Tag Archives: liberty

Why Calvin Coolidge

Why Calvin Coolidge?

CoolidgeThese days we certainly hear a lot about Lincoln, Roosevelt, Obama, Trump.  How about Coolidge?

“Silent Cal,” so named because he spoke only when it was absolutely necessary, is admired by small-government advocates and ignored by central planners.  In his address delivered to the Holy Name Society, Washington DC, 1924, Coolidge expressed the ultimate liberty-leaning rule:

Liberty is not collective, it is personal. All liberty is individual liberty.

It is your serfdom or liberty.  It is your choice.  It is your vote.  Your vote puts candidates, good or bad, into office.  Your vote determines the laws under which you live.

Your vote also determines your take-home pay, how much of what you earn is available to purchase and invest by yourself and your family.  Here is another favorite Coolidge quote from his 1925 inaugural address,

The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager.


Does Political Correctness Have Limits?

The Difference

There is a world of difference between civility and political correctness (PC).  Civility is thoughtful behavior towards everyone.  PC is prescribed, agenda-driven speech and action that applies to some but not to others.  Civility comes from the inside, while PC is prompted from the outside.

Increasingly, PC is taking the place of civility.  PC harshly censors our speech, actions, and even thoughts.  Dare to call for discipline in a classroom, and the label of “privileged” soon follows.  Dare to criticize the work of a self-identified-female employee, the label of “sexist” immediately arises.  Oh, and calling anyone female or male without the qualifying “self-identified” borders on the self destructive.

The Advocates

Advocates of PC say they want to level the playing field, promote equality of outcomes, compensate for privilege.  At first blush, such objectives might even sound laudable.  But the problem is political correctness does not recognize limits.

The Example

Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron (1961) paints a world towards which PC advocates might be takings us all, a world in which the new and improved American Constitution prescribes complete equality for all.

In Vonnegut’s dystopian world nobody can be smarter, more talented or prettier than the rest.  Laws force people to wear “handicaps,” such as masks for the beautiful, sound to disrupt thought for the intelligent, and bags filled with lead balls for the strong and/or agile.

Here is Vonnegut’s idea of a domestic dialogue in the age of complete fairness:

“You been so tired lately — kind of wore out,” said Hazel.  “If there were just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls.  Just a few.”

“Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out,” said George.  “I don’t call that a bargain.”…

“If I tried to get away with it,” said George, “then other people’d get away with it — and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else…”

The Consequences

And here is a concern related in an article on U.S. News.com about the downward trends of math and English scores as measured by college-readiness tests:

“Much more concerning, however, were readiness levels in math and English, which continued a downward slide dating to 2014.  This year [2018], math scores dropped to a 20-year low.”

“The news reignited concerns over whether there is a mismatch between what students learn in school and what college entrance exams ask of them, whether tests are an accurate barometer of college readiness, and — from an equity standpoint — whether the tests present an advantage to those with more means.”

Rich BoyHopefully colleges will not further waste parents and/or taxpayers’ money carrying out studies on whether “those with more means” have advantages over those without, since we all know that to be the case already.  Such advantages will always exist … that is unless legislators decide to really level the playing field by creating the position of “Handicapper General” as those in Kurt Vonnegut’s story did.


Looking for Free Education: Watch Hardfire TV

Hardfire TV 2

This is an interesting find, scholarly discussions on economics in lay-person’s language.  There are over 150 episodes on YouTube of Hardfire: Libertarian Issues in Focus, produced by Cameron Weber, PhD economics.

Dr. Weber is generally pleasantly soft spoken, which is a plus in today’s strident public dialogue. As the title of the show suggests, issues are discussed from a libertarian (versus collective or socialist) perspective.

Why is the Just Vote No Blog recommending this show? 

