Archive for the ‘Thomas Sowell’ Category

Via Jawa Report, from FOX:

The federal government is hiring what it calls a “Behavioral Insights Team” that will look for ways to subtly influence people’s behavior, according to a document describing the program obtained by FoxNews.com. Critics warn there could be unintended consequences to such policies, while supporters say the team could make government and society more efficient.

To make society more efficient – because you don’t know how to make your own decisions, they will manipulate you into their chosen path.  They will adjust your choices, and create you into their image of the perfect efficient serf.

Milton Friedman famously said that we should be thankful for government inefficiency, because without it, we’d all be slaves.

Such policies — which encourage behavior subtly rather than outright require it — have come to be known as “nudges,” after an influential 2008 book titled “Nudge” by former Obama regulatory czar Cass Sunstein and Chicago Booth School of Business professor Richard Thaler popularized the term.

The term “nudge” has already been associated with the new program, as one professor who received Shankar’s email forwarded it to others with the note: “Anyone interested in working for the White House in a ‘nudge’ squad? The UK has one and it’s been extraordinarily successful.”

Cass Sunstein is one of the most vile men on the planet, who desires to corrupt institutions made to serve the people into institutions that control the people.  It’s for your own good, you stupid peasant.

Richard Thaler told FoxNews.com that the new program sounds good.

“I don’t know who those people are who would not want such a program, but they must either be misinformed or misguided,” he said.

“The goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government by using scientifically collected evidence to inform policy designs. What is the alternative? The only alternatives I know are hunches, tradition, and ideology (either left or right.)”

“Misguided” to this master of puppets is anyone who opposes him.  “MIsinformed” means you haven’t been properly indoctrinated to accept him as your master, as someone who knows better than him.

The goal is to control people, to force them to make decisions they otherwise wouldn’t, to use a government instituted by the people as a tool to preserve freedom as a tool to coerce behavior.  It is the antithesis of freedom, and it is the most insidious form of tyranny.

Thaler is a would-be master of men, and a liar of the first order.

The alternative is that individuals make decisions for themselves, because no luciferian social scientist knows better than any individual in their own life.  He doesn’t know what’s best for you.  You have your own individual life full of information that you’ve collected that makes a difference in your own life that should inform your own decisions.  The “ideology” tack at the end is just to make him seem so “moderate” and “reasonable” by saying he dismisses both sides with his third way… of government leading you, you stupid, contemptible peon.  He mocks any other ideas as hunches, too, as though people don’t make their own decisions.

His ridicule of tradition is easily shot down by a man much wiser – Thomas Sowell:

“For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.”

But they are your masters, and they will lead, and they will educate you into believing that following is your natural condition, your correct place in life, and ultimately that it’s for your own good that you’re a serf.

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May as well start with the vice buffoon:

WASHINGTON — The terrorist organization al-Qaida is telling its followers to exploit the so-called “gun-show loophole” to buy semi-automatic weapons that could be used to kill Americans, Vice President Joe Biden warned in an interview with Hearst Newspapers.

Biden, the quarterback of the Obama administration’s anti-gun-violence campaign, said the classified presidential daily intelligence brief that was delivered to President Barack Obama and him last Thursday described “an al-Qaida principal” declaring on an al-Qaida website that supporters ought to “go to Washington and go to a gun show” because a fair portion of gun show sales bypass background checks.

Joe Biden is an idiot.  To begin with, there are no gun shows in DC.

For those who’ve never been to a gunshow, let me give you some idea the kinds of bumper stickers that are sold there amidst the guns and ammo and camo and beef jerky and militaria and holsters:

terrorist hunting permit

The people who frequent gun shows are people who are into gun culture.  American gun culture celebrates the United States, the Second Amendment, the US military, and does not, contrary to leftist belief, hate the country.  Nor are people at gun shows (often disproportionately veterans; and almost always Country Class folk) the kind of people to have any tolerance for terrorists.

“You can buy a semi-automatic weapon,” Biden characterized the al-Qaida official as saying. “It’s your obligation to do Jihad, and kill people, kill Americans. In other words, you radicals, what’s so gol’darn hard here? Just go to America and buy a gun.”

Joe Biden has clearly never been to a gun show, and understands neither American gun culture nor Al Qaeda.

At a couple gun shows I’ve been to, I’ve seen straw purchasers and illegal purchasers arrested and walked off by the police.  At all the gun shows I’ve been to, I’ve seen a crowd that’s predominantly of a conservative mindset, slightly older, mostly responsible, and regardless of who they seem they’d be politically based on gender or ethnicity or orientation – again generally more conservative and patriotic.  In the last few years, ethnic groups have become even more diverse (especially regionally), but in general, elements that are criminal or suspicious are turned away.

