Views on the News

Views on the News*

January 11, 2014


The political left is celebrating the inauguration of "progressive" New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and believes a new era of American progressivism has arrived, and if it's right, the country is in trouble.  Progressivism isn't what its advocates want everyone to think it is because it is not a road to progress or any attempt to make progress, but rather a return to a tribal existence in which groups fight among each other for government-distributed resources.  Progressivism dates back to the late 19th century.  Its animating objective is to use the power of government to design, order, mold and control society.  Under this idea, professional politicians and master bureaucrats identify what they believe to be societal flaws and use government to "fix" them.  It results in the practice of unlimited government and the supremacy of the state, which has the duty, according to progressive political scientist John Burgess, to perfect humanity.  To realize their goal, progressives must reject the Constitution, the Founders, individualism, God-given freedom and, in fact, God himself.  They would replace them with wealth redistribution, government management of production and commerce, regulation, price controls and autocratic central planning.  The divide between progressivism and the march toward free people and markets could hardly be wider.  One is a system of compulsion and threats, the other an order of voluntary associations in which individuals decide how much they want to participate.  There's nothing progressive about progressivism, just as there is nothing liberal about modern liberalism because neither promotes liberty. Progressivism and liberalism return society to a tribal status in which individuals are sacrificed to the collective and this is not the American ideal, but instead something much more ancient and foul.

(“Progressivism is a Move Backward, Not Forward” dated January 6, 2014 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/010614-685308-progressivism-is-not-progress-it-is-regression.htm )

Totalitarianism represents the twentieth-century version of traditional religiosity; it is in many ways the secular equivalent of the religious life.  This "totalitarian religiosity" continues as a secular, politico-centric faith, disdainful of theistic beliefs and contemptuous of those who subscribe to them.  It is a faith that, in its historical manifestations, has birthed the murderous tyrannies of the extended twentieth century -- tyrannies that have marched under left-wing banners of Marxism, Communism, and National Socialism, or, more generally and descriptively, Coercive Collectivism.  For the past eighty-plus years, America has been heading toward such an elitist tyranny in accordance with such socio-political contrivances as "New Deals," "Great Societies," "Fundamental Transformations," and the steady, piecemeal abrogation of the Constitution.  This coercive faith has the character of an endemic narcissism.  It is an arrogant faith led, and largely populated, by a relentlessly aggressive, power-obsessed political class dedicated to imposing an egalitarian minimalism ("social justice") on the world.  While the classic definition of narcissism focuses on the individual, collective narcissism asserts that one can have a similar excessively high opinion of a group, and that group can function as a narcissistic entity.  In the broadest terms, this narcissistic entity is America's left-wing political establishment and the purveyor of an authoritarian collectivist faith.  It is a faith largely populated by those in the high-visibility, look-at-me intellectual professions of politics, the arts, teaching, journalism, and various political foundations.  All are professions able to shape the public mind both short- and long-term.  It is a propaganda-intensive collective that includes the left-biased “news” median TV and film industries.  The operating ethic of this narcissistic leftist confederacy runs from feel-good, busybody, liberal condescension (we know what's best for everyone) to the arrogance of the more radical ("progressive") wing, for whom the ends justify the means.  

(“Leftism: A Radical Faith” by Bruce A. Riggs dated January 5, 2014 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/01/leftism_a_radical_faith.html )


