Category Archives: Blogs

2020 Resolution: Get Out of Media Echo Chambers

Suffragettes

Feminism Portrayed as a War With Nature

Tucker Carlson is currently enjoying his 15 minutes of fame in our hyperbolic, fact-challenged media world. Thus, his recent proclamation on feminism made headlines:  “I don’t think anything has changed our society more for the worse … What we are describing is a war with nature.”

Carlson issued his invective during an interview with Suzanne Venker, and in response to Ms. Venker’s declaration that “we had that study several years ago that came out and showed that women are decidedly less happy than men after of course this last 40 years of supposed so-called liberation.”

First, let’s hope that Ms. Venker is happy, in spite of the fact that she can vote and is free to compete in the market place as a successful author and relationship counselor.

Secondly, let’s note that the echo chamber ran with Carlson’s declaration. The Washington Examiner published an opinion piece, sequel to Carlson’s interview with Ms. Venker, listing ills of feminism such as ideas that women don’t need men and children don’t need fathers. Those ills, Ms. Venker said have led to complete breakdown of marriage, relentless gender war, an explosion of kids in day care and home alone, and a full-scale war on men.

Thirdly, these dire proclamations sell well in conservative circles, just like grim predictions of climate change advocates sell in left-leaning spheres. Climate change alarm acts as a successful method of exercising control over populations. Attacks on the undefined principle of “feminism” serve the same purpose. Promoters of both issues are not shy about spurious claims, like climate change is the cause of deadly wildfires or feminism is the cause of today’s overflowing jails.

The Just Vote No Blog has discussed the view of climate change as method of control. Now, here are a few thoughts on the alleged evils of feminism.

That Study Several Years Ago

The study to which Ms. Venker refers is titled The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness, written by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, and published in May 2009 (a decade ago).

The study is really quite interesting. It documents changes over time in women’s responses as to how happy they are. Indeed, the responses allude to a decline in happiness that coincides with the period in which women’s participation in the workplace increased. However, as expected of any bona-fide scholarly paper, the study does not take political or social sides. It only provides possible explanations for the apparent decline in women’s happiness during 1972 – 2006. Here are some of the principal explanations in the study.

* Women experienced increased participation in the market, but no decrease in responsibilities at home. This is the “Second Shift” syndrome discussed by Arlie Hochschild and Anne Machung in their best-selling 2003 book.

* Men were no longer solely responsible for providing for their family’s financial support. Women acquired some of that responsibility, along with the accompanying worries previously suffered mostly by men.

* Contraceptives decreased the incidence of shotgun marriages, and increased the pressure for out of wedlock sex.

* Women’s competitive arena grew, and so did inevitable comparisons of abilities and performance.

* The period under study was a time of economic and wage volatility – stagflation in the 1970s, inflation and the savings and loan institutional crisis in the 1980s, recession as well as great prosperity in the 1990s, and the dot-com bust in the early 2000s.

None of these findings in the study in question appear to have anything to do with women suddenly feeling they did not need men or fathers for their children. Even more damning for the blame-it-all-on-feminism crowd is one of the study’s conclusions:

If the burdens of entering the workforce are playing a role in declining female happiness then perhaps the decline in happiness will be concentrated among women who are employed. [But] both women who are employed and those who are not have experienced roughly similar declines in subjective well-being …

Once again, we see similar trends in happiness across these groups, casting doubt on the hypothesis that trends in marriage and divorce, single parenthood, or work-family balance are at the root of the happiness declines among women.

So much for the study as proof women choosing other lifestyles than full-time homemakers is the cause of much societal evil.

More Economic Reasons for Unhappiness

The study discussed above offers several economic reasons that could result in women’s unhappiness. One more economic event could be added, globalization and the migration of manufacturing jobs out of the U.S.

Jobs in manufacturing, mostly held by men, were the backbone of America’s middle class. Those jobs started to migrate out of the U.S. around the 1970s. Contrary to the prediction of the hopeful manufacturing workers did not easily flow into emerging technology industries. Not only did manufacturing workers lose well-paying jobs, but they also lost benefits such as health insurance.

Households affected by globalization need to regroup, which might mean two working parents and children in day care or home alone. This is hardly a problem with feminism.

Two Reasons Other Than Economic

Besides the economic events mentioned above, there were two legislative decisions that forever transformed our society.

Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty

The War on Poverty, a cluster of legislation implemented during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, could easily be described as the war on the poor. It decreased the tragedy that concerned President John F. Kennedy, children going to bed hungry, but it unleashed the welfare state – the curse behind much of the societal dysfunction that Tucker Carlson attributed to feminism.  The following quote is from a Forbes article published May 2014, The War on Poverty Wasn’t a Failure – It Was A Catastrophe.

… the War on Poverty has not just been a failure, it has been a catastrophe. It was supposed to help America’s poor become self-sufficient, and it has made them dependent and dysfunctional.

What turned the War on Poverty into a social and human catastrophe was that the enhanced welfare state created a perverse system of incentives, and people adapted to their new environment.

The adaptation of the working-age poor to the War on Poverty’s expanded welfare state was immediately evident in the growth of various social pathologies, especially unwed childbearing.

Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs

President Richard Nixon established the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. In 1971 he declared drug abuse “public enemy number one.” In 1973 he established the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a special police force that targets illegal drug use and drug smuggling. Thus the War on Drugs was born. It popularized swat teams, filled up prisons, and removed Dads from homes.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 45.3% of inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses. For comparison, that percentage is followed by 19.2% of inmates in prison for offenses involving weapons, explosives and arson.

Understanding the Word “Feminism”

The word “feminism” should not be used without specific context, since it describes several distinct events. To say that feminism is a “war with nature” is to say that women should not be allowed to own property, vote, go to college, or make decisions on behalf of their family. This is control in the name of saving children and the family.

Controlling any group means preventing members of the group from effectively obtaining rights and privileges enjoyed by individuals outside the group.

Feminist events, often called “waves,” gradually afforded to women rights and privileges enjoyed by men.

The First Wave:

The middle 1800s brought women basic individual rights such as owning property and filing patents under their own name. During the 1800s universities started allowing women to attend. Prior to that few women attained higher education, and those who did attended female institutions.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in 1920 granted women the right to vote, previously enjoyed only by men.

The Second Wave:

Historians usually view the Second Wave of Feminism as a movement that started in the early 1960s and ended in the early 1980’s. Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique and President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women are considered the movement’s first salvos.

In her book, Friedan reported anxiety and discontent experienced by suburban homemakers. As a result of her research, Friedan helped found the National Organization for Women (NOW), which lobbied for and achieved several landmark pieces of legislation, such as the Women’s Educational Equity Act of 1972, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.

Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women, enacted in 1963, recommended legislative action to correct inequities experienced by women. Among the most notable recommendations was expanded adult education, public childcare, equal opportunity employment practices, expansion of widows’ benefits under Social Security, and paid maternity leave.

The Third Wave:

This latest wave is said to have started with the Anita Hill incident during Clarence Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearings. A journalist by the name of Rebecca Walker wrote in Ms. Magazine,

So I write this as a plea to all women, especially women of my generation: Let Thomas’ confirmation serve to remind you, as it did me, that the fight is far from over. Let this dismissal of a woman’s experience move you to anger. Turn that outrage into political power … I am not a post-feminism feminist. I am the Third Wave.

Unlike the First and Second Waves, the Third Wave deals with numerous micro-issues affecting micro-populations.  The First Wave won the major Constitutional battle — women’s right to vote.  The Second Wave won major legal battles of equal protection under the law.  Therefore, the Third Wave is left to fight a myriad of disparate social issues that go far beyond the early objectives of the First and Second Waves.

From the day of its publication, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was criticized by more radical feminists for being elitist. The charge arose out of the fact that the book dealt with suburban homemakers who were mostly white, well educated and relatively well-off economically.

The Third Wave moved beyond those constraints and became open ended. Today battles for transgender rights, for fluidity of gender identification, against perceived male social aggression, and numerous other issues dominate what was once a movement for equal Constitutional and legal rights.

Suggested Resolution for 2020

Being informed of latest events is a good thing. However, today’s purveyors of news appear to reside in compartmentalized echo chambers that encourage their audiences to become equally compartmentalized.  Tucker Carlson’s recent attack on “feminism” is an example of a sound-bite pretending to stand for a wide and complex subject.

A good New Year’s resolution might be to acquire more of a 2020 vision, and think of alternative reasons for events described by your favorite news sources.

