Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Gun control self defense pt 3

In my last post 'Gun control self defense pt 2' I explained how today's intellectuals use anti-concepts to deceive the public. Talking about the concept 'gun violence' I pointed out that:

"The method used to pull this off is as follows: the word 'violence' in 'gun violence' is not aimed at the listener's reasoning mind. It is aimed at his feelings. It is designed to evoke an emotional response on the order of "ewe" or "ugh" or "no" or "no I don't want violence in my life."

The hope is that these emotional responses will translate into an action favorable to the gun grabbers such as support for gun control laws and candidates. The tactic is to package a noun with a potentially evil or dangerous attribute of the noun while ignoring any life preserving attribute. With the designation of violence as a negative, unwanted attribute of guns, the positive attribute of guns--self defense--is removed from public discussion. Another concept that serves the same purpose is 'assault weapon' (next post)."
And so 'assault weapon' is another package deal designed to deceive. Like 'gun violence' it packages a noun 'gun' with an undesirable attribute 'assault', condemns both as evil under the newly packaged 'assault weapon.' With the designation of assault as a negative, unwanted attribute of guns, the positive, life preserving attribute of self defense by retaliation is removed from public discussion.

So 'assault', like 'violence' is aimed at the listener's feelings in hopes of triggering an emotion like "no" or "no I don't want to be assaulted so I should support more gun control."

We have to be on the lookout for package deals that combine nouns with certain attributes which are then condemned as evil. We have to ask the question are there any positive attributes being ignored here? If certain human activities can be a danger to human life, does that activity have any human benefits that are being evaded? These questions are not being asked in our media today.

The push for gun control depends on the public being unaware of the nature of principles and how they grow. For example, if the public can be convinced that some government gun control can make them safe, then logically, a little more control will make them safer and still further, complete government control (confiscation) will make them safest.

So if safer and safest are ideals to be achieved, then gun confiscation will be the ideal method of achievement given the original premise. But is the original premise right? Does government gun control make us safe?

I have a drivers license and had to take a written test to get it. Does that license make me a safe driver? No. Just about everyone in an accident has one. I also have a weapon in my house and took a class in safety. Does that mean I'm a safe gun owner?Of course not. What makes my gun ownership and driving safe are the decisions and attention to both I give them.

Gun control is a euphemism for people control. I will close repeating the fact that if you don't have a right to defend your life, then you don't have right to life and that is the  gun grabber's ultimate goal, your right to life in their hands not yours.

This concludes the thread on gun control self defense. I will of course continue to post on gun control in other contexts if the need arises.




 

Friday, July 08, 2016

Gun control self defense Pt 2

What is wrong with the concept 'gun violence'?

"Gun violence" is a concept used widely today by politicians and media pundits. But is it a valid concept? I think it could be in a proper context. Perhaps if one is talking about various kinds of violence like say weapons violence which could then be subdivided into club violence, sword violence, knife violence, gun violence, bomb violence and so on. But these terms are not in widespread use and that's because they are all redundancies. A redundancy is an unnecessary repetition.

And so it is with 'gun violence.' Like the other weapons, guns are violent things. They are intended to be. Because of its redundancy 'gun violence' has been criticized as an unnecessary, nonsensical concept. But as my favorite novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand once wrote: "But there's always a purpose in nonsense. Don't bother to examine a folly--ask yourself only what it accomplishes."* Let's do that.

If a savage gang is throwing stones or spears or arrows or bombs at you, you properly would want to have some of these to throw back at the attackers. Defensively hunkering down will only delay your demise. To defeat your enemy you'll need weapons to retaliate.

What I'm leading up to here is the principle that if life is a value to humans, then defending that life is a natural and morally right thing to do. We can see then that all weapons have two possible uses: they can be used to attack and destroy life or to defend and preserve life.