The Democrat party has become the party of the rich.  Forget the “limousine liberals” of the 1960s and 1970s, sending their own kids to private schools while advocating forced busing for everyone else; behold today’s burgeoning class of “Gulfstream liberals,” who jet about the globe while fretting about global warming.  Labor unions (along with trial lawyers) still provide the majority of the Democratic Party’s campaign funds and organizational muscle on election day, but it is the super rich of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, combined with the super rich of Hollywood, who command the priority attention of Democrat Party leaders these days.  Of the ten richest zip codes in the U.S. eight gave more money to Democrats than Republicans in the last two presidential cycles.  Many of today’s leading liberal super-rich are not heirs of fortunes, like Stewart Mott and various Rockefellers of previous decades, whose liberalism could be attributed to personal guilt over unearned wealth.  Most of today’s super rich liberals are financiers and entrepreneurs.  Liberal guilt is not entirely absent from the mindset of the new rich, as can be seen especially in the mindless mantra that the rich have an obligation to “give back,” as though they “took” something in creating wealth by serving the marketplace with dazzling innovations like computer software and internet marketplaces.  The dependence, if not slavishness, of Democrats on the new super rich is best revealed by the dog that isn’t barking in the current liberal crusade against economic inequality: where is the call for a straight up wealth tax?  Where is today’s Huey Long, who in 1935 proposed that no one should be allowed to keep any wealth beyond $50 million, or perhaps, he suggested, only $10 million.  Any such wealth limiting proposal would make Republicans out of the Hollywood and Silicon Valley crowd in a big hurry which would just be further proof of the hypocrisy of modern liberalism.

(“How Did the Democrats Become the Party of the Rich?” by Steen Hayward dated January 8, 2014 published by Forbes at http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenhayward/2014/01/08/how-did-the-democrats-become-the-party-of-the-rich/ )


America has reached a tipping point because the federal government has grown exponentially, not just in spending, but in its reach.  Government intrudes into virtually every aspect of our daily lives, from the type of toilet we can buy, to the mix of fuel we put in our cars, to the kind of light bulb we can use.  Government policies have stifled domestic energy production while pouring billions of tax dollars into alternative-energy subsidies, reflecting the elitist, “progressive” faith that bureaucrats can pick winners and losers better than individuals making voluntary decisions in their own interests can.  Unelected bureaucrats have been empowered to stipulate what health services we will purchase, and how and from whom we will receive them.  Excessive government intervention not only limits individual freedoms, it stifles entrepreneurial creativity and job creation.  It locks the poor into a lifetime of dependency and poverty, and limits the ability of hard-working Americans to enjoy upward mobility.  The federal government also dominates in spheres of activity traditionally reserved to the states.  This leaves little or no room for state-level innovation in areas such as education, transportation, health care, welfare and even law enforcement.  The pace of government expansion has been breathtaking.  The rapid growth of federal grasp and reach is unsettling, leading Americans to question whether their children will inherit a better future, and even whether it’s still possible to achieve the American Dream.  It’s more important than ever for us, as we begin a new year, to recommit ourselves to the principles that led to the founding of our great nation.  At the heart of these principles is the belief that people are free by nature and possess inherent rights.  The use each of us makes of these rights will naturally differ, and the outcomes of those choices will naturally differ, too.  The choice remains ours.  Freedom is thus inextricably bound up with living our lives as we see fit.  This is self-government in the truest sense of the term.  We the people need not slavishly defer to experts.  We can be trusted to govern ourselves.  That is why government must remain limited.  The people have given it only limited powers, as described in the Constitution.  Unlimited government is tyrannical; at best, it imposes a dull uniformity that crushes true diversity and saps the independent spirit of the people.

(“Government Intrudes Into Virtually Every Aspect of Our Lives” by Ed Feulner dated January 5, 2014 published by The Heritage Foundation at http://blog.heritage.org/2014/01/05/alarming-growth-government/ )

The left tried to make income inequality a major topic for discussion throughout America last year but failed, so, they’ve gussied-up their message, repackaged it, and they’re set to re-launch it again in 2014.  Jesse Myerson, a twenty-something former Occupy organizer, stumbled upon a foolproof recipe for success for today’s struggling Millennials – his solution: Communism.  Myerson listed five economic reforms that he thinks every Millennial should demand: Guaranteed jobs, guaranteed income, no more private real estate, no more private assets at all, and a public bank in every state.  The only standard communist tenet missing from Myerson’s Communism For Dummies list was a call to abolish religion.  They are Soviet ideas, which should come as no surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Soviet Union.  Each of Myerson’s five reforms was contained in the USSR’s Constitution.  Currently there is a drive on to increase the national minimum wage which has proven to be a job killer.  Over the next eleven months, the ”marx-ocrats” are going to be pounding the drum for redistribution of the nation’s wealth.  What we are talking about here is a government-ensured guarantee that all citizens unconditionally receive an income sufficient to meet their basic needs.  Over the next few months you will hear the word “BIG” bandied about quite a lot.  BIG is an acronym which stands for: “Basic Income Guarantee” and is what the Democrats will be pushing for between now and the election in November.  The basic income guarantee is a government insured guarantee that no citizen’s income will fall below some minimal level for any reason.  All citizens would receive a BIG, without means testing or work requirements and another way of saying redistribution of the nation’s wealth, which means YOUR wealth taken from you and given to someone who did not earn it and does not deserve it.