Gun people don’t want to sell to dangerous people – period.  Gun show clientele, especially the stereotypical “bitter clingers” do not truck with Al Qaeda.  Many of them have actively fought Al Qaeda, or have friends or family serving in the fight against Al Qaeda and in conflict generated by Al Qaeda.  US gun culture and Al Qaeda are diametrically opposed forces.  Biden and the left don’t get that.

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From WaPo, an opinion that gets it wrong pretty quick:

Those who support stricter gun control fear that the passage of time since the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School will result in further watering-down of measures. They should not, however, discount the risk that attempts to shave a few weeks or months off the usual legislative process will result in bad laws, with unintended and lasting consequences.

Pretty much all gun control laws are bad laws.  Ones made in the rush to dance in the blood of children are made according to Rahm Emanuel’s maxim of “Never let a good crisis go to waste” and “you can do things you normally couldn’t” in the wake of a crisis.  They are pushing for bad laws, and the families are pushing for bad laws.  Nothing in the laws they push will help anyone except criminals and would-be tyrants.

While pro-gun forces may overstate the case against expanded background checks — they are not, for example, a prelude to disarming the citizenry — President Obama and his allies have understated the difficult legal questions posed by extending the background-check system to cover more sales and transfers.

Wrong.

Expanded background checks, and the necessary registry to ensure compliance with background checks, are a prelude to disarming citizenry.  The included background checks as well as any other barriers to entry (taxes on ammo, guns, legislation restriction bearing and use of arms) are all there to prevent people from getting involved in exercising their Second Amendment rights.  The issue is that not only is it an attempt to track gun owners for later confiscation, it’s also a cultural attack by keeping people from ever owning guns by making it more difficult to do so.

Australians who used to be gun owners, or who try to still be gun owners, discuss how they have to have their rifles locked up at their club, have to have licenses, inspections, and have to comply with a myriad of laws in order to exercise what is a denied right that only still exists as a shadow in the form of a severely regulated hobby.

It is a prelude to disarming the citizenry.  Just ask people who’ve talked to dear leader.

Given the time and attention that they deserve, these issues could be addressed. But artificial deadlines and an undue sense of urgency guarantee worse results and continued mistrust on both sides of this debate.

There is no surrender of rights.  Period.

There is no mistrust.  The political left and those who favor gun control want to deny rights.  They say so.  Thus there is no compromise with denial of rights.  They are pushing to keep a crisis going in order to erase rights.  That’s all.  There is no debate to be had – there is an assault on rights.

It sounds absolutist, and it is.  They aren’t looking at how to deal with the murderer, they’re looking at how to target people who they think shouldn’t own firearms because to some degree Mao was right about the origins of political power.  Because the left mistrusts and loathes the American people as stupid people who need to be controlled, they want us all disarmed – you and me and your family and your friends – all “for our own good”.  I trust them to continue to assault our rights – they’ve stated it’s their intention.

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John Bolton and John Yoo cover Obama’s back-door gun control through the UN:

Even before his most ambitious gun-control proposals were falling by the wayside, President Obama was turning for help to the United Nations. On April 2, the United States led 154 nations to approve the Arms Trade Treaty in the U.N. General Assembly. While much of the treaty governs the international sale of conventional weapons, its regulation of small arms would provide American gun-control advocates with a new tool for restricting rights. Yet because the Constitution requires that two-thirds of the Senate give its advice and consent to any treaty, Second Amendment supporters still have a political route to stop the administration.

…the new treaty also demands domestic regulation of “small arms and light weapons.” The treaty’s Article 5 requires nations to “establish and maintain a national control system,” including a “national control list.” Article 10 requires signatories “to regulate brokering” of conventional arms. The treaty offers no guarantee for individual rights, but instead only declares it is “mindful” of the “legitimate trade and lawful ownership” of arms for”recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities.” Not a word about the right to possess guns for a broader individual right of self-defense.  Gun-control advocates will use these provisions to argue that the U.S. must enact measures such as a national gun registry, licenses for guns and ammunition sales, universal background checks, and even a ban of certain weapons. The treaty thus provides the Obama administration with an end-run around Congress to reach these gun-control holy grails.

…The attempt to advance gun control through the Arms Trade Treaty might surprise average Americans, but not liberals, who have been long frustrated by the Constitution’s limits on government. Gun-control statutes, like any others, have to survive both the House and the Senate, then win presidential approval. It is far easier to advance an agenda through treaties, unwritten international law and even “norms” delivered by an amorphous “international community.”

Yup, because they can’t get in through the front because you’ll oppose it, they’ll try to side with a collection of dictators-for-life and tyrants in the UN so they can take your rights.  If you’re armed, you’re still a free man, and the global elite don’t like that (sounds tin foily but it’s not if you look at what they want).  There simply are international institutions dedicated to removing your rights, and that’s just what they do.  You’re the last obstacle in “civilizing” the world; and then they can use force to make people do what’s best.