Merry Christmas – There, We Said It

ShepherdsJoy3b

This is Christmas Eve, when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is a time of joy and sharing. The joy comes from the birth of the long-awaited Messiah predicted in The Book of Isaiah 7.14. The sharing is a practice started by the Three Wise Men, who as told in Matthew 2:1-12, guided by a magnificent star reached the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Nicholas, a monk born around 280 AD in what is now modern-day Turkey, furthered the sharing tradition. He is said to have used his inherited wealth to help the poor and the sick. For his good deeds he became St. Nicholas, a patron of children. As time went by, his name, Sinter Klaas in Dutch, became Santa Clause.

Not to be forgotten are other traditions of joy and sharing. Burning the Yule Log is a Nordic tradition going back to the Middle Ages. And that tradition evolved from the Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice on December 21, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. To keep away bad spirits during the year’s longest night, and to observe the rebirth of the Sun, Druids lighted bonfires.

In the Southern Hemisphere, December 21 marks the Summer Solstice, and the longest day of the year. There is no snow or strong traditions associated with Santa Claus. In Spanish-speaking countries, children receive their presents on January 6, in remembrance of the day the Three Wise Men – also called the Three Kings or the Magi – reached the Baby Jesus.

Druids celebrated rebirth of the Sun on December 21, and 12 days after that, when the Sun was thought to stand still for that period of time. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25, and 12 days after that the arrival of the Three Wise Men.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah the Festival of Lights, or the Birth of Mithra the God of Light in Persian tradition, you are celebrating the triumph of Light over Darkness.

Of course, you need not celebrate any of these events at all to choose Light over Darkness, Joy over Hopelessness.  The choice is yours.

Ayn Rand Could Come in Handy Today

Pictured

Ford Motor Company: In 1914 Henry Ford acquiesced to his workers’ demand for $5 per hour ($128.67 in today’s dollars) as a result of rising competition in the automobile industry.

McDonalds Company: After a 5-year war against any proposal to raise the government-mandated minimum wage to $15, McDonalds and other large corporations gave up fighting. In the absence of real competition, businesses see no reason to raise wages significantly, and wait until forced to do so by government.

The Keynesian Zeitgeist

Anyone harboring expectations that the U.S. can be saved from the ultra-progressive interpretation of Keynesian economics must feel extremely disappointed. Spending, borrowing and regulating in good times and bad at all levels of government seem to be the majority’s solution to every economic challenge.

Why would the U.S. need eventual salvation from such “solutions?” Exuberance over high stock prices, low unemployment, and a decent GDP has masked since the end of the Great Recession vanishing private sector jobs and an unsustainable national debt.

Keynesian solutions discourage businesses and prop up consumer spending with various government-mandated benefits. To sustain such benefits there has to be very high levels of taxation. In the absence of taxation, public debt is the only other alternative.

Ah, but Keynesians say supply-side economics only serves to enrich the already rich. True, supply-side economics cannot benefit workers in a rigged, monopoly-dominated market where cronyism passes for capitalism. It is no wonder that the bulk of the increase in jobs in the last few years has been in low-paying and part-time jobs. No business competition means no good jobs. Even self-described free-market fiscal conservatives end up in the Keynesian camp when real competition vanishes.

Any Hope in Sight?

* How are the Two Great Decisions of the Past Decade Working For You?

Obamacare? Many people unable to obtain health care before Obamacare were pleased, but the many who saw their premiums double were not.

How about the Tax Cut and Jobs Act? The tax cuts were not accompanied by commensurate spending cuts, so the national debt continues to grow. Small businesses, which generate a lot of new jobs, got a tax cut that will expire in 2025 (6 years away). Large corporations got a permanent tax cut, but have not so far produced the jobs or innovation hoped for. The lack of substantial results is not surprising, since no business it its right mind would commit to significant increases in workforce or capital investment based on the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. Congress has been determined since 2016 to impeach President Donald Trump one way or another, and re-elections are never a certainty. Should the President be ousted, the next effort will surely be to repeal the tax cut.

*  2020 Presidential Candidates’ Spend-Borrow-Regulate Meter

Today, there are two major Republican challengers. William Weld is a former two-term Governor of Massachusetts and 2016 presidential candidate on the Libertarian ticket. Joe Walsh is a former one-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois and conservative talk show host. Both candidates talk in general terms about market innovation and fiscal responsibility. Weld’s most specific proposal is to substitute the current complicated tax system with a flat tax. Walsh speaks of advocating for a balanced budget amendment, free-markets, and a “sensible safety net.” Neither speaks of any radical measures necessary to bring down a $23 trillion national debt or end the cronyism that today produces substantial corporate bonuses but low worker wages.