As a nation, we are in need of the basic education that allows us to competently fill out a resume, keep a financially sound household budget, point to where a country is located on a map, and assess the economic feasibility of what is proposed at the ballot box.  Some point to home schooling, charter schools, and on-line courses as a way for students to improve their chances of competing favorably in an increasingly complex job market.  Others point to free or low-cost life-long learning as a way for everybody to stay informed.

The trick is not only to find free or low cost instruction, but to avoid the echo-chamber trap of learning only what often agenda-driven groups prescribe.  One way to avoid this trap is to explore different sources of information.  It is good to listen to what Robert Reich (professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley and partial to Keynesian economics) has to say, but counter that with what Thomas Sowell (Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and partial to Chicago School economics) says.

Cameron Weber’s show represents instruction that is freely available as well as libertarian (free market) economics which today is less widespread than the liberal central planning.

An Example of a Hardfire Episode

On the segment of August 2, 2019, Dr. Weber discusses what at first glance borders on the heretical – Adam Smith, father of free market capitalism, called for non-market government intervention!  However, as Cameron Weber explains, this apparent contradiction is the result of Adam Smith’s discussion of two separate situations.

One situation describes economic relationships between individuals.  For example, you sell widgets and I know you for being an honest and knowledgeable maker of widgets, so I decide to buy widgets from you.  In this situation, the free market is the best judge of who are the most successful widget makers.  Adam Smith discussed this theme in one of his two principal books, The Theory of Modern Sentiment (1759).

The other situation regards not individuals but nations, thus the title of Smith’s other principal work, The Wealth of Nations.  Now, the free market must take second place to national wealth and security.  Any benefit that might accrue to individuals comes as a result of government-determined policies on manufacturing and trade that aim to make nations wealthy and secure.  Such policies according to Smith must include exceptions to the free market that protect 1) products used in national defense, and 2) infant industries.

From a libertarian viewpoint, the questions would be 1) are we really talking about national defense or imperialism, 2) do industry protections ever end once implemented, and 3) where does the line of protectionism end.

Sprinkled throughout this segment are explanations of mercantilism, social scores, analytic egalitarianism, and other interesting terms.

The Just Vote No Blog hopes you will enjoy this show and also watch a variety of points of views on economics, so much of it free of change on YouTube.

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body & mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.  Thomas Jefferson

Justin Amash Declared his Independence

Picture of Justin Amash

Fifth-term Congressman from Michigan Justin Amash declared his independence from partisan politics on July 4th. He made his announcement in an op-ed in the Washington Post, citing disenchantment with the present system and quoting George Washington’s warning regarding the detrimental influences of partisanship:

In recent years, though, I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.

Washington said of partisanship, in one of America’s most prescient addresses: “… It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection…”

Indeed, we can clearly see the results of partisanship gone amok in our current constantly-bickering leadership.

As one of the 63 members of Congress elected as a result of the Tea Party Movement and as Chairman of the House Liberty Caucus, Amash is considered a conservative-libertarian. Perhaps he proved to be more of a libertarian in the tradition of former Congressman from Texas Ron Paul than a conservative in the Tea Party mold. Thus, Amash is not only out of step with Democrats, but also with conservative Republicans. Notoriously, he is the only Republican at present to support the impeachment of Donald Trump.

A recent exchange between five GOP Representatives working on a deal to bring a missile defense site to Fort Custer in Michigan and Justin Amash might provide insight where Amash stands regarding the powerful military-industrial complex.

The GOP Representatives highlighted figures showing the missile defense site could have an estimated $3.2 billion in economic impact, including 300 direct jobs and 1,800 support jobs; and Amash replied that the Defense Department is not a jobs program.

“It appears that Congressman Amash’s consistent opposition to all defense spending bills over the years was too much for the Pentagon to accept,” the statement from the five other members of Congress read. “It did not help and now they selected New York for the new missile defense site.” 

Amash replied in a statement released Friday that “taxpayer dollars for defense should be used to boost American’s safety, not to boost politicians,” he said. “The Department of Defense is not a jobs program.”  The Battlecreek Enquirer, June 28, 2019.

