Isn’t It Strange?

From Walter E. Williams:

There is a letter titled “Isn’t It Strange?” making the rounds in email boxes. It asks questions to which our fellow Americans should know the answers, save for those caught up in modernity.

It starts off asking, “Isn’t it strange that after a bombing, everyone blames the bomber, his upbringing, his environment, his culture but … after a shooting, the problem is the gun?” In other words, after a shooting, it is the gun, an inanimate object, that is the culprit, but after a bombing, it is not the bomb that receives the blame but the evil individual. In both cases it is the evil individual who is to blame.

Ronald Reagan had it right when he said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

Speaking of guns, the letter has a 1950s photo of high school girls at an indoor shooting range. The photo caption states: “Back in the 1950s and even later, many high schools had shooting ranges. Students even brought their own rifles to school.” It asks, “What changed in society that we could trust such activities then, but not now?”

Youth involvement with guns has a long history. The 1911 second edition of the Boy Scout Handbook made qualification in NRA’s junior marksmanship program a prerequisite for obtaining a BSA merit badge in marksmanship. In 1918, the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. established its own Winchester Junior Rifle Corps. The program grew to 135,000 members by 1925. In New York City, high school gun clubs were started at Boys, Curtis, Commercial, Manual Training and Stuyvesant high schools. I would like to ask America’s anti-gun fanatics what accounts for today’s mayhem: Have guns become more evil or have people become more evil?

The letter contains several photos under the caption, “These men support your right to bear arms.” The photos are of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. Below it is the caption, “These men oppose it,” with photos of Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro, Josef Stalin, Idi Amin, Vladimir Lenin and Barack Obama. Then it asks, “Who do you trust?”

Later on in the letter, there is a statement asking us to rename government programs, saying, “Get it straight: Welfare, Food Stamps, WIC … are not entitlements. They are taxpayer-funded handouts, and shouldn’t be called entitlements. Social Security and Veterans Benefits are ‘Entitlements’ because the people receiving them are entitled to them. They were earned and paid for by the recipients.”

Then there is a warning: “No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off those who produced.” If one listens to the current debate and rhetoric of most politicians, both Democrats or Republicans, it is about expanding the class of Americans who live at the expense of other Americans, whether they are promising “free” education and medical care or forcing Americans to purchase products such as ethanol in order to enrich others.

John Wayne put it best, particularly for my colleagues in academia. “I’d like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living.”

Toward the letter’s end there is a statement that rings so true and beyond debate: “I vote Democratic, because I’m pro-choice … except on schools, guns, trade, health care, energy, smoking, union membership, light bulbs, plastic bags, Walmart, what kinds of food you can eat. …”

Finally, there is a most important message from our 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhower: “If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.”

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Quote of the Day

“Completely ignored in most discussions of slavery is the fact that slavery was mankind’s standard fare throughout history. Centuries before blacks were enslaved Europeans were enslaved. The word slavery comes from Slavs, referring to the Slavic people, who were early slaves. What distinguishes the West, namely Britain and the U.S., from other nations are the extraordinary measures they took to abolish slavery.”

Walter E. Williams

Micro-Totalitarianism

From Walter E. Williams:

George Orwell said, “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.” If one wants to discover the truth of Orwell’s statement, he need only step upon most college campuses.

Faculty leaders of the University of California consider certain statements racism and feel they should not be used in class. They call it micro-aggression. To them, micro-aggressive racist statements are: “America is the land of opportunity.” That is seen as perpetuating the myth of meritocracy. “There is only one race, the human race.” Such a statement is seen as denying the individual as a racial/cultural being. “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” That’s “racist” because it gives the impression that “people of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.”

These expressions don’t exhaust the list of micro-aggressions. Other seemingly innocuous statements deemed unacceptable are: “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough,” “When I look at you, I don’t see color,” or “Affirmative action is racist.” Perhaps worst of all is, “Where are you from or where were you born?” For more of this, see a document released by The College Fix titled “Diversity in the Classroom,” UCLA Diversity and Faculty Development.

This micro-aggression nonsense, called micro-totalitarianism by my colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell (http://tinyurl.com/nxulxc), is nothing less than an attack on free speech. From the Nazis to the Stalinists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, and why is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control and confiscation. Free speech is a basic tool for indoctrination, propagandizing, proselytization. Once the leftists gain control, as they have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses.

Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, writes about the campus attack on free speech and different ideas in his article titled “Obama Unleashes the Left: How the government created a federal hunting license for the far left.” He says that in the Harvard Crimson, an undergraduate columnist wrote: “Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice. When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.” The student was calling for the suppression of the research of conservative Harvard government professor Harvey Mansfield.

Oberlin College proposed that its teachers be aware of politically controversial topics such as “racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, capitalism and other issues of privilege and oppression.” The presumption that students must be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual.

Last year Vassar College faculty and students held a meeting to discuss the school’s movement to boycott Israel. Before the meeting, an English professor announced the dialogue would “not be guided by cardboard notions of civility.” That professor’s vision differs little from Adolf Hitler’s brown-shirted thugs of the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party in their effort to crush dissent.

Azusa Pacific University “postponed” a speech by political scientist Charles Murray to avoid “hurting our faculty and students of color.” Brandeis University officials rescinded their invitation to Somali writer and American Enterprise Institute scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose criticisms of radical Islam were said to have violated the school’s “core values.” Brandeis officials claimed that allowing her to speak would be hurtful to Muslim students.

Western values of liberty are under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America. These people want to replace personal liberty with government control; they want to replace equality before the law with entitlement. As such, they pose a far greater threat to our way of life than any terrorist organization or rogue nation. Leftist ideas are a cancer on our society. Ironically, we not only are timid in response, but also nourish those ideas with our tax dollars and charitable donations.

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It’s About Control

My father-in-law, born and raised in Communist Romania, always said that everything done by the Communists — while ostensibly for the people — was ultimately about control of the people. Walter Williams shows how the Communists’ ideological brethren here are doing the same:

Some statements and arguments are so asinine that you’d have to be an academic or a leftist to take them seriously. Take the accusation that Republicans and conservatives are conducting a war on women. Does that mean they’re waging war on their daughters, wives, mothers and other female members of their families? If so, do they abide by the Geneva Conventions’ bans on torture, or do they engage in enhanced interrogation and intimidation methods, such as waterboarding, with female family members? You might say that leftists don’t mean actual war. Then why do they say it?

What would you think of a white conservative mayor’s trying to defund charter schools where blacks are succeeding? While most of New York’s black students could not pass a citywide math proficiency exam, there was a charter school where 82 percent of its students passed. New York’s left-wing mayor, Bill de Blasio, is trying to shut it down, and so far, I’ve heard not one peep from the Big Apple’s civil rights hustlers, including Al Sharpton and Charles Rangel. According to columnist Thomas Sowell, the attack on successful charter schools is happening in other cities, too (http://tinyurl.com/nxulxc).

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently stated that we must revisit the laws that ban convicted felons from voting. Why? According to a recent study by two professors, Marc Meredith of the University of Pennsylvania and Michael Morse of Stanford, published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (http://tinyurl.com/pgolu8x), three-fourths of America’s convicted murderers, rapists and thieves are Democrats. Many states restrict felons from voting; however, there’s a movement afoot to eliminate any restriction on their voting. If successful, we might see Democratic candidates campaigning in prisons, seeking the support of some of America’s worst people.

Decades ago, I warned my fellow Americans that the tobacco zealots’ agenda was not about the supposed health hazards of secondhand smoke. It was really about control. The fact that tobacco smoke is unpleasant gained them the support of most Americans. By the way, to reach its secondhand smoke conclusions, the Environmental Protection Agency employed statistical techniques that were grossly dishonest. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to ask a Food and Drug Administration official whether his agency would accept pharmaceutical companies using similar statistical techniques in their drug approval procedures. He just looked at me.

Seeing as Americans are timid and compliant, why not dictate other aspects of our lives — such as the size of soda we may buy, as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried in New York? Former U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman John Webster said: “Right now, this anti-obesity campaign is in its infancy. … We want to turn people around and give them assistance in eating nutritious foods.” The city of Calabasas, Calif., adopted an ordinance that bans smoking in virtually all outdoor areas. The stated justification is not the desire to fight against secondhand smoke but the desire to protect children from bad influences — seeing adults smoking. Most Americans don’t know that years ago, if someone tried to stop a person from smoking on a beach or sidewalk or buying a 16-ounce cup of soda or tried to throw away his kid’s homemade lunch, it might have led to a severe beating. On a very famous radio talk show, I suggested to an anti-obesity busybody who was calling for laws to restrict restaurants’ serving sizes that he not be a coward and rely on government. He should just come up, I told him, and take the food he thought I shouldn’t have from my plate.

The late H.L. Mencken’s description of health care professionals in his day is just as appropriate today: “A certain section of medical opinion, in late years, has succumbed to the messianic delusion. Its spokesmen are not content to deal with the patients who come to them for advice; they conceive it to be their duty to force their advice upon everyone, including especially those who don’t want it. That duty is purely imaginary. It is born of vanity, not of public spirit. The impulse behind it is not altruism, but a mere yearning to run things.”

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Dependency in America

Walter E. Williams shows us how the Left’s war on poverty is really a war on self-sufficiency:

There is no material poverty in the U.S. Here are a few facts about people whom the Census Bureau labels as poor. Dr. Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, in their study “Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor” (http://tinyurl.com/448flj8), report that 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning; nearly three-quarters have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more. Two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half have one or more computers. Forty-two percent own their homes. Poor Americans have more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the U.K. What we have in our nation are dependency and poverty of the spirit, with people making unwise choices and leading pathological lives aided and abetted by the welfare state.

The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 35 percent and among whites at 13 percent. The illegitimacy rate among blacks is 72 percent, and among whites it’s 30 percent. A statistic that one doesn’t hear much about is that the poverty rate among black married families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8 percent. For married white families, it’s 5 percent. Now the politically incorrect questions: Whose fault is it to have children without the benefit of marriage and risk a life of dependency? Do people have free will, or are they governed by instincts?

There may be some pinhead sociologists who blame the weak black family structure on racial discrimination. But why was the black illegitimacy rate only 14 percent in 1940, and why, as Dr. Thomas Sowell reports, do we find that census data “going back a hundred years, when blacks were just one generation out of slavery … showed that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults. This fact remained true in every census from 1890 to 1940”? Is anyone willing to advance the argument that the reason the illegitimacy rate among blacks was lower and marriage rates higher in earlier periods was there was less racial discrimination and greater opportunity?

No one can blame a person if he starts out in life poor, because how one starts out is not his fault. If he stays poor, he is to blame because it is his fault. Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior. It turns out that a married couple, each earning the minimum wage, would earn an annual combined income of $30,000. The Census Bureau poverty line for a family of two is $15,500, and for a family of four, it’s $23,000. By the way, no adult who starts out earning the minimum wage does so for very long.

Since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty, the nation has spent about $18 trillion at the federal, state and local levels of government on programs justified by the “need” to deal with some aspect of poverty. In a column of mine in 1995, I pointed out that at that time, the nation had spent $5.4 trillion on the War on Poverty, and with that princely sum, “you could purchase every U.S. factory, all manufacturing equipment, and every office building. With what’s left over, one could buy every airline, trucking company and our commercial maritime fleet. If you’re still in the shopping mood, you could also buy every television, radio and power company, plus every retail and wholesale store in the entire nation” (http://tinyurl.com/kmhy6es). Today’s total of $18 trillion spent on poverty means you could purchase everything produced in our country each year and then some.

There’s very little guts in the political arena to address the basic causes of poverty. To do so risks being labeled as racist, sexist, uncaring and insensitive. That means today’s dependency is likely to become permanent.

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Divorce the Left

From Walter E. Williams:

Here’s a question that I’ve asked in the past that needs to be revisited. Unless one wishes to obfuscate, it has a simple yes or no answer. If one group of people prefers strong government control and management of people’s lives while another group prefers liberty and desires to be left alone, should they be required to enter into conflict with one another and risk bloodshed and loss of life in order to impose their preferences on the other group? Yes or no. My answer is no; they should be able to peaceably part company and go their separate ways.

The problem our nation faces is very much like a marriage in which one partner has an established pattern of ignoring and breaking the marital vows. Moreover, the offending partner has no intention to mend his ways. Of course, the marriage can remain intact while one party tries to impose his will on the other and engages in the deviousness of one-upsmanship and retaliation. Rather than domination or submission by one party, or domestic violence, a more peaceable alternative is separation.

I believe our nation is at a point where there are enough irreconcilable differences between those Americans who want to control other Americans and those Americans who want to be left alone that separation is the only peaceable alternative. Just as in a marriage where vows are broken, our rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been grossly violated by a government instituted to protect them. These constitutional violations have increased independent of whether there’s been a Democrat-controlled Washington or a Republican-controlled Washington.

There is no evidence that Americans who are responsible for and support constitutional abrogation have any intention of mending their ways. You say, “Williams, what do you mean by constitutional abrogation?” Let’s look at the magnitude of the violations.

Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution lists the activities for which Congress is authorized to tax and spend. Nowhere on that list is there authority for Congress to tax and spend for: Medicare, Social Security, public education, farm subsidies, bank and business bailouts, food stamps and thousands of other activities that account for roughly two-thirds of the federal budget. Neither is there authority for congressional mandates to citizens about what type of health insurance they must purchase, how states and people may use their land, the speed at which they can drive, whether a library has wheelchair ramps, and the gallons of water used per toilet flush. The list of congressional violations of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution is virtually without end. Our derelict Supreme Court has given Congress sanction to do just about anything for which they can muster a majority vote.

James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, explained in Federalist Paper No. 45: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.” Our founder’s constitutional vision of limited federal government has been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Americans have several options. We can like sheep submit to those who have contempt for liberty and our Constitution. We can resist, fight and risk bloodshed and death in an attempt to force America’s tyrants to respect our liberties and Constitution. A superior alternative is to find a way to peaceably separate into states whose citizens respect liberty and the Constitution. My personal preference is a restoration of the constitutional values of limited government that made us a great nation.

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Manufacturing Growth

From Walter E. Williams:

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 2011 manufacturing output grew by 11 percent, to nearly $5 trillion. Were our manufacturing sector considered a nation with its own gross domestic product, it would be the world’s fourth-richest economy. Manufacturing productivity has doubled since 1987, and manufacturing output has risen by one-half. However, over the past two decades, manufacturing employment has fallen about 25 percent. For some people, that means our manufacturing sector is sick. By that criterion, our agriculture sector shares that “sickness,” only worse and for a longer duration.

In 1790, 90 percent of Americans did agricultural work. Agriculture is now in “shambles” because only 2 percent of Americans have farm jobs. In 1970, the telecommunications industry employed 421,000 well-paid switchboard operators. Today “disaster” has hit the telecommunications industry, because there are fewer than 20,000 operators. That’s a 95 percent job loss. The spectacular advances that have raised productivity in the telecommunications industry have made it possible for fewer operators to handle tens of billions of calls at a tiny fraction of the 1970 cost.

For the most part, rising worker productivity and advances in technology are the primary causes of reduced employment and higher output in the manufacturing, agriculture and telecommunications industries. My question is whether Congress should outlaw these productivity gains in the name of job creation. It would be easy. Just get rid of those John Deere harvesting machines that do in a day what used to take a thousand men a week, outlaw the robots and automation that eliminated many manufacturing jobs and bring back manually operated PBX telephone switchboards. By the way, if technological advances had not eliminated millions of jobs, where in the world would we have gotten the workers to produce all those goods and services that we now enjoy that weren’t even thought of decades ago? The bottom line is that the health of an industry is measured by its output, not by the number of people it employs.

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