But what if one wanted to blur this distinction in the minds of the public?  One would have to put together a smear campaign. This is usually done with an anti-concept which is one where the valid meaning of a concept is replaced or smeared with an invalid meaning. This blurring I contend, is what the concept 'gun violence' is designed to accomplish.

The goal of the 'gun violence' concept is to obliterate the distinction between destroying life and defending life by packaging them together and condemning both as undesirable, unwanted even evil by the new designation of 'gun violence.' Violence is something that a civilized people don't want. Since people want to live in a peaceful society, 'violence' carries with it a negative connotation. It is this negative connotation that is to be elevated as the distinguishing characteristic of 'gun violence.'

The method used to pull this off is as follows: the word 'violence' in 'gun violence' is not aimed at the listener's reasoning mind. It is aimed at his feelings. It is designed to evoke an emotional response on the order of "ewe" or "ugh" or "no" or "no I don't want violence in my life."

The hope is that these emotional responses will translate into an action favorable to the gun grabbers such as support for gun control laws and candidates. The tactic is to package a noun with a potentially evil or dangerous attribute of the noun while ignoring any life preserving attribute. With the designation of violence as a negative, unwanted attribute of guns, the positive attribute of guns--self defense--is removed from public discussion. Another concept that serves the same purpose is 'assault weapon' (next post).

It is quite probable that the public having never been taught to examine their feelings, will never discover that it is their right of self defense that is being attacked. How can a person have a right to life if he is not allowed to defend it? He can't and won't. And that is the ultimate goal.

*(Ayn Rand quote from The Fountainhead pg 636 paperback)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Gun control self defense Pt 1: What's wrong with the concept gun control?

Calls for gun control have been in the news a lot since the San Bernardino and Orlando shootings. Most in the Democrat Party and some Republicans along with the mainstream media (MSN) have been assaulting the public to accept ever increasing gun controls, which of course will lead to eventual gun confiscation even though they promise it won't.

When did the government ever not expand a program once instituted? Well, gun restrictions already exist. They are trying to expand them. Gun confiscation is their goal. But this post is about looking at the techniques used by politicians and the media to frame the issue as if gun control by government equals good and private control equals bad.

So lets look at the phrase gun control first. The concept 'gun control' is based on the premise that guns are out of control. But when presented with that claim I like to ask whose control? This is when I usually discover that they mean everyone's control. They'll say government has allowed citizens to have guns but the citizens aren't controlling them responsibly so the government must step in with more controlling restrictions.

But they are not talking about controlling the guns of criminals. Whenever there is a shooting the automatic reaction of Democrats and the MSM is to call for the government to take the guns away from everyone who didn't do it. This is blaming all gun owners for the crimes of a few. Pure stereotyping.

This is the principle of preventive law and is always wrong politically and morally. It is the principle that citizens are to be presumed potentially guilty and must prove their innocence by jumping through regulatory hoops. This is a profoundly unAmerican principle. Contrary to the principle that citizens are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The only concern for government regarding guns is whether anyone's rights are being violated.

Gun control is a euphemism for people control. Ownership is the right of use and disposal and that is the essence of control. To remove control from citizens is to remove ownership from citizens violating their second Amendment rights. What kind of society do you have where only the government has guns? Dictatorship.

(Next, what's wrong with the concept 'gun violence'?)






Sunday, June 26, 2016

Gun control is about destroying the right to life.

The Friday 06/24/16 Detroit News carried an oped by economist Thomas Sowell titled "The gun control farce" in which he cites evidence that gun restrictions cause more crime not less. Here is one example:

"Conversely, in the United States the number of handguns in American homes more than doubled between 1973 and 1992, while the murder rate went down."

 He rightly points out the gun controllers routinely ignore this and other contrary evidence.

 In a short letter to the editor I pointed out that though Mr Sowell was correct, he did not go far enough. He should have challenged their alleged motives because to ignore evidence on such a massive scale gives the lie to their claim to be for public safety.