Perhaps Justin Amash is not leaving a political party but joining a growing number of equally disaffected voters who have no party affiliation. For clarification, citizens do not need to belong to a political party to be able to vote.

A pair of Nike sneakers

Unaffiliated voters are voting with their feet. They are registering their disdain for the current dysfunctional, bickering, do-nothing-productive two-party system that reflects the divisiveness we see in the general public. When so much focus is placed on the design of some (over-priced) sneakers, we are all in trouble.

 

 

4th of July: Hotdogs But No History?

On Thursday, communities across these United States will celebrate 4th of July with hotdogs and fireworks, but all too often without much understanding of what the Founding Fathers aimed to create when they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Understanding requires objectivity, emotional stability, and perspective – all of which in short supply. Students do not study history objectively, people readily respond to sound bites and catchphrases, and single-minded views take the place of perspective of events. Thus, Thomas Jefferson has descended to the level of a mere slaveholder. Thus, schools call for the removal of statues and murals depicting our nation’s history. Once history is erased, there is no way to learn from it, or avoid repeating horrendous acts such as building an economy based on indentured servitude.

So, what is going on? Are voices calling Jefferson and Washington brigands uncovering ugly truths that need to be told, or do such voices represent another agenda?  Let’s compare what the Founding Fathers aimed to create vs. what today’s politicians want to do.

What the Founding Fathers Wanted

When leaders in the American Colonies decided to break with Great Britain, they were faced not only with a War of Revolution but also with a clean slate upon which to design a new nation. They did not wish another Britain or France, but a nation that embodied the ideals of individual liberty and self government. To do that, they needed to codify the ideas contained in documents that discussed such ideals. For example:  The Magna Carta (1215) spoke of curtailment of a King’s absolute power and of limited government.  In his Second Treatise on Government (1690), John Locke discussed natural rights that everyone is born with and the duty of government to protect those natural rights.

Revolutionaries like Thomas Paine (“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”) and Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty or give me death!”) are best known for the oratory that spread the word about Independence. George Washington led the War of Independence. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were the principal architects of the new nation. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. All these and many more placed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create a republic in which the individual was paramount, and government existed only to protect the natural rights of the people.

What Today’s Politicians Want

With few exceptions politicians today want unlimited government, an obedient populace that does not understand government is their servant not their master, and replacement of natural rights with civil rights.

But the words of those pesky Founding Fathers and that bothersome old U.S. Constitution are in the way. Give such politicians a chance and they will do away with just about every single word in the Constitution. However, since they feel that time has not yet come, best alternative is to crank out rules and laws that keep expanding the reach of government and malign those who called for limited government.

Have a Great 4th of July! Here is a Suggestion:

If you are having a 4th of July get together with family and friends, maybe take a moment to reflect on what you are celebrating.  If you want to frame your call for reflection with a topic du jour, pose the question: If you were a Founding Father creating a new nation out disparate colonies, how would you go about changing the structure of colonies whose economy was based on slave labor?

Would you visualize such an endeavor as challenging for the new Republic?  For example:  In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson condemned the importation of slaves into the colonies as an “abominable crime.” Delegates to the Continental Congress of 1776 removed that language and replaced it with ambiguous reference to “domestic insurrections” so as to ensure support for Independence from the Southern colonies. What would you have done instead?

Do you view individuals even possessing the best intentions to be fallible?  Do you see a comparison between the fallibility of today’s politicians who are unable to remedy tragedies such as homelessness and deaths from drug addiction with the fallibility of yesterday’s politicians who failed to end slavery in a rational and peaceful manner?

Enjoy your Independence Day!

patrick-henry-1775-granger

“Ballot Harvesting” in California

California is a one-party state. At present, that political party happens to be the Democrat Party. The party is so entrenched that its political views permeate all sectors of California living. The Just Vote No Blog is non-partisan, but liberty-leaning, and therefore categorically opposed to a political system dominated by only one set of views.

