Constitution, and colleges of education are training future teachers to dumb down students. The United States will not survive if this goes on indefinitely.

So now, the question remains: why are American intellectuals today against thinking?  The answer is, philosophically since the 1780’s the Western world – basically Europe and North America – has been in a non-thinking trend.

Since its beginning in ancient Greece, Western history has alternated between pro-thinking and anti-thinking periods as a result of the dominant philosophical ideas taught by academicians. In ancient Greece western thought was generally pro-thinking, particularly in Athens.

Philosophy is the science that determines the path a culture takes, either towards a golden age or a dark age.  Philosophy does this because it is the science that relates the facts of reality to the requirements of human survival. As the following shows, when the dominant philosophy in the West has been pro-thinking, the result has been successful countries and empires and prosperity.  But when the dominant philosophy has been anti-thinking, the result has been corruption, economic stagnation and depression, and cultural and even total societal collapse.

In Athens Plato (who lived approximately from 425 to 350 BC) basically created the science of philosophy, recognizing its proper structure and branches. The most important branch of philosophy is epistemology (a word a lot of Americans don’t know but need to learn!!!!), which relates to how people know what they know.  The next branch, ethics, a word Americans know but have only a vague idea of the meaning of, relates to how people should act based on their epistemology, i.e., based on how you know what you know. The next branch, politics, a word Americans not only know but also have a pretty good idea about the meaning of, relates to how people should organize a social system based on their ethics, i.e., based on how you should act.

Plato’s student Aristotle (384 to 322 BC) filled in much of the details of epistemology, basically discovering the rudiments of the thinking process. He developed conceptualization with logical, non-contradictory definitions for words and is known in particular for coming up with the terms for many different natural phenomena, including plants and animals. When Greek soldiers conquered other places they took specimens of plants and captured animals, which they brought back to Athens for Aristotle to identify. Aristotle is credited with creating the world’s first zoo in Athens with captured animals for people to view. He also filled in a lot of ethics, discovering that the moral goal of one’s life is achieving values and happiness.

Throughout history Aristotle has been recognized as a brilliant, sophisticated and passionate thinker who loved life and values, and a powerful force for enabling Western civilization to ultimately become as affluent and healthy as it did. In the shorter term Aristotle’s ideas contributed to the tremendous expansion of the Greek empire during the Hellenistic era as a result of the conquests made by his student Alexander the Great, and ultimately the formation of the Roman Empire.

Unfortunately, the dominant philosophy of the Roman Empire (50 BC – 476 AD), in contrast with that of Greece, was primarily anti-thinking. Plotinus (204 -270 AD), the most prominent Roman philosopher, believed that thinking was useless for resolving the most important issues faced by people. Instead, according to Plotinus ultimately people should live by mindlessly following their emotions.

The problem with Plotinus’ advice is that emotion, unlike thinking, does not give someone information about reality, which is necessary to achieve values. Understanding reality is essential for achieving values because reality is ever-present and always setting the terms of our lives, so it consequently determines the possible values that are available and the ways in which they can be achieved. This is why understanding the facts-of-reality is necessary to figuring out how to achieve any particular value.

Instead of information about reality all emotions give someone is what he thinks about reality, which of course can be erroneous.  For example, you walk out of your office and in the street see a large, mean looking man punch a woman, and suddenly are overwhelmed with disgust towards him. But what you didn’t see was that immediately prior to the punch the woman tried to rob him by grabbing and attempting to run off with his wallet, making her the one in the wrong. By going on emotion alone without introspecting to see whether the ideas behind your emotions are right or not (which requires thinking), you can’t determine who is right and who is wrong. This is true of all values: without thinking and knowing reality, values become unattainable (except by dumb luck every now and then).

The result of Plotinus’ ideas was widespread confusion, misery, incompetently run businesses, economic stagnation, and the extreme corruption of political leaders the Roman Empire was notorious for. These leaders allowed the empire to be overrun by barbarians who hated thinking and further turned Roman culture against it, leading ultimately to Rome’s collapse in 476 AD.

Consequently people in the late Roman Empire began to believe that thinking was worthless and values and happiness were unattainable.  They turned against them, regarding them as immoral. The views of Augustine (354-430 AD), the first significant Christian philosopher, reflected this attitude. According to Augustine thinking, values and worldly happiness were an illusion and a farce, leading to nothing but frustration. Instead, the moral path was for people to forgo values and happiness during their lives and instead passively abide the misery of life to get into heaven and eternal salvation after death.

The result of Augustine’s influence was the Dark Ages, an anarchy in Western Europe lasting from 476  to approximately 1000 AD. During this time very little in terms of values was available. The oceans were full of marauding pirates and bandits were everywhere on land. There was virtually no law and order and everyone was at risk of being robbed, raped, tortured or murdered by potentially anyone else he met. A mere cold could cause someone to die of pneumonia if another person didn’t kill him first; Rome, which previously had between half a million and a million residents, had become a nearly abandoned city with a population of about 20,000. Throughout the former Western Roman Empire the average age of death dropped to about 20(!). Understandably, during this time people regarded their lives as a brief period of severe but unimportant misery on the way hopefully to eternal salvation beyond the grave.

After 1000 AD the Christian Church as ruler of Western Europe had created enough stability so that civilization slowly started making a comeback. A priority of the Church was access to Christian holy sites in the Middle East by European pilgrims, so the Church sponsored military invasions of the area. During these invasions Aristotle’s writings were rediscovered in what is now Syria and brought back to Rome for analysis. The Christian philosopher who incorporated Aristotle’s ideas into Christianity was Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).

Aquinas basically rewrote Christianity, making it the diametric opposite of the gloom and doom religion it was during the Dark Ages. His ideas were in essence a combination of Aristotelianism and Christianity: if you think and pursue values and happiness during your life you will go to heaven and achieve salvation after you die. Once Aquinas’ ideas (known as Thomism) became accepted as church doctrine, thinking was back in the picture in Western Europe. The result was an explosion in scientific discoveries, commerce, business, manufacturing, the arts and culture and an enormous increase in the standard of living known as the Renaissance (1300-1600).

European philosophers after the Renaissance picked up where the Greeks left off, discovering the ethical and political implications of a pro-thinking epistemology. This era was called the Enlightenment (1650-1781).  Some of the prominent philosophers during the Enlightenment include Rene Descartes in France (1596-1650), Gottfried Leibniz in Germany (1646-1716), and Baruch Spinoza in Spain (1632-1677).

The most important and influential Enlightenment philosophers, however, were, not surprisingly, in England. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was the first philosopher who put together ideas on epistemology, ethics and politics to come up with a complete system that closely resembles how people live in the developed world today.

According to Hobbes thinking is the only way people learn anything about reality, which is necessary for achieving values. People should be free to choose the values they want, but in doing so they must not be allowed to initiate force against other people. The purpose of government according to Hobbes is not to tell people what to do, but to tell them what not to do. When people live together in any way they need to make what he called a “social compact” between themselves not to initiate force, and it is the job of a government to enforce the compact with whatever force is necessary to do so. Only with a government enforcing a social compact, according to Hobbes, could the best in people come out and not be snuffed out by the worst in people.

Hobbes is commonly thought of incorrectly as wanting an all-powerful dictatorship along the lines of Hitler or Stalin. Mark Levin, for example, characterized Hobbes as wanting to force people into an arbitrary utopia where the government could choose their values for them without their say so. This was actually not true because Hobbes never supported tyranny but rather was a proponent of absolute monarchy (as was Thomas Aquinas).

Although named “absolute”, an absolute monarchy was actually not totally absolute. While the king had absolute power over the police and the military, over moral matters the king’s power was held in check by the church and, increasingly, intellectuals in universities (which were usually created by churches). Before the founding of the United States’ representative democracy, absolute monarchy – with the stability provided by a powerful army and the check on power provided by the church – was actually as close to political freedom as people knew how to come.

Where Hobbes got his reputation as a political tough guy was in his reaction to the English Civil War, which broke out in 1642 in response to widespread dissatisfaction with King Charles I. Throughout Europe, there were anarchists who wanted to return to the Dark Ages. When the king was overthrown every Tom, Dick and Harry in favor of anarchy came out of the woodwork to proclaim the monarchy a failure and have Parliament, which was basically too weak to govern because it was beholden to special interests, become the ruling body. Hobbes was dead set against this. In his treatise Leviathan Hobbes stressed the need for a strong government when he famously and correctly called anarchy the “state of nature” where there is a “war of all against all” and “life is …brutish and short”.

Hobbes’ ideas regarding thinking, values, and a social compact between people were in essence followed by his fellow countryman John Locke (1632-1704), who in turn elaborated on and improved on them, in particular Hobbes’ political ideas in his treatise Two Treatises of Government. In Two Treatises Locke further limited the power of the government by stating that the social compact’s purpose is to protect the natural, individual rights of people to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness – which are man’s natural rights because they are necessary for people to achieve their values and live. (See my blog post “The Long Lost Doctrine of Individual Rights”, September 2015.)  According to Locke the government is a party to the social compact, without the ability to violate the rights of those it governs. The government’s role as protector of rights according to Locke is as an unbiased arbiter who determines whether a violation of rights has occurred and, if so, how the perpetrator should be held accountable.

The ideas of Hobbes and Locke were the basis for the creation of the United States, whose founders conceived it as a country where people would live by thinking and pursuing the values they want free from coercion from others. The purpose of the American government would not be to tell people what their values are, but rather to prevent them from violating the individual rights of others.

The pro-thinking, pro-freedom ideas of the Enlightenment led to the greatest expansion of scientific and economic activity in human history, because of the discoveries of English scientist Isaac Newton (1642-1726) and the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840).

Isaac Newton was the greatest scientist in history. Among his many achievements is the discovery of much of modern physics, in particular the laws of mechanics. He is also along with Enlightenment philosopher Gottfried Leibniz the co-inventor of calculus, the mathematics of rate changes which is indispensible in modern engineering and design.

The Industrial Revolution was the change in manufacturing from predominantly small, mom-and pop type shops producing a small number of goods to enormous factories producing thousands of items of many different types. It occurred because the explicit respect for property rights under the Lockean theory of government allowed businessmen to keep their profits rather than have them confiscated by the government. This allowed them to accumulate enough capital to grow their business so large they could take advantage of economies of scale to the point that manufactured goods became affordable to almost anyone for the first time.  As a consequence standards of living and life expectancy skyrocketed and wealth replaced poverty as the norm of human life in North America and Western Europe.

Unfortunately, while the Enlightenment philosophers were proficient at understanding the ethical and political implications of a pro-thinking epistemology, they had a poor understanding of that epistemology itself. In particular they knew little about the nature of concepts.  For example, how do you determine the bounds of what’s subsumed by a concept, i.e., does “love” include “lust” and “infatuation”? And what is included in the “definition” of a concept?  Also, does newly discovered information make a concept invalid?  Can concepts be updated or changed, or are they ironclad?  These and other vitally important questions regarding the thinking process were open issues at the end of the Enlightenment.


By the 1780’s these open epistemological issues left the anti-thinking intellectuals the biggest opportunity to reassert themselves since the Dark Ages, allowing them to take control of academia and sending Western civilization into another anti-thinking period that has lasted to the present.

The first and most important philosopher of this anti-thinking trend was Immanuel Kant of Germany (1724 –1804).  In the first part of his epistemological treatise, The Critique of Pure Reason (called the “Transcendental Aesthetic”), Kant attacked thinking right at the first step, claiming sensory perception to be invalid. According to Kant whenever we see, touch, taste, smell or hear something, we aren’t observing it as it really is; rather, our brains change everything we observe by adding time and space to it.  Things as they really are, outside of “time and space”, according to Kant, are unknowable by thinking. And since our perceptions are invalid, the rest of the thinking process that follows from it is as well: all concepts are arbitrary, all facts induced from them are invalid, principles are worthless generalizations, and understanding any kind of context is pointless.

Because thinking is useless, according to Kant we are unable to choose our values ourselves and pursue our happiness; if we did there would be havoc. Instead, according to his ethical treatise The Critique of the Metaphysic of Morals, an authority must choose them for us and we have an unconditional duty to obey the authority’s dictates whatever they may be, no matter how oppressive they are or what we might want personally.

Another German philosopher, Georg Hegel (1770–1831), figured out the political implications of Kant’s ideas in epistemology and ethics, claiming that the authority we are to obey is the state. Yet another German Kantian, Karl Marx (1818–1883), came up with the political theory of Communism, whereby the anti-thinking proletariat controls the thinking bourgeoisie by having all property owned by the state.

Just as the pro-thinking Enlightenment resulted in great things including Isaac Newton, the Industrial Revolution and the United States, the anti-thinking trend of Kant, Hegel, Marx and their ideological allies including Arthur Schopenhauer, Soren Kierkegaard, Ludwig Wittgenstein, William James, Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Nietzsche, C.S. Pierce, Jean Paul Sartre, John Stewart Mill and John Maynard Keynes among others has resulted in unspeakable disaster: the Nazis, the Soviets, the Maoist Chinese, bloodthirsty dictatorships worldwide and piles of corpses from Phnom Penh to Poland.

In the United States the most influential philosopher since the end of the Enlightenment was John Dewey (1859-1951).  A Kantian, liberal Democrat, and a founder of the ACLU along with Roger Nash Baldwin, Dewey softened Hegel’s political language to cater to a more freedom-loving audience. According to Dewey people have no existence by themselves and must obey the dictates of “society” (with, of course, the state as “society’s” spokesman). A professor at University of Chicago and Columbia, Dewey is best known for his pedagogical theory, Progressive Education, which dumbs down and intellectually disarms American children.

To teach children to grow up into productive thinkers who can choose their own values and live happily by their own efforts, their teachers need to present material in a logical hierarchy with the most basic material presented first and then new material that builds on it presented next and integrated with that previously learned. For example, in arithmetic a student learns 6+4=10; then later in algebra, the concept of a variable is added to the rules of arithmetic and the student learns 6x+4x=10x.

But this is not how liberals want to ‘educate’ children. Instead in public schools John Dewey and his followers have for a century now pushed scams like Progressive Education and its more modern variants, including “whole language” reading, the “new math”, “outcome based education”, and the current scourge of “common core”. In all of these, material is presented out of its logical hierarchy and out of context, so that it cannot be integrated and properly understood but rather ends up an incomprehensible hash of floating, disconnected facts the student thinks has nothing to do with anything. This is why when these kids grow up and Jesse Watters interviews them on television they hardly know anything.

If the dumbing down of Americans that is Dewey’s legacy is not reversed, the United States will suffer a similar fate to other societies during anti-thinking eras.  The specifics of what exactly will happen are not knowable at this point but what is certain is that this country is still very vulnerable.

And now, in the midst of all this gloom and doom, some VERY GOOD NEWS: Kant’s anti-thinking era may be about to be replaced with a pro-thinking one, with a golden age to come soon.

Russian author and philosopher Alisa Rosenbaum (1905–1982) was an influential Aristotelian intellectual with a strong following.  Her work is generally opposed by academia but interest in it there is growing.  Using the pen name Ayn Rand, she was the author of the novel Atlas Shrugged which was about the collapse of the United States after the intellectual community became totally anti-thinking.  In Atlas Shrugged she presented her philosophy, which she called Objectivism because of its objective, reality-based orientation.  Rand believed in the individual rights-based political system of John Locke and an ethics based on individual freedom to choose those values that make one happy.

After the publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957 until her death Ayn Rand authored several nonfiction philosophy books which were basically compendiums of articles she wrote during the 1960’s elaborating on her ideas. The more significant of these include The Virtue of Selfishness (1965), on ethics; Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1967) and The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (1971), on politics; and The Romantic Manifesto (1971), on aesthetics (another branch of philosophy I haven’t discussed, relating to art).

Her most important work, however, was Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1979), which answered a lot of questions left open at the end of the Enlightenment regarding concepts.  After her death her work on epistemology was continued by two close associates of hers, Leonard Peikoff and Harry Binswanger, both of whom are professional philosophers.

The epistemological works of Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff and Harry Binswanger are precisely what Western civilization’s doctor ordered. In the meantime, though, there is something that anyone who has read and understands this post can do to help coax our rotten universities to change their ways, as suggested by Professor Walter Williams of George Mason University: snap shut those checkbooks!  No alumni donations.

There may be even more that can be done.  For example, any professor who teaches as if Kant’s ideas are correct and the university that employs him could be exposed as frauds who are committing malpractice with the minds of our children. This is because at the root of Kant’s philosophy is a fallacy that invalidates his entire system.

There is nothing in the nature of space and time that changes what we observe in any way. Space is just existing volume, and time is simply movement across it. People get confused defining time because they package-deal its essence with its significance as a planning tool, and end up giving it some mystical nature in their minds. When movement across space is at a constant speed and synchronized for everyone like the hands on a clock or the shadow on a sundial it does become useful as a planning tool, but it is still just at root movement across space, nothing more.

To end the anti-thinking trend of Kant and return us to a golden age, the true nature of space and time and the phony, hateful rationalization of Kantianism should be explained to anyone able to understand and willing to listen. At the same time any professors and universities that support Kant’s mental excrement should all be exposed for what they are: envy-ridden killers who want to destroy civilization for no good reason, but ‘just because’- and the tuition or consulting fees paid by students and clients to these cranks should be refunded.