The real issue in most of these gun control debates is not the number of murders. The issue is do you have a right to life or not? It stands to reason if you don't have a right to defend your life you don't have a right to life. How can you have a right to something if you don't have the right to keep and defend it? You can't and won't. And that is the goal to be achieved, your right to life in their (government's) hands, not yours. It is the dream and goal of every bloody dictatorship that ever was.

So the point I want to make is not just that the left is ignoring the evidence but that they are ignoring the evidence because reducing murders is not their goal. It's just an excuse. Disarming Americans is the goal. The left doesn't care about how many people die by guns or any other means. They are using the technique of  NAZI propagandist Joseph Goebbels who said:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." (From the thinkexist web page)

That is why the truth of the evidence Mr Sowell, presents must be ignored, evaded and just plain blanked out. Now, it may be hard for some citizens to attach such sinister motives to the gun controllers based just on this oped. But Sowell provides some supporting evidence for this anti self defense mind set of the left.

   "In both England and the United States, those people most zealous for tighter gun control laws tend also to be most lenient toward criminals and most restrictive on police. The net result is that law-abiding citizens become more vulnerable when they are disarmed and criminals disobey gun control laws, as they disobey other laws."

This is true. We have seen this leniency towards criminals and bias against police for a long while now. But why? What motivates people to evade real facts on a large scale, to be against law enforcement of individual rights and favor criminals who violate them? Could it be that law enforcement's job of protecting peoples'  rights is based on the right to life?

Well, if you believe man does not or should not have an inalienable right to life, that his nature is malleable and he can be forcibly molded into any desired moral shape by the force of a benevolent, caring government, you will be motivated to adopt the above mentioned anti rights mind set.

It really doesn't matter the cause of their evasions, their goal is the destruction of the right to life. The desire for the destruction of the political right to life is the desire to destroy the moral right to life which can have no other result than the destruction of life itself.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Drowning in Guns?

 The June 18th Detroit Free Press editorial page editor Stephen Henderson is at it again calling for more control of guns in light of the Orlando killings. In this editorial he puts a slightly new twist on the standard leftist mantra that guns are to blame for killings. It's not guns as such but their widespread proliferation, their abundance.

"Why shouldn't we recast the Second Amendment to recognize more of a balance between the rights of gun owners and the victims of the massive proliferation of gun possession, legal and illegal, that has led to intolerable carnage?"

What does it mean to have a balance between the rights of gun owners and the victims of shootings (which he assumes is caused by gun abundance)? It would have to be some rights protection mixed with some rights violations. And what would that mixture look like? I shudder to think.

Regardless, the obvious goal here is to restrict gun ownership to some extent. That is a slippery slope down which we don't want to slide. The principle at work here is this: if some x (gun restrictions) is a good thing then logically will come the cry that more x will be a better thing. In other words the principle of restricting rights will grow by virtue of its own alleged merit whether that merit is true or false.

To put it more simply, to see some restrictions on gun ownership as good, is to see more restrictions as better and that will be followed by seeing total restrictions on all gun ownership as best. (Good, better, best. That's the way principles grow whether true or false). Then no one will have the right to defend themselves. And that dear reader is what happened in Orlando.

Not mentioned in the editorial is the fact that the Pulse club was reported in the news as a gun free zone. This means that the patrons were not allowed to protect themselves. I for one would never venture into an establishment that posted signs saying 'no guns' or 'gun free zone' unless I knew there were at least two armed security guards therein. Only one security guard is woefully inadequate.

But there is something more troubling going on here. To focus on inanimate matter like guns and their numbers as the editorial does, as having a causal influence on the killings, is to ignore the behavior of the killer and its causes. There is nothing morally good about such neglect. The question should be why did the killer feel the need to sacrifice those people for whatever he deemed to be his version of the good? Could it be he was a True Believer--about which Eric Hoffer once wrote--in the morality of sacrifice?

Those victims perished not because guns are so abundant, but because the protection of their right to life was not taken seriously. It is not the widespread proliferation of guns but rather, the war on guns by the gun control movement that's turning America into the modern day equivalent of the Wild West. The war on guns is a war on the right to life.

