All posts by Marcy

About Marcy

Advocate of Constitutional guarantees to individual liberty.

Views from a happy California expat

Thank you to Richard Eber, frequent contributor to California Political News & Views, for his article on reasons people are leaving California, and for including the Just Vote No Blog editor’s views. Actually, the article wonders why anyone would choose to stay in the once Golden State.

Certainly, there are reasons not to join the California exodus — family ties, a good job, balmy weather, lovely scenery, world-class art and music venues, health constraints, dependence on California’s generous welfare, or reliance on bountiful flow of drugs. However, as Richard Eber’s article points out, the reasons to leave are mounting.

Although Californians are leaving mainly because of exorbitant taxes, housing prices, and living costs, many are rejecting the principal underlying cause of those costs – the all-enveloping far-left one-party rule.

The resulting inefficiencies of the one-party rule make California less desirable than, say, North Carolina, one of the destination states mentioned in Eber’s article. Sure, there are Republicans, Greens, and Libertarians in California. But they have descended into near irrelevance given the power of the Democrat machine. Power of such magnitude, regardless of what party or faction holds it, empowers, and inspires extremes.

Richard Eber’s article is reproduced below:

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Leaving California, by Richard Eber, published September 22, 2022, in California Political News & Views

It’s no secret families of all economic classes from the poor to the super rich are leaving California in droves. From illegal aliens to billionaire Elon Musk folks of all backgrounds are quickly putting the former “Golden State” in their rear view mirrors

Libertarian types like me would like to attribute the migration of about half a million people each year to Texas to be politically motivated. In reality this is not the case. Spurred by the socialistic government headed by Governor Gavin Newsom, high taxes, housing costs, energy costs, crime, and poor schools, are more important than politics.

Migrating businesses are following as well. Texas has been the main beneficiary of what amounts to a wealth transfer of billions of GNP each year welcoming 500,000 new residents. It is no coincidence Austin is quickly gaining the reputation of becoming the Silicon Valley of the South.

Typical is the family of my daughter’s best friend and her family who packed their life and moved to Texas after Lexi graduated from high school. Despite both of her parents having decent jobs, they could not afford to purchase a house in the Bay Area.

This soon changed in Texas when they bought a 2500 square foot home for less than half of what it might cost in California. If Lexi’s family would have stayed, it is doubtful they could even have purchased sardine like dwelling in a Priority Development Area (PDA) Sacramento believes people prefer to single family homes.

Prospering with an upper middle class standard of living, my daughter’s friends have never regretted bolting California. They are pretty much apolitical believing their standard of living and lifestyle is more important than living under expensive Progressive social values.

The truth of the matter is Bill Clinton’s campaign advisor James Carville’s remark in the 1992 Presidential election “It’s the economy stupid” is in the forefront of the exodus of folks departing for greener pastures. While this phenomenon has been partially balanced by immigrants settling in California from South of the border, there is major disparity in tax revenue being taken in.

Last week it was reported government revenues declined 11% in the last quarter. While Sacramento might sugar coat these statistics blaming Covid-19 for the drop, many economists believe this will be a preview of coming attractions as the land of Hollywood is fast losing its luster.

Apparently, Gavin Newsom with his fixation with promoting the use of electric vehicles doesn’t care if it costs up to $35.00 dollars more to fill up ones tank compared with several other states. This is but a tip of the iceberg families pay to live in a so called sunny paradise.

If those departing California were really interested in staying rather than being fitted for PF Fliers, they would try to change the Progressive agenda which dominates politics in all but a few rural communities. What then prevents voters from supporting more rational policies that would lower their cost of living?

There is no clear answer for middle of the road and conservative individuals who might want to change the current system. There doesn’t seem to be a clear path for those who wish to slow down going all in on climate change, Sanctuary Cities, defunding the police, reducing the influence of public employee labor unions and paying for costly social programs.

Apparently, this growing group of disenfranchised citizens doesn’t feel the Republican Party of California has the ability to elect candidates to carry out their wishes.

In contrast we have my friend Marcy Berry who recently departed San Francisco to live near her daughter’s family who relocated to North Carolina. As a Libertarian, she has been delighted with the political environment there. After a few months, here is her report from the land of Tar Heels and Blue Devils:

Hello from a transplanted Californian in North Carolina. Why are y’all still in California? Family ties, great job? Legitimate reasons. Barring that, anyone who stays must love California’s all-enveloping progressive reign. Just sayin’. And here are some more unsolicited opinions:

California’s all-enveloping progressive reign is the state’s most salient characteristic, and is what makes California so politically different from North Carolina, a swing state. Folks in a swing state just behave differently than those in a dominant regime.