But, you may be asking, what about “academic freedom”?  Don’t academicians have the right to preach and teach whatever they want? The answer is: no, they do not – any more than a surgeon responsible for performing a sophisticated procedure suddenly has “medical freedom” to decide he’ll use medieval alchemy, Santeria and black magic instead of proven and accepted modern practices to save his patient; or an American lawyer has “legal freedom” to argue the merits of his client’s case on the basis of Sharia law rather than sound legal precedent. “Academic freedom” is no justification for being a fraud and committing philosophical malpractice.

Let’s be clear what I’m talking about regarding malpractice: there is no crime in teaching Kant or any other philosopher.  There is no problem, for example, in a philosophy course saying “This is Immanuel Kant. He lived in Prussia. He believed that …”. The problem is in teaching or consulting from the premise, unbeknownst to students or clients, that Kant’s ideas, being false, are valid. That’s where the malpractice is.

To summarize where we are in late 2015; yes, Western civilization is still vulnerable. But, the answers are out there.
































Why Liberals are such, uh, JERKS (and what to do about them): Blog by Branehart

Why Liberals are such, uh, JERKS (and what to do about them)

By Branehart

  1. Introduction

If you’re alive in the United States now you know liberals.  They’re mean, nasty and destructive.  They’re manipulative, controlling, scheming and intimidating….and miserable – so, so miserable. Miserable seemingly all the time and nothing ever really makes them happy.  And everything they touch ends up ruined: wars, economies, black neighborhoods in cities, the media, along with anything else they control. They could and should be ignored except for the fact that they’re everywhere, running our country and culture.

But surprisingly, as ubiquitous and awful as liberals are, the reason why they are the way they are – and the proper reaction to them – is virtually unknown.  An episode of the popular 1990’s TV show Beverly Hills 90210 took a stab at it. On this episode the girls meet a nasty girl with the temperament of many liberals. Later in the episode they find out she’s so bitchy only because of the diet pills she was taking; without the meds she was actually a fairly nice girl.

  1. Why Liberals are such, uh, JERKS

If it were only so simple, Liberals aren’t as nasty and miserable as they are because they use diet pills.  Liberals are as adversarial as they are because they do not think properly. Because they do not think properly, liberals are unable to achieve the values they want and live happily, hence their miserable disposition.

As I wrote in my post “So What are Values, Anyway?”, August 2015, values, properly defined, are the things, both concrete and abstract, that are valuable to living creatures of all kinds including humans for a purpose, with that purpose ultimately being to further their survival. For humans values include both necessities for living as well as things that may not be necessary but make life more enjoyable. Food, clothing, housing, employment, education, camaraderie, appreciation from others for the good one does, good health, financial security, leisure, romantic love, children, consumer goods, a good credit rating and lots of other things are all human values.

Liberals don’t think properly because they don’t reduce abstractions to concretes. As I said in my blog post “How we get our Values: The Thinking Process”, October 2015, there are two kinds of concepts: concrete ones and abstract ones. Concrete concepts are concepts that can be understood merely by sensory observation (i.e., cars, food, houses, money, etc.). Abstract concepts, on the other hand, like financial solvency, virtue, friendship, etc., are concepts that cannot be understood merely by sensory perception; more understanding is needed.

This understanding comes only when abstract concepts are reduced to the concrete concepts to which they are related. In “How we get our Values: The Thinking Process”, I illustrate reduction of an abstract concept, “bank account”, which is a tally for money belonging to a certain person or legal entity placed with a bank for safe keeping, by reducing it to the concrete concepts it is derived from: tallies, money, people, and banks. All valid abstract concepts, no matter how abstract, can be reduced to concrete concepts in this way.

I said in “How we get our Values: The Thinking Process” that thinking is the way we get our values. Thinking, however, is not automatic. While sensory perception, the first step of the thinking process, is automatic, the rest of the process is not. Much of thinking is self-evident for concrete concepts; consequently almost everyone can figure out how to achieve low-level values involving concrete concepts to take care of relatively simple matters such as what to wear or have for dinner.

For understanding abstract concepts, however, thinking is not self-evident. Reduction is a technique that must be learned and if it isn’t, people will not be able to understand abstract concepts correctly or use them properly to achieve values that require an understanding of abstractions. Understanding abstractions is essential for living and achieving many values because we live not only in a world of concretes like cars, food, houses, and money, but also in a world of abstractions including contract rights, moral principles, values, decedents’ estates and financial solvency. Many higher values, like romantic love and financial success and security, require a correct understanding and usage of abstractions.

There are two main ways by which people, including liberals, incorrectly use abstractions: they either mimic how large numbers of other people commonly use them, or use them to refer to perceptual –level concretes commonly associated with them.

An example of mimicking other people using abstractions is how people sometimes use the concept “literally”.  “Literally” means by the actual, exact meaning of the words used. But sometimes people will use it to mean figuratively, which means symbolically or metaphorically.  For example, some Debbie Wasserman-Schultz type in frustration says that Sean Hannity is literally a turkey. He’s not literally a turkey; he is literally a man. What someone probably intended to say is that Sean Hannity is figuratively a turkey, meaning he’s literally a dud or a failure (which “turkey” is used to mean figuratively), not the bird. But if enough people surrounding a particular liberal use “literally” to mean figuratively the liberal will start to use the word that way too.

An example of using abstractions as if they referred to the concretes commonly associated with them is how liberals commonly use the abstract concept “friend”.  A “friend” is someone who is supportive of someone else’s values.  Because he is supportive of someone else’s values a friend is often, though not always, openly pleasant, polite or amiable to those whose values he supports. But a liberal often defines a “friend” as anyone who is openly pleasant, polite or amiable, even if this person is a threat to his values, i.e., a manipulator, schemer or criminal who would stab him in the back or steal his life savings or even kill him.

The inability to use abstractions correctly creates problems for liberals because it makes it very difficult if not impossible for them to achieve values that require an understanding of abstractions. Values whose contexts require an understanding of abstract concepts include romantic love, without a doubt among the highest of all values. Romantic love is an emotion someone feels for someone else whose most important values are the same as one’s own.  In my blog post “So what are Values, Anyway?” I explained that the two most important values for a person are thinking and purpose.  So for someone to feel true romantic love for another person, the two people must have the same attitude towards thinking, and purposes in life that are similar enough so that each has a strong interest in the things the other cares about.

But liberals very often use the term “love” they way they use “friend”: to mean the concretes they associate with it, most commonly the intense affection for another person that goes along with it. Then they claim to “love” anyone they feel an intense affection for, regardless of the cause. They conflate love, where the intense affection comes from having common values regarding thinking and purpose, with lust or infatuation, where the intense affection comes from either a reaction to someone’s physical appearance or a projection onto someone of desirable characteristics that person may not even have. The result is people dating and marrying other people for the wrong reasons, leading to failed relationships, unhappy marriages and broken families.

Another extremely important value that requires an understanding of abstract concepts is operation of a successful business. Business management is full of situations where someone is confronted with huge amounts of data, numbers, levels of activity, etc. The significance of these things for the health of a business is not self evident and requires a high level of abstract thinking to be understood correctly to keep the business operating. For example, a company starts a new ad campaign that results in an increase in sales, but a certain group of people finds the ads in poor taste or offensive and complains. Should the ads be pulled or should the complainers be ignored? Or, a company that makes winter clothes sees sales dropping at a certain time of year.  Is the decline in sales because of a natural drop in demand or is it because competitors are simply making better clothes? Without understanding abstract concepts there is no way to figure out the significance of these events for a business and how to react properly.  The result is liberals operating failing businesses or running to their lobbyists or the taxpayers to keep them operating, with government bailouts or favorable laws to give them a legal advantage over their competition.

What should be of particular concern to everyone is the trouble liberals have with moral concepts like right, wrong, good, evil, virtues, vices, etc. These vitally important concepts are abstractions, liberals consequently don’t understand them, and therefore get into trouble with them.

Consider the virtue of honesty. What honesty means is never faking or evading reality.  Honesty is a virtue, with “virtue” being itself an abstraction meaning a character trait that helps, as opposed to hinders, one’s ability to get his values.  Honesty helps people get their values because, as said earlier, for people to get their values they must understand reality.  By being honest and not declaring any aspect of reality off-limits, a person has the best chance of understanding reality and consequently figuring out how to get what he wants in life.

But this is not how many liberals view honesty.  Liberals define honesty the way they do “friend” and “love”: by a concrete they associate with honestly – namely, a blind duty to “always tell the truth”.  To show how this view of honesty is a problem, consider the following.  You meet a stranger who is creepy looking.  He asks where your dad is.  If you think it is “honest” to “always tell the truth” and feel you must be “honest” to be moral, you tell him – and then find your dad murdered.  According to the real meaning of honesty, however, you do not have to tell him where your dad is because he is a stranger and you have no duty to do so.  Moreover, a fact of reality is that this person looks creepy, indicating he might be dangerous.  So, to protect your values – in this case, your relationship with your father – the truly honest thing to do is say you don’t know where your father is, even though it may be untrue.  You aren’t being immoral because, since you have no duty to give the stranger the information he wants, you aren’t depriving him of anything that is rightfully his. In fact, it would be dishonest to give him the information he wants because by doing so you’d be trusting him when you know he looks creepy and you therefore shouldn’t be.

Liberals have similar problems with all such moral concepts. They consequently end up believing that morality has no legitimacy and is some sort of a subjective scam to help protect the interests of particularly wealthy, clever or politically powerful people at the expense of others. They lose respect for it and for the rule of law, which is derived from it. And they end up fearing and hating people who have confidence in their ideas about morality.

Don’t confuse liberals’ inability to think properly with intelligence. Despite their problems with the thinking process liberals can still be extremely smart (many professors, elected officials and conmen[1], for example).  Intelligence is the physical, God-given ability to handle abstract concepts and facts if one were to learn how to think, whereas the inability to think results from the failure to learn how.

Not only can liberals be intelligent, they can even reduce abstractions to concrete concepts and understand them properly– when a particular abstract concept is at issue in their minds and they are exposed to the concretes necessary for them to do so. Nobody can convince me, for example, that Senators Dick Durbin or Charles Schumer do not understand the abstraction of home equity.  I’m sure they have this one figured out because they probably wanted to know when they made their last mortgage payments what their homes were worth, how much of their mortgages had been paid down, and consequently how much wealth they had in their homes. The numbers and their significance were probably right there on the mortgage statement.  What liberals like Schumer and Durbin can’t do is figure out the concretes relevant to the abstraction of home equity on their own, when the issue isn’t confronting them.

Since liberals have trouble thinking they turn against it, claiming it’s worthless. For example, liberals are obsessed with renewable energy because they don’t believe thinking can come up with a replacement for fossil fuels once they run out. So they prattle on and on about unprofitable and unproductive energy sources like wind and solar power. They also believe thinking will be useless in creating solutions for overflowing sanitation landfills in the future, so they overemphasize recycling.

Since thinking is necessary for understanding reality, liberals can’t understand reality – and thus claim that reality can’t be understood. To them reality becomes an unknowable chaos that foils even the best laid plans.  This is the basis for so-called “chaos theory” and is illustrated in the first Jurassic Park movie, which came out in 1992. In it Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern play scientists who visit a zoo featuring cloned dinosaurs. While on the way there Goldblum starts hitting on Dern by waxing philosophically, stating that “reality is a chaos”.  This scene is important because, despite the best intentions of the zoo’s designer to prevent it, the dinosaurs get loose anyway and start eating everybody later during their visit. As evidence that reality is a chaos liberals point to the existence of homosexuality and transgenderism, which appear to be at odds with the way most people would expect things to be in an un-chaotic world.

But liberals go beyond merely claiming reality to be incomprehensible; they hate it because, since it is ever present, always setting the terms of everyone’s lives and to them incomprehensible, they feel trapped and terrified by it. They turn against it and try to evade it whenever it makes them emotionally uncomfortable. This is why so many liberals want to evade their fear by getting high or drunk.  And it is why, no surprise, so many liberals support legalization of drugs.  It is ultimately this fear of reality that is currently making liberal student demonstrators at Yale and University of Missouri want “a safe place” on their campuses.

Since understanding reality is necessary for achieving values and liberals can’t understand reality, they feel, as mentioned earlier, cut off from and unable to achieve many values, including the ability to be productive at producing commercial values for exchange like goods and services.  As a rationalization for this inability they claim that achieving values is really just the result of luck and random chance, rather than from purposefully directed action and hard work. For example, in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged metallurgist Hank Rearden, after years of research, invents an incredibly light yet strong alloy he calls Rearden Metal.  A bureaucrat then blackmails him into turning over the formula for Rearden Metal to the government and renames it “Miracle Metal” as if its discovery was  the result of a causeless, inexplicable miracle. A real life example is the repeated comments of the very liberal former Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt that successful people are “winners of life’s lottery”.

As a consequence of regarding thinking as worthless liberals also turn against the products of thinking, in particular technology and real estate development. They claim technology is destructive, smearing the scientists who invent it as “mad” and the businessmen who market it as charlatans. They openly in-your-face deny its perceptually obvious benefits, championing a line of anti-technology artworks from Frankenstein to the aforementioned Jurassic Park. Their anti-technology tirades include endless terror stories about global warming, overpopulation, coming ice ages, the dangers of the internet, vaccines, processed foods, fossil fuels, fast food, dangerous manufactured products, and of course how everything ever created by technology causes cancer. They claim many technological innovations are “unsustainable”, meaning they will make the earth unlivable by humans if they are used indefinitely into the future. Regarding real estate development liberals conclude any deliberate manmade alteration of the earth would be destructive even without any supporting evidence. They use the environmental movement and the EPA to put onerous restrictions on commercial development, oil drilling, mining and other productive uses of private property. President Obama’s unwavering opposition to the Keystone Pipeline is an example.

Liberals also turn against people who are thinkers, often feeling brutal envy toward and contempt for them. Although not an American liberal, Hitler (like many liberals a notorious nonthinker) felt he had to torture and murder Jews (who are generally good thinkers). Liberals hate productive businessmen who earn a good living by thinking, dubbing them “robber barons” to equate them with criminals. Professor Ward Churchill smeared the victims of 9/11 who were white collar businessmen – who use their minds to think for a living, dealing with complex abstract issues – as Nazis when he called them Little Eichmanns. He did not, however, smear blue collar workers (whose jobs require thinking on mostly the concrete level, i.e., police, firemen, etc.) who died in the attacks as Nazis, because he doesn’t feel the same contempt for them.

Liberals’ feeling that values are unattainable causes them to turn against and hate values, particularly financial security. Liberals hate wealth earned by thinking and want to “redistribute” it to those who didn’t earn it. They try to morally justify such “redistribution” with rationalizations like those of liberal philosopher John Rawls, who said that people who are good thinkers shouldn’t have a right to their wealth because “nobody earned his brain”, and liberal philosopher John Dewey, who believed that all knowledge is “collective” and publicly owned by “society”.

Liberals try to prevent people from achieving financial security with confiscatory taxes and ever-higher rates. Liberals try to get leverage over successful businesses by proposing so many regulations that nobody could follow all of them to the letter, and then deliberately try to stifle economic activity by letting agencies like the EPA, FCC, FTC, FDA, SEC or EEOC run wild shaking them down for even the slightest violations. They also stifle economic activity by raising interest rates at the Federal Reserve Bank (which is really not a bank at all, but a government agency that doesn’t even need to charge interest rates) to make it more expensive for businesses to borrow operating capital. Liberals favor banning insider trading (except, of course, for themselves) because insider trading is a quick way for a management-level employee of a publicly traded company to amass wealth resulting from the good work he did for the company[2]. Liberals regularly put production of values and wealth in a bad light, such as when they say that wealth leads to obese kids and the like. (Interestingly liberals have no problem with wealth not earned by thinking, i.e., through inheritance, royalty, organized crime, political kickbacks, etc.)

Since liberals end up cut off from values and values are necessary for a happy life, they turn against happiness. They regard happiness as alien and offensive and don’t pursue it. This is why, as Rush Limbaugh points out, liberals are never happy no matter how much they get of what they want. Although not American liberals, the clerics who rule Iran are like American liberals in that they do not like thinking. They actually convicted several young Iranians of a crime for making a happy dance video and gave them suspended sentences involving torture. Liberals go on tirades against smoking because of the great feeling it creates without getting high or evading reality in any way, and use the risk of cancer from smoking too much as an excuse to force people to stop.

Since liberals hate values and values are necessary to live, liberals turn against life itself. For example, observe the horrid views many liberals hold towards human fetuses and the things they do: partial birth abortions, organ harvesting, etc. Although they use the rights of pregnant women as an excuse for keeping abortion legal, the real reason why most liberals want abortion to remain legal is because it is as close to murdering other people as anyone can come without courting outright moral bankruptcy. In fact, liberal intellectuals like Princeton University professor Peter Singer advocate “aborting” babies that have already been born (!!).