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And a shrewd piece from David “Broke the Gunwalker Story” Codrea:

The draft of S. 649 that provides the framework for the legislative arguments that lie ahead contains an item that could prove highly controversial, even though no one has, until now*, recognized it, let alone raised it as an issue. …

“[I]t shall be unlawful for any person who is not licensed under this chapter to transfer a firearm to any other person who is not licensed under this chapter, unless a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer has first taken possession of the firearm for the purpose of complying with subsection (s),” the section on Firearms Transfers states. “Upon taking possession of the firearm, the licensee shall comply with all requirements of this chapter as if the licensee were transferring the firearm from the licensee’s inventory to the unlicensed transferee.”

But this “shall not apply,” the section continues, “to … bona fide gifts between spouses, between parents and their children, between siblings, or between grandparents and their grandchildren.”

The issue? Absent a change in federal law, 1 USC § 7 – Definition of “marriage” and “spouse”

Basically, if you have a gay marriage or civil union, you’re not exempted.  Thus, if you’re gay, you’re denied Second Amendment rights because of the definition of marriage (though at this point they’ve been reduced to privileges).

While marriage as an institution is one man and one woman; this law by recognizing marriage for 2A purposes and not recognizing gay unions does deny gay partners to enjoy their Second Amendment rights between each other without asking government permission.

Solution?  Don’t pass the stupid law that discriminates against gays and lesbians by requiring government-sanctioned marriage.  And as Andrew Wilkow notes, you can solve the whole marriage issue by finding where in the Constitution it says the government can regulate marriage… and since it doesn’t, you just hand it all back to individual churches (or states) to decide.  That way if the Reformed New New Reformed Church of Vermont wants to marry gays, they can – and it doesn’t infringe on their beliefs; and if the Al-Mohammed Al-Akbar Mosque of California doesn’t want to, they aren’t forced by government to marry gays – and it doesn’t infringe on their beliefs.

You leave them alone to live how they like, and you leave them alone to defend themselves how they like.  Armed gays don’t get bashed.  (And insert joke here about right to arm bears.)

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And finally, calling out the gun-grabber tyrants, Thomas Sowell’s piece – Gun Control Crusaders Unconstrained by Facts:

The dirty little secret is that gun control laws do not actually control guns. They disarm law-abiding citizens, making them more vulnerable to criminals, who remain armed in disregard of such laws.

In England, armed crimes skyrocketed as legal gun ownership almost vanished under increasingly severe gun control laws in the late 20th century. (See the book “Guns and Violence” by Joyce Lee Malcolm). But gun control has become one of those fact-free crusades, based on assumptions, emotions and rhetoric.

What almost no one talks about is that guns are used to defend lives as well as to take lives. In fact, many of the horrific killings that we see in the media were brought to an end when someone else with a gun showed up and put a stop to the slaughter.

The Cato Institute estimates upwards of 100,000 defensive uses of guns per year. Preventing law-abiding citizens from defending themselves can cost far more lives than are lost in the shooting episodes that the media publicize. The lives saved by guns are no less precious, just because the media pay no attention to them.

It’s the Broken Window Fallacy as related to public policy.  You can’t see the benefits of the gun – just as you don’t see the baker’s new suit.  You have to look for the hidden costs and benefits.  You see the broken window and its replacement just as you see the new gun control law “doing something”.  Most people don’t see the loss of safety through disarmament – at least not until it’s too late.

Restricting the magazine capacity available to law-abiding citizens will not restrict the magazine capacity of people who are not law-abiding citizens. Such restrictions just mean that the law-abiding citizen is likely to run out of ammunition first.

Eloquent and to the point.  Classic Sowell.

Some people may think that “assault weapons” means automatic weapons. But automatic weapons were banned decades ago. Banning ugly-looking “assault weapons” may have aesthetic benefits, but it does not reduce the dangers to human life in the slightest. You are just as dead when killed by a very plain-looking gun.

And they will come for those next.

Photo by Oleg Volk.

Photo by Oleg Volk.

One of the dangerous inconsistencies of many, if not most, gun control crusaders is that those who are most zealous to get guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens are often not nearly as concerned about keeping violent criminals behind bars.

Leniency toward criminals has long been part of the pattern of gun control zealots on both sides of the Atlantic. When the insatiable desire to crack down on law-abiding citizens with guns is combined with an attitude of leniency toward criminals, it can hardly be surprising when tighter gun control laws are accompanied by rising rates of crime, including murders.

From RealClearPolitics:

John Stuart Mill’s classic essay “On Liberty” gives reasons why some people should not be taking over other people’s decisions about their own lives. But Professor Cass Sunstein of Harvard has given reasons to the contrary. He cites research showing “that people make a lot of mistakes, and that those mistakes can prove extremely damaging.”