It stands to reason that if you don't have the right to defend your life, you don't have a right to life. And if that becomes America's new normal, the future will be worse than the old Wild West.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Government control, the uber value, Pt 4

In most of human history man has been ruled by kings, emperors and assorted thugs and rulers. Most of these had witch doctors at their side. The task of the witch doctors was to justify the antics of the ruler to the masses. Basically, the witch doctors' main role was to champion the ruler's rule as being in the serfs' interest. Nothing has changed in many millenia.

 The 6/12/16 Detroit Free Press's witch doctors (editorial page) are still trying to convince the emperors in charge (government) to annex (loot) the suburbs in order to make Detroit prosperous again. This time it is staff writer John Gallagher's editorial "Detroit is smaller than El Paso. Wait, What?"

Mr Gallagher correctly points out that metropolitan Detroit's population in 1950 stood at 3 million while today it is at just over 4 million. "All of that growth occurred in the suburbs, while Detroit bled itself to feed the sprawl" he said.

Now what does he mean by 'bled itself'? Did Detroit build the suburban roads, bridges, hospitals, schools? No it didn't. So he must mean that Detroit bled itself of people. But how did that happen? Aside from the 1967 riots, the urban renewal fiasco (dubbed urban removal), the insane war on drugs, a hostile attitude towards business as such, several decades of neglect by police and fire caused by corrupt city governments, it's really not surprising growth preferred the suburbs. In a rights respecting nation though, people are free to move into or out of cities. So how did western cities not bleed themselves of people?

"Using annexation, Sun Belt cities captured most of their post-war growth. Cities like Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and yes El Paso, gobbled up their expanding suburban regions and made them part of their city proper, capturing the growing population and tax base."

It may be true that western cities were able to annex suburban land and Detroit could not. But in my view, so what? If a city can no longer afford to provide services whether directly or by annexation, then the morally proper thing to do is to stop offering them. Why force the population to put up with substandard services? When a school loses enough students it is closed down. When a business no longer has a product or service the public wants, it goes out of business.

You can't force nonexistent students into schools. A business cannot force customers into its doors. Only government with its legal monopoly on force can foist a failing infrastructure on citizens and force those citizens to pay for it. And only such a government can legally limit competition.

There is no reason cities like Detroit can't do what families and corporations do when facts call for it, downsize. Detroit should actually get smaller. Sell off outer parts of the City to surrounding suburbs. Sell or auction off city services to private or nonprofit entities.

But nowhere in Mr Gallagher's oped is there a call for privatizing or downsizing of any kind. This tooth and nail resistance to taking the responsibility for providing so-called infrastructure is proof again that providing infrastructure is not the goal, government control of it, is.

But let's look at other places that put quality services ahead of government control. Sandy Springs, Georgia is a city next to Atlanta that was facing  bankruptcy a few years ago. It privatized all services except police, fire and some public schools. According to this Huffington Post article and 8 min video they have no long term debt. Since then 5 other nearby cities have adopted the Sandy Springs model. (I strongly urge Detroit and Flint city leaders to read this article and watch the video.)

In the summer of 2007 City Journal had a good article on "The New Privatization" about how more and more cities are making big bucks privatizing services.

I know Detroit and Flint are strong union cities and unions want nothing to do with any privatization. That will have to change eventually.

What has to be challenged today is the religious like devotion to the idea that government must be the one to provide infrastructure services instead of the market.




Thursday, June 02, 2016

Government control: the uber value, Pt 3

Following up on my last post regarding how the press and academia holds the value of government control over economic services to be higher than the general value of human betterment, I present part 3 of the thread, part 1 being "Flint Needs Privatization" and part 2 being "Government control, the uber value."