North Carolina has a Democrat governor, and a majority-Republican but not veto-proof state legislature. Governor Roy Cooper navigates a peaceful balance, without the histrionics that Governor Gavin Newsom can perpetrate in his all-Democrat dominion.

Voter profile in North Carolina is currently 34.6% Democrat, 30.3% Republican, 1% Libertarian, and a whopping 34.5% unaffiliated. The unaffiliated contingent could account for the majority-Democrat voters and majority-Republican legislature. Let’s see what happens in the 2022 midterm elections, with unaffiliated voters residing mostly in the most populous counties.

North Carolina, not having (yet?) a dominant political party, is awash in both right and left-leaning voices. The local newspaper in my county leans left, my neighbors lean right, I am told that transplants arriving daily from California due to North Carolina’s rapidly expanding technology sector lean semi-left (they are aware of the mess they left behind but are not sure how else to think).

Unlike Republicans in California, Republicans in North Carolina are vocal and determined. Current and aspiring political candidates know they matter. They know they have a shot at making the state legislature veto proof and of turning the U.S. Senate majority-Republican.

Is there still hope to bring the two-party system back to California? Will the domination of the three quarters Democratic legislature and all State office holders continue indefinitely? The answer to this question is unequivocally “yes”. My only regret is wondering if such a change might occur in my lifetime.

I would suppose GOP State Chairwoman Jessica Patterson and her inept followers will eventually be replaced (if there is still a Republican Party). In a similar vein it is likely if Gavin Newsom and his successors continue to run the State into ground with their Marxist-Lite policies, needed changes will eventually occur.

There are so many “could have should of” scenarios to contend with in predicting California’s future. All we can do is hope.

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Picture: Meme from Babylon Bee, a publication that never tires of having fun at California’s cost.

Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II leaves very big shoes to fill

Elizabeth Windsor, better known to the world as Elizabeth II or Queen Elizabeth, died on September 8, 2022, at 96 years of age. Her eldest son Charles, 73, ascended the British throne as King Charles III. Elizabeth II leaves very, very big shoes to fill.

Elizabeth II was the longest reigning British monarch, becoming queen at only 25 years of age in 1952. Thus the 96 year old queen the world lost today had an opportunity to build an exemplary track record as a true stateswoman, as a pillar of stability and service.

She led by example, the highest form of leadership. This virtue she learned from her parents, Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother).

During WWII, the young Elizabeth and her sister Margaret remained in Britain, instead being sent to Canada or other safer parts of the British Commonwealth. The King and Queen remained at Buckingham Palace, even as Germany bombed London. They often visited neighborhoods destroyed in the bombings. At age 19 Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, a women’s branch of the British army, and trained as a driver and mechanic.

If anyone kept calm and carried on through turbulence since the Cold War, it was Elizabeth II. She met often with world heads of state, and regularly with her Prime Ministers. She missed only three Openings of Parliament during her long reign, two due to pregnancy and one at the end of her life. The respect she commanded, has been key to keeping the British Commonwealth intact.

King Charles III is now tasked with rising to the occasion. Hopefully, his grandparents and parents’ example of service to the people will guide his path.

Pictured: Princess Elizabeth (in uniform), Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George VI, and Princess Margaret, in the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of WWII.

Alice In Wonderland and the Twins

Read till you come to the end: then stop

Has your highschooler read Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass? Not Walt Disney’s or other abridged versions, but the original Lewis Carroll, illustrated with the fantastical drawings of John Tenniel. The original Through the Looking Glass delights with the quirky poem Jabberwocky. Here is a sample,

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

… and the equally zany The Walrus and the Carpenter — one of the best verses for sample,

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

Cautionary tales

Good heavens, you might say, read such nonsense when there is so much strife and challenges in the world?

Well, yes. If your kid can read Through the Looking Glass cover to cover at his own pace and find it fascinating, then he is playing chess while others are playing checkers.

Also, if the reader uses her imagination to turn the “nonsense” into cautionary tales, then she is ready for life’s challenges! Let’s consider tricky folks one of life’s difficulties – like Mr. Walrus and Mr. Carpenter. These snippets from the poem summarize the situation well,

O Oysters, come and walk with us!’
The Walrus did beseech.
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.’

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head —
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Guess what happened to the gullible little oysters.

O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.”

Alas, innocents that believe in wondrous promises from the powerful.

The mathematician who wrote children’s books

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, born in Daresbury, Cheshire, England, in 1832. He died in 1898. He is known for Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871), although he wrote other books, short stories, and poems. His other most-often mentioned works are Bruno’s Revenge (1867), The Hunting of the Snark (1876), and A Tangled Tale (1885).

Carroll was not only a prolific writer, but also a mathematician, logician, photographer, and Anglican deacon. He taught mathematics and logic at Christ Church, Oxford, and wrote several mathematical books under his birth name. His mathematical puzzles are sometimes included in puzzle books. His most-often mentioned mathematical book is An Elementary Treatise on Determinants with their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Geometry (1867).

A whole lot of Carroll’s writings and puzzles were intended to teach children math and logic. His work can still do so today. The popular website Teachers Pay Teachers is just one of the several that have materials related to Lewis Carroll’s works for younger children as well as for highschoolers. Lesson Planet has good material on Lewis Carroll as well.

Gee, this book is long!

The last chapter of Alice in Wonderland has useful advice for readers of long books,

“There’s more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,” said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry: “this paper has just been picked up …” “it’s a set of verses …” “Read them,” said the King. The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty,” he asked.

Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

Alice at the Trial

Biden addresses nation on Sep 1

Biden’s strange soul of nation speech

President Joe Biden delivered his fight for soul of the nation address on Thursday, September 1. The main networks did not carry the address. Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarty (R CA) taped a very brief response before President Biden gave his speech. Googling for other responses yields little at present.

Maybe people’s preoccupation with soaring prices, their kids’ unfruitful education, crime in the streets, porous borders, and other mundane challenges detracts from rhetorical talk of souls.

President Biden tried hard to change the focus from the mess this country is in to a vision of a future where prosperity, peace of mind, and unity will reign. Abundance of riches, goodness, and harmony will come, apparently, when MAGA extremists, who ignore the Constitution, the rule of law, free and fair elections, and democracy go away.

In all fairness, this nation’s predicaments are not all President Biden’s fault. The national debt and its attendant evils have been growing since President Bill Clinton’s days, the mass of unskilled workers unable to make ends meet has been around since education collapsed and the robber barons of monopolies sucked up the nation’s wealth, divisiveness and name calling has been almost fashionable for a while now. But, the present administration policies, like the Inflation Reduction Act that won’t make a dent on inflation, have not helped.

And in equal fairness, debacles like January 6, when Trump supporters got themselves lumped in with violent unlawful trespassers, feed into the view that MAGA folks are extremists. Hecklers outside Independence Hall shouting “Let’s go Brandon” and “F—Joe Biden” while the President was giving his “soul of democracy” speech were fodder for the President’s calm response: “They’re entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy.” “… good manners is nothing they’ve ever suffered from.”

So, will a repetitious 24-minute speech touting a nebulous vision of an even more nebulous democracy turn the tide of Republican’s expectation to flip the House and Senate in coming elections? Probably not. But the expected drumbeat of anti-MAGA vitriol in the coming months might.

By the way, one is to assume that the “democracy” to which President Joe Biden referred in his speech is not the same “democracy” that these folks describe:

Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms. Aristotle – Greek philosopher during the Classical period of ancient Greece.

Democracy is the road to socialism. Karl Marx – German philosopher, critic of political economy, and socialist revolutionary.

Democracy is four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Ambrose Bierce short story writer, journalist, poet, and American Civil War veteran.

Logo of the SEIU

CA AB 257 vs Fast Food Industry

The California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 257, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, on August 29, 2022. If Governor Gavin Newsom approves AB 257, California will be the first state in the nation to broadly regulate wages and working conditions for an entire industry. Fight for $15 and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California sponsored AB 257. Their hope is the bill will lead to European-style industry-wide unionization, and end company-by-company efforts. The fast-food industry predictably opposes the bill.

Although states, as well as the federal government, regulate several industries, like banking and petroleum, these regulations do not set minimum wage and labor standards. They do not attempt to regulate social inequities. That is why the bill is being touted by the media as “first in the nation.”

A Super Agency in the Making

AB 257 creates a council comprised of government officials appointed by the Governor, business leaders, and worker representatives. The council will draw regulation to apply to all fast food restaurants with 100 or more establishments nationally that share a common brand. The bill has broad powers to repeal or amend existing regulation to accomplish its mission of establishing wage and labor standards.

AB 257 claims its intent is not to usurp legislative powers by creating or amending statutes. However, sections of the bill seem to send a contradictory message.

Section 4 (d) (1) (B) Nothing herein restrains the Legislature from enacting legislation that prevents a standard, repeal, or amendment from taking effect.

This wording seems to say elected representatives of the people do not have the power to simply veto regulations presented by the council, but instead can if they choose create legislation that would amend or repeal the regulation.

The council created by AB 257 seems in reality to be a super-agency, whose unelected members have de facto power to make and enforce law. As such, voters have no say in rules and regulations this super-agency implements. The only recourse of unhappy voters is appeal to their California legislators to try to enact more legislation that modifies or repeals the “law” created by the council – a council they themselves created.

The council will succeed where no agency has before?

California already has numerous laws, rules and regulations regarding wages and working conditions. However, AB 257 correctly states that enforcement is ineffective and problems in the workplace abound.

Section 2 (j) Furthermore, because existing enforcement and regulatory mechanisms have proved inadequate in ensuring fast food restaurant worker health, safety, and welfare, the Legislature concludes that sectorwide minimum health, safety, and employment standards, including standards concerning wages and other working conditions, identified by an expert body with subject matter expertise and experience in the fast food sector and which can represent the demographic diversity of the state’s fast food restaurant operators and employees, are necessary to protect, maintain, and ensure the health, safety, and welfare of, and to supply the necessary cost of proper living to, fast food restaurant employees.

So, AB 257 creates a super-agency (without discontinuing any of the ineffective agencies) and claims it will do the job none of the other numerous agencies have succeeded in doing. Seems this endeavor could only be accomplished either by amazing efficiency, for which government agencies are not well known, or tyrannical power over the fast food industry, approaching a takeover.

Interesting background of AB 257

AB 257 was originally authored by then Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, who resigned from office in January 2022 to take the position of chief officer of the California Labor Federation. Ms. Gonzalez is also the author of Assembly Bill 5, signed into law September 2019, which reclassified numerous California workers from independent contractors to employees.

AB 5 caused enormous upheaval, like upending supply chains by curbing the work of hundreds of independent truckers. AB 5 has also spawned numerous high-profile lawsuits, the most prominent of which are those initiated by ride-sharing company Uber, the California Trucking Association, and the International Franchise Association.

It would not be unreasonable to expect the same upheaval from AB 257, given the bill’s unusually broad powers.

After Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez’s resignation from office, Assemblymember Chris Holden reintroduced the bill in January 2022.

There is a better way

Government micromanagement of industries, promising “living wages” and a plethora of “benefits” might seem to low-wage workers like a dream come true.

Unfortunately, they do not realize that life will find a way. The marketplace is a living thing that survives the harshest conditions – ask any underground entrepreneur thriving in the world’s tyrannies. Another quote is “money goes to where it is treated best.” Ask the many major companies that have left California for more business-friendly states. The cure promised by AB 257 might be worse than the ailments.

Another way to view low-wage workers, like those in the fast food industry, is that there are too many of them. Although sometimes denied by today’s progressives, supply and demand do determine prices. If companies see too many people with non-marketable skills (like graduates of California’s low-rated school system or graduates from Stanford with degrees in philosophy) then companies can pay their workers low wages without fear of exhausting the worker supply.

A more sustainable way to guarantee worker respect, good wages, and benefits is to encourage workers to obtain marketable skills. Never-ending battles with the realities of the market only serve to grow government power, increase taxation necessary to maintain bureaucracies, and divert resources from helping the populace obtain good skills.

Jigsaw puzzle

Google’s Prebunking: Eyes that never close

Google has come up with a potent antidote to conspiracy theories, misinformation, and misleading statements. Yes, even more potent than ubiquitous algorithms unleashed upon poor souls who do not understand the need to conform and stay in one’s place.

The new fakery fighters are short videos, akin to public service ads, intended to inoculate (Google’s word) Internet users against various forms or fakery. These videos, now being tested in Eastern Europe, were developed by Jigsaw, a unit within Google that “explores threats to open societies, and builds technology that inspires scalable solutions.” Jigsaw calls the inoculation approach by the clever name of “prebunking.” Debunking occurs after a particular claim is made. Prebunking works to counter any and all falsehoods continuously.

Now, the videos are actually very useful at teaching basic critical thinking. They illustrate methods commonly used by fakes, like emotional language, scapegoating, and false dichotomies. Jigsaw’s objectives as delineated in its website have value: counter disinformation, toxicity, censorship, and violent extremism. No one wants to fall victim of a targeted well-organized disinformation campaign, or experience incivility in a toxic environment, or heavens forbid be prevented from expressing one’s ideas.

So enter prebunking. What could go wrong?

* It is difficult to imagine the existence of an untargeted ad. Should Facebook, for example, purchase a set of prebunking videos, one would imagine such videos might be placed in the vicinity of a targeted post. This would be a distraction from the information on the post. Google uses a similar approach with its Redirect Method.

Redirect Method placed ads next to search results for terms indicating interest in potentially harmful content, including queries related to joining extremist groups.

* The sample prebunking videos available on the Internet provide general information and look harmless per se. But some sneak in quick unobtrusive preaching. The friendly voice explaining “ad hominem” says sometimes attacking individuals as well as their claims is OK, such as in the case of cigarette manufacturers that claimed their product was safe. One would wonder what other preaching will show up in future examples.

* Although facilitating change to make the world better is a commendable endeavor, some pronouncements can be unnerving, like the title of Jigsaw’s “Issues” page: “Creating future‑defining technology.”

Technology has become our source of knowledge, avenue for social interaction, livelihood for work-from-home bread winners, and prolific provider of convenience gadgets. Whatever future technology decides to create, we will all be in it. We might only see what technology wants us to see – the rest will be relegated to the dustbin of misinformation.

* Clever workers and entrepreneurs that create remarkable systems are not the only source of technology’s power. There is also power that comes from corporatism. Corporatism is perhaps the most worrisome characteristic of gatekeeping tools like prebunking. Here is why.

Corporatism is today’s popular public-private partnership. Large corporations, non-profits, and government agencies mention their public-private partnerships with pride. Corporatism is called “stakeholder capitalism” in polite society; however, critics like Vivek Ramaswamy, author of Woke Inc., argue that corporatism, social capitalism, and stakeholder capitalism are all one and the same. Regardless of wording, it is a collectivist political and economic ideology intended to benefit government and corporations through shared power.

Teddy Roosevelt when campaigning for President in August 1912 spoke in general and hyperbolic terms about public-private alliances. When in office, he did not just talk about the subject, he did break up the big cartels of his day. His words:

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship of the day. Theodore Roosevelt, His Life and Times, Library of Congress

Not all corporations are corrupt. But partners in the unholy alliance share not only power but also agenda, making them a questionable choice for gatekeepers of the public knowledge.

* Monopolies in advertising media, principally enabled by corporatism and armed with tools like “fact checking” and prebunking, can easily cripple any endeavor. Here is an example:

Hillsdale College, a private liberal arts college in Michigan founded in 1844, posted an ad on Facebook promoting its lecture series The Great Reset. Guest speakers in the series explain the origin and objectives of The Great Reset. They describe The Great Reset as an incubator of corporatism that encourages adoption of controlling tools like universal electronic payment systems (cashless societies) and elimination of private property (you will own nothing).

Facebook labeled the post “False Information.”

It should come to anyone’s mind that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents the U.S. government from censoring Hillsdale’s ad. But it does not prevent a private entity like Facebook from doing so, limiting the ability of Hillsdale to share inconvenient opinions about The Great Reset.

Cute prebunking videos targeting any ad would have been equally effective.

Although the purpose of Jigsaw is not directly to shut people up, it would not be unreasonable to surmise that anyone who does not follow whatever prescribed agenda Google/Jigsaw need to follow would be served with a cute audience-distracting video.

Civil Rights march in Selma, Alabama

1619 Project: any equity yet?

When works with some merit are too forcefully publicized, they become hysterical rhetoric that require a set of illusory truths repeated ad infinitum. At that point they attract critics bent on stripping those works of all value. A good example of this phenomenon is The 1619 Project.

New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones assembled essays on America’s history and named the collection The 1619 Project, which was published by The New York Times in 2019 with great fanfare. The name refers to the year the first shipload of Black slaves landed in America.

According to the project, this seminal event in 1619 forever imprinted racism in the American psyche, causing foundational and expansion episodes to carry slavery’s imprint to this day. The project in its original publication contended that 1619 must be considered America’s founding date, not 1776.

Praises and Disdain

Immediately after its publication, The 1619 Project received accolades from liberals and searing criticism from conservatives. In 2020, Nikole Hannah-Jones received a Pulitzer Prize for her work. She also received denunciations of circulating junk history.

The great tragedy of the original 1619 Project was its missed opportunity to add detail, nuance, and reflection to our historical understanding of slavery and its legacy. That opportunity was lost not upon publication but in the aftermath, when The New York Times met its scholarly critics with insult and derision. The ensuing controversies, initially confined to Hannah-Jones’ and Desmond’s essays, came to overshadow the remainder of the project, including its other historical contributions as well as its literary and artistic sections. The 1619 Project Unrepentantly Pushes Junk History, Reason, March 29, 2022

The principal purpose of The 1619 Project is not to inform but to agitate and entice action. Hannah-Jones wants to see acknowledgement of the persistent consequences of slavery and the ubiquitous nature of racism, present in the judicial system, housing, employment, education, and all other institutions. Her premise is that without that acknowledgement, society cannot begin to erase the negative effects of prejudice. In this regard, her premise aligns with the principles of Critical Race Theory.

Action is often best achieved with focus, flexible statements, relentless publicity, and fascinating storytelling. Lest The New York Times version of the project starts losing media space, Hannah-Jones expanded it into a book, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, and a school curriculum, Reading Guide for The 1619 Project Essays.

Measures of early action enticed by The 1619 Project could be the level of sales of the book, how many school districts adopted the curriculum, and the backlash. The book is an Amazon best seller. The number of school districts that adopted the curriculum does not seem to be available; there are only article, mostly published in 2020, saying that “4,500 classrooms” are using the curriculum. As of February 2022, 38 states have introduced or passed legislation banning the teaching of race-based curricula.

Illusory Truths

Possibly because of its dependence on illusory truths and storytelling, the Project is an easy target for criticism and dismissal. Here are three of the Project’s most salient, most often repeated, assertions and the JVN Blog’s opinion of how these assertions missed opportunities to enrich American history.

  • The American Revolution was fought over slavery

Traditional history does not fully discuss the crucial role slavery played in colonial economy, principally in the Southern plantations, but also Northern commerce. A deeper discussion would serve better to understand the words of the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and government-sponsored segregation.

However, other reasons for the Revolution abound: British soldiers quartered in America starting in 1763. Devastating taxation and regulation in 1765. The Boston Massacre in 1770. The long list of other grievances listed on the Declaration of Independence.

Also, the British were the middlemen who exported slaves to America. Calls for abolishing slavery in Britain did not occur until 1780, five years after the Revolutionary War began.

  • The Second Amendment to the Constitution was placed there to allow White men to defend themselves against Black slaves.

Indeed, history needs to speak more about slaves’ discontent and frequent rebellion, which no doubt caused White apprehension.

History also needs to be clear that the ten original Amendments that make up the Bill of Rights were the result of the Founders’ mistrust of a central government and particularly government’s standing armies. Those Amendments, including the Second, were intended to protect the People against government, not against each other.

What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty …. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins. Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, Annals of Congress 750, August 17, 1789.

  • Slavery and racism were, and still are, root causes of unjust social, judicial, and educational systems.

There are events that could be better understood with more honest discussions of their relation to racism. For example, during the 1930s through the 1950s, the Federal Housing Administration guaranteed most private mortgages that helped build America’s suburbs. Only 2% of those mortgages went to non-white applicants. The FHA encouraged covenants that kept suburban neighborhoods “harmonious.”

Areas surrounding a location are investigated to determine whether incompatible racial and social groups are present, for the purpose of making a prediction regarding the probability of the location being invaded by such groups. If a neighborhood is to retain stability, it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes. Federal Housing Administration 1936:233.

It is not difficult to determine what social and racial class was preferred when we consider what the American suburbs of the 1950s looked like.

Civil rights legislation of the 1960s removed housing discrimination, and many Black families did resettle to prosperous suburbs. But poverty kept more in the inner cities.

Poor Black neighborhoods share key characteristics that ensure poverty: Children living in one-parent families (64% vs. 24% of White children). Incarceration (in state prisons 5 times the rate of White incarceration). Gun violence, that results in high, mostly Black-on-Black, violent crime.

These self-inflicted wounds keep poor Black families poor and deluded by the cruel lie of victimhood.

Meanwhile, Black individuals and families that refuse to cling to victimhood prosper: Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Candace Owens, Clarence Thomas, the countless number of Black families who insist on discipline and have achieved economic well being.

Yes, slavery, government-sponsored segregation, and prejudice are the despicable triumvirate that shares a place in America’s identity. But they need not be the determining variables in anyone’s life. They need not be the relentless distraction from purposeful endeavors that Nikole Hannah-Jones and her fellow Critical Race Theorists want them to be.

A Great Experiment Goes Unnoticed

The 1619 Project’s plea to face history honestly makes sense, since nothing can be learned from an embellished version that ignores mistakes to be avoided. However, The Project’s version, stripped of understanding, has caused it to be dismissed in its entirely. Good understanding of history should include these three principles:

  • History is incremental. People develop knowledge of themselves and the world around them in bits and pieces.

Earth was once the center of the universe, until it was not. Slavery was once a fact of life going back to ancient times, until it was not.

  • America’s Declaration of Independence laid down a new concept of the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness: these rights are not granted by government, but by The Creator.

At the time the Declaration was written, the Founding Fathers’ attitude toward slavery and an economy dependent on slavery was evolving. As Hannah-Jones herself pointed out Thomas Jefferson included in the Declaration a passage condemning slavery, but the passage was removed prior to ratification. One would have to speculate that the Founders must have figured that if they were to have a country at all, they could not obliterate their economy by suddenly freeing the slaves.

  • America’s Constitution laid down a never-before tried system of government 1) of rule by the people through the peoples’ representatives in Congress, 2) of enumerated powers in the Articles clearly indicating what each of the three branches of government does, and 3) of restrictions in the first 10 Amendments indicating what government cannot do.

In other words, the Founders wrote the American Constitution as an experiment in self-government, something never before attempted. It turned the idea of government held since time immemorial on its head. Under this Constitution, government works for the people, not the other way around. That means the People, through their representatives, can change (amend) any part of that document if they so choose.

Baby Gone With the Bathwater

In conclusion, The 1619 Project throws away the baby with the bathwater. That is unfortunate. However, if the Project’s intent, along with that of brethren Critical Race Theory, is to agitate, distract, and solidify Black adherence to progressive politics, then rational thinking does not matter.

Hardfire TV guests

Hardfire asks – “Ukraine: Weapons or Immigration?”

Cameron Weber – economist, historian, professor – has a show called Hardfire. Dr. Weber likes thought questions. What are thought questions? They are “what if,” “would you want it?” “what stands in the way?” “what could make it work?” questions. They are questions the Founding Fathers must have asked when someone must have said, “Man, we really need to get rid of King George!” Or maybe questions like President John Kennedy asked when he pledged to put a man on the Moon before the decade ended. For sure, not all thought questions end in successful endeavors – some do, some don’t.

The latest Hardfire show asked the following:

On May 19, 2022, the U.S. Senate approved a $40 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package to Ukraine in support of Ukraine’s fight against Russian invasion. That is not the first package and probably not the last.

From a pragmatic cost-benefit point of view, would it not be cheaper to offer Russian conscripts tasked with fighting in Ukraine immigration into the U.S. plus $100K?

Discussions would need to include cost-benefits of immigration. And cost-benefits of distressing Vladimir Putin any more than he is distressed already.

Here is a link to the Thursday, July 7, 2022, Hardfire show – only about 30 minutes long.

Ukraine: Weapons or Immigration

Declaration of Independence

E Pluribus and More Pluribus

This 4th of July is a good time to reflect how our country today differs from the nation our Founders envisioned. A handy measure is to compare the national motto the Founders chose vs. how our country behaves today.

What is the national motto.

The U.S. national motto is “In God We Trust.” This phrase first appeared in some coinage during the Civil War, was officially sanctioned as the national motto in 1956 by then President Dwight Eisenhower, but is not the original national motto the Founders chose. Actually, the Founders rejected that and other similar phrases for obvious reasons: they were trying to build a secular nation that acknowledged the blessings of Providence but rejected the supremacy of any specific religion (including Deism, to which several Founders adhered). The subject was important enough to the Founders that they wrote this as the first clause in the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The motto the Founders chose was “E Pluribus Unum” — From Many, One. The “many” were the several states carrying their own philosophies, economies, and customs. The “one” was the new nation governed by one Constitution and one goal of realization. Of course, one must acknowledge that the norms of that time and place, which allowed for a more homogenous leadership and electorate, facilitated the transition from many to one. However, the sentiment of E Pluribus Unum could have remained unaltered as our nation grew. It did not. At least it did not to the extent the Founders envisioned.

Sentiments of divide and conquer that permeate the national psyche have webbed and flowed since the nation’s birth. Today, we are on an upward flow. Media, including social media, compartmentalizes everybody into spheres of preference – echo chambers – and turn participants into one-issue zealots. Schools, especially government schools, are indoctrination centers, as are workplaces. When school children and employees are forced to sit through hours of diversity training, it is a good bet that a true preference for diversity (when persons will “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”) is not occurring. Add to that brew, legislators that moved away from an ideological center that allows for rational discussion and compromise.

Happy 4th of July

Enjoy the hotdogs and the fireworks. Take a few minutes to cogitate on the new national motto vs. the old one. If you prefer the old motto, perhaps help turn the tide towards E Pluribus, Unum.