Professor Sunstein is undoubtedly correct that “people make a lot of mistakes.” Most of us can look back over our own lives and see many mistakes, including some that were very damaging.

What Cass Sunstein does not tell us is what sort of creatures, other than people, are going to override our mistaken decisions for us. That is the key flaw in the theory and agenda of the left.

Implicit in the wide range of efforts on the left to get government to take over more of our decisions for us is the assumption that there is some superior class of people who are either wiser or nobler than the rest of us.

Yes, we all make mistakes. But do governments not make bigger and more catastrophic mistakes?

Think about the First World War, from which nations on both sides ended up worse off than before, after an unprecedented carnage that killed substantial fractions of whole younger generations and left millions starving amid the rubble of war.

Sowell is doubtless referencing Cass Sunstein’s recent treatise on how you’re stupid and need to be dominated and all of western thought on individual liberty needs to be destroyed because you’re too dumb to live, discussed here.

Sowell sums up:

Too many among today’s intellectual elite see themselves as our shepherds and us as their sheep. Tragically, too many of us are apparently willing to be sheep, in exchange for being taken care of, being relieved of the burdens of adult responsibility and being supplied with “free” stuff paid for by others.

Worth reading the whole thing.

From 2008, but very interesting to hear how many of the things that were discussed came to pass.

And just today, a story about nuclear North Korea.  Sowell concerns his discussion then more with Iran, but it’s still worth noting.

Another good Hoover Institution video with Thomas Sowell.

It’s a fascinating sit-down with a very wise man.

Around the 13:30 mark, there’s a very good summation of why the anointed intellectuals believe what they do so firmly, and reject the contrary.  There’s a huge ego component to it.

If you believe in free markets and traditional values and so forth, there’s no exultation that comes with it.  You’re just someone who believes in free markets and traditional values.  …  But if you believe in social justice and saving the environment, you are really something.  People with that viewpoint have a huge ego stake.  Empirical evidence is like gambling all of that on a roll of a dice.

History often proves the anointed intellectual leftist wrong, so they ignore it or rewrite it.  That’s why they get into education.  When science proves them wrong, science becomes subject to modification, and opinion trumps evidence – and any evidence that must be fabricated or changed to support the cause is completely acceptable.  Easy examples are Rathergate and Climategate.

By contrast, it’s difficult to be a cause-head who says “I don’t know what’s best for you, you do.”  It’s difficult to motivate people to a righteous cause of non-intervention in other’s lives.  If you’re out to save them from themselves, you have mission that lends itself easily to a holy crusade.  If you’re out to shrink the size of government and interference in their life so they can make the best decisions that their experience leads them to, you have a much more sophisticated argument, and a much more difficult job to motivate people – something that doesn’t lend itself to the same kind of political action.

You can’t do “fired up/ready to go” chants for that very well.

Eight – seven – six – five!  Everyone lead your own lives!

Four – three – two – one!  Let’s leave everyone alone!

From HumbleLibertarian

From Townhall.com:

Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of “gun control” advocates?

The key fallacy of so-called gun-control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.

If gun-control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun-control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.

Guns are not the problem. People are the problem — including people who are determined to push gun-control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts.

There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic, and self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out examples of both among gun-control advocates.

Read the whole thing here.

Thomas Sowell penned this column earlier in the week, and it’s well worth reading.

Confidence men know that their victim – “the mark” as he has been called – is eventually going to realize that he has been cheated. But it makes a big difference whether he realizes it immediately, and goes to the police, or realizes it after the confidence man is long gone.

So part of the confidence racket is creating a period of uncertainty, during which the victim is not yet sure of what is happening. This delaying process has been called “cooling out the mark.”

The same principle applies in politics. When the accusations that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton first surfaced, he flatly denied them all. Then, as the months passed, the truth came out – but slowly, bit by bit. One of Clinton’s own White House aides later called it “telling the truth slowly.”

By the time the whole truth came out, it was called “old news,” and the clever phrase now was that we should “move on.”

It was a successful “cooling out” of the public, keeping them in uncertainty so long that, by the time the whole truth came out, there was no longer the same outrage as if the truth had suddenly come out all at once. Without the support of an outraged public, the impeachment of President Clinton fizzled out in the Senate.

We are currently seeing another “cooling out” process, growing out of the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi on September 11th this year.

Sowell’s column goes on to cover the lies, deceit, and coverup of the Benghazi consulate attack and how it morphed from a “spontaneous protest” which it wasn’t , into a non-issue, which it also isn’t.  The real-time video of the attack, the denials by the administration, the arrest of the “inciting filmmaker” by a SWAT team complete with news media perpwalk, are all “telling the truth slowly”.  Now that we know that Benghazi wasn’t a spontaneous demonstration, something noted early on… as no one goes to demonstrations with coordinated mortar fire.