The Democratic field is dwindling as expected, but there are 15 candidates still in. Although these candidates furiously argue with each other on the debate stage, their differences are of degree not substance. They all espouse the same core principle: let government provide all wants and desires by controlling and taxing pretty much everything in the economy. The seriousness of an unsustainable national debt does not seem to be a concern to the candidates.

The talking point voters mainly choose to hear is that Democratic candidates have plans to “eat the rich” to provide benefits for workers. Although that is not entirely the case, it is close enough. The working middle class will also be expected to chip in via such things as loss of stepped-up value on inherited homes (you will not keep a heck of a lot after you sell that San Francisco home your Grandma left you). Also, rich corporations are not the only one who will be required to follow new mandates such as a $15 Federal minimum wage. However, the candidates’ plan main thrust is indeed to tax corporations and wealthy individuals, implement more regulation on businesses, and redistribute wealth to workers and non-workers.

Let’s Talk About Ayn Rand

Fiction has a way of being ahead of life. In 1957 Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, which showed in detail how Big Government has a habit of generating policies that create problems and then attempting to fix those problems by generating more problematic policies. Take the minimum wage: government increases the minimum wage, the more vulnerable workers are laid off, government increases taxes on businesses to support safety-nets for vulnerable workers, businesses lay off more workers to keep their level of desired after-tax profits.

In 2009, the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece the author Stephen Moore called Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years. Note that the date of this op-ed falls during the Great Recession.

In a very brief WSJ video commentary, Stephen Moore talks about the article. He equates the economic downward spiral in Atlas Shrugged with the economic mess that was the period 2007-2009. Piles of regulations in Rand’s imaginary world obliterated innovation, strangled production, promoted inept cronyism, and brought down an entire economy. To Moore, those events looked like heaps of failing sub-prime loans encouraged by pools of mortgage backed securities mostly created by Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

As noted above, the economy is strong, but plagued by rising public debt and wealth inequality. Such ills are versions of things falling apart as envisioned by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged.

Shrugging Happens in Real Time

Today, we see outmigration of large businesses from high-tax high-regulation states to low-tax low-regulation states. Large businesses generally only migrate to costly states if taxpayers fork over billions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives. We have seen what happens when cost of labor increases beyond what businesses want to pay – they outsource to lower-cost countries.

In other words, when forced to carry more burden than they want to, businesses shrug. They leave. The employed are now unemployed. The good or service previously provided is gone.

There is no evidence that the Atlas of Greek mythology ever gave up and shrugged off the Heavenly Sphere he was ordered by Zeus to carry forever, but common sense would say that he probably eventually did.

Progressive Policies: How they Thrive

PromisesThe U.S. liberal strongholds exercise considerable influence over the nation’s attitudes and policies. The saying “As California goes, so goes the nation” suggests as much, and the popularity of high-profile progressives like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez boosts liberal solutions nationwide.

But There is a Sorry Scenario

Coexisting with the leadership scenario California enjoys is the state’s march toward being the first third world state in the county, given its overwhelming incidence of homelessness, drug addiction, and general quality of life decay. High taxes and high living costs add to the state’s list of ills.

New Yorkers do not fare much better in the quality of life scale, suffering from similar ills as California.

On August 29, 2019, Bloomberg News reported a substantial exodus of people from New York City, but noted that such exodus is also occurring in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), and Washington DC.

Forbes fills in some details,

These statistics make sense to anyone living in these places. The costly living expenses, crumbling infrastructure and high tax rates are a big problem for residents.

Odd Contradictions?  Not Really

It would seem odd that officials making policy decisions in cities and states that live with costly living expenses, crumbling infrastructure, and high tax rates would not at some point come to the conclusion that something is amiss, something is not working. The situation is odd perhaps, but totally understandable.

Voters who are fed up with the status quo in progressive strongholds leave, some that know they will benefit arrive and join those that stay in fighting for more of the same – more subsidies at greater levels of the income scale, more employment and pension benefits, more tenant protections, more drug addiction support, more leniency toward low-level crime.

They get more of the same, since a crucial job of an elected official is to ensure his livelihood by ensuring his re-election, and a vital job of a bureaucrat is to grow the bureaucracy in order to justify his employment.

Really quite simple.