Car break-ins

Mayor: “Sometimes accountability means community service”

On June 7, 2022, San Francisco voters recalled their District Attorney, Chesa Boudin. It might be tempting for law-and-order supporters to think that Boudin’s ouster marks a shift towards more meaningful crime prevention. However, a broader view of San Francisco residents’ sentiments seems to augur crime as usual.

The visibility of crime

Crime is a visible blight in San Francisco. Shop lifters walk out of stores with bags full of stolen merchandise, public drug use is everywhere, sidewalks serve as sleeping quarters and toilets. Cars are not safe from break-ins for long. The scenario is not surprising since candidate for DA Chesa Boudin made clear during his candidacy that he would not prosecute low-level and quality-of-life crimes.

Voters grew weary of this scenario. They tired of the stories daily in the media about the revolving door the DA’s office had become – criminals arrested, released, committing more crime, arrested again, released again.

On June 7, what San Francisco residents saw and experienced took precedence over the arguments made by Boudin and his supporters: Reform is necessary to root out racial bias that fills American prisons with people of color. Reform takes time, and results are not as visible as crime. There are other alternatives to holding people accountable besides incarceration.

This comment summarizes the outcome of the recall election:

People are happy to be progressive and happy to be anti-racist as long as their bike doesn’t get stolen, or they don’t watch a viral video of a theft at Walgreens. Once that happens, or they feel vulnerable in some way, they throw out the high-minded ideals that made them vote for a reformer. Lara Bazelon, University of San Francisco law professor, as quoted in The Atlantic, “Why California Wants to Recall Its Most Progressive Prosecutors”, April 28, 2022.

The fleeting nature of recalls

As Professor Bazelon indicates in the quote above, in a recall, voters can vote to oust officials for whom they voted in the first place. It’s like buyer’s remorse. Unfortunately, buyers’ remorse is often instantly forgotten when another well-advertised impractical item appears in the store window. On the same ballot that San Francisco voters voted to recall Chesa Boudin, they also helped elect another criminal justice reformer, Rob Bonta, for state Attorney General.

Criminal justice reform as embraced by Boudin and his compatriots is very much still on the table in San Francisco. Here are some quotes uttered soon after the DA’s recall.

This election does not mean that San Francisco has drifted to the far right on our approach to criminal justice. In fact, San Francisco has been a national beacon for progressive criminal justice reform for decades and will continue to do so with new leadership. Mary Jung, recall campaign chair, as quoted in The Crime Report, “California Remains National Beacon for Justice Reform”, June 8, 2022.

We insist that the next San Francisco district attorney pursue reform, reduce incarceration, hold police accountable when they break the law, and root out racial bias in the criminal justice system. ACLU of Northern California, Press Release, June 8, 2022.

…to be clear, sometimes accountability means rehab. Sometimes accountability means community service. It is not just about law and order and tough on crime and locking people up and throwing away the key … It’s about accountability when those lines are crossed and coming to a reasonable conclusion around justice and what that really means for, in some cases, not just the perpetrator but the people who fall victim to those crimes. Mayor London Breed, as quoted in S.F. Standard, “Mayor Breed Weighs In on DA Recall”, June 8, 2022

Let’s let that sink in: “… coming to a reasonable conclusion around justice and what that really means for, in some cases, not just the perpetrator but the people who fall victim to those crimes.”

Whose job is it anyway?

Reformers are correct that the American criminal justice system needs a good deal of improvement. It makes no sense that, according to what is known, American prisons house more people than any other country in the world. It does make sense that root causes of crime must figure in crime prevention.

However, reform is not the job of district attorneys (or judges). The job of DA’s is to protect residents from falling victims of crime using tools provided by law.

The job of criminal justice reform belongs to legislators. As long as legislators continue to pass counter-productive laws riddled with consequences detrimental to the very communities they are purportedly attempting to help, the causes of crime will remain. Think American job losses due to minimum wage, offshoring, automation, climate change regulation, formation of monopolies and conglomerates enabled by fiat money. Think legislation with embedded disincentives to throw off the shackles of dependence, to reject coddling in schools and jobs in the name of “equity,” to learn job skills in school instead of rhetoric.

The best thing district attorneys can do is keep to their knitting under the law. That does not mean they cannot, like every citizen can, encourage legislators to quit passing counter-productive legislation.

Whether that could possibly happen in San Francisco will become more clear once Mayor London Breed appoints the City’s interim DA.