Yes on Proposition 19!

But Benghazi, which Sowell elaborates on, isn’t the only case of “telling the truth slowly” from the Obama administration.  The other very notable example is Operation Gunwalker/Fast and Furious.

Consider that this week, ATF head Kenneth Melson went out and stated that the lies told to congress by the ATF & DOJ were known months in advance.

The former head of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told congressional investigators he discovered the Obama administration’s original account to Congress about the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal was inaccurate as early as March 2011 and urged the Justice Department to correct the record, an action that did not formally occur until eight months later.

The full testimony from retired Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson has not yet been officially released by Congress. But excerpts were obtained by the Washington Guardian as House and Senate investigators this week issued their second report into the gun-running scandal that has become an embarrassment for the administration and prompted a court fight over executive privilege.

At issue is the Obama administration’s initial account when the Fast and Furious scandal broke in February 2011 that ATF agents never knowingly let semiautomatic weapons fall into the hands of smugglers for the Mexican drug cartels. Senior officials held that position in varying forms for months as the scandal grew, but then reversed course last December in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.

The DOJ, Eric Holder, the ATF, and every part of the Obama administration involved lied, lied, and lied again.  They lied for months, then when they were proved completely to be liars, they “reversed course”.  They didn’t acknowledge lies, they “told the truth slowly”.

With complicit media, it’s how the Obama adminstration has managed to keep Fast and Furious, Castaway, and the dozen or more other gunwalking operations silent, as well as hush up Benghazi until after the election.

A final point with Benghazi: as has been often noted, there are very few people in the chain of command who could deny military assets to the consulate.  There’s Petraeus, Clinton, Panetta, and Obama.  Petraeus and Clinton have already said they didn’t deny military assets or aid to the consulate.  So the only remaining people are Panetta and Obama, or someone directly in their office.  The “investigation” is a stall tactic, because the only thing that matters is the election and power.

This is all the longer the investigation has to be, with the people changed, and the question changed to “did you deny military assets?”

Over at the Daily Beast, David Frum has this piece:

Read This Book, Obama!
by David Frum Apr 15, 2012 4:00 PM EDT

Emerging from JFK’s shadow, Lyndon Johnson wielded power ruthlessly—and delivered big results for liberals. In this week’s Newsweek, David Frum on what Obama could learn from Robert Caro’s new biography.

A great work of history is never only about the past.

The fourth volume of Robert Caro’s great biography of Lyndon Johnson—The Passage of Power—tells a story from seemingly long ago. Page after page conjures up a vanished world: a world in which labor unions had clout and lunch counters were segregated. Yet it’s also a world deeply familiar to us: a world in which urgent national problems go unaddressed year after year, and Americans despair over the paralysis of their government.

But no, we don’t.  We despair over government acting too much, spending too much money, printing money to create inflation to sustain itself, and we despair over government creating perpetual recipient-class voter blocs.  We despair over government that’s run amok, spending and spending and spending with no end in sight.  We despair over government’s absurdities, not society’s.  And in the 1960s, the labor unions had clout through government power, and the segregated lunch counters were being desegregated not through government force, but by people sitting down and demanding to be served.

This lunch counter isn’t famous because of government, it’s famous because of a sit-in.

For nobody, perhaps, is this turn of history more challenging than for Robert Caro himself. Over more than 2,500 pages of powerful prose, Caro has summoned Lyndon Johnson to vivid, intimate life. We come to know him better, thanks to Caro’s remorseless research, than almost any of Johnson’s contemporaries could have hoped to do. It’s not an attractive picture. Caro’s Johnson is a bully and braggart, a wheedler and manipulator, a man of bad personal morals and worse business ethics.

And it is this, frankly, monstrous character who realized more of Caro’s liberal ideals than any politician in modern times, Franklin Delano Roosevelt very much included—and vastly more than the charming, winning, but domestically ineffectual JFK.

In a story already rich with drama, this tension between author and subject—between Caro’s loathing of Johnson and his reverence for Johnson’s accomplishments—is the tensest drama of all.

How did Johnson do it?

Here is Caro’s disconcerting message: Johnson didn’t do it by inspiring or exhorting. He did it by mobilizing political power, on a scale and with a ruthlessness that arguably surpassed all other presidents, before or since.

The ends justify the means.  Hayek had something worth noting on this:

Advancement within a totalitarian group or party depends largely on a willingness to do immoral things. The principle that the end justifies the means, which in individualist ethics is regarded as the denial of all morals, in collectivist ethics becomes necessarily the supreme rule. There is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves “the good of the whole,” because that is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done. Once you admit that the individual is merely a means to serve the ends of the higher entity called society or the nation, most of those features of totalitarianism which horrify us follow of necessity. From the collectivist standpoint intolerance and brutal suppression of dissent, deception and spying, the complete disregard of the life and happiness of the individual are essential and unavoidable. … To be a useful assistant in the running of a totalitarian state, therefore, a man must be prepared to break every moral rule he has ever known if this seems necessary to achieve the end set for him. In the totalitarian machine there will be special opportunities for the ruthless and unscrupulous.