The liberals’ Affordable Care Act, or ACA or Obamacare, is an attack on life because it gives government agencies the ability to arbitrarily determine who lives and dies. Under the ACA Linda Rolain, a 64 year old cancer patient in Las Vegas, was essentially murdered when her insurance coverage was cancelled arbitrarily. Although her brain tumor was operable at the time of the cancellation, it became inoperable while she was trying to have her coverage restored and she died as a result. President Obama himself said that, under the ACA, if the so-called “death panel” decides against covering the cost of someone’s treatment because they are over a certain age, they should just “uh, take a pain pill”.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pooh-poohed the deaths of four American diplomats in Libya that occurred because despite being fully aware of the danger they were in from a planned and coordinated terrorist attack she didn’t respond to their repeated requests for additional security, stating “what difference, at this point, does it make?”

The ultimate result of this anti-life attitude is mass murder, which nonthinkers like Adolph Hitler and the Iranian government, and American liberals like Ted “The Unabomber” Kaczynski, sometimes commit. Liberals essentially committed mass murder when they successfully banned the pesticide DDT worldwide, which was a smashing success at controlling the spread of malaria, resulting in millions of avoidable deaths in India and Africa.

Being against thinking liberals turn against cultures, religions and institutions that support thinking. Many liberals (even many Christian ones) despise modern (post Aquinas) Christianity, the religion of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment eras, where thinking and reason were favored over the mindless anarchy of the Dark Ages; Hence, their attacks on Christian religious displays and holidays and support for persecution of Christians worldwide. Liberals (even many Jewish ones) also turn against Jews who, as self-styled “people of the book”, have throughout history championed thinking. They despise Christopher Columbus for bringing the pro-thinking philosophy of the Renaissance to the primitive savagery of the Americas and want to ban Columbus Day. They hate the American Founding Fathers and the traditions of the United States, whose founding principles are based on people living by thinking and came from the Enlightenment.

While liberals despise cultures, religions and institutions that support thinking, they support those that are against it. They support the Palestinians as opposed to the Israelis and are deferential to modern Islam, refusing to call its murderous activists the terrorists they are. A liberal architect initially designed the memorial to United Flight 50 which was hijacked on 9/11 as a red crescent to honor the Moslem hijackers (though it was later redesigned after a protest)(!). And they portray the pre-Columbian Americans, who lived in a primitive savagery unimaginable to anyone today who has not seen the movie A Man Called Horse as loving, caring, innocent victims of the monstrous pro-thinking Europeans of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. They portray European colonizers of Africa, under whom Africans were actually on the whole making real progress, as evil racist oppressors while they are indifferent to the incorrigibly corrupt basket case of modern Africa. They regularly praise primitive cultures today as “sustainable”, as virtually any issue of National Geographic magazine shows.

  1. Liberals’ Ethics (I know I know: what Ethics?)

Liberals’ hostility toward thinking leads them to radically different ethical beliefs than those held by people who are pro-thinking. 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.

All of this is different for people who don’t learn to think.  Because values are necessary to live and nonthinkers are unproductive at producing values, to survive they must do so by taking 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.          An exact blueprint of this is Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, where he supports the idea of “from each according to ability, to each according to need.”

And if those the liberals seek to control try to defend themselves against such force or fraud, according to the liberals’ moral code they are immoral. As examples, observe the portrayal as immoral monsters by the liberal media of Bernard Goetz for defending himself against an attempted mugging on a New York City subway, and George Zimmerman for killing Trevon Martin in self defense outside Orlando while being assaulted by him.

Liberals also regard anger directed at them as immoral.  Anger is an emotion people feel towards other people who treat them unjustly.  It is unjust to initiate force and fraud against others to steal their values, as liberals do. So liberals are deserving of, and consequently afraid of, others’ wrath. They rationalize for this fear and guilt by de-legitimizing their victims’ feelings, declaring these sentiments unjustified.  They suggest their victims try anger management. The best summary of liberals’ ethical beliefs is the following line from the Pink Floyd song “Dogs of War”: “…they will take/and you will give/and you must die/so that they may live.”

  1. Liberals’ Politics

Like anyone else, liberals’ political beliefs are derived from their ethical beliefs. They want to create a social system where people who can’t think straight and aren’t productive can legally initiate force against productive thinkers. This explains why they like Communism as proposed by Karl Marx, where the non-thinking, relatively unproductive proletariat controls the thinking and productive bourgeoisie. Liberals like socialist dictatorships, where ”society” controls the individuals in it (with the government as “society‘s” de facto spokesman), in both their communist mode where the government owns all property, and the fascist one, where the government controls use of all property while leaving private citizens with nominal paper ownership of it.

Surprisingly, though, while thought of as being pro-big government liberals also like anarchies, which are political systems where there is no organized government. In anarchies private mafia-type organizations fill the vacuum left by the absence of a government, with the ability to do anything they like and make whatever laws they want with no due process obligations or other accountability to anyone. Liberals try to get control over these mafias so they can rule however they want to. Liberals who favor anarchy include Occupy Wall Street, WTO protesters and to a great degree the Black Lives Matter Movement, as evidenced by their attacks on police and protests against law and order.

Also surprising is liberals’ deference towards theocratic dictatorships like Iran or ISIS. While thought of as atheistic and Godless, liberals actually do believe in God – when, of course, they get to play God and can justify what they want in the name of God.

Other political systems liberals like: slavery, because it creates legal rights to coercively control and live off of other people against their will. After all, remember that the Democrats were the political party of the Confederacy.  It’s no coincidence that the party of the Confederacy is also the party of the liberals.

They also like welfare states, like the modern United States or Weimar Germany, for two main reasons: first, the welfare state protects mindless nonthinkers from the consequences of their inability to think.  Screw up on the job at work because you’re unproductive and get fired? No problem; the welfare state’s got your back with a myriad of benefits including welfare, AFDC, SNAP, unemployment, Medicaid, etc. The second aspect of the welfare state liberals like is the strings attached to these programs, which can potentially be used as leverage to compel aid recipients to support liberals’ aims. Want to keep getting food stamps?  How about continuing to have Medicaid pay for your cancer meds?  No more Facebook posts or internet tweets about how you like the Tea Party Patriots or the Rush Limbaugh show.

Liberals like government coining of money and central banking because it allows them to inflate a country’s currency and use it to reward their political allies. In my blog post “How to End Deficit Spending: with Private Bank Notes”, October 2015, I explain how inflation is a form of theft which allows liberals and their cronies to steal under color of law the values they feel they need but can’t produce.

Liberals are deferential to countries and organizations that have the types of political systems they favor: North Korea, Cuba, the former Soviet Union, China, the former fascist dictatorships of Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain, and Peronist Argentina; Salvador Allende’s Chile; Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela; Ferdinand Marcos’ Philippines; and Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh. They are even supportive of Nazi Germany though they are discrete about it, to avoid alienating Jews. They support the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other Islamic terror groups.

Whatever political systems liberals favor, there is one attribute none of them have: respect for individual rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. Liberals hate individual rights because, as I explain in my blog post “The Long Lost Doctrine of Individual Rights”, September 2015, rights are a limitation on their ability to initiate physical force or fraud against other people to steal the things they want.  Because capitalism is a political system that respects individual rights and bans the initiation of force and fraud liberals hate it, view it as a threat to their lives and oppose it vehemently. Any candidates for office who propose, as did John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, to fight systems like communism and take the country in a more capitalist direction are opposed by liberals to the point of physical assassination.

Because they view individual rights as a mortal threat, liberals try to keep people from protecting their rights. They favor gun control, for example, to keep their victims from fighting back.  While they want to deprive humans of their rights they support animal ‘rights’ which, as I explain in my blog post “The Long Lost Doctrine of Individual Rights”, September 2015, are not only nonsensical but are actually designed to prevent people from defending themselves against animals that might do them harm.

Because liberals hate capitalism, they also hate any institutions and countries that support and fight for capitalism. They hate the United States and desire to “fundamentally transform” it, as Barack Obama says. American public schools regularly use Cinco de Mayo – a relatively unimportant Mexican holiday – as an opportunity to bash the United States in front of impressionable young students. They hate forces that defend individual rights and capitalism, including local police as evidenced by their reactions to incidents in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri. They hate the CIA and the United States military, as evidenced by the actions and statements of Jane Fonda and John Kerry, and impose on it onerous rules of engagement to keep it from defending the country; then they zealously prosecute any soldiers for even the slightest infractions or even alleged infractions (i.e., Ilario Pantano, Abu Graib)[3]. They make deals like the recent agreement with Iran which in essence allows it to develop nuclear weapons in the future, or the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (SALT) where the United States agreed to limit its nuclear arms arsenal with the former Soviet Union. They mistreat veterans as evidenced by the actions of the VA. They hate the Constitution, claiming it is a “living” document that should be re-written the way they want it through judicial activism. They hate Israel.

Regarding immigration liberals want to fill the United States with people who hate capitalism, individual rights and limited government and keep out the people who like these things.  For example, they want America-loving Cubans who dislike and are fleeing the communist Castro dictatorship to essentially drown in the Florida Straits or rot in prison back in Cuba and will use any excuse or tortured legal interpretation to make this happen. For example, when six year old Elian Gonzalez made it to the United States President Bill Clinton and University of Miami law professor David Abraham used the fact that Elian’s father was still alive in Cuba as an excuse to deport him, when under American law Elian was actually entitled to American citizenship (the relevant test is the best interests of the child, rather than the domicile of the father, and there was ample evidence that it was in Elian’s best interests to remain in Miami).

Yet liberals have an enormous problem with building a wall along the Mexican border to keep out gangsters, drug cartel members, child smugglers, and even terrorists who might establish sleeper cells in the United States. And they support so-called “sanctuary cities” that harbor illegal immigrants who commit crimes against Americans, like the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco.

To keep their racket of looting their victims going, liberals have to intellectually disarm their victims so that they don’t understand what’s happening and are unable to mount any kind of 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.

In addition to respect for individual rights, in any of the liberals’ political systems something else is always missing: freedom of speech. To keep everyone intellectually disarmed and unable to philosophically fight back, liberals need censorship to control what information people can disseminate about them – and severely punish anyone saying anything they find threatening.  As Rush Limbaugh says, if there’s one thing liberals don’t want, it’s to be found out.

To intellectually disarm people liberals use a number of techniques. One is dishonest rationalizations supporting their desires called propaganda. The Nazis and Communists were infamous for using it. “But your old health care plan was garbage” is a modern example of propaganda used to justify terminating many people’s insurance under Obamacare. “The economy is overheating” is also propaganda used to justify economically destructive measures, such as raising interest rates at the Fed. (The truth of the matter is an economy can never “overheat” in a pejorative sense because lots of economic activity – so long as there really is demand for it – is never a bad thing.)  “Consumer spending drives the economy” is propaganda used to justify liberals printing money and giving it to political allies. “Deflation causes an economic death spiral” is propaganda used to scare people away from economic prosperity and towards inflation.

A major part of liberals’ propaganda is projection of the characteristics of liberals and liberal political systems onto capitalists and capitalism, and vice versa. Liberals project their personal characteristics onto their enemies and vice versa. Liberals call their enemies “dumb hayseeds” who are “uncaring, bigoted, sexist, racist, homophobic” and “intolerant” while they label themselves smart, caring, compassionate, big hearted, open minded and, perhaps most ironically, tolerant.  They say they are justified in stealing people’s values from them and ordering them around because they are better people who know what is good for everyone else.

The truth is 180 degrees off from this. Liberals are the true dummies who are bigoted, uncaring and racist. While I don’t know much about homophobia, I suspect that at root liberals really don’t care for homosexuals any more on the whole than conservatives do (and probably a whole lot less). What liberals do is pander to homosexuals, like they do to women and Jews, and try to scare them away from voting for conservatives. As for intelligence liberals don’t impress me with their filibustering, interrupting, intimidating, rationalizing, beating around the bush, changing the topic and arguing from intimidation by not answering the questions they are asked but rather the ones they wish they were asked. None of this is intelligence but rather just a veneer of it to fool the gullible. Also I am told, as is everyone in the universe, how smart Hillary Clinton is. But I’m just told that; I’ve never seen any evidence of it. I’ve never heard her say something intelligent though I’ve heard a multitude of stupid things, like presidents not having to give their criminal history as she uttered recently. As for being caring, it’s usually Republicans who give more to charity.

And it’s actually liberals who are racists, not conservatives. Because they can’t mentally handle abstractions, liberals are the ones who are probably dumb enough to regard someone as less moral or intelligent because of their skin color, ethnicity or other physical attributes (and again, I don’t think they like African Americans as much as they just pander to them). The membership of the KKK over the years, having been almost all Democratic (the late Senator Robert Byrd, D-WV, was a Grand Kleagle), bears this out.

Yet their projection is most grotesque regarding open mindedness and tolerance. As said earlier, liberals are not beyond physically torturing and mass murdering – let alone firing, defaming, and destroying the life of – anyone they regard as a threat, demonstrating a zero tolerance for any dissent they don’t like. Examples of liberal intolerance aren’t hard to find, particularly on college campuses with political correctness, speech codes and witch hunts for the slightest violations.

Liberals regularly project onto capitalist societies what the liberals’ favored, non-capitalist societies actually are: racist, socially unjust and tyrannical. They accuse capitalism of being a system that starves people while virtually nobody starves in capitalist countries and millions starve in their politically correct anarchies and dictatorships like North Korea. They regularly smear the United States as racist – and point to slavery under the Confederacy as evidence – when in fact the United States, which elected Barack Obama twice when he wasn’t even all that great a president, is probably less racist than almost any other country.  Liberals accuse the United States of torture and point to waterboarding as evidence while the countries they favor torture so brutally Colonel Oliver North had to carry a poison pill with him on a spy mission into Iran. He needed the pill because if he were ever caught the torture would be so brutal he’d end up broken and divulging information to the Iranians.

Another technique liberals use to intellectually disarm people is by toying with the meanings of abstract concepts. For thinking to be useful, the meanings of the concepts we use must be clear, precise and logically correct. This isn’t often a problem for concrete concepts, because their meanings are perceptually self-evident. It is, however, an enormous problem regarding abstract concepts. If a concept is clear and precise but not logically correct, you’ll induce incorrect facts from it; if it’s not clear and precise, you won’t be able to induce anything worthwhile from it. And you won’t be able to get any further in the thinking process than that either.  In particular you won’t be able to get a nice, integrated context against which you can figure out whether anything makes sense or not.

One way liberals toy with the meanings of abstractions is to sloppily define them, without enough of a context. As said earlier, there are two ways liberals use abstract concepts incorrectly: by using them the way large numbers of other people do, whether the meaning actually makes any sense or not (i.e., the word “literally”), and by using them to mean perceptual level concretes associated with them.  To toy with abstractions’ meanings, liberals simply make an erroneous definition from either of these ways the definition.  For example, as mentioned previously, “love” is an emotion resulting from seeing one’s most important values in another person.  But liberals define it as “a deep affection for another person”. The problem with this definition has been discussed previously. Also consider the concept “explain”.  What it means is to relate something to what you already know. But the way liberals define it is “to make clear”.  Oh that’s a big help. Make clear how??!

One concept the misunderstanding of which has been particularly tragic is the aforementioned “values”.  “Values” qualifies as an abstraction because, while some values are concretes (i.e., food), others are abstract (i.e., romantic love).  The meaning of “values” has devolved from those things that are valuable for a happy life to a vague, mentally crippling mishmash of a combination of values and virtues, with no clear distinction between the two.  As said earlier, virtues are not synonymous with values; rather, they are character traits that get people their values, like rationality, honesty, integrity, justice, independence, productiveness and pride (real pride, not foolish pride). The consequence of blurring the line between values and virtues has made the all-important concept of “values” so amorphous that, when anyone today uses the word, virtually nobody listening knows what he is talking about.

This is a disaster for everyone because understanding the correct meaning of values is necessary for people to achieve values and live a happy life. Values are a necessity for life and every voluntary act anyone takes during his life should be done in furtherance of some value or another. When the word “values” becomes essentially a meaningless wildcard in people’s minds, they literally don’t know what they are living for. They end up lost, not knowing that life is about pursuing and achieving values, and ultimately not knowing how to live.  They end up looking for guidance from anyone who is willing to tell them what to do to live – and, given their desire to control other people, the liberals are only too happy to do so.

Liberal intellectuals have further muddied the meanings of certain philosophically important abstract concepts by taking advantage of the ignorance by large numbers of people of their meanings, simply declaring them undefinable. Such ‘undefinable’ concepts include: time (which actually means movement across space), art (which means concretization of abstract philosophical ideas, through sculpture, painting, literature, drama, music and dance), and humor (which is a logically consistent but contextually absurd application of logic, like a dog so small you can kill it with a can of Raid).

Another technique liberals use to intellectually disarm people: pseudo-concepts with secret meanings, also called anti-concepts.  An anti-concept has two meanings: an alleged one and a real one.  The alleged one is designed to sound benign and fool people into thinking it’s a legitimate idea, while the real one is to attack something the liberal doesn’t like (usually happiness in the ethical context, and capitalism in the political and economic contexts). For example, “bipartisanship” is an anti-concept. Its alleged meaning is cooperation between the two main political parties.  Its real meaning, however, is the Republicans, the more capitalistic of the two parties, even though they are the party in power, caving in to the liberal Democrats. (As proof, notice “bipartisanship” is never used by the liberal media against Democrats to order them to “work with” Republicans.) Other anti-concepts include “extremism”, “isolationism”, “anti-government”, “commercialism”, “divisiveness”, “reform”, etc.  (Naïve Republicans fall for anti-concepts all the time and look like idiots when they use them.)

Perhaps the cruelest intellectual disarmament is what liberals do to dumb down children.  To educate children to grow up into productive thinkers who can choose their own values and live happily by their own efforts, their teachers need to present material in a logical hierarchy with the most basic material presented first and then new material that builds on it presented next and integrated with that previously learned. For example, in arithmetic a student learns 6+4=10; then later in algebra, the concept of a variable is added to the rules of arithmetic and the student learns 6x+4x=10x.

But this is not how liberals want to ‘educate’ children. Instead in public schools liberal education professors, like the aforementioned philosopher John Dewey and his followers, push scams like so-called Progressive Education and its more modern variants, including “whole language” reading, the “new math”, “outcome based education”, and the current scourge of “common core”. In all of these, material is presented out of its logical hierarchy and out of context, so that it can not be integrated and properly understood but rather ends up an incomprehensible hash of floating, disconnected facts the student thinks has nothing to do with anything. This is why when these kids grow up and Jesse Watters interviews them they hardly know anything. (Watch for an upcoming blog post on proper and improper education of children.)

  1. …and what to do about them

So that my friends, is the sordid nature of liberals; Now, what to do about them.

First, what not to do about them:  The line immediately before the one I quoted previously from the Pink Floyd song “Dogs of War” goes like this: “The dogs of war don’t negotiate/The dogs of war won’t capitulate.”  Negotiating is worthless with liberals because they never give up on their quests to destroy values.

And quests to destroy values, is a totally accurate description of what they do. The mistake conservatives make in assessing liberals’ desires is concluding that liberals, like conservatives, are really ultimately after values – maybe different values than conservatives want, but they still want values for a happy life.  Will someone tell me what values liberals were pursuing when they murdered Linda Rolain and four American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya?  When FDR sent the MS St. Louis, a ship full of Jewish refugees, back to Europe during World War II (causing over 25% of the passengers to be murdered by the Nazis)?  When FDR and Barack Obama deliberately exacerbated the Great Depression and the Great Recession?  When Bill Clinton deported Elian Gonzalez? When they killed the Keystone Pipeline project? When they ‘teach’ school children math under common core in such a convoluted way their parents can’t even understand it?  When they expel fifth graders for biting into pop tarts the wrong way?  When they allow the country to be invaded by gangs and drug cartels?  When Bill Clinton did worse than nothing (by bombing an empty aspirin factory in Sudan) against the terrorists who bombed the USS Cole, the Khobar Towers, and the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, giving Al Qaeda the green light for 9/11 – and then the liberal professors blamed the United States for the attack? When the liberal VA bureaucrats murdered veterans in a VA hospital in Phoenix?  When Jimmy Carter allowed 15% inflation and Iran to seize our embassy and hold over 50 Americans hostage for over a year? When they tortured and murdered African Americans for trying to vote? When they turned black neighborhoods into economically stagnant, dangerous ghettos with redlining under the FHA and then blamed private banks? When they let communists in Southeast Asia murder tens of millions of innocent people after the end of the Vietnam War? When they used eminent domain and Urban Renewal to destroy people’s homes, allegedly for new projects that were to help the economy but which were never built?  When they threw millions of people out of their homes for the Interstate Highway system and paid them 15 cents on the dollar for the value of the property they took? When they used the FDA and the environmental movement to murder millions of people needlessly from curable diseases?

Oh, in every one of these SNAFUs (Situation Normal All Fouled Up) everyone says these were the “unintended consequences of good intentions”… my ass. Good intentions mean intending to pursue values of some kind.  Liberals, as I’ve said, don’t pursue values.  For reasons discussed previously, they are against values and are out to annihilate them – as this litany of disaster proves.

Because they do not value, you don’t negotiate with them.  You don’t compromise with them. You don’t meet them halfway or cut deals with them.  Because when you do, you don’t help them to achieve their values. You help them to destroy everyone’s values, make everyone miserable, and ultimately take down American (and possibly worldwide?) civilization. This is not over-exaggerated hyperbole; it’s the truth. Look at what the barbarians did to the Roman Empire and the Mongols did to the Abbasid Caliphate, Islam’s golden age.  (Watch for upcoming blog posts on thinking in Western and Moslem history.)  We’re next.

Because the cause of their nihilism is their ignorance regarding how to reduce abstractions to concretes, liberals will not become ‘nicer’ when Republicans compromise or otherwise give them what they want.  This is not only destructive, but also ineffective because the root cause of the liberals’ problem will remain unaddressed.

So what should the good guys do to fight the bad guys?

Stand on principle. Thanks to the aforementioned liberals’ toying with the language this sounds like a worthless mindless cliché.  And it would be, without any knowledge of the principles one should stand on.

But nowadays we’re beyond that and have some idea of the principles to stand on. The first principle to stand on is that government force is to be used to protect individual rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, not to violate them. So legislation needs to be analyzed to determine whether it will protect rights or violate them. If legislation is found to violate individual rights, it needs to be opposed. Anyone in Congress regardless of party who supports such legislation need to be notified and, if they do not back down in their support, their names need to be taken down and they need to be opposed in the next election. Organizations like The Heritage Foundation have a good infrastructure for doing this. Meanwhile, term limits would be useful for preventing the creation of a political class that puts the desires of wealthy special interest donors above the protection of individual rights, so term limits should be fought for vehemently.

As for opposition to individual rights from the media, again, taking down names of reporters who support liberalism and smear individual rights is a good idea. These reporters need to be publicly confronted with the meaning and consequences of the stands they take by people like James O’Keefe, Jesse Watters or Kat Timpf.

Also, businesses that use their immense revenues to support liberalism must be confronted. In Ayn Rand’s novels Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead and Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged were successful businessmen who supported liberal causes, not fully understanding the destructiveness of what they were doing. In real life there are many Wynand’s and Rearden’s, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who support liberal causes by promoting common core or giving huge donations to liberal bastions like Harvard University. These people and their companies are in one sense the guiltiest people of all, because without their support liberals would lose much of their funding and would become far less destructive. Happily, such people can be confronted and even turned, as Sean Hannity showed with former Shell Oil CEO John Huffmeister.

Notwithstanding all of this, however, the most important principle to stand on is that thinking is how we live. Without thinking all there is is death. So liberals, no matter who they are, need to be confronted with the fact that they don’t think properly.  As a model for how to do this, I remember the scene in Top Gun where “Ice Man” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) very seriously and adamantly tells Peter “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) that he doesn’t like him because his lack of self esteem and confidence makes him too dangerous to fly practice missions with.

Kudos to Val Kilmer for showing the Republicans the right way to do it. The issue of whether people should live by thinking is far too important to be treated lightly.  Republicans in Washington need to tell Democrats in no uncertain terms that they do not like them because they are too dangerous to govern with – and they are too dangerous because they don’t think properly. Republicans need to learn that all valid concepts, no matter how abstract, can be reduced to concretes.  They then need to lead and live by example, not using terms they don’t know the meanings of and making clear that government force is for protecting individual rights.  When Democrats start to act out or want to bring to the floor bad legislation, they need to be confronted – publicly if necessary – with the essence of what they are supporting and the implications of what they are doing, and denied any help in doing it.

I want to close with some facts about what the near future really holds. Liberals love to say that conservatives cannot win elections without giving up conservative principles (ultimately meaning, living by thinking) and attracting some non-thinking “moderates” or “centrists” or “independents” to their side.  This is not only hogwash, it’s yet again an example of liberals projecting. In truth, when scouring Real Clear Politics for approximate amounts conservatives are about 47% of the American public, liberals are about 34%, and those who do not consider themselves either or don’t know are about 19%. So it’s the liberals who really need the 19% in the middle far more than the conservatives do.

Yet the Republicans act as if they represent the 34% rather than the 47%. For example, ironically while running for President Mitt Romney said that, since “47%” of Americans receive government benefits, they must be against him. Romney’s error was in assuming that if someone receives government benefits, he is automatically an unthinking liberal in favor of the welfare state. But how many such people would love to stop receiving these benefits in exchange for a job?  Or voluntary charity, if they need it?  With no government strings attached that take away their liberty? Today, both Democrats and Republicans are pessimistic about the 2016 election – Republicans because they feel they have no chance against Hillary Clinton, and Democrats because they know (barring something cataclysmic) they have no chance with Hillary Clinton. As evidence read H.A. Goodman’s blog in The Huffington Post posted on October 26, 2015 about what people in battleground states think of Hillary’s honesty and trustworthiness, and polling data from Minnesota and Pennsylvania from Real Clear Politics showing how she’s doing.

Republicans feel the way they do certainly not because the American people are against them, but because America’s intellectuals in our universities are – and they set the tone for the media through the journalism schools, and the culture.  This is ultimately our biggest problem: the hostility of academia to thinking, as evidenced by what’s currently happening at the University of Missouri and other colleges nationwide. Its’ part of a trend that has been going on since the 1780’s and is the subject of my next blog post – if I’m not assassinated by the liberals for writing this one, of course.

[1] Thinking is not con games and other fraudulent schemes.  Thinking means observing and acknowledging reality so you can achieve values. Values cannot still be values if obtained fraudulently, as I wrote in “So what are Values, Anyway?”.  Fraud involves not acknowledging reality consistently but rather evading some aspect of it, usually the fact that the individual rights of the victim (often regarding property) are being violated by the scammer. Fraud involves exploiting some ignorance in a victim to get something from him he would not give up knowingly.

[2] Insider trading should not even be illegal because there is no violation of rights associated with it; buyers and sellers of publicly traded securities do not have a right to a favorable outcome when they make their trades.

[3] For why the civilian side of the Federal Government mistreats the military, see my blog post “Why our Government Mistreats our Troops”, July 2015.

Democrats Only Win the White House When Republicans Blunder

Democrats Only Win the White House When Republicans Blunder
By Branehart
With their socialist policies the three most recent Democratic presidents have caused gargantuan suffering and destruction. There’s the national embarrassment of the Iran hostage crisis coupled with the stagflation of the late 1970’s, with both low economic growth and 14% inflation, courtesy of Jimmy Carter; the inhuman injustice of the Elian Gonzalez deportation and the disasters of the 9/11 attacks and the subprime mortgage meltdown, all of which were ultimately attributable to the policies of Bill Clinton; and the seemingly never-ending malaise of the Great Recession, brought to you by the “never let a good crisis go to waste” philosophy of Barack Obama.
With this track record it’s mind blowing that any Democrat could be elected President at all. Yet it keeps on happening.
As to why, the Democrats and their allies in academia and the media want people to believe that at root Americans elect Democrats because they really do want the statism and big government welfare state the Democrats offer.
If this is true, then how come Americans consistently want lower taxes and keep turning over the Congress, governorships and state legislatures (even in some very liberal states) to Republicans?
The truth is Democrats win the presidency not because Americans like Democrats, but because Republican presidents screw up – and in so doing create an opportunity for Democrats to take over.
Consider the earliest of the three most recent Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter, who served from 1977 to 1981.  He won because his predecessor, Republican Gerald Ford, pardoned President Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandal even though there existed “smoking gun”-quality evidence that Nixon was guilty.  This was a blunder by President Ford because, if it is true he had a role in the break-in, President Nixon should’ve faced the music for what he did rather than be exonerated.
And then there’s Bill Clinton, the beneficiary of six little words: George Bush’s quote “read my lips: no new taxes”.  The blunder was obvious: President Bush reneged on this promise and raised taxes, causing the economy to sour.
Finally there’s Barack Obama, who strode into the White House because of the economic collapse in 2008 brought about by the subprime mortgage crisis.
The subprime crisis has its roots in the policies of Bill Clinton, who during his presidency instructed HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo to require banks to essentially give home mortgages to borrowers who really couldn’t afford them.  To lessen the risk to and sweeten the deal for banks Cuomo ordered Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac to buy these mortgages, bloating them with risky loans and making them dangerously insolvent.
When George W. Bush took office he blundered by continuing Clinton’s subprime policy, turning the condition of Fannie and Freddie into a time bomb.  The bomb was detonated by the Democrats after they took over the House of Representatives in 2007, by refusing to help President Bush save Fannie and Freddie.  Fannie and Freddie had to stop buying mortgages, leaving banks with the risk of massive subprime mortgage defaults and financial collapse.
In all three cases the Democrats were able to project on to the Republicans what they themselves were: big government-loving political insiders who gave special favors to allies and  could care less about the common folk. They were also able to get away with portraying themselves in contrast as Washington outsiders – a strategy that led them all to victory.
And what happens when a Republican President does not screw up?  The president has coattails and the party keeps the White House, as happened in 1989.That year Ronald Reagan, after two successful terms with no major blunders, turned power over to another Republican, George Bush.

So, to all the Republican presidential candidates out there for the 2016 go round, do you want credit for enabling your party to keep the White House long term?  Don’t screw up.



By Branehart

You don’t have to listen too hard to hear commentators complaining about the national debt.  Currently at $17 trillion, it is the accumulation of all of the federal government’s budget deficits over the years and certainly is worth complaining about. If left out of control it could eventually cause countries and individuals who buy United States savings bonds to stop doing so, resulting in a tremendous reduction in the amount of money available for the federal government to run the country with. This in turn will result in draconian cuts not just to welfare programs but also services that are truly needed to protect our sovereignty like a formidable military. What comes after that, take your pick: hyperinflation as the federal government tries to print and mint its way out of its cash crunch, resulting in the collapse of the dollar and the country’s economy; or hyper-taxation, which could also destroy our economy. With a weakened military and a huge debt owed to foreign governments, the United States may even face threats to its national sovereignty.

Many commentators suggest cutting federal deficit spending. But this is only a partial solution at best because it doesn’t address the root of the problem: there are no checks or controls on the federal government if it refuses to do so.  As the highest government in the land with the power to create or borrow as much money as it wants, and with the power to spend as much as it pleases with no requirement for a balanced budget, it can avoid accountability for its actions. While measures like the “Penny Plan”, supported by Sean Hannity, or a balanced budget amendment may have some effect at temporarily reining in spending, ultimately the federal government can negate their beneficial effects. For example, it can simply raise any debt limit imposed on it, or redefine “balanced” to mean on the basis of anticipated, rather than actual, tax revenues (just like it redefined “cut” to mean a decrease in the rate of spending growth), set “anticipated” tax revenues at unrealistic, sky-high levels, and get away with spending galore once again.

The federal government’s lack of accountability, combined with its power to physically create money, give it the power to spend until it puts the country’s future in jeopardy. It puts the future in jeopardy by causing what is ultimately at the root of our deficit spending problem: inflation.

Inflation is when a government inflates, or increases, the money supply by printing and minting as much money as it wants, regardless of how much wealth exists to back it up and give it value. Inflation creates problems by diluting the value of each unit of money. Money is only worth what you can buy with it.  If you print and mint more, but you don’t increase the total amount of wealth in terms of goods and services available for it to purchase, each unit of money will be able to buy a smaller share of the available wealth and will consequently be worth less.  For example, assume that all the goods and services available in the world are ten million tacos.  And, there are ten million dollars in circulation. Each taco is worth $1. Then, the government prints up another ten million dollars. The taco makers don’t increase production at all so there remain ten million tacos. But now there are twenty million dollars to buy them with. Guess what? The price of a taco just doubled, to $2 per taco.

Governments like inflation because it allows them to reward political allies for doing what they want them to, granting them a windfall when they use inflated money to purchase anything. The federal government does this primarily in two ways: either by direct grants out of the federal budget, or through the Federal Reserve, which is essentially a federal government bank created in 1913. The Federal Reserve puts inflationary money into circulation by loaning it to private banks, who in turn “lend” it, often under especially favorable terms (and often for unprofitable purposes) to politically favored borrowers. There are many such borrowers the federal government wants banks to “lend” the money to – i.e., subprime mortgage borrowers, certain third world dictators, wind and solar energy companies, companies that make healthy lunches for inner city schools in furtherance of Michele Obama’s desires, etc. – and it can use pressure from its regulatory agencies to encourage them to do so. With inflation, the federal government never runs out of money to do this.

Yet Inflation is a form of theft and a violation of the right to property.  It may be theft under color of law because it is the federal government rather than some private pirate counterfeiter who is doing it, but theft under color of law is still theft and a violation of rights nonetheless.

It is theft because, in a commercial transaction, a buyer of anything who pays the seller with inflated cash gets something from the seller, but gives the seller in essence nothing in exchange for it. In a proper commercial trade, there is a mutual exchange not just of money, but of wealth, meaning something of actual value. A seller gives a buyer wealth in the form of a product or service of some kind and the buyer in exchange gives the seller money that is backed by some wealth produced by the buyer. For example, I go into Taco Bell, pay $1.50, and receive a taco. In this exchange the $1.50 I paid for the taco as the buyer I earned by working for my clients in my legal practice.  Ultimately, it’s taco for legal services.  Wealth for wealth: with the money as just an intermediary.

But money that is indiscriminately printed by a government and then given to and spent by political allies has no wealth behind it. Although it is indistinguishable from money that has wealth behind it, it isn’t earned by the buyer as a consequence of the buyer’s productive activity; instead it’s just printed (or minted) out of thin air and given to the buyer to use.  So, when it’s used in a commercial transaction, the buyer gets wealth from the seller in the form of a product or service, but leaves the seller with no wealth in exchange; all he leaves him with is worthless paper (or metal coins).

When people use printed and minted inflationary money to purchase things, sellers inevitably have to increase the prices they charge. That’s because the “purchase” of goods or services with inflated cash has the same effect on the seller as if those goods or services had been stolen: it represents a loss because, while the seller never received anything valuable in exchange for those goods or services and thus was never really paid for them, he still had to pay one way or another to offer those goods or services for sale (either by incurring costs to produce them directly, or by purchasing them from a manufacturer). So, even though there may be a much more incremental and delayed effect than if the goods were stolen outright, he has to ultimately raise his prices to make up for the loss.

When prices increase, you end up robbed. To continue the previous example, where each taco cost $1 until the government doubled the money supply and caused the price to jump to $2, the cost for you to feed yourself just doubled if you aren’t a lucky political crony who received any of that newly printed and minted $10 million. You have the same amount of money but you can now only buy half as much with it. That’s theft, just as if a holdup man pointed a gun at you and demanded half your money or your life.

This kind of theft by devaluation of money in people’s pockets has been going on since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913. In fact, between 1913 and 1991 the dollar lost approximately ninety percent of its value. It has continued to lose value since.


As bad as all of this is, perhaps the most devastating effect of Inflation is how it raises the cost to businesses of actually doing business. This is because, to operate, businesses rely on operating capital they borrow from lenders.  For lenders to extend capital profitably they must charge their borrowers an interest rate that is higher than the inflation rate; otherwise, they lose money to inflation. But if businesses have to borrow at higher interest rates, they have to pay more for their operating funds and will consequently have a more difficult time operating profitably.  For example, assume I manufacture and sell children’s clothing.  I borrow money at 4% from my bank for my line of credit. The inflation rate is 2%.  I can afford to sell children’s pajamas for $10, a price my customers can afford and that allows me to be profitable.  But then the inflation rate goes to 6%. My bank has raised my interest rate to 8.25%, so now my interest payments are so high relative to what they were previously that I have to charge $13 for pajamas, a price too high for about 28% of my customers to afford. Whereas before I could’ve sold a thousand pairs of pajamas at $10 each and earned revenue of $10,000, now I can only sell 720 pairs of pajamas at $13 each and earn revenue of $9360 – a 6.4% drop in my revenues.  If my profit margin had been 5% or 6% when I was charging $10 for pajamas, what – I am probably now operating at a loss. In a high-inflation environment more and more companies find themselves in this situation, with profitable operation impossible. Many go out of business, contributing to unemployment and poverty and further ruining the economy.

Deficit spending is related to inflation because it is essentially kicking the inflation can down the road: instead of printing and minting worthless money now, what the federal government does is sell United States savings bonds in exchange for hard currency now, with plans to print and mint inflationary U.S. currency in the future to meet its obligations for interest and principal payments to the bondholders. With deficit spending the federal government’s hope is that, in the meantime, the American economy will grow enough so that when the money is eventually printed and minted it won’t have too much of a detrimental inflationary effect (and nobody would be voted out of office over it, the way President Carter was in 1980). If the economy doesn’t grow in the meantime it’s back to square one, with all the bad effects of inflation.

There is, however, a way to stop the federal government’s stealing and its detrimental effects: by getting rid of the Federal Reserve, prohibiting governments from creating money, and replacing all government money with private bank notes. What private bank notes are, are dollars just like the ones we have today – only, as their name indicates, they are issued by private banks rather than the Federal Reserve or any other government agency as all dollars are now. This concept isn’t new. In fact private bank notes have been used in the United States in the past, mostly between 1837 and 1866 (known as the “Free Banking Era”). These notes had value because they were redeemable by their holders for a certain amount of precious metals, usually gold and silver, from the issuing bank’s reserves called specie.  Because it is made of a metal that has high market worth, specie is what gives otherwise worthless paper notes any value as a medium of exchange.


There were problems with private bank notes during the Free Banking Era that can easily be resolved today.  For example, each bank’s notes looked different from those of other banks.  This made anyone unfamiliar with the appearance of notes from a particular bank, such as anyone located far away from any of that bank’s branches, reluctant to accept them for fear that they were either illegitimate counterfeits or worthless from a bankrupt bank. That problem is easily solved by having the federal government, under its power to coin money, dictate a uniform appearance of notes so they are recognizable as a medium of currency (much the way state law sets standards under the Uniform Commercial Code for negotiable instruments like checks). Related to this problem is that of determining if the issuing bank is legitimate, and solvent. This is easily resolved today with the internet, where anyone accepting notes could plug the name of any bank into a browser and find out the whole history and status of the bank.


As I envision the reintroduction of private bank notes, unlike during the Free Banking Era all notes of the same denomination would under federal law look exactly the same regardless of which bank issued them, so they would be recognizable as legal tender by anyone everywhere and a $5 bill would be the same from Nome to Rome. The only difference would be some sort of notice on the face of the note as to who the issuing bank is. Instead of stating that it is issued by the Federal Reserve, as all dollars are now, each note would state that it is issued by a particular private bank – for example in the picture below, a $20 note has been issued by (the fictional) Southern Central Bank, a National Association. The “freely convertible” means that it is freely redeemable at the will of its holder for $20 of precious metal specie from Southern Central Bank’s reserves.  Also, under its power to coin money the federal government can set a certain weight of gold specie that would be equal to one dollar, setting the standard for conversion from paper dollars into specie and vice versa.


With private bank notes it would be impossible for anyone to act arbitrarily and print however much money as he wants, causing inflation and deficit spending. Unlike the federal government, private banks can’t just print money willy-nilly. They have a check on how many dollars’ worth of notes they can print.  A private bank can’t print so many notes that it does not have the specie reserves available to convert the notes when the note holders want to.

Every note a bank prints and puts into circulation is a potential claim by the holder of that note against that bank’s specie reserves. Whenever a note holder wants to convert his notes into specie, the bank will be obligated to do so on-demand (and, as an aside, it will usually be a high net worth individual or company, rather than a poor or middle income noteholder, and it will often be for a high dollar amount of specie). If a bank does not have enough specie on hand to make the exchange, it is a sign that the bank is poorly managed or insolvent. Further, a bank might be civilly or even criminally liable in egregious cases for grossly overprinting notes significantly beyond what its managers know or should know is the amount of notes the bank can reliably exchange for specie.

Banks would issue their notes for the most part against their equity. Like other types of businesses, banks borrow capital to operate and provide a good or service of value to customers. They borrow capital by encouraging people to deposit their money with them for safe keeping, paying a low interest rate on the deposits to induce them to do it. The good or service they provide is loans, which they make with the deposited money.  The banks charge borrowers a higher interest rate on loans than they pay depositors.  If the loans are paid back and not defaulted on, the bank makes a profit on the difference between the amount it pays out as interest to depositors and the amount it takes in as interest from borrowers.  This profit is equity.

What banks could do is print up notes against their equity to give to depositors when they withdraw money from their accounts, and to give to borrowers for their loans. If a bank feels confident it can honor requests to transfer an amount of notes greater than its equity into specie, it can issue an amount of notes greater than the amount of its equity if it chooses to do so, though it starts to run the risk of not being able to convert the notes if it issues too many.

Banks could convert much if not all of their equity, as well as some of the amount that is in deposits that is still a liability, into enough precious metal specie so they can successfully exchange it for the amount of notes they would reasonably expect noteholders to want to convert.

With private bank notes banks would have the incentive not to please government bureaucrats by making unprofitable “loans” (essentially handouts) to political cronies, but rather to make the most profitable loans possible so as to build up their equity as much as possible.  Banks with the most equity would have the reputation as the most financially solvent and reliable at transferring their notes into specie, and would attract the most deposits and be able to make a greater share of profitable commercial loans.  This would make them market leaders.


Contrast the built-in accountability and incentives of a financial system operating with private bank notes with the behavior of the federal government and the Federal Reserve. In the New Deal FDR made gold ownership in large quantities illegal by American citizens (though foreigners could still own it). And in 1971 President Nixon declared that U.S. dollars were no longer convertible into specie, taking away any check on the federal government’s power to print and mint money wantonly. This helped set the stage for the massive inflation of the late 1970’s under President Carter.

One of the common attacks on private banking without a central government that can print and mint as much money as it wants is that, if a bank goes bankrupt, the depositors and note holders would lose all of their money and get stuck holding worthless notes.  This won’t be the case except in very rare (and avoidable) instances.  If a bank runs into financial trouble, the way it would avoid defaulting on its obligations to its depositors and note holders is by being taken over by a more solvent, better managed bank, which would buy the troubled bank’s assets (which are basically its loans) in a transaction arranged by and conducted in a financial clearinghouse. People holding notes issued by the troubled bank would be able to redeem them for notes issued by, or specie reserves held by, the surviving bank. This way, over time banks whose underwriting and management practices are inferior will end up being replaced by those with better management, and the financial system would become even more stable over time.

Meanwhile, the solvency and quality of different banks could be evaluated and rated by various private entities like Consumers Union or rating agencies, helping to direct depositors to better, safer banks.  And the history of mergers and acquisitions of banks by successor banks could be logged, accessed and traced. All of this data could be made readily available through websites of banks and clearinghouses over the internet.

Interestingly governments are aware of the virtues of free banking and private bank notes, and have propagandized against banks to make the public favor government-controlled, inflationary banking. An example commonly cited by governments and their statist intellectual allies in academia and the media as to why free banking with private bank notes wouldn’t work is because it would allegedly encourage so-called “wildcat” banks. Wildcat banks were fly-by-night businesses run by shady characters during the nineteenth century which would take in a bunch of deposits and then close the bank, absconding with the deposits for parts unknown.

The truth, however, is that government regulations and intervention in the economy, not free banking, caused wildcat banks. Before the Federal Reserve states used to require banks to purchase state government bonds with a par value equal to the amount of their deposits. The alleged reason was to protect depositors; if the bank failed, the state would simply require the bank to assign the bonds to the depositors and pay them what they lost. The real reason, however, was because money-hungry state governments, which wanted to reward their political allies but could not create money the way the federal government could, wanted to get their hands on bank deposits to use for their own purposes.

What caused wildcat-banking was state governments forcing banks to buy their bonds at market value, which was usually very low relative to par value because state governments were a poor investment relative to more productive private entities. But then, these state governments would allow politically connected wildcat bankers to redeem their bonds at the much higher par value, enabling the wildcat banker to close down the bank, pocket the difference and abscond with the loot.

Governments and their intellectual allies in academia and the media have propagandized in favor of inflation, particularly before the inflation-ridden Carter presidency of the late 1970’s.  According to the media, inflationary cash helps to stimulate the economy, keeping banks liquid and unemployment low by making it easier for businesses to borrow money and expand their operations.

And, to scare people towards inflation and away from its opposite, deflation has been incorrectly demonized. According to the propagandists, deflation – meaning the increase in value of money from an increase in the production of wealth available for it to purchase – is some kind of unspeakably horrible thing leading to a civilization-ending ‘death spiral’. Allegedly what happens is when money begins to increase in value is prices for goods and services decrease (which is true). This decrease leads to lower revenues for businesses, which in turn leads to lower production, which in turn leads to lower wages and demand, which leads to further decreases in price, again leading to lower revenues for businesses… and on and on, until the economy finally destroys itself. Even poor Gerri Willis of Fox Business seems to have fallen for the ruse, when regarding deflation she told Bill O’Reilly “you do not want to go there!”

The truth regarding deflation, however, is that it is actually a good thing and you do want to go there. The ‘death spiral’ is premised on an incorrect assumption: the reduced amount of dollars taken in by businesses as a result of prices dropping means less buying power for those businesses, which would cause less production. But what’s overlooked is that those dollars, though fewer, are worth more – maybe even a lot more. So the exact opposite is what happens: with deflation businesses and consumers actually have more buying power, which leads to more production, leading to higher wages and demand, leading to further decreases in prices, leading to even more buying power… and on and on, to an economic boom (which is the exact opposite result of inflation).  For example, assume a particular house is worth $1.2 million in year 2000 dollars. The same house is worth “only” $750,000 in 2025 dollars – but with each 2025 dollar worth twice as much as each 2000 dollar.  When would you want to own the home, when it’s worth $1.2 million, or when it’s worth $750,000? The answer is when it’s worth $750,000, because in 2000 dollars it would be worth $1.5 million, which is greater than $1.2 million.

All of the above is known to the propagandists so they further attack deflation by redefining it to mean any drop in prices, regardless of the reason. (They do this with inflation also, dubbing any increase in prices as “inflation”.) They then draw a correlation between falling prices and an economic calamity occurring at about the same time and then blame “deflation” as the cause.  For example, in the late 1990’s land prices in Hong Kong started to plummet, and the city’s economy was stagnating. Professors, elected officials and the media said that “deflation” was the “cause” of Hong Kong’s economic problems. However, the real reason had nothing to do with true deflation but rather with a rapidly decreasing demand for land there resulting from the Asian financial crisis, coupled with the development of Shenzhen across the border in mainland China for investment in competition with Hong Kong.

The propagandists have also blamed specie and the gold standard for causing the 1929 Stock Market Crash and the resulting Great Depression.  Because specie reserves place a limit on how much money a bank can issue and put into circulation, specie is a target for statists in governments who desire to print and spend as much money as they want without any limit.

Prior to 1929 the statists at the Federal Reserve tried for political purposes to “iron out” periodic economic downturns associated with normal business cycles. Prior to the Federal Reserve, banks periodically extended loans until their specie reserves started to become insufficient to cover their liabilities to depositors and noteholders. This would usually occur when a larger than normal amount of loans defaulted or became uncollectable, causing banks to make less revenue. In response banks would extend significantly less credit and only at higher interest rates. For about a year or two, the economy would slow down to a mild recession. Then, as banks’ financial positions improved, they would start extending credit again to businesses at lower interest rates and economic activity would pick up.  This cycle acted as a check on over-speculation by banks into risky ventures and helped to maintain stability in the financial system.

After one such downturn in 1927 the Federal Reserve decided that it should print up enough money so that the economy could boom perpetually without banks having to periodically raise interest rates and curtail their lending. This resulted in wild speculation and risky lending that by 1929 had flooded into the stock market, causing stocks of mediocre companies to become dangerously overvalued. The first few corporate bankruptcies caused panic selloffs and stock values to plummet rapidly. Speculators who had borrowed money to buy stocks defaulted and the banks that lent it to them went broke. Upon hearing about the first bank failures depositors panicked, causing a run on banks that destroyed the American financial system.

Bankers complained to the Federal Reserve, asking it to bail them out with cash so they could stay in business and pay their depositors. The Fed responded by claiming it could not do so because it was limited by its specie reserves in how much money it could create and lend, and there was nowhere near enough to bail out every bank that needed a bailout. A movement consequently started which became the official policy of FDR as part of the New Deal to abandon the gold standard and any limitations on the Fed’s ability to create money, so that any politically connected crony wanting a bailout could get it.

It’s time to cut out all this nonsense. Ultimately the truth is the proponents of unlimited printing and minting of money by governments want something for nothing – something ultimately nobody can have. So with that, everyone who believes in a limited government charged with the obligation to protect individual rights should get behind ending the ability of governments to create money. With the money supply completely in the hands of private banks and their customers, nobody will have the power to arbitrarily create money and steal from everyone the way the federal government does now. The future can be saved and inflation, deficit spending and all of their effects would become things of the past.

I would like to acknowledge the work of Richard M. Salsman, whose research and lectures enabled me to understand how the country’s monetary system operates. His book BREAKING THE BANKS: Central Banking Problems and Free Banking Solutions (American Institute for Economic Research, Great Barrington, Massachusetts 1990) was an invaluable resource for this post and is a must-read for anyone interested in free banking.

How we get our Values: The Thinking Process

How we get our Values: The Thinking Process

By Branehart

In my previous post “So, What are Values Anyway?” dated August 10, 2015 on the Broward Tea Party blog site, I talked about the correct meaning of the concept “values”: those things that are valuable to living creatures of all kinds for the purpose of furthering their survival. For humans values include both necessities as well as things that make life happy and enjoyable like food, clothing, housing, employment, education, camaraderie with other people, good health, financial security, leisure, romance, children, consumer goods, a good credit rating and lots of others. One value, however, is more important than any other for us as humans because it enables us to get all of our other values.  That value is thinking.

Thinking (also called reason) is the process of taking in information about reality and turning it into knowledge useful for achieving one’s other values. Taking in information about reality is vital for our survival because reality is always there and always setting the terms of our lives whether we like it or not.  What we as humans need to do to survive is figure out the facts of reality and their implications for our continued survival.  We do this by means of the thinking process.  This process has five steps:

  1. Observing reality with our five senses;
  2. Consciously acknowledging what we observe;
  3. Identifying what we observe in words;
  4. Inducing the facts of reality; and
  5. Integrating the facts of reality to understand the context surrounding a particular value, so we can determine whether that value is attainable and, if so, how to achieve it.

Let’s take each of these individually in order. The first step, observing reality with our five senses, means precisely that. We start the thinking process whenever we see, touch, taste, hear or smell something, and it happens for the most part automatically.

Next, to think we have to consciously acknowledge what we observe. For example, rather than just passively seeing a red sofa in a furniture store, we acknowledge to ourselves that we are seeing a red sofa. By doing this, because at the moment we might be looking to buy a red sofa for the living room, we can realize that the red sofa we’re looking at is what we’re looking for, a value. Whereas if we just let our gaze pass over the sofa passively, we might not realize the significance of what is there and pass up a potential value.

I attended a lecture many years ago on the thinking process where the lecturer showed us a picture similar to the one below and told us, in our minds, to acknowledge as many observations in as much detail as we could from the information in it.


Some of the many possible results for this picture could be: green and white bowl on the top shelf in the middle, blue and white bowl on the lower shelf, two rectangular wooden shelves, black and white dish or plate in the back on the lower shelf, framed sign that says “Cedar Mesa Pottery” at the back of the top shelf, etc.

When we consciously acknowledge what we observe, we do it by performing the third step of the thinking process: we identify what we observe in terms of words. Words are labels for the things in reality.  All words are one of two types: proper nouns or concepts.

Proper nouns stand for only one particular thing. Concepts, in contrast, stand for one or more instances of things, actions, circumstances, descriptions, etc. that all have certain characteristics in common with each other. For example, “woman” is a concept that can refer to any number of things with the characteristics women have in common, namely, that they are all adult female human beings. However, “Megyn Kelly” is not a concept but rather a proper noun because, unlike “woman” which can refer to any number of people who are women, “Megyn Kelly” refers to only one specific person. (If there happen to be two or more women named Megyn Kelly, or two or more places named Ontario, i.e., in California and in Canada, it is a coincidence rather than because of any characteristics these women or places might have in common with each other.)

More examples of concepts: “a” (or “an”) is a grammatical concept referring to an indefinite article, and it is a concept because it can refer to any indefinite article; “the” is a similar concept which refers instead to any definite article.  Concepts which refer to specific types of things are called nouns; ones referring to specific types of actions are verbs; ones referring to descriptions of things are adjectives; and ones referring to descriptions of actions are called adverbs. There are other types of concepts which are made necessary by the logistics of grammar: prepositions, conjunctions, etc.

Concepts can be concrete or abstract. A concrete concept refers to entities that are understandable through sensory observation alone.  For example, “woman”, “run”, and “dog”  are concepts that can be understood just by looking at the things they refer to. Abstract concepts also refer to entities, but which by their nature can not be understood merely from observation (they’re not something you can “hold in your hand”, so to speak); more knowledge is needed. For example, “bank account” and “financial solvency” are abstract concepts. Important concepts relating to morality such as “friendship”, “enemy”, “evil” and “good“ are all abstract concepts.

            Because the relationship of abstract concepts to reality is not self-evident, people need a technique for relating them to reality to be able to understand them properly. The way to understand abstract concepts is to reduce them to the concrete concepts from which they are derived.  For example, a “bank account” – a tally for money belonging to a certain person or legal entity placed with a bank for safe keeping – can be explained in terms of a few concrete concepts you can “hold in your hand”: tallies, money, people, and banks. All valid abstract concepts, no matter how abstract, can be properly understood this way, by reduction to concrete concepts. (Even concepts relating to the supernatural including salvation, angels, demons, etc. are reducible to perceptual level concretes because they are allegorical.)

Once someone has identified what he has observed in terms of words, the next step is induction of facts. Facts are statements describing reality. They consist, at a minimum, of one concept (a verb) plus either a concept (a noun) or a proper noun, in the form of “something is (or was, will be, etc.)”. “The dog runs” is a fact. “Instability resulting from the Mexican Revolution caused Mexicans from Juarez to move to El Paso in Texas” is one. Etc.

Induction means gathering and analyzing evidence to determine the nature of a fact. Some facts are self-evident and can be induced just by observing (i.e., the sky is blue).  As with identifying what we observe in terms of words, which is generally done at the same time as we consciously acknowledge what we observe, so it is with inducing self-evident facts: we do it at the same time as we identify in words what we observe.  For example, I open my eyes when I wake up in the morning, look out the window, and see a large dark cloud in the distance with flashes in it.  I identify in words what I’m seeing: “thunderstorm”.  I also have induced a fact of reality: there is a thunderstorm in that particular direction. However, many other facts are not self-evident and require a lot of evidence and scientific analysis to be ascertained properly (i.e., a Mojave rattlesnake’s venom is both hemotoxic and neurotoxic, water boils at 212°F at sea level, the orbits of the moon and planets around the sun, the theory of gravity, etc.).

Once one has induced facts, the next step is to integrate these facts with each other, and with the factual knowledge one already has. Integrating facts means connecting them where they have concepts or proper nouns in common. “All men are mortal” and “Socrates is a man” are directly related to each other because of the common concept “man”.  In reality all facts are related to each other, even if indirectly. For example: I am living 700 miles south of the State of Michigan where Sleeping Bear Dunes is located which is the location of many summer homes for people from Chicago which is a city about the same size as Osaka, Japan, a country along the Ring of Fire just like Chile in South America, a continent which has the highest mountains in the world outside of Asia, all of which are on the earth, a planet located 2.5 million light years from the Andromeda galaxy… you get the idea. A high school friend of mine had some fun with integration with a little saying of his about why fire engines are red: “2+2=4, 4+4=8, 8+4=12, 12 inches in a ruler, Queen Mary was a ruler, Queen Mary was a ship, ships sail on the sea, the sea has fish, fish have fins, Finns live next to the Russians, Russians are red, and fire engines are always rushin’.”

Part of integration involves figuring out new facts dictated by the integrated ones, called deduction. For example, when one integrates “all men are mortal” with “Socrates is a man”, one can deduce “Socrates is mortal as well”.

The goal of integrating facts is to understand the context regarding a particular value. A context is the universe of facts relevant to the value in question being integrated in proper relationship to each other. When someone understands the context regarding a value, he can figure out whether or not the value is achievable and, if so, how to achieve it. This is because, when someone understands the context regarding a value, he can determine which facts are most fundamental, or important, for achieving it, and which are less so or even irrelevant.  For a simple example, your value is to eat dinner at The Habit Restaurant.  The nearest Habit is on La Cienega Boulevard near Beverly Boulevard. You are at your house on Santa Monica Boulevard.  Santa Monica Boulevard intersects with La Cienega Boulevard. La Cienega Boulevard goes down to Interstate 10, which is past Beverly Boulevard. Here, you can tell that the facts that The Habit is on La Cienega near Beverly Boulevard, La Cienega intersects with Santa Monica, and you’re along Santa Monica, are all relevant because from them you can figure out how to get your value: you go down Santa Monica to La Cienega, turn onto La Cienega and go to the restaurant for dinner. The fact that La Cienega goes down to I-10 beyond the restaurant can be disregarded as irrelevant, because it’s of no use in figuring out how to get to the restaurant.

For a much more in-depth example of forming a context regarding a far more significant value in everyone’s lives, consider the following. The value that you want is a satisfying career path.  You have the following hash of facts, all induced and deduced:

  1. You like cold weather.
  2. A degree from an Ivy League law school makes you marketable in any state.
  3. To get admitted to any law school you must take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
  4. You’re interested in the rules that govern how people in society interact with each other.
  5. Spain gets more tourists than any other country.
  6. To get a job as an intellectual property attorney an engineering degree is highly desirable.
  7. You aren’t rich.
  8. Ivy League law schools are extremely expensive.
  9. There is high demand for intellectual property lawyers in Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Huntsville, and Raleigh.
  10. People who do well in college tend to do well on the LSAT.
  11. If you overfill the popcorn popper the top will melt.
  12. University of Minnesota College of Law isn’t as good as an Ivy League law school but still makes you marketable almost everywhere.
  13.  There is low demand for lawyers and getting a job is difficult.
  14. There are good LSAT prep courses.
  15. To sit for a bar exam you have to get a degree from a law school.
  16. University of Minnesota College of Law is less expensive than an Ivy League school for in state residents.
  17. Ivy League law schools are very competitive and hard to get into.
  18. Law is the profession which deals with the rules that govern how people in society interact with each other.
  19.  You did well in college.
  20. Des Moines is the capital of Iowa.
  21. To practice law in any state you have to pass a bar exam given by the State Bar Association of that state.
  22. You’re a resident of Wisconsin.
  23. You don’t have any idea how well you’ll do on the LSAT.
  24. University of Minnesota College of Law is more highly regarded than University of Washington College of Law.
  25. You want to live in Minnesota.
  26. There are good LSAT prep courses.
  27. You have an engineering degree.
  28. University of Minnesota offers cheap in state tuition for out of state applicants who do well on the LSAT.

At first these facts all seem random, discussing cities, universities, the legal profession, sectors of the economy, exams, countries, popcorn, etc. But, when properly integrated, they dictate a clear path to a career: a law degree from University of Minnesota, and an intellectual property attorney position in Seattle.

Here’s how we get there.  First, you’re interested in the rules that govern how people in society interact with each other, which is law.  So you should probably try to become a lawyer.  There is low demand for lawyers and getting a job is difficult, so law may not be a good career choice; however, there is high demand for intellectual property lawyers in Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Huntsville, and Raleigh.  Also, to get a job as an intellectual property attorney an engineering degree is highly desirable and, it turns out, you have an engineering degree.  So in your case law may be a good choice after all.

For you to be able to practice law in any state, you have to pass a bar exam given by the State Bar Association of that state.  To sit for a bar exam, you have to get a degree from a law school. The best law schools are Ivy League law schools, from which a degree will make you marketable to law firms in any state. However, Ivy League law schools are extremely expensive, competitive and hard to get into, and you aren’t rich.  University of Minnesota College of Law looks like a good alternative to an Ivy League law school, though, because while it isn’t as good as an Ivy League law school, a degree from there still makes you marketable almost everywhere.  And it’s less expensive than an Ivy League school for in state residents. You’re a resident of Wisconsin and therefore not an in state resident, but University of Minnesota offers cheap in state tuition for out of state applicants who do well on the LSAT, which you’ll have to take to get admitted to any law school anyway.  While you don’t have any idea how well you’ll do on the LSAT, you’ll probably do well because people who did well in college tend to do well on the LSAT, and you did well in college. In addition, there are good LSAT prep courses available for you to take, and you want to live in Minnesota.

Seattle would be the best city to look for a job in once you get your degree because you like cold weather and it has the coldest weather of the cities with strong markets for intellectual property attorneys.  It may still be better to get your law degree from University of Minnesota, though, because even though University of Washington College of Law is located in Seattle, University of Minnesota College of Law is more highly regarded than University of Washington College of Law generally and a Minnesota degree may make you more marketable in the other cities with strong markets for intellectual property attorneys in case you find the Seattle job market a bit tight.

The facts about Des Moines, Spain, and the popcorn popper are irrelevant and can be disregarded.

There is a special kind of fact that aids people greatly in forming and understanding contexts called a principle.  A principle integrates lots of other facts and takes the form of a generalization of some kind. “All men are mortal” is a principle. Another: all rattlesnakes are poisonous.  In the above example there are a number of principles, including that to get into law school you have to take the LSAT, that the demand for lawyers is weak, that an engineering degree helps to get an intellectual property attorney position, and others. Principles keep people from constantly having to ask questions like, “is that man over there going to die too?” or “is that rattlesnake poisonous too?”.  Principles save mental energy.  Without them, in order to form contexts people would have to expend much more mental effort to memorize many more facts, making understanding reality and achieving values incredibly more difficult.

It is this process – from observations to concepts to facts to context – by which people achieve all their values and, consequently, civilized living standards. All businesses, interpersonal relationships, technological innovations, production of goods and services, and commerce ultimately result from it.  Without it there would be no economies of any size and we would still be in the Stone Age.

As important as thinking is, however, it is not automatic. While sensory perception, the first step of the thinking process, is automatic, the rest of the process is not. Much of thinking is self-evident for concrete concepts; consequently almost everyone can figure out relatively simple matters such as what to wear or have for dinner. For abstract concepts, however, thinking is neither automatic nor self-evident.  Reduction of abstractions to concretes is a skill that must be learned to be used effectively. Without learning reduction, someone can not figure out the correct meanings of abstractions and instead will treat them as if they are concretes.  For example, the abstract concept “friend” means someone who is supportive of one’s values.  But to arrive at this meaning requires reduction. If someone doesn’t understand reduction, he will define “friend” as a concrete concept meaning someone who is openly pleasant, polite or amiable, even if unbeknownst to him this person is a manipulator, schemer or criminal who would stab him in the back or steal his life savings – and might end up treating such a person as a “friend”.

It should be clear the kinds of problems this creates. If people don’t understand abstract concepts correctly, they are unable to induce facts that involve abstract concepts, and thus become unable to integrate those facts to form a context that depends on those facts. Values whose contexts involve facts with abstract concepts include romantic love, an understanding of morality, and successfully running a business, among others. People who can’t handle abstractions end up feeling cut off from achieving these types of values. They end up in broken relationships, operating failing businesses, believing that morality is some sort of a subjective scam to help protect the interests of particularly wealthy, clever or politically powerful people at the expense of others, and ultimately become frustrated if not destitute.

When people feel cut off from values they want, they turn against values as such.  Because values are necessary for life and happiness they turn against these as well and become envious and destructive towards those who have them, even to the point of becoming vicious killers. As examples consider the nihilistic behavior of any number of anti-values groups throughout history, from the barbarians who sacked Rome in the fifth century, to the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in 1258 and started the decline of the Moslem empire (and thus helped to create the cultural sewer that is much of the Islamic world today), to the Russian Bolsheviks, German Nazis, Italian and Spanish fascists, Imperial Japanese, Maoist Chinese, or any number of modern Islamic hate groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda or ISIS.

Modern American liberals fall into this same category.  Nihilism against values, life and happiness is rampant within the American left. Observe the feminists who mutilate human fetuses, the environmentalists who want to shut down all land development and sandbag economic growth with endless regulations, Democratic politicians who want ever-higher taxes so they can confiscate wealth and Obamacare so they can kill people through healthcare rationing, and the Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements, who want to bring down law and order.  (Look for an upcoming blog post on why liberals are the way they are.)

Today the intellectuals in our universities – precisely the people who are supposed to be teaching everyone how to think properly – are doing the exact opposite, producing freshly minted liberal nonthinkers like crazy. The importance of intellectuals in any society can not be overstated because it is they who are the source of the ideas that cause long-term social trends. Intellectuals have the influence they do because of their research, what they teach students, and the consulting services they provide outside the classroom to businesses and government officials. From them culture-shaping ideas are created, spread and turned into government policies, giving academia a position of the highest importance in influencing everyone’s future.

Instead of teaching people how to think, the overwhelming majority of intellectuals in American universities (and in those of other countries) today are opposed to doing so. They attack every step of the thinking process, claiming that sensory observation doesn’t work, that concepts are at best partially accurate estimations, that nobody can ever be sure whether facts are valid or not, that principles are just worthless generalizations, and to achieve values the best we can do is blindly follow our feelings and “muddle through”, and whatever happens, happens. The result of this attitude is the slow rot of failure and cultural decline we sense all around us today. (Look for an upcoming post on the attitudes towards thinking in Western history.)

Just like the empires before it, America will be vulnerable until this trend is reversed.  If there is one issue that is more important than all others – i.e., abortion, deficit spending, immigration, health care, foreign policy, taxes, etc. – for saving this country it is education, and in particular the attitude of our intellectuals towards the importance of good thinking. If the current attitude toward thinking that is dominant in academia is not changed within the next few decades the people who know the benefits of good thinking will die off and America’s decline will probably become irreversible.  So I’m calling on everyone to understand what’s in this blog post and make it an issue ASAP.  Feel free to comment and ask what can be done.

In memory of Hilda

Donald Trump – Character Counts

by Charles Robertson – Cofounder Broward Tea Party

You weren’t intentionally eavesdropping but you couldn’t help but overhear the conversation.  The person speaking said something racist or sexist or any multitude of inappropriate comments.  And then you formed an opinion of that person, we’ve all done it.  What we say and how we say it reveals who we are.  That explains why people share their deepest thoughts and secrets only with those they trust.  To strangers or in group talk we’re more guarded, aware we’re being judged.  Political candidates are acutely aware of this, knowing that any verbal misstep could derail their campaign.  When asked a question, they don’t just answer the question, their answers are crafted to project their vision and bolster their image.   And then there’s Donald Trump.

Let me start by saying I’m not a fan.  I suspect the majority of my fellow Tea Partiers aren’t either.  We tend to value character as the primary requirement in our candidates.  Sorry Donald, we found your weakness.  Speaking to Rolling Stone Magazine about fellow candidate Carly Fiorina, Trump said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president, I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”  Is this a presidential candidate or Jon Stewart? Crude, disrespectful, boorish, insulting, is this what conservatives want in a President?  This wasn’t eavesdropping, this was Trump publically revealing who he is. To publically offend someone in this manner goes beyond poor judgment, this was mean spirited and that reveals something deeper and more troublesome about the man.  A red flag for those who are paying attention.  And don’t think this was an isolated slip of tongue, there’s no shortage of similar Trumpisms.

What we’re seeing now is the same phenomenon that led to Barack Obama.  People enraptured by words.  In both cases the message was and still is powerful.  People were hungry for hope and change.  Today people are fed up with “stupid” politicians.  Were tired of America becoming a “dumping ground.”  Trump’s blunt politically incorrect words strike a chord on numerous issues.  The folks identify on a gut level.  But as was the case with Obama’s campaign, the message is long on emotion, short on substance and detail.  Trump’s popularity and perhaps his campaign strategy is based on an anti Obama anti politician national sentiment.  Fueled by dissatisfaction, conservatives are making the same mistake as Obama supporters, falling for the message and ignoring the messenger.

A fellow conservative friend of mine supports Trump.  I asked him why and his answer I believe speaks for most all Trump supporters.  He likes what Trump says about immigration, trade, foreign policy, etc.  My friend’s process for candidate evaluation is to check the boxes, whichever candidate gets the most checks is the winner.  I have a similar process but checking the issue boxes is step #2, in my process a candidate doesn’t get to step #2 unless I check box #1 CHARACTER.  Without character I don’t trust any politician to their campaign rhetoric.  People’s misplaced frustration with politicians is to blame the vocation (politics) when the real problem is the individual politician’s lack of character.

Call me old fashioned but I long for a Reagan type leader.  For me our president should embody class, character, confidence, honor, and integrity.  When I think of Trump none of those words come to mind.  Tea Partiers seek true conservatives who govern by principle.  Trump admits to buying politicians, what principle is that?  I suppose in an ever increasing secular world, ethics are overlooked.  People seem more willing to accept someone with baggage if they relate to the message.  I find that hard to accept considering there’s no shortage of other good candidates without or at least far less baggage.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m against political correctness.  I prefer straight talk, no mincing words.

The same way I begrudgingly admired Barack Obama’s ability to inspire through his speeches I also admire Donald Trump’s ability to do the same.  Problem is, they’re just words.  Our culture of low information voters (Trump would call them stupid) don’t get beyond sound bites.  An angry voter is money in Trump’s bank.  The master deal maker is selling the people what they want, hope & change repackaged as the pseudo conservative version.

Character is essential when difficult decisions are needed. Just ahead I see our country headed toward hard times that will require difficult unpopular decisions.  Will someone who’s spent his lifetime building his “brand” be willing to risk that by bucking public opinion.  Trump proudly points to his poll ranking, he relishes this aura of success.  As a businessman he sees the numbers validating his message and I believe maintaining this popularity will govern his decisions, his policies.  This is where I see him differing from Obama.  Obama sticks to his ideology and progressive agenda, more so in his 2nd term, despite his dropping popularity.  I don’t believe Trump has that same ideological passion for conservatism, I see him more as a finger to the wind, Clinton style populist.  The rhetoric we hear now might bear faint resemblance to the policies and actions of Trump the president.  That’s the art of the deal, close the deal first, deal with the rest later.

When asked by Chris Wallace in the 1st debate about his Atlantic City casino bankruptcies Trump responded, “First of all these lenders are not babies,” he continued, “They are killers. These are not the nice sweet little people you think.”  Problem is, it wasn’t just the lenders who got hurt.  In the 2009 Trump Taj Mahal bankruptcy case, unsecured creditors — low-level investors, contractors, small-time vendors — got less than a penny on the dollar for their claims against Trump Entertainment Resorts.  I understand there is sometimes a necessity to make difficult business decisions that can hurt some, perhaps to save more.  An explanation of that with an apology to those who were hurt would have seemed the appropriate answer.  Instead we got an attack on the evil bankers, same liberal style talking point designed to appeal to the angry.  I’ve seen this all before and unless we find a leader with character I’m afraid it doesn’t end well.

The Long Lost Doctrine of Individual Rights

The Long Lost Doctrine of Individual Rights

By: Branehart

Today people claim to have all sorts of ‘rights’.  Supposedly there are ‘rights’ to free speech, free education and free healthcare. Allegedly there are ‘economic rights’ to “a job in the nation’s industries” (from FDR) and a ‘living wage’ (whatever that is, and however much that is).  It is claimed there are ‘rights’ to ‘privacy’ and ‘rights’ to not be offended.  There are ‘rights’ to believe in what you want and be free from anyone who believes in anything.  There are even some who claim that if they want something, they have a ‘right’ to it – whatever (and whosever) it is.

But what is really meant by “rights”? The term’s real meaning seems a little long lost, because for over a century those intellectuals who are supposed to teach us about rights – in particular, professors in our universities – either have improperly twisted the doctrine (i.e., “economic rights”, “animal rights”, etc.) or have failed to teach it totally.  This is terrible for everyone’s future because of the extreme importance of rights in making our lives livable. It is essential that people properly understand what rights really are.

Philosophically speaking, a “right” is an ability of a person to do something without the permission of any other people.  It means to take an action of some kind.  Rights are also called individual rights because ultimately only individual people have them.  When groups of people collectively have rights, such as by voluntary private associations including partnerships, corporations and informal groups, they only do so by the voluntary consent of their individual members.

Individual rights are extremely valuable because they are the only known rules that enable everyone to live together in a way that allows them the greatest possible chance to achieve their personal happiness.  Without individual rights, societies degenerate into systems where some people end up elites and others second class citizens. In these societies the elites have the power to prevent the second classer’s from pursuing their happiness by forcing them to live as a means to the elite’s ends, ultimately as de facto slaves of some kind.  Examples aren’t hard to find, from primitive tribes to mafia-run anarchies to modern dictatorships.

People benefit enormously by living together.  If we lived isolated from each other we would have to live by subsistence, spending so much time and effort on each and every task we had to do to survive that we would never get very good at doing anything. Everyone’s lives would be short and full of miserable drudgery. We would be like primitive cavemen trying to hunt or grow enough food to eat, protect ourselves from the elements, and fight off dangerous animals and other people trying to steal what little we have.  When we live together with other people, however, we can enjoy the benefits of a division of labor system with them. With division of labor individuals can – and do – specialize at producing those values that they are good at producing, and then trade with other people what they produce in exchange for what they don’t have. This specialization and exchange allows people the time to constantly innovate and improve what they do, creating the great standard of living we enjoy now.

But a society where people live together can be dangerous because while people can be enormously beneficial to each other they can be harmful as well.  They can steal through force or fraud the values others produce. They can unjustly imprison, physically abuse, rape, enslave and even murder each other. Societies where this behavior is widespread and tolerated by its rulers ultimately collapse and revert to primitive dark ages where people are such a threat to one other that the only way for anyone to live, is by subsistence.

To get the benefits and prevent the dangers of living with others, individual rights are necessary.  Rights do this by placing objective boundaries on people’s behavior towards other people. Under the doctrine of individual rights, when in the company of others there are certain actions you can take without anyone else’s permission, and certain ones you can’t and need permission for.  Want to drive your car?  You have that right.  Want to borrow mine?  Ask me first.

There are two facts unique to people that give us rights: first, that we can consciously regard life as preferable to death; and second, that we can choose from among many different potential values to achieve our happiness. (For a thorough explanation of the concepts of values and happiness, please refer to my post “So, What are Values Anyway?” dated August 10, 2015 on the Broward County Tea Party’s blog site.)

Regarding the first, we can consciously understand all the happiness and pleasure that is possible from being alive and to a great extent avoid things that would kill or otherwise harm us. Lower animals, in contrast, cannot regard their lives as preferable to death. All they can do is what their instincts tell them to, even if it gets them killed. For example, I found a baby garter snake in my apartment in March a few years ago while living in the Midwest. Normally I detest killing nonpoisonous snakes but, because I didn’t want it in my apartment, there was nothing for it to eat in there anyway, and it was too cold outside for it to survive, it was pretty much doomed.  So I took my rubber sandal and swung at it.  It coiled up, stood its ground and struck ferociously at the shoe, breaking its neck and killing itself in the process. If the snake could’ve appreciated its life as preferable to death, it wouldn’t have done that. It would’ve seen the shoe, wondered if it could’ve won a fight with such an object and, if in doubt, would’ve slithered away into some crevice behind a cabinet where I couldn’t reach it. But it couldn’t do that. It had no choice other than to do what its instincts ordered it to: stand its ground – and die.  The same is true for all lower animals.

Regarding the second, people can consciously choose both to be happy and how to be happy, from a myriad of possibilities. It goes without saying there is an incredible variety of possible vocations, careers and leisure activities for people to partake in and many different people to associate with.  From all of these we can choose the ones that are of greatest interest to us and will make us happiest.  Again, this is not the case for lower animals. When their instincts direct them to act, just like the snake in the preceding paragraph they have no choice in the matter as to how or any alternatives; they can only do what they are directed to.  If their instincts direct them to something that furthers their lives, they’re satisfied; if not, they’re either frustrated or dead. But achieving any kind of greater happiness from choosing one alternative over another isn’t possible to them.

There are four basic rights: the pursuit of happiness; life; liberty; and property.  The most fundamental of these, the pursuit of happiness, means the ability, without anyone else’s permission, to choose from among the available possibilities those values that are of the greatest interest to you and  make yourself as happy as possible.  For example, we all have the final say over which career choices we make, who our romantic soul mates will be, and a whole bunch of other decisions ranging from how and where to live, what kinds of hobbies and leisure activities to take up, what consumer goods to purchase, etc.

The second most fundamental of these rights, the right to life, means the ability without anyone else’s permission to decide to continue living if we so choose; we have no obligation to fall on our sword or commit suicide or allow someone else to kill us if we don’t want to.  This right is concomitant with the right to the pursuit of happiness because, to be happy, you must be alive to experience it (72 virgins in heaven for Islamic terrorist martyrs notwithstanding, of course.  I hope everyone understands my sarcasm.).

The third right, to liberty, means the ability without anyone else’s permission to take those actions necessary to pursue one’s values.  As living things go between plants and animals, humans are definitely on the animal side of things. We can’t just stay in place and get our values by photosynthesizing the way plants do. Like lower animals, to live we have to act.  For humans that means two kinds of actions: thinking, and then physically acting based on the results of that thinking. For example, to have dinner, you have to think about what you want, figure out if you have it in the house or, if not, that you have to get it or have something else, or whether there is someplace convenient where you might want to eat out. Then, you have to actually take the physical actions to get the food by buying, ordering or preparing it, and then eat it.  To choose a career you have to think about whether what’s involved in a particular vocation interests you and then do what it takes to go to work in it, i.e., working in a certain type of business to learn the basic principles governing how it operates, getting a college degree, taking certain exams such as the MCAT or LSAT, going to law or medical school, completing a residency, etc.

The fourth and final of these rights, the right to property, means the ability without anyone else’s permission to use and dispose of values as you see fit once you have achieved them.  It is a right because, if someone is to live happily, he must have control over his values.  After all, what good is a value you earned if you can’t use it to further your life and happiness? For example, someone saves up to buy a house he wants. Then, he has enough to make a down payment and qualify for a mortgage for the rest. So he buys the house. Then (provided he doesn’t voluntarily agree to any covenants or restrictions on doing so imposed on the property by private entities with prior ownership interests in it), he can live in it, lease it, vacation in it while living somewhere else, let his children live in it, remodel it, etc.  People can have rights in both physical and intangible property, such as one’s positive reputation (known legally as “goodwill”), contract rights, and intellectual property like copyrighted material and trademarks.

Life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness (and rights derived from them, such as under a contract) are the only rights people have.  What nobody has is a right to obligate other adults to involuntarily obey their commands without their consent first.  It follows that nobody has “rights” to things like an education, health care, a “job in the nation’s industries”, a “living wage”, or anything else that has to be provided from someone else.  If multiple people are to collaborate towards a common goal, it has to be by the voluntary consent of everyone involved, such as by contract or other consensual means. The only kind of involuntary obligation sane, noncriminal adults have to other people is a negative one: not to violate their rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

Rights can only be violated by starting the use of either physical force or fraud against other people.  The most obvious form of force is direct physical agency like beating or shooting someone (a violation of the right to life), kidnapping or wrongly incarcerating him (a violation of the right to liberty), or stealing his property (a violation of the right to property). Credible threats to do such things to another person are also considered force.  Fraud involves making a misrepresentation to another person on which that person reasonably relies to his detriment.  For example, a mechanic with a decent reputation who knowingly tells his customer he needs a new transmission costing $1500 when all his car really needs is new transmission fluid costing $150 has committed fraud if, in reliance on the mechanic’s advice, the customer pays for the new transmission.

But force can be more subtle than overtly beating, shooting, kidnapping or robbery, and it can also be used by governments against those it governs. For example, a government bureaucrat, in an effort to shake down a particular company, enforces regulations against it at the urging of its competitor.  This is a violation of both the company’s right to liberty, to operate as it wishes, as well as its right to property if it forks over money to the bureaucrat or his cronies to get the government to leave it alone.  (For more information on how governments violate the rights of businesses see my post “But Don’t Businesses Need to be “Regulated”?” dated May 15, 2015 on the Broward County Tea Party’s blog site.)

Rights can not be violated merely by insults or disapproval.  This is because only force or fraud can prevent someone from doing those things he has a right to. If a panhandler or con artist, for example, asks a woman for money, his comments, suggestions or insults alone won’t compel her to hand it over the way, say, pulling out a gun and giving her the ultimatum of “your money or your life” can.  Or it can be done by fraud, such as by telling her he will do something good for her with the money and, once she gives it to him, absconding to parts unknown with it.  The woman, consequently, has a right to be free from the threats or misrepresentations of the panhandler, but not from him disliking her or calling her names or saying she’s a fat pig, etc.  She has no right to not be offended by him.

There is currently an onslaught against rights in academia to define them in improper ways.  For example, the liberty to think and act by speaking your mind is under attack by political correctness and defining of “bullying” to mean insults, namecalling and disapproval rather than physical force such as assault and battery.  And, while professors look for ways to deny rights to people, they openly champion lower animals – for whom, as previously discussed, rights are useless – as having “rights” because they can “feel pain”.  As previously mentioned, what gives any organism rights is the ability to regard life as preferable over death and the ability to choose particular values over others; the ability to “feel pain” has nothing to do with it.  What “animal rights” really is, is a scam to take rights away from humans.  For example, a bear comes into your backyard and threatens your family, so you shoot the bear.  According to “animal rights”, you will go to prison for violating the “rights” of the bear.

This trend must be fought if we are to keep a society that allows people the freedom to choose the values they want and live happily.  But to win this fight, we have to know what we are fighting for.  That means correctly understanding individual rights because central to the fight is the fight to protect individual rights.

So, What are Values Anyway? By Branehart

So, What are Values Anyway?

By Branehart

It isn’t hard to hear about “values”. Politicians and the media often mention “high moral values” and “core values” and “family values”. What is harder, and what the politicians and media typically don’t help much with, is getting a clear understanding of exactly what “values” are. The word is thrown around loosely, often being used to mean things it doesn’t like, such as beliefs or morals. Though related to them, these are not really values.

This is a huge problem because a correct understanding of values is essential for understanding and fighting for individual rights, political freedom and limited government. Values, properly defined, are the things, both concrete and abstract, that are valuable to living creatures of all kinds including humans for a purpose, with that purpose ultimately being to further their survival. Values for plants, for example, include water, sunlight, and minerals in the soil. For animals, consider the following scene in Alaska; A group of tourists are standing on the edge of a scenic rushing stream with a forest on the other side. Suddenly a large black or grizzly bear charges out of the forest towards the crowd. In the middle of the stream it turns, catching fish in its mouth. The bear is pursuing and achieving its values, in this case, food.

Only living things can have values. Only living things can have a purpose – their continued survival as living things – for which things can be of value. Inanimate objects such as rocks, automobiles, computers, oceans, buildings, planets and the like do not have a purpose for which they need to gain or seek anything, so nothing can be of value to them.

For humans, values include both necessities for living as well as things that may not be necessary but make life more enjoyable. Food, clothing, housing, employment, education, comaraderie, appreciation from others for the good one does, good health, financial security, leisure, romance, children, consumer goods, a good credit rating and lots of other things are all human values.

For living things other than humans, achieving values leads to satisfaction. When a bear catches a fish in an Alaskan stream, it is satisfied. But for something to be a value for humans its’ achievement must not lead merely to satisfaction, but additionally to happiness. Happiness is an enduring satisfaction, with “no bitter aftertaste”. Happiness results from something that is objectively beneficial to a person’s life, rather than just something someone wants but either knows or should know would be harmful to it. For example, a man meets a woman whom he gets to know, trust, and enjoys being with. He has similar interests and enjoys her company. After knowing each other a few years he asks her to marry him, she says yes, and he is happy. In contrast, a dictator or mafia hit man murders an innocent man, steals his property, or blackmails him. He may be satisfied because he accomplished his mission but certainly isn’t happy.

For something to be a value, it must be real. For example, to get nutrition necessary to avoid starving, living things must consume real food, not imaginary food or poison. To get energy and heat, you can’t burn ersatz coal; you have to burn genuine coal. Real can also mean abstract, as long as there is ultimately a real world benefit; For example, rights under a contract to receive a benefit can be a value. On the other hand, scams, snake oil, and 72 virgins in heaven are of no help to living things for achieving anything and therefore are not legitimate values regardless of whether anyone subjectively considers them to be or not.

Values are contextual. In one context something may be a perfectly fine value because it objectively benefits someone’s life while in another it could be extremely harmful. Cigarettes are a good illustration. Smoke a few of them and you’ll feel great, without getting high or hallucinating (which is objectively harmful because it cuts you off from reality). Smoke too many of them for too long, however, and they could kill you. They are still the same cigarettes, but their status as a value can change based on the circumstances.

One context where something is never a value for humans is when it is gotten by initiating, or starting, force against other people. Force not only includes physical means like beating or shooting someone, defaming him, wrongfully prosecuting or incarcerating him, or stealing his property (or credible threats to do any of these), but also swindling him through fraud. For someone to get something belonging to someone else and have it remain a value, it must be earned or otherwise given by voluntary, uncoerced consent. Or: you can be a banker, but not a bank robber.

When someone tries to obtain something by force, it ceases to be a value for his life and instead becomes detrimental to it. It becomes detrimental because it entitles the victim to retaliate against the perpetrator, which can result in legal penalties including loss of liberty through incarceration, loss of property through damages and fines and, in capital cases, even loss of life itself. Further, if a particular country’s government allows anyone to start the use of force against others as an official policy, a universal precedent is set for anyone to use it. This leads to anarchy where survival becomes difficult if not impossible, where happiness is unattainable and, as Thomas Hobbes once stated, “life is brutish and short”. For example, if a dictator initiates force against his subjects, he essentially opens the door for them to rise up and turn the tables on him when the conditions are right. Bastille Day in France, the fall of Shanghai to Mao in China, and Castro’s march on Havana are all examples. In other words, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

“For human beings, the two most important values are purpose and thinking.”

A purpose is a reason for choosing almost all of your other values. It’s a value because it helps determine and organize your other values. For most people their purpose is their career, as opposed to hobbies. Choosing a particular career will determine a whole bunch of other values, i.e., which skills one will need to develop, what kind of education he’ll need to get, which people he will have to meet and socialize with to assist him, and maybe even where he’ll have to live.

People need a purpose in life because without one we would have no idea from the vast number of possibilities which values to choose. As humans our values are never chosen for us automatically at any point during our lives; we have to consciously select them. This is different from other living things like the bear in the previous example. When the bear catches the fish in the stream, it doesn’t have to figure out how or choose to do it; it just does it automatically, as it does with all of its values. (For more information, watch for an upcoming blog post on purpose.)

The other value, thinking (also called reason), is important because it enables you to get all of your other values. Thinking is the process of taking in information about reality and turning it into knowledge useful for achieving values. Because values must be real, getting accurate information about reality is essential to live. This information must then be integrated with the requirements of our survival so that we can figure out whether something is a value for it or not.

Developing thinking skills is essential for people because, as said previously, we do not act automatically to survive; unlike lower animals we have to figure out how. We have no automatic knowledge in this regard. We have to consciously examine what’s out there and determine if it is helpful or harmful. For example, a primitive tribesman is hungry and sees an animal. Is it good to eat, like a tuna or salmon? Or is it deadly poisonous, like a pufferfish? If he wants to tempt eating it, what does he have to do to capture it? If he tried using his hands, would it get away? Or slash him to ribbons with sharp teeth and claws? Or poison him with venom? And if he did manage to capture it, how would he make it safe to eat? Eat it raw? Or cook it first? And if he does cook it, does he kill it first (as with most animals) or cook it while it’s still alive (i.e., lobster)? For other living things like the bear, there is no concern with such issues. But for us there is. (Watch for an upcoming blog on the thinking process.)

Much of the confusion surrounding the concept of values comes from the fact that it is easily misused, usually to mean virtues. The difference between values and virtues is that values are the things that living things want to get and use to survive, while virtues are character traits people have that help us get our values. As stated previously, values include having a purpose and thinking skills sufficient to get other values. Virtues, in contrast, include: rationality (which means living by thinking, as opposed to living mindlessly by emotional whim), independence of judgment (meaning thinking for oneself about what he observes or is told about an issue, rather than mindlessly accepting someone else’s conclusion about it), justice (treating other people well if they think, and poorly if they do not), pride (as opposed to arrogance or excessive humility, meaning being committed to living by thinking), integrity (being consistent in living by thinking, rather than lapsing into mindlessness periodically), productiveness (being in favor of achieving values), and honesty (being committed to not faking reality). In summary, virtuous behavior is mindful, thinking behavior.

Being clear about the meaning of values is essential for achieving the values of the Tea Party: individual rights, limited government, and fiscal responsibility. For example, the most fundamental of all rights, the right to the pursuit of happiness, means the ability without permission to choose the values one wants and pursue them. Without understanding values, understanding the right to the pursuit of happiness becomes impossible, which in turn makes incomprehensible the rights to life, liberty and property, which are derived from it. And without an understanding of individual rights, it becomes extremely difficult to fight for political freedom and limited government. (Watch for an upcoming post on individual rights.) To succeed in our fight, we must first understand the meaning of values.

Why our Government Mistreats our Troops: By Wald Branehart

“Why our Government Mistreats our Troops”

 By: Wald Branehart
Quite possibly the U.S. Military is the world’s best, not only in capability but also in benevolence. It successfully saved South Korea from the ravages of communism, transformed the barbaric dictatorships of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan into two of the world’s wealthiest nations, and even stared down the Soviet Union.  The federal government, however, treats the military with disdain if not outright disrespect.  Secretary of State John Kerry has compared the actions of our soldiers to the atrocities of Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has equated water boarding with torture.  Prosecutors regularly fly-speck the actions of combat personnel, ready to prosecute them vigorously for even slight violations of unduly burdensome rules of engagement. And Veterans’ Administration bureaucrats have been accused of falsifying veterans’ medical records in VA hospitals, leading to several deaths.  Why on earth does this grotesque injustice occur?
The answer has to do with an inherent conflict of interest within the governments of free countries between the military and civilian sides of the government. Often, in countries without mandatory military service where people are free to choose the values they want and pursue their own happiness by right, those who enlist in the military appreciate this freedom and individual rights so much they are literally willing to give up their lives to defend them.
Not so on the civilian side of government.  By its nature governments must use force to protect people against violations of rights.  This ability to use force, however, very often attracts the kind of people a government is supposed to protect everyone against: power lusters who want to live off others as bloodsuckers by assaulting, robbing or defrauding them.  Positions in government bureaucracies give such people opportunities to do this under color of law, making it far easier to get away with it long term than if they had to resort to street thuggery. To these power lusters freedom and individual rights are not considered values but are regarded as threats, because they give their victims the ability and justification to resist and fight back against them.
This conflict between the military and the civilian bureaucracy explains disgusting injustices such as the prosecution of Marine Lieutenant Ilario Pantano for shooting and killing two Iraqis who lunged at him while they were being detained during the Iraq War; the indifference shown by the federal government to the torture and abuse by Mexico of United States Marines Jon Hammar and Andrew Tahmooressi for accidentally bringing guns into Mexico; and of course the attitude of VA bureaucrats who denied medical care to veterans in a Phoenix VA hospital in 2014 resulting in 40 deaths. It also explains the leniency shown those military members against whom credible evidence of disloyalty exists, such as Bowe Bergdahl, accused of desertion; and the classification of the Fort Hood shooter’s acts as “workplace violence” rather than terrorism.
Our military personnel obviously deserve far better than this.  What they need are skilled and savvy advocates who, by recognizing this conflict of interest, are always ready to act on their behalf against those in the government who are out to do them harm.  The need to protect our military personnel from those in government who oppose them is just another reason why, as Thomas Jefferson once stated, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”.

Funding the Government Without Taxes: Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free

Funding the Government Without Taxes: Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free

By Wald Branehart

The IRS regularly targets members of the Tea Party and other groups that favor limited government for harassment. This has an unacceptable, if not unconstitutional, chilling effect on freedom. Speak your mind or otherwise stand up for limiting, rather than expanding, the power of governments and BOOM! You figuratively have a bull’s-eye painted on you. Even if you can prove you paid your taxes (and did everything else according to the law), the IRS and other agencies can still make your life a living hell for a long time. And they’ll use their status as governmental entities to avoid accountability for wrongfully harassing you. It’s no wonder conservative talk shows are full of ads for folks who can help if you’re audited.

There are many people in favor of some type of simplification of the tax code. There are proposals for flat taxes and fair taxes and even national sales taxes, among others. But while simplification is a good idea, it doesn’t really address the real problem: the leverage taxes give governments over private citizens who want freedom and limited government. Because while fair taxes and flat taxes may be simpler taxes, at root they are still taxes – and are by their nature the opposite of freedom and limited government. Taxes are based on the premise that you do not own or have a right to your property, or at least some of it; governments ‘own’, in essence, whatever share their laws allow them to take. To increase their power governments always want to increase this share. And, of course, if you hide your property to reduce your taxes, you are legally a criminal and the government gets the go-ahead to destroy your life.

We need governments and must fund them. Without functioning governments there would be anarchy with everyone essentially his own judge, jury and prosecuting attorney, free to do whatever he wants to anyone else. All the benefits of interpersonal relationships including much of civilization would become impossible. It would be, as Thomas Hobbes described in Leviathan, a “state of nature” where “life is brutish and short.”

The trick is to figure out how to fund governments without giving them leverage over those they govern. This would require some kind of situation that would force people to fund the government, while not subjecting them to legal harassment if they didn’t.

There is such a system. As a play on the lyrics of the 1980’s Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing”, I call it Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free. Here’s how it works.

Whenever businesses enter into commercial contracts, they would remit an amount equal to a legally determined percentage of the value of each contract to federal, state and local governments to fund their operations. For example, a developer signs a contract with a contractor to build a building that will cost $6,000,000. The jurisdiction has a percentage rate of 7%. The parties would be liable for paying the government of that jurisdiction $420,000.

If a contracting party does not pay its share of the amount due to the government, the government will have no power to prosecute or otherwise use force in any way to collect the money. This would end the oppressiveness of governments regarding financing. However, the nonpaying party will not be able to sue the other party to enforce the contract and will have no recourse if the other party breaches it. For example, assume there are two parties to the aforementioned contract for a building. The parties agree that each party will pay half of the amount due the government, so each party has to pay $210,000. The party responsible for constructing the building pays his share but the other party, responsible for paying him the $6,000,000, does not. If the party constructing the building does so and the other party refuses to pay him, he can sue to get paid. But if the party constructing the building does not construct the building, the other party, not having paid his $210,000 to the government, cannot sue the other party for damages until he does pay it. The consequences of a breached contract can potentially be severe enough to bankrupt a business, so businessmen will pay to enforce them and governments will get a reliable stream of revenue.

Meanwhile, people will still be able to call the police, press criminal charges and sue civilly if they are physically attacked, defrauded, defamed, robbed, kidnapped, victimized by negligent behavior, their homes or businesses are broken into, their property is stolen, etc. This kind of protection everyone would get for free.

To better understand Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free, it is worthwhile to examine the nature of the two bodies of law that are relevant to it: contracts and torts.

Tort law is the oldest branch of the English common law. Developed in Great Britain between the Norman Invasion of 1099 and today, the English common law is the foundation for the legal systems governing countries with an English heritage including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Tort law prevents torts, which is the French word not for pastries, but for wrongs (and thus apropos because the Normans were French and brought tort law rules with them in 1099).

Almost all of the ways someone can initiate force against someone else are considered wrongs, or torts: battery, which means battering, or physically attacking, poisoning, etc. someone else; assault, meaning attempting to batter someone else; trespassing; false imprisonment; theft and destruction of someone else’s property; negligent behavior causing injury to someone else or their property; misrepresentation; and defamation. More severe torts are called crimes, which are based on torts. For example, the crime of homicide essentially means committing a battery resulting in the victim’s death. The crime of robbery is essentially theft under violent circumstances. Burglary is a certain type of trespass. Rape is a battery involving sexual penetration. Kidnapping is false imprisonment of someone plus moving him away from where he was captured. Arson is destruction of another’s property by using fire. Fraud is usually a theft through misrepresentation. Etc.

It is important to remember about torts that, notwithstanding defenses[1], they are actions that for the most part are automatically wrong for everyone all the time. By banning the initiation of force, tort law is the most basic body of law that protects individual rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

But while tort law can prevent people from stealing things and bashing each others’ skulls in, it can’t compel someone to pave a street, deliver a shipment of books or food, draft a legal opinion, construct a building, or pay someone for doing any of these things. This is why contract law is necessary. A contract is a binding and legally enforceable promise voluntarily entered into by someone to do something for someone else. Most commonly, it involves one party obligated to provide a good or service to the other, and the other obligated to pay him for it. It’s also possible for both parties to be obligated to provide goods or services to each other. In any case, if someone enters into a contract and then doesn’t do what he promised, he can be sued for breaching the contract and be liable for compensating the other party for any injury caused by the breach.

Contracts allow people to reasonably rely on others, making division of labor and all of its benefits possible, including much of civilized living. Without contract law this wouldn’t be possible for the most part because there would be no legal way to hold others accountable for the promises they make. People would essentially be trapped in a very primitive standard of living, unable to depend on anyone for their needs but themselves.

In contrast with torts, contractual obligations are not automatic and don’t apply to everyone. Rather they are contract specific and apply only to the people who enter into them. This is why, while I consider tort law “automatic” law, I consider contract law “do it yourself” law. Tort law provides the basic social compact to respect individual rights and refrain from initiating force against others that everyone must follow. Above and beyond that, to do specific things that some people want done but others don’t, people can tailor the law to their specific needs and hold only certain people bound by it with contracts.

The logic of Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free should now be clear. As humans we need to live free from force. Therefore protection from torts should be free and automatic for everyone, with anyone able to dial 911 whenever they need to. However, if someone wants to use the government for something extra, like to compel someone to live up to his obligations under a custom-made contract to build a building, perform surgery, manufacture or distribute a particular product, etc., he should pay extra for it.

If people had to pay to protect themselves from torts the result would be a disastrous protection racket. Instead of being harassed by the IRS, everyone would be at risk of being attacked by street gangsters. Governments could perpetually shake down everyone as much as they like and if anyone refused to pay, suddenly thugs and goons could beat him senseless, steal his property, burn his house down – until he forked over whatever amount the government requested. But with an obligation to pay to enforce contracts, the consequences would be far less severe and there would be no protection racket. Instead of being beaten to a pulp, the deadbeat who didn’t pay his enforceability fee would merely be at risk of the other party’s breach. In addition the harm would be localized to the nonpaying party and those associated with him, and not a threat to society as a whole.

Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free would even satisfy the public policy objective of progressive taxation. It is rich and middle income people who run businesses, at least high value ones. It is they who, in doing so, make contracts and thus they, not the poor, who would be paying the fees to enforce them. The poor, in contrast, wouldn’t be paying anything and would have no burden to finance the government, so government financing would not impose any financial hardship on them.

As with a national sales tax, Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free would only be effective at ending the abuse of the existing tax system if there were no tax system. Otherwise, it could become an additional financial burden in addition to existing income taxes. Therefore before Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free could be implemented, there needs to be a total repeal of the current tax system. Repealing the 16th Amendment to the Constitution would be a good idea.

There are a number of operational details that can be worked out in the future. For example, the default rule, if the contract is silent and the parties didn’t decide otherwise, could be that the parties would split the obligation to pay the enforceability fee equally among the contracting parties as in the preceding example. Also one party might be able to waive its obligation to pay its share with the consent of the other party, who would then pay the whole amount due. The effect of amendments to contracts which would change the value of a contract and thus the amount due to governments would also have to be addressed. Also to be worked out are the rights of a nonpaying party who is sued by a paying party. He would have to have a constitutional right under due process of law to defend himself, but could he bring a counterclaim if appropriate against the party suing him? I would say no. Anyone has a right to defend his self if sued, but to countersue, pay the fee.

There are some unavoidable hazards. For example, the term “value of the contract” would of course be legally defined by statute, just as tax rates are today. This statute could become complicated like the current tax code and for the same reasons, as special interests would lobby for the changes to it that they want. Also, governments would still want the percentage rate to be as high as possible. The only cure for this is pressure from the electorate to prevent it from increasing, much the way people lobby for lower tax rates today. Regardless of the system used to fund the government, it is still the government you will be funding – and to do that, there never will be a substitute for eternal vigilance.

Regardless of these issues, however, I believe such a system would be vastly more preferable than the one we have today. Not only would it be unoppressive for reasons previously noted. It also probably would be far less costly to administer. Even if special interests succeed in making the law complex, it probably would never become as crazy as today’s tax code. But even if it did, the absence of the threat of prosecution and audits might collectively save businesses billions if not trillions of dollars, leading to far more wealth production and an explosively vigorous economy.

Obviously I don’t expect all of this to happen tomorrow. But what I hope to do is, between now and Election Day 2016, get as many freedom-loving people as possible thinking along these lines. Those who value limited government can escape the leverage of the IRS with a theory like Money for Contracts and the Torts for Free.

© by Wald Branehart 2015

[1] There are defenses to a tort claim, such as self defense and defense of others against someone who initiates an attack, or consent (i.e., you can’t sue someone for battery if they punch you in a boxing match or tackle you in a football game you voluntarily entered into), duress, emergencies, etc.

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