The Thursday, May 19th Detroit Free Press carried a news article by reporter Lori Higgens titled "Michigan's kids in free fall in reading." The article cites a report,

"[F]rom Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education research and policy organization based in Royal Oak. The organization analyzed more than a decade's worth of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress--of NAEP, a tough exam given to a representative sample of students in each state."
"In 2003, Michigan ranked 28th in fourth-grade reading. In 2015, the state was ranked 41st."
The article adds that Michigan also ranked 42nd in fourth-grade math, down from 27 in 2003. So it's not just reading but also math that has fallen. It doesn't take a scholar to see that if reading and math are lacking, the child will have a difficult time learning much of anything else. So what is the future prognosis?

"But Martin Ackley, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, expressed optimism that current efforts to change the trajectory will be successful."
"He said a current effort by the MDE and the state board of education to transform Michigan into a top 10 performing state in 10 years--coupled with Gov. Rick Snyder's creation of a 21st Century Education Commission--will identify the steps the state needs to take to turn around things."
Great! Just what Michigan education does not need, another bureaucracy! And when that fails another governmental group will be formed to investigate it. No, Snyder's new commission will fail too. The evidence for that failure can be seen in six of the 31 strategies the board of education is proposing? ( I don't believe there are 31 solutions to any problem in education. There is one major cure though, a rational curriculum.)

  1. "Parents, teachers and students should sign an agreement that outlines individual academic and personal goals for students."
Sounds nice but I don't think it can work. This is a good recipe for private, individual tutoring but I can't see how it would work in a classroom setting.

2. "The state should expand nursing, mental health services and health centers in schools."

No, expanding these things will not bring fourth grade reading and math scores up.
3  "Schools should be run more efficiently so more money goes into the classroom." 
Notice the concrete bound nature of this one. It's like saying 'schools doing a lousy job of financing should do a better one.' No kidding! Genius solution!

4."The state should ensure that all students have access to career and tech programs and postsecondary courses while in high school."

Again No! This is something that can happen after the fourth-grade reading and math scores are raised to acceptable levels.

5."The state should expand access to publicly funded early-childhood programs."

As far as I can tell, all public education is publicly funded. So the implication seems to be to avoid private early education. But why? Again, I don't see how early education will raise fourth grade scores since we've had early education for a while now. I say that because there is nothing in this article identifying the cause of fourth-grade failure. More on that in a bit.

6."The state should expand access to free adult education services and family advocacy support programs."

I feel like a broken record. This too misses the point of raising fourth-grade reading and math levels.

But notice what concept is missing here: curriculum. Totally ignored by these so-called educators is the recognition that it is curriculum that teaches. So if today's kids fail to read or do math at fourth-grade levels you would think anyone who cared about children would hasten to demand that the curriculum be examined with a fine toothed comb. But no one is doing that.

To focus on the curriculum would draw attention to the philosophy of modern education. People would discover its name, Progressive Education, its creator John Dewey and his purpose of ignoring the task of teaching students how to think i.e. concept formation. Instead Dewey wanted to replace 'mere learning' with socialization which is not about teaching Johnny how to get along with Tommy. It's actually about graduating uncritical, unthinking, obedient followers who will not question authority, especially government authority.

To make sure the public doesn't get wise to the anti-cognitive nature of the curriculum, government press releases and media reporters blame every failure on lack of standards, or proper tests, or lack of money or lack of access ad infinitum.

 If you look at those 6 proposals mentioned above, you'll see they are anchored with 'state should.' There is no mention or suggestion of removing education from the hands of the institute that has been failing for decades: government. So it is obvious on the face of it that the primary concern, the value to be defended at all costs is government control.

We are constantly told by our media and politicians how much they care about educating children. But what does it mean to care? My dictionary says to care is to have a troubled mind for or concern for someone or something. To be concerned then means to value something or someone, to have strong feelings for. But to value anything presupposes an answer to the question 'of value to whom and towards what goal'?