Meanwhile, LBJ had this to say:

"I'll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years." -- Lyndon B. Johnson to two governors on Air Force One according Ronald Kessler's Book, "Inside The White House"

The monstrous character realized leftist, socialist, Modern Liberal ideas through ruthless force.  The left has found the moral equivalent of war and ruthless application of force appealing since the Progressive Era of the early 1900s.  The end justifies the means.  They find the means “monstrous” but choose them because they really want the ends.  So why does something “good” have to be achieved at the cost of massive applications of force, corrupt men of “monstrous character”?  Because it’s the tyranny, stupid.

The lunch counter sitters and protest marchers were winning the hearts and minds of the public.  Civil disobediance won the day.  It showed the noble character of the both the mission and the people.

Johnson, by contrast, was the same ruthless monster the left loves to be ashamed of, but emulates and desires to be again and again.

It’s hard not to detect in these pages an unspoken critique of Barack Obama. Yes, certainly, Obama shares Lyndon Johnson’s gift for driving opponents crazy, if it is a gift. But the use of power Caro so vividly describes is not something that comes naturally to our current president. The constant searching for opportunities; the shameless love-bombing of opponents; the endless wooing of supporters; the deft deployment of inducements and threats—these are the low arts that led to Johnson’s high success.

Obama is fundamentally opposed to the success of the nation.  He doesn’t “drive opponents crazy”, he infuriates his opponents because they don’t find the US to be a cruel nation in need of “fundamental transformation”.  We have been a classic liberal representative republic focused on liberty.  What about that needs changing?

LBJ’s successes were ultimately at the cost of the nation.  Thomas Sowell often writes of what the black family was like in the 1950s and 1960s, and did a specific piece on black-owned businesses in California which were destroyed by LBJ’s “Great Society”, he often notes that political rhetoric never matches the effects in reality.

LBJ cared about power.  He is respected by the left for his use of power.  They find it “monstrous” but so appealing.  It’s as though they can get something done… their programs always need more money, more regulations, more authority; their campaigns always need more votes – no matter how they cheat to get them; they always need more power, power to control…

From Chapter 11: The End of Truth

The most effective way of making everybody serve the single system of ends toward which the social plan is directed is to make everybody believe in those ends.  To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody should be forced to work for the same ends. It is essential that hte people should come to regard them as their own ends.  Although the beliefs must be chosen for the people and imposed upon them, they must become their beliefs, a generally accepted creed which makes the individuals as far as possible act spontaneously in the way the planner wants.  If the feeling of oppression in totalitarian countries is in general much less acute than most people in liberal countries imagine, this is because the totalitarian governments succeed to a high degree in making people think as they want them to.

This is, of course, brought about by the various forms of propaganda.  Its technique is now so familiar that we need say little about it.

Choice architectureNudge.  A velvet glove on the iron fist.

Hayek elaborates on pg 174:

The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they, or at least the best among them, have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before.  The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen.  And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.  Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of the meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regime are expressed.

The worst sufferer in this respect is, of course, the word “liberty.”  It is a word used as freely in totalitarian states as elsewhere.  Indeed, it could almost be said – and it should serve as a warning to us to be on our guard against all the tempters who promise us New Liberties for Old – that wherever liberty as we understand it has been destroyed, this has almost always been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people.  Even among us we have “planners for freedom” who promise us a “collective freedom for the group,” the nature of which may be gathered from the fact that its advocate finds it necessary to assure us that “naturally the advent of all planned freedom does not mean that all [sic] earlier forms of freedom must be abolished.”  Dr. Karl Mannheim, from whose work these sentences are taken, at least warns us that “a conception of freedom modelled on the preceding age is an obstacle to any real understanding of the problem.”  But his use of the word “freedom” is as misleading as it is in the mouth of totalitarian politicians.  Like their freedom, the “collective freedom” he offers us is not the freedom of the members of society but the unlimited freedom of the planner to do with society what he pleases.  It is the confusion of freedom with power carried to the extreme.

A simple example is universal single-payer health care.  It’s to provide freedom from the evil insurance companies.  It provides “freedoms” as quoted here in remarks by a speaker at a press conference by Nancy Pelosi:

The new law has not only given me the freedom to stay covered, but has also freed me and my family from the fear that an insurer could drop me at any moment or limit me to go without treatment.

The “freedom to stay covered” is at the expense of someone else – at the expense of the individuals who make up an insurance company, or at the expense of the individual taxpayer.  Their freedom is traded for this patient’s priviledge.  Being “free” from “fear” that he could be dropped means that the insurer, or taxpayer, is now enslaved to his treatment.  He is now a guaranteed recipient of the labor of individuals, whether those individuals who also purchase insurance from a company, and now face increased premiums because of this government-protected claimant, or he is dependant on the taxpayer to cover his bill.  Ultimately, he is “free” only insomuch as he takes from someone else.

He is not free to choose a less expensive company, or free to go to a non-profit charity that would look out for his special case and would desire to help him – he is “free” by shackling others to his needs.  That is not freedom – that is parasitism enforced by the state.  Person A now must pay for Person B’s medical needs because Person B is “free” from the costs.

Hayek continues on pg 175:

In this particular case the perversion of the meaning of the word has, of course, been well prepared by a long line of German philosophers and, not least, by many of the theoreticians of socialism.  But “freedom” or “liberty” are by no means the only words whose meaning has been changed into their opposites to make them serve as instruments of totalitarian propaganda.  We have already seen how the same happens to “justice” and “law,” “right” and “equality.”  The list could be extended until it includes almost all moral and political terms in general use.

This is a major, major point.  This is why “liberals” today are intolerant, closed-minded people.  Virtually every aspect of who they are is the exact opposite of what they are.  They fight for “social justice” which is just redistribution, they fight for “human rights” that include health care, and even food – which cannot be rights – as they come at the expense of others.  They call themselves progressives, but they don’t progress towards greater liberty for the individual, they progress towards greater power for what the state “must do on your behalf“.  This is regressive, towards the totalitarianism of dictatorships and kings, not towards the greater well-being of the individual.  Liberal in Hayek’s day meant closer to what libertarian or even conservative means today.  Not what libertarian or conservative is demonized as by the political left/progressives, but what they actually are.

It is for this reason that conservative author/radio host Mark Levin refers almost exclusively to the left as statists, as their main function is to expand government to their own ends.  Also note that there are right-wing, or socially traditionalist/conservative statists, who are often simply a different brand of moralist from the leftist statist.  The leftist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking for your health and because it’s good for you, the rightist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking because it’s “fiend intemperance”.  The leftist statist will force you to drive a hybrid car because of his Gaia-worship, the rightist statist will force businesses to close on Sunday to keep the Sabbath holy.

A major difference is that a rightward traditionalist in America, a mindset which often goes hand in hand with the moralist, can still be reminded that a reason the country was founded, and indeed the 1st Amendment was written, was to escape state-mandated religion.  The leftist, by contrast, believes that history started last week, and will reject the past as outmoded and obsolete in their own quest for power and The Greater Good.  As Thomas Sowell writes in his book “The Vision of the Anointed”:

“For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.”

Returning to Hayek, pg 175:

If one has not one’s self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion which it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates.  It has to be seen to be understood how, if one of two brothers embraces the new faith, after a short while he appears to speak a different language which makes any real communication between them impossible.  And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of the words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed conciously or unconciously to direct the people.  Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.

To sidetrack a while from the explicitly political, using a pop culture reference as an example, you can see how freedom has changed.  Most of the readers of this blog will know who this is.  On the off chance we have some very young readers or very old readers, this is Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots – the good guy Transformers.

His motto: “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.”

Now consider this online discussion amongst a group of Transformers fans.  Here are a few lines from the discussion, starting off with forum member “Octavius Prime” (hereafter OP) citing a movie review that had this line:

(Movie Review): And when Optimus Prime, the chief good Transformer, declares that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings,” we know we’re in a Bush-era universe.

(OP): if the reviewers had done maybe 10 minutes of online research (say, on the Teletraan-1 wikia), they’d know that Prime has been spouting his line since before Bush’s dad was president. Moreover, what is so bad about freedom being a basic right? Isn’t that in the hugging Declaration of Independence? What is so quintessentially “Bush” about it?

(SD): Pretty much a case of people shooting words off before doing proper research, and an annoyingly over-liberal mindset. I mean, I don’t care for Bush, to put it lightly, but I also don’t wedge my political views into whatever I type/write.

(S): I can see how that line might be used by the likes of Bush to justify a war like Iraq (the lie that the war is all about human freedom rather than oil).

(PTP): Technically we were in a Regan-era universe when it was written, which isn’t all that much better…

(OP): Maybe, but I still don’t see how the motto that encapsulates democracy would be reduced to represent someone’s biased view of the Bush administration.

(D): I’d be hard pressed to vote for a president who didn’t believe in the basic right of freedom.  I mean there’s liberal, and then there’s blindedly liberal. Gah.

(TNG): I don’t really get why anyone would think that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings” is a particularly conservative viewpoint. Definitions of exactly what freedom means may differ within the political spectrum but I don’t think you’d find many democrats arguing against freedom as a basic human right.

Liberals=progressives=statists, specifically here, anti-Bush statists, who are competing for the same space as state controllers.  Thus Freedom=Bush talking point.  Freedom=bad, to liberals, who are really progressives, who are really leftist-statists.  Also thus the word liberal, which is supposed to mean accepting of others, is now explicitly anti-freedom (even just in this discussion).  Liberal has gone so far as to also include Reagan and all non-leftist statists, thus even the original quote by Optimus Prime waaay back in about 1984 is rejected as being related to Reagan, Republicans, and therefore to a Liberal is a Bad Thing.

According to the leftist-statist, when Bush says freedom, it means ruthless oppression, even if it is freeing a nation from an actual ruthless oppressor.  Don’t bother them with the facts.  Criticism of a poor operational plan and shoddy intelligence (that leftist-statists agreed on) turned into a rejection of freedom in its entirety.  Leftist rejection of Bush-era domestic policies (that pretty much only targeted terrorists, but that should definitely be questioned in Constitutional interests) including the Patriot Act turned into Bush hates freedom.  This year when the Patriot Act was renewed by Barack Obama, without any of the reforms that were complained about during the Bush-era… well, Obama is still a good-guy to the leftist-statist, because he’s their guy there for The Greater Good.

Liberal is anti-freedom, freedom is oppression, progressive is statist.

Even the notions of left and right are reversed.  In France in 1789, at the French Assembly, the rebels who resisted the state sat on the left, while the supporters of the state sat on the right.  Except the French state was a monarchical state that didn’t represent the people, and had subjects, not citizens.  A rebel to the French state would be resisting tyranny.

The United States, by contrast, were formed by the people, for the people, and of the people.  The government was explicity designed to respond to the citizenry, and to be accountable to the citizenry.  The Constitution itself was a charter document designed to constrain any government to the initial agreement that the citizens had made when they settled on a government.  Consider first that the Declaration of Independence was a rejection of tyranny that called for the people to institute a government from the people, then consider that a government, instituted by the citizenry who choose their government, is how the democratic republic set up by the Constitution was designed.

Thomas Paine explains in concrete terms what a Constitution is:

But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a Constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word; we must fix also a standard signification to it.

A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established,  the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organisation of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.

The Constitution is static.  It is what the government is based on, and the laws that the government, in order to remain legitimate and existing upon the consent of the people, must adhere to.  Being on the left in the US and rejecting the established Constitutional order is rejecting a truly classically radical liberal document that enshines the rights and liberties of all citizens.  Being on the left is pushing for statism.  Being a conservative who wishes to conserve Constitutional principles is being a classical liberal, a radical libertarian – one who is opposed to the idea of a controlling state.

Religious liberalism and conservatism became injected into political liberalism and conservatism, as well as social liberalism and conservatism – but there is a wide gulf between what one preaches in one’s private or even public life, and what one inflicts through force of government.  Conservative has come to mean statist-religious, liberal to mean statist-humanist/statist-Gaia-or-Science-worshipper.

In this, the leftist-progressive-statist has changed the entire discussion by changing the meaning of words.  For another example: the religious-statist who would use force of government rather than persuasion has changed the word conservative to also mean moralist authoritarian – a term the leftist-statist is very much willing to embrace, as it drives people into their camp – to accept the “freedom from religion” that then turns into trying to destroy the religions of others – which is explicitly illiberal.  Another example: fascism was a brand of statist totalitarianism wherein the economic means of production were controlled by the state, but not always wholly owned.  Communists attacked fascists, with whom they were competing for the same leftist anti-capitalist statist-totalitarian space on the political spectrum, and accused fascists of being capitalist.  Fascism, descended from national socialism as opposed to communist international socialism, suddenly became its opposite, when the two are nary a hair’s breadth apart.  Yet the modern leftist-statist who favors socialism as an economic means to his Greater Good, will accuse someone who opposes them of being a national socialist.

Paine set up concretely what a Constitution is.  Those who support it, must support it for what it is.  It is a compact between we the citizen and those citizens we choose to serve us.  Words do mean something.  Our Constitution was established as a document that can change through the amendment process, but it is not to be manipulated until freedom means slavery.  But that is precisely what the leftist-statist has embraced (as well as the rightist-statist to a lesser degree).  George Orwell summed much of this up with his coining of the term “Newspeak” in his book “1984″ several years after The Road to Serfdom had been published.  As Orwell says in “1984″:

By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

Sadly, Orwell himself was a democratic socialist, basically a theory of benevolent socialism, but that can be the subject for another tl;dr post.

Lest I forget, the other Hayek:

Eventually I’ll just end up with pictures of chicks from Vienna to represent the Austrian School.