Reformer District Attorneys: Know What You Are Voting For

Chesa Boudin speaking to reporters

An especially progressive district attorney was recently elected in San Francisco. Chesa Boudin received some national press, mostly focused on his radical-left parents and his pledge not to prosecute “quality of life” events like public urination and prostitution.

Although such information is important, also significant is for voters to be aware that Chesa Boudin is not an isolated example of committed progressive reformers being elected throughout the U.S. in the last five or so years. Moreover, a voter’s political persuasion – whether conservative or progressive – is not the issue. The issue is understanding the forces propelling progressive DAs into office and what these DAs represent.

The article published November 19, Reformer DAs – What’s So Bad About Public Urination? in a popular on-line news publication California Political News & Views briefly discusses the new wave of reformer DAs.

The article has a strong and heartfelt introduction by Steve Frank, committed conservative and publisher of CPN&V. The Just Vote No Blog hopes readers will take a few minutes to read the article as well as the introduction.

$15 Wage – We’re from the Government and Here to Help

Minimum wage

In July Congress passed legislation that gradually raises the minimum wage to reach $15 by 2025. Why would Congress feel the necessity to engage in the price control of wages? Since there are already probably as many answers to that question as there are wage earners, it will not hurt to add one more.

Say you sell soap, people love your product, and buy great quantities of it. You have the opportunity to raise your prices confident your sales will remain high. On the other hand, suppose you make a mediocre soap that people do not particularly like. You will be lucky to sell some of it at a low price.

Same with your abilities in the marketplace. If you are good at what you do and have abilities that are on demand, people will pay good money for your services. If you do not, you will be paid little, assuming someone will hire you. A mandate on how much people must pay for soap would be called price control. So would a mandate on how much people must pay for abilities.

Leaders resort to price controls when their jurisdictions lack a functioning market, either by misfortune, incompetence, or conscious choice. A functioning market encourages competition and efficiency from all participants – businesses and workers alike. Absent a functioning market, leaders must resort to ever increasing levels of interventions such as price controls.

Although the U.S. talks about a free market, it really does not have one. Leaders have slowly stifled it, starting in earnest with Roosevelt’s New Deal. Today, there is economic intervention in every nook and cranny of the economy. If some law or regulation is not mandating subsidized housing for those who cannot afford to live where they want to live, it is mandating subsidized electric cars to fight climate change.

As legislators spend more than they collect in taxes to ensure today’s equivalent of Herbert Hoover’s chicken in every pot and car in every garage, the national debt explodes, the Federal Reserve decimates interest rates so as to afford the servicing of the debt, and cheap money allows businesses to buy out competitors.

So now, with less competition, why would businesses worry about paying workers good wages? They don’t.

Meanwhile, the economy needs lots of purchasers of goods and services in order not to collapse. The solution is a mandated minimum wage, sometimes over and above what workers with inadequate or unneeded skills are worth.

So, there is a reason why Congress passed the $15 minimum wage.

Culture Wars Rage on Social Media

Scene from WC Movie

Pictured:  Scene from one of W.C. Fields’ immortal movies, You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man.  Well, you can’t fool voters who don’t want to be fooled either.  But…, read on.

Twitter Calls it Quits on Political Ads

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, made news on October 30th when he Twitted,

We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.

The ban, which will contain some exceptions, will take effect November 22. Guidelines will be published November 15, according to Jack Dorsey.

The Twitter Announcement is Big News

Banning political ads on any social media platform these days is not only big but huge.
Commercial TV viewing is not what it used to be. Cable networks do not need to abide by the same rules as do broadcast networks (requirements for equal time afforded to opposing views and prohibition of “censorship” do not apply to Cable political ads). A vast number of people obtain their “news” from social media platforms.

Advertisers, including political advertisers, are able to pitch their message to highly targeted audiences when advertising on social media. As everyone should know, targeted ads are the holy grail of all advertisers. A candidate for political office will search for targeted audiences as fiercely as will a seller of baby playpens.

These factors make social media platforms valuable assets in raising awareness for candidates, legislation, issues, and most importantly cultural trends.

The Cultural Initiative

In an earlier post on the Just Vote No Blog there was reference to Andrew Breitbart’s quote “Politics is downstream from culture.”

This is powerful stuff. Change the culture and political change will follow. Today the most likely place to change cultural trends is social media. Thus the battle for who determines the content of platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Of particular interest these days are the skirmishes over political “lies” on social media. Here are a couple of examples, not from Twitter, but from Facebook.

* Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, recently endured five hours of questioning during a Congressional hearing supposedly intended to discuss Facebook’s proposed alternative currency Libra.  However, not much of what transpired during the hearing had to do with Libra. The majority of Congressional comments zeroed in on Facebook’s policy regarding political ads, which supposedly does not call for fact checking such ads.

During the hearing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked Mr. Zuckerberg,

You announced recently that the official policy of Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020 elections and in the future. So I just want to know how far I can push this in the next year…

So, you won’t take down lies or you will take down lies? I think that’s just a pretty simple yes or no.

Once again during this interminable hearing, unable to respond with a “simple yes or no,” Zuckerberg found himself at a loss for words.

* Senator Elizabeth Warren engaged in a clever strategy with a Facebook campaign ad that ran on October 10.

If Trump tries to lie in a TV ad, most networks will refuse to air it. But Facebook just cashes Trump’s checks.

Since FCC rules prohibits “censorship” on broadcasting networks (not counting Cable), Warren came up with the brilliant fine print on the ad claiming that her campaign included purposefully incorrect information to test whether Facebook will post untruthful ads.

It should be an obvious question what Ocasio-Cortez and Warren consider lies to be. In politics facts and untruths are often interchangeable.

Given the quantity of political ads social media such as Facebook and Twitter receive, as well as the complexity of issues involved in such ads, it would be fair to ask how accurate, cost effective, and blow-back free fact checking all of them would be. For example, what would a fact checker do with a political ad that mentioned the “climate crisis?”

The word “lies” has joined the lexicon designed to change culture and chance politics. Point deficits in any candidate or legislation and run the risk of being branded a racist, a homophobe, a baby killer, a liar, or some other weaponized set of adjectives.

It is no wonder that Twitter decided to call it quits, at least for the moment, on political ads.

As an Aside

Here the discussion purposefully leaves out questions such as political benefits that might or might not accrue to shareholders of social media for supporting or not supporting political sides, and possible algorithmic or human decisions on the reach of unpaid posts. Those could perhaps constitute strategies as powerful as paid ads, but outside the purview of the present discussion.

Big Tech as Ideological Enforcer

Big Digital, also known as Big Tech, has joined Big Oil, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma in the pantheon of industries capable of exercising vast control over the lives of average people.

However, at present, Big Digital enjoys greater potential for control than do the other biggies. Big Digital, via the growing Internet of Things, is literally everywhere. One can do without a private automobile, refuse to smoke, or try alternative remedies when unwell. But living without some government entity or business requiring on-line interaction for some needed service is becoming increasingly difficult.

Baby monitor over child's cribActually, most consumers welcome the Internet of Things. Many cannot imagine living without a baby monitor over their child’s crib or going anywhere without their GPS navigation device. Many welcome the concept of smart cities, where everything and everybody is connected.  Cell phones are always at the ready to post one’s dining experience or one’s successful business endeavor.

Big Digital and Corporate Socialism

The assumption that Internet usage is universal combined with consumers’ love affair with digital gadgets translates into fertile ground for control. As in the case of imaginary worlds such as predicted in 1984 or of real worlds such as the former Soviet Union, the objective of control is ideological enforcement that benefits ruling entities.

Michael Rectenwald, retired New York University liberal studies professor and author, recently published The Google Archipelago, in which he discusses “corporate socialism.” One’s first intuition might be to reject such expression. Isn’t Google a big capitalist corporation, and doesn’t socialism hate capitalism? Not so, says professor Rectenwald.

An article in The Epoch Times, The Endgame of Big Tech Is Corporate Socialism, explains Michael Rectenwald’s view of corporate socialism, and how closely the objectives of monopolies align with the objectives of socialism.

Rectenwald acknowledges that Big Digital leaders genuinely believe in leftist politics. He points out, however, that many aspects of leftism align with practical corporate interests too, at least for companies with monopolistic ambitions.  The Endgame of Big Tech.

Three good examples of alignment:

* Open borders = free flow of labor
* Identity politics = market niches
* globalization = only one set of rules applied to corporations

Hardly a Free Marketplace of Ideas

If we accept the premise that Big Digital benefits from and thus espouses global socialism, then we need to also accept that Big Digital cannot be the free marketplace of ideas it purports to be. It needs to be a place where control maintains dogma. A free marketplace is where all goods, services and ideas are civilly exchanged without fear of banishment. Is that what today’s on-line or social-media experience offers?

Joseph Stalin made the landed Kulaks and other dissidents disappear. Although not by means as drastic as those of Stalin, one can also easily disappear at the hands of Big Digital by simply using the “wrong” pronoun.

A Just Vote No Blog Postscript

It is the prerogative of private companies to run their business as they wish within the legal framework in which they operate.  If a private company wishes to espouse the religious principles of its owner, fine.  If a company wishes to adopt progressive views, fine too.  The challenge for average consumers is the growing power of government-encouraged monopolies to control thought and action.

In the case of Big Tech, as controlling monopolistic growth becomes harder to camouflage, a new strategy is emerging, one that embraces control as beneficial to consumers.  This will be the subject of another Just Vote No Blog post.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Warnings From a Former Communist

Shen Yun

Report from the Trenches

On October 17, Meet Up Group Golden Gate Liberty Revolution hosted speaker June Gilliam, who shared her story with an audience of about 40 assorted conservatives, libertarians, skeptics, and ordinary seekers of truth. Ms. Gilliam called her presentation a Journey From Indoctrination To Awareness: From a Collectivist Mindset all the way to Conservatism, From Chinese Communist Patriotism to American Patriotism.

The presentation had much information about the nature of the Chinese Communist Party, repression of traditional culture and spiritual belief, pervasive indoctrination, and veiled cracks in the CCP’s economic edifice.

However, the main takeaway of the talk was a recommendation that members of the audience acquaint themselves with 4 items. Then spread the word about those items.

* Item 1: The Naked Communist, a book by Cleon Skousen (1958). Central to Skousen’s work are the 45 Communist Goals. A few of the goals might not entirely pass muster with libertarians, but some of the goals highlighted in the presentation are worth noting.

#15 Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
#17 Get control of the schools.
#20 Infiltrate the press.
#22 Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression.
#29 Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step.
#30 Discredit the American Founding Fathers.

Readers can place a check mark “Done!” after the goals they feel have been accomplished.

* Item 2: Shen Yun. The website of this splendid show lists the “9 Characteristics of Shen Yun.” The very first is Reclaiming a Lost Heritage. Heritage, culture, spiritual experience needs to be anathema to any form of tyrannical government. A people steeped in any of these three attributes will more likely fight against tyrannical encroachment into their practices. Beautiful art uplifts the soul whereas tyranny aims to squash it.

* Item 3: Falun Gong. This spiritual practice, unsurprisingly, is also banned in China, for the same reason Shen Yun is banned. Here is a brief description from their website.

Falun Gong is a Buddhist-based practice of meditation and moral living. Although introduced to the public in China in 1992, its roots extend back thousands of years. Tens of millions of people practice in China. Falun Gong is also practiced in over 90 countries around the world.

* Item 4:  The Epoch Times. This weekly publication is both print and digital. It is published in the U.S., but carries a National and a China section. From their website:

The Epoch Times was founded in the United States in the year 2000 in response to communist repression and censorship in China. Our founders, Chinese-Americans who themselves had fled communism, sought to create an independent media to bring the world uncensored and truthful information.

Note: Whether The Epoch Times is published by Falun Gong, is pro-Trump, is banned on social media, or suffers from all the other ills the mainstream media ascribes to it is irrelevant to this present discussion. What is relevant is that the publication contains stories not likely found elsewhere that readers can see and then dig for some more information if desired.

Truth is Available to Those Who Dig For It

June Gilliam’s presentation on October 17 was riveting. Her message is that the acknowledged objective of Communism is global infiltration. In her view the infiltration in the U.S. is pretty much widespread in the guise of progressivism, socialism, democratic-socialism, or green deals.

A Word About Golden Gate Liberty Revolution (GGLR)

This San Francisco-based Meetup that hosted this presentation on Chinese Communism has over 700 members. It started as the Ron Paul Meetup Group in 2008. In those days weekly meetings were packed with folks of all shades of the liberty movement focused on helping garner voter attention for then Texas U.S. Congress Member and Presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Today, the group meets monthly, the room is not packed. But the loyal liberty loving members, many going back to the days of Ron Paul precinct walks, do fill the room when from time to time GGLR presents a guest speaker. It has become an accepted fact that only quality speakers show up at GGLR.

Syrian Kurds: Stateless and Depending on Assad

Map of the Kurdish Region
The dotted area on this map is occupied by Kurds. Readers can find this map on the website “The Kurdish Project.”

President Donald Trump last week ordered the withdrawal of U.S. ground troops from Kurdish-occupied northern Syria. Immediately after, invectives rained upon the President’s head for suddenly leaving the Kurds, who helped the U.S. defeat ISIS, to fend for themselves against attack by Turkish troops.

The media is in a frenzy of Trump accusations. Both sides of the Congressional aisle stand united in rebuke of Trump. Vocal opponent of U.S. interventionism, Representative from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard, called the Turkish incursion into northern Syria genocide against the Kurds, and stated that because of “Trump’s failure to end the regime change war in Syria the Kurds are now paying the price.”

President Trump has a way of making his decisions seem impulsive, and he is in the habit of speaking loosely. No one should be comfortable with Turkish troops bombing Kurds, or with taking such a scenario lightly. However, it might be useful to review the other side of the current media narrative.

The Background

Trump was elected in part based on his campaign pledge to end forever wars. After assuming the presidency, Trump has on numerous occasions condemned U.S. foreign incursions, unless the underlying conflict involved clear and resolvable threats to U.S. specific interests abroad. Therefore, the withdrawal of ground troops from Syria should not have surprised anyone.

In December 2018, President Trump specifically said he would withdraw ground troops from Syria. He indicated that ISIS had been sufficiently defeated, and therefore, there was no further need for U.S. fighting in Syria.

ISIS perpetrated enough destruction that it needs to be viewed as a threat to orderly democratic social structures. In 2014, the newly-formed Coalition to Defeat ISIS consisted of 79 member countries, several of which engaged in actual military action against ISIS in the Middle East.  Thus, although the U.S. acted in a leadership position, the U.S. is not the only country responsible for ensuring against the resurgence of ISIS or assuring the safety of Kurds.  Russia is a member of the Coalition and also an ally of Syria.

A rough estimate of 18 million ethnic Kurds reside in Turkey, some of whom have militantly called for a separate Kurdish state for the last 10 years. Turkey has vehemently opposed Kurdish separatism, clamping down Kurdish language and culture inside Turkey. It should not be surprising that as soon as the opportunity arose, Turkish troops started bombing Syria in an effort to establish a buffer zone inside Syria to put distance between Turkey and Syrian Kurds.

Since 2011, millions of Syrians have fled the country’s civil war. Turkey accepted 3.6 million of the fleeing refugees. With the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Turkey wants to carve a “security zone” along the border on Syrian territory in which Syrian refugees can be resettled.  This zone would be in territory occupied by Kurds.

One of President Trump’s responses to criticism over the Syrian withdrawal is that the Kurds and the Turks have been fighting over Kurdish autonomy for a long time, so a new fight upon U.S. troop withdrawal would be nothing new. Indeed, the conflict can be said to date back to the end of World War I.

At the end of WWI, the victorious Allies partitioned the defeated Ottoman Empire into newly-created countries under the control of Britain, France and Italy. Several treaties ensued, but for the purpose of this discussion the last two treaties are the most significant. The Treaty of Sevres (August 1920) included the regions of Anatolia and Kurdistan, and no specific Turkish country. Soon after the signing, prominent Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk, began a fierce battle for Turkish independence. The new Treaty of Lausanne (July 1923) was ratified, Anatolia became independent Turkey, and the Kurds were left without their autonomous region.

Kurds Today

The region today sometimes unofficially referred to as Kurdistan is an area spanning parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey – the general region of Kurdistan under the Treaty of Sevres. Kurds are considered the largest stateless ethnic group in the world. They have some level of autonomy in Iraq, but little or none elsewhere.

Since 2011, the U.S. has been critical of Syria’s President Bashar Hafez al-Assad, accusing him of tyranny and use of chemical weapons. It is understandable that the U.S. military and officials hate to see Kurds in alliance with him, but alliance with Assad is what Kurds had to do, and did, in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal. Upon some thought, one should realize that Assad is protecting his own country by agreeing to fight the Turkish incursion.

Statelessness is painful, as Jews, Palestinians, Kurds, and so many other ethnic or religious groups now or formerly without a country can attest. Kurds are a capable people, and of course deserve a country of their own. The question is where. Meanwhile Kurds forcefully defend the territory they inhabit, anticipating that some day they will be able to establish meaningful autonomy for themselves.