(“Sorry Comrade, But You Didn’t Just Discover the Secret to Making Communism Work” by Sean Davis dated January 6, 2014 published by The Federalist at http://thefederalist.com/2014/01/06/sorry-comrade-didnt-just-discover-secret-making-communism-work/

Something B.I.G. is Coming to America” by JD Longstreet dated January 6, 2014 published by American Clarion at http://www.americanclarion.com/something-b-g-coming-america-27131 )


America long ago committed to providing for the basic needs of all its citizens, constructing a so-called safety net of government programs to catch those unable to support themselves, but an effective safety net must be positioned at the right height.  The value of the baseline government benefits provided to someone not working must be significantly lower than the income that person could earn in an entry-level job.  That “income gap” creates the economic incentive to work in the first place, ensuring that all who are able will strive to climb back up and into the labor force.  Unfortunately, a combination of macroeconomic trends and counterproductive policy choices has significantly eroded the incentive to work.  The safety net has grown to encompass an ever wider panoply of benefits that have become ever more expensive as health-care and education costs have exploded.  Countless programs are delivered through an alphabet soup of agencies, leaving no holistic anti-poverty approach and no one accountable for measuring or maintaining a meaningful income gap.  The results are as predictable as they are depressing with the labor-force participation is at a 35-year low overall, and an all-time low for men.  There are 2 million fewer Americans working than there were before the recession.  The number of food-stamp recipients has climbed more than 25% since the recession ended, and more than 100 million Americans now receive some form of food assistance each year.  The War on Poverty is in its 50th year, and yet the poverty rate today is as high as any previously recorded, and 30 percent higher than it was in the 1970s.  Proposals to reform existing programs are not likely to succeed unless they are built atop a new framework, one that establishes a benefit-delivery system capable of clearly separating those who work from those who do not, and one that maintains a substantial income gap between the two.  Transferring enough resources to someone so that he is no longer “poor” treats only the symptom; it does not move him toward self-sufficiency or a foothold at the bottom of an economic ladder that could lead to better opportunities.  To the contrary, it hinders that process, and therein lies the paradox at the heart of anti-poverty policy. Every dollar spent to reduce the suffering of an impoverished person reduces the incentive for that person to improve his own condition by earning an income; not only because the need has become less pressing, but also because the system will in fact punish him for any success by taking the dollar away once he earns one of his own.  The “handout” is locked in perpetual battle with the “hand up.”  As the range of potential benefits expands and the attractiveness of entry-level work declines, maintaining an income gap that favors work and encourages labor-force participation becomes more challenging and more important.  Unfortunately, the current anti-poverty infrastructure makes it nearly impossible.  The core assistance programs were created through different pieces of legislation and are administered by different agencies, with different eligibility requirements, incentives, and procedures.  Medicaid is an entitlement program within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); disability operates within the Social Security Administration; the Department of Agriculture (USDA) controls food stamps through legislation incorporated into the farm bill; the Department of Housing and Urban Development controls housing assistance; and the Department of Education controls education programs.  Unemployment insurance relies on a hybrid state and federally financed trust fund, administered by the states, with oversight from the Department of Labor, backstopped by additional federal funds.  The IRS administers the Earned Income and Child Tax credits through the tax code.  And so on and so forth for dozens of smaller programs, from the School Breakfast Program to the Weatherization Assistance Program.  The USDA is an illustrative microcosm: Last year the agency spent $114 billion on 15 different nutritional programs, each with a separate legislative authorization.  In June, its inspector general’s office expressed concern that the agency “may be duplicating its efforts by providing total benefits that exceed 100% of daily nutritional needs,” explaining that the agency “has not fully assessed its food safety net as a whole to determine the impact of providing potentially overlapping nutritional benefits through multiple programs.” Now multiply this single agency absurdity across more than 100 different programs spanning numerous agencies and objectives.