It has always been the case that parents care most about the goal of their children's education. Yes, teachers care too. Many of them love the art of teaching young minds. But it remains the parents who care the most. Parents usually take care to provide good food, clothing and shelter for their kids. If parents are dissatisfied with the food from one store or the clothing from another, they change providers. They are legally free to do so.

Such is not the case with public schools. Very little freedom of choice is available for parents. And such choice as does exist is resisted fiercely by public school bureaucrats. One has to wonder why? When charter schools are doing a somewhat better job of teaching, and private schools even better yet, how can the the tenacious resistance by the public bureaucrats be evidence of a concern for teaching?

Obviously the number one concern of government schools is continued government control. There can be a variety of reasons government control can be appealing to some people. It can be politicians seeing themselves as the great providers of knowledge, which they certainly are not. Or union leaders seeing enhanced income in dues from teachers. The more teachers in public unionized schools the better for them. There is the public that has been lied to by intellectuals claiming only the rich can afford private education, a blatant falsehood.

Regardless of the various reasons for government control of education, it remains true that the main goal of every government is to sustain and grow itself. The most efficient way to do this is to indoctrinate students with the idea that government--legalized force--is the solution to all problems including education, health care, roads, energy and virtually everything. No it isn't.

Government by its nature is unfit to control any market activity. In the face of all the failures mentioned above, the government's refusal to relinquish control of education proves it's the control that is the uber value to them, not education. Time is now to start moving public schools to the private sector.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Government Control, the uber value

Pursuant to my last post "Flint needs privatization" which is here, I want to focus on how the most important goal to be achieved by government is the continued existence and growth of that government i.e. the absolute iron clad requirement that government stay in control of economic activities no matter how much they hurt and destroy human life.

In that post I mentioned how despite all the suffering caused by government control of Flint's water supply, the media refuses to consider the prospect of changing the provider of that service from government to the private sector. To them, the government must stay in control. This is true regarding all the so-called 'core' services the government wants to control like roads, gas, electricity, education and so on.

The evidence for this is overwhelming. I plan to present more such evidence in the next several posts but for now I want to focus on an editorial in Thursday's May 5th Detroit News by editorial director Nolan Finley regarding the sorry state of public education in Detroit. The opening paragraph:
 "All lawmakers should be worrying about in terms of the Detroit Public Schools is how to extricate the state from this mess."
An excellent way to extricate the state is to remove it from controlling education in the first place. It is the students and parents that need to be extricated from public education via privatization. He continues:
 "The district can't be saved. No amount of oversight from Lansing will keep it on financial track or improve its academic performance. The state needs to admit defeat and get out of DPS as quickly as it can."
That the state needs to admit failure is certainly true. Not only in financing but in teaching as well. The students aren't learning much of anything. Academic performance in DPS has been abysmal. Mr. Finley adds:
 "DPS is a rotten enterprise that defies reform. Even under the watch of the state's EM, more than a dozen DPS principals got caught up in a bribery scheme and are now facing federal charges."
 Such corruption is systemic in any collaboration between learning and legalized force (government). There is no skin in the game for government controllers. They are not going to lose a lot of money for failing to teach your child how to think. A private company or even a nonprofit, guilty of such failure would lose tuition money and investor money. A private concern cannot force your child into its classrooms like government does. Bad teachers can be fired in a private school. They are protected by tenure and government sanctioned unions in government schools. What then is Mr Finley's proposed solution? He wants the state to write a check and payoff the DPS debt.

"So the state should orchestrate a clean exit. Let the citizens of Detroit elect a school board this fall, return management of the district to that board, and see if the district can balance the books and provide a decent education with the extra $1,200 per pupil freed up by the debt payoff."
Here he wants to return responsibility back the the same entity that failed so massively in the first place, the city DPS, but with these two fixes: 
 "The first is a strict limit of future borrowing. The school board should not be allowed to begin accumulating more debt the state will be stuck with in the future."
 When the state has the power of force and the citizens don't, who is going to enforce that strict limit? Is it realistic to expect any government to put a strict limit on itself? And how long would such a limit imposed by the state last when all DPS has to do is cry 'It's for the children" and the state controllers would drop to their bail outing knees?

          "The second is to preserve unfettered school choice."

On this Mr Finley is 100% right. He continues later:
"DPS advocates are desperate for legislation that will let a mayor-appointed commission decide which charter and traditional schools open and close. Charter operators are absolutely right that their schools will get the short end of that stick."
          And don't buy the oft-repeated canard that Detroit charters are no better than DPS  schools. Half the city's families choose charter schools for a reason: They work for their children."
I fully support Mr Finley's call for unfettered school choice. But unfettered would have to include completely privatized schools as well. He doesn't mention that. It seems then that Mr Finley holds the view that government control to some lesser extent as in charter schools must be maintained.

Look also at the above mentioned fact that DPS wants authority to decide closings of charter schools even though they are doing better that DPS schools. Despite the sad examples of failure so aptly described by Mr Finley and many others in the media, it should be obvious that there is one value that is not to be changed or even questioned: government control of education. Why? Why is government control of our children's minds, in the face of widespread incompetence, failure and corruption, still considered the highest value to be maintained?

The controllers at the DPS and state boards of education evidently see the slightly less controlled charters as a threat to their power lust. And THAT I contend is the main problem. The goal of public ed is not teaching Johnny how to think but rather to maintain control--the power of legalized force--over him. This push in academia and the press for government control over the people is the uber value not to be examined. It critically needs to be. Education needs to be the highest value, ownership second.

If a little more freedom of choice is good for education as in charter schools, then more, as in private schools, will be even better. I'm glad to see News' editorial director Nolan Finley taking a significant step in the right direction. Lets hope he takes more steps in that direction. Now, we just need Michigan's politicians in both parties to agree with him. Education is the uber value, not government ownership. Parents are the best judge of their kids' education, not bureaucrats in city hall or state capitals.






Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Flint needs privatization.

Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Sunday 1/31/16 Detroit Free Press writes about "Flint's long misery, at the hands of urban policy." Now the concept 'policy' usually refers to a set of rules or guidelines that a government or corporation uses to guide behavior towards achieving general or even specific goals. But the policy Mr Henderson refers to is not really a formal policy but rather the simple freedom that people have in order to live and work where they want to and the various forms of municipal government people select to live by. This last seems to be Mr Henderson's biggest problem - city governance.

But before he identifies the nature of this problem he cites Flint's sad history.

    "Just since 2000, the city has been on a painful, arduous slide--losing 25% of  its revenue from income and property taxes, 32% of the revenue sharing it gets from the state, 21% of its population and a staggering number of businesses and economic activity."

He points out more economic woes and admits that these

     "...followed the brutal years Flint spent watching General Motors pack its bags and walk away, leaving a jobless, isolated population to survive in a landscape bereft of economic stability or opportunity."

True enough and a common problem for many smaller cities and even bigger ones like Detroit. But notice how these problems are treated as the given, as if they had no causes. No mention of why GM left the city.
And now he gives us his view of the problems.

     "This is about cities themselves, and how Michigan's system of governing permits and even incentivizes the creation of poor, isolated urban centers that don't have enough population or resources to deliver services.
          This is about race and class, and the historic emphasis of suburban development on moving away from black and poor communities, stripping them of the tax base and other resources they need to survive."

Observe how this whole thing is framed as if it were a government designed , top down policy of governance. What else is the meaning of the phrase 'governing permits even incentivizes" citizens to move from the city to the suburbs? Evidently he would be in favor of restricting such freedom in some way. People generally move to the burbs to have a house with a yard, or to get away from the din of the city. Doesn't matter the reason. A just society guarantees such freedom.

So how does the government incentivize such suburban movement? By permitting the suburbs to have single family homes on a small lot and a picket fence? How would the policy makers de-incentivize that? The last sentence is revealing, "stripping them of the tax base and other resources they need to survive." People don't need tax bases to survive. Governments do. People need freedom. This is not about the survival of the citizens of Flint, but rather survival of its and the states' survival i.e. government control. Mr Henderson continues:

     "This is about broad policy questions we seem unable to even ask in earnest in the conversation about tax structure and cities.
     And it's about the frustrating ineffectiveness on both sides of the aisle, in leading any kind of re-think on urban policy."

'[T]he frustrating ineffectiveness on both sides of the aisle' is for sure. Neither political party wants to think outside the box of government providing everyone with their daily bread and water. (And when you leave that up to government, Flint is what you get.) One broad policy question the government and our intellectual pundits like Mr Henderson seem 'unable to even ask' is if you cannot afford to offer services then why keep trying to offer them?

When a family encounters hard economic times they cut back on the spending they normally do. Governments are not like that. They'll cut back on police and courts. They shouldn't. The provision of these is required by the Constitution. Politicians are loathe to cut back on economic services which are not required by the Constitution but which they use to get reelected (look what I did for you!). Again, survival of government control is the goal.

Mr Henderson goes on to talk about the richer suburbs surrounding Flint:

     "These communities have gotten stronger as Flint has gotten smaller and weaker--and because Michigan permits hyper-local governance, the separation among these communities, just miles apart, helps cement the poverty and isolation that have taken hold in Flint. Grand Blanc and Flushing, and the many other communities surrounding Flint, don't share tax bases, school districts, park systems or even water systems with the city."

Notice the new villain in town--hyper-local governance. This is of course referring to separate suburbs having their own governments, tax bases, school districts who are unwilling to share their money with the city.
He continues:

     "In other states Flushing and Grand Blanc might be mere neighborhoods under a government that oversaw the region; the relative wealth that keeps those communities stable would not be walled off from Flint."

Please understand the full meaning of this notion. Your right to move to a suburb with its own tax base and school districts and spend your money there is a form of injustice resulting in your money being  "walled off" from the urban city. It means that suburban governments must sacrifice some of their "relative wealth,"  because they have it. It must be given to Flint because they don't have it. This is an inverted political and moral principle. Creating and keeping wealth is to be punished. Destroying it, as has been done for decades in Flint, is to be rewarded.

What Flint, and all other cities, need is a massive dose of political and economic freedom. If a Flint citizen has a skill or talent that he could market, he should be free to hangout a shingle and go into business for himself and live or die by how well he makes his customers happy. But he can't today because he has to get numerous permissions from numerous government permission granters. This is contrary to America's founding principle that people are to be free by right and not by permission.

Mr Henderson concludes:

     "Most of all, it (inequalities between city and suburbs) would require us all to acknowledge the role of our beloved (!!) state, in our names, has played in creating the extreme inequalities that play out every day in cities like Flint.
     "If the tragedy in Flint isn't enough to spark reconsideration, on a large scale, I'm not sure what will be."

Unfortunately, it is not likely Mr Henderson or anyone on the Free Press editorial staff, will 'reconsider' the propriety of government controlling its citizens through regulations--instead of rights protecting laws. But it is critical that Flint residents learn from this. The things to be learned are:

1. Government can only be 'beloved' when it is strictly confined to protecting individual rights.

2. The proper function of government is "to protect these rights" to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not providing schools, health care, roads, bridges, golf courses or anything else.

3. Government has no skin in the game when regulating economic services like providing water, roads, schools, etc. Private corporations can be sued if they harm you. So can the government. But a private company will lose customers-and investors-meaning lots of money. The government will pay you not with their money but with you neighbors' money, and some of your own. Nobody in government will lose a fortune. Any bureaucratic wrong doing can be absolved with the magic words 'I care.'

4. Flint residents should put all such critical services on a free, unregulated market. Look at ipads, ipods, smart phones, tablets and such. Quality keeps going up and prices keep going down because the industry is less regulated than any other. Wouldn't you like to see