Liberty requires dialog, exchange of ideas, choices. Nothing resembling that exists in the Sunshine State. One way to change that status quo is for ordinary people to find the time, will, and courage to support alternative political parties, be they American Independent, Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, or Republican.

When a group – any group – becomes entrenched, too powerful, then bad things happen. People start feeling emboldened to take questionable action. One example of such scenario is “ballot harvesting.” Ballot harvesting occurs when individuals, often associated with political organizations, go door-to-door and offer to pick up absentee ballots from voters and deliver them to the county registrar of voters. Often seniors and the disabled are targeted. Sounds like a caring thing to do, right? The problem is that there is no chain of custody for the ballot that gets picked up. What proof is there that the ballot was indeed delivered to the registrar of voters? What proof is there that the voters’ voice was heard at all at the polls?

Fighting the actions of entrenched power one law suit at the time is sometimes the only way to regain a measure of liberty. The Just Vote No Blog recommends you read this article on The California Political Review, Need Help to End Absentee Ballot Harvesting, by Steve Frank, published on April 29, 2019. These folks happen to support the Republican Party, but perhaps other political parties might want to join in their effort.  Here is what needs to happen for this step in ending ballot harvesting to succeed according to Steve Frank:

In California the attorneys are looking for the following type of Plaintiff and situations, for a proposed lawsuit. We need the information as quickly as possible.

  • If you gave your ballot to someone who came to the door, was it counted? Check with your registrar of voters
  • Were you harassed the last thirty days of the November, 2018 by unknown people coming to your door, day after day, demanding your absentee ballot
  • Did you receive an absentee ballot when you did not ask for it?
  • Did you get the name of the person or organization that was sponsoring the door to door pick up of absentee ballots?
  • Did someone offer to help you finish filling out your ballot?

If you have experienced any of the situations listed above, please consider contacting Steve Frank at stephenfrank@sbcglobal.net.

ChooseLibertyAccepting California’s status quo in order to simply get on with our lives is fine, but perhaps we might consider going beyond that and choosing liberty.  Perhaps we might consider taking action to change the that status quo.

Loss of Liberty and Who is to Blame

Here is an article worth reading:

The State of the Union: These Are Dangerous Times, and the Government Is To Blame, by John W. Whitehead, published on the Rutherford Institute website on February 4, 2019.

The article is worth reading, especially if you still believe all is well with our nation. Sure, the economy looks good at present, we can still vote for candidates and laws of our choice, we still move relatively freely within our nation and in and out of our nation. However, there are areas of concern. The article in question lists a few of these concerns, such as,

* The tendency to consider all citizens suspect – guilty until proven innocent.

* Invasive strip searches, forceful drawing of blood, intimate probes.

* Militarization of our city police.

* A constitutional right to bear arms that applies to government officials only.

* Spying by government and commerce into private lives of citizens.

* Courts more interested in advancing government’s agenda than seeking justice.

The concerns are serious and the events listed above real. However, is the government to blame, as the title of the article indicates? The subtitle of the website on which the article appears is “It’s our job to make the government play by the rules of the constitution.”

That indeed is the job not only of The Rutherford Institute but of every voter and resident of this nation. If we the people choose to vote for candidates and laws that place security above liberty, we are to blame. If we obediently submit to walking without our shoes on airport floors, we are to blame. If we aid the surveillance state by choosing all manner of “smart” gadgets, we are to blame.

The list of sins we commit against ourselves by far outweigh those committed by government against us.  Government robs our liberties by our own consent.

Democracy - CopyAlexis de Tocqueville signaled how a nation descends into soft despotism in his book Democracy in America.  At the end of the devolution are a childlike populace and a “tutelary” government.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild …

Alexis de Tocqueville 1805-1859, Democracy in America