(“The Height of the Net” by Oren Cass dated October 14, 2013 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/367805/height-net-oren-cass )


President Obama and his “progressive” supporters are now attacking the substandard economic “recovery” that they have helped create.  Zubi Diamond, author of the Wizards of Wall Street, says their ultimate goal is to increase federal control of the economy and “complete the fundamental transformation of America.”  A new CNN/ORC poll shows that nearly 70% say the economy is generally in poor shape.  Obama has had five years to try various tax-and-spending measures supposedly to spur economic growth.  Behind some apparently good economic numbers are “the long-term unemployed, the under-employed and those who have dropped out of, or never even entered, the workforce.”  This is a “phony recovery,” based on the stock market rise driven by the Federal Reserve, that clearly has failed to help most Americans.  Obama calls inequality “the defining challenge of our time,” even quoting the pope to that effect, but his policies, as carried out by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, have clearly exacerbated the inequality he now complains about.   Such a claim enables Obama to avoid responsibility for his own policies and to campaign on a platform of reducing the inequality he has increased.  Talking about “inequality” seems to be the only way that Obama’s “progressive” allies in the media can change the subject from the lack of economic progress and opportunity, problems exacerbated by the disruptions to peoples’ lives caused by the socialized medicine scheme known as ObamaCare.  Diamond says, “Do not get confused or be deceived by the rising stock market.  It is not based on any fundamental recovery in the macro economy.  It is artificially inflated.  There is no fundamental economic recovery.”  He says the “recovery” has basically consisted of the Federal Reserve assisting the stock market “with freshly minted U.S. dollars electronically transferred to a select group of primary broker dealers to replace the liquidity and buying power of the investors who fled the market due to fear and lack of investor confidence” in the wake of the 2008 crash.  Since the Federal Reserve began their asset (stock) purchase program coupled with stock price manipulations, good earnings for the publicly traded companies do not really matter,” he says.  The price to earnings ratio valuation does not really matter, either.  A fundamental or technical analysis of stocks or the market indexes does not really matter.  Diamond maintains “If the Federal Reserve continues the QE [quantitative easing] stock buying program in 2014, they will be holding up the economy artificially to lull you to complacency while the enemy of freedom remains in power to complete his fundamental transformation of America.”

(“Obama, the Fed, and the Phony Economic Recovery” by Cliff Kincaid dated January 7, 2014 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/60295 )

Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to nudge Israelis and Palestinians toward a comprehensive peace agreement that would lead to an independent Palestinian state, but there is no evidence of concrete progress, but there are increasing signs that both sides may be positioning themselves to blame the other if negotiations collapse.  Signs of failure are everywhere.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a harsh assessment of his Palestinian counterpart, President Mahmoud Abbas, and, implicitly, the prospect of a Middle East peace agreement.  Days earlier, Israel let it be known that it would build more settlements in the West Bank, further poisoning the political atmosphere while shrinking the territorial space for a deal.  Palestinian leaders have said that any new settlement activity could lead them to seek membership in the International Criminal Court and sue Israel there.  Kerry is working to intensify the American role by offering ideas to bridge gaps between the two sides.  His immediate aim is a framework accord that would define the principles of a comprehensive treaty, addressing borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, mutual recognition and the end of conflict.  To succeed, it will need to be embraced and defended by both Netanyahu and Abbas, who must acknowledge that neither society will be secure until both can learn to compromise and live as states, side by side – not likely!

(“The Ticking Mideast Clock” dated January 3, 2014 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/opinion/the-ticking-mideast-clock.html?_r=0 )


* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news.  I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning.  Updates have been made this week to the following issue sections:

· Politics at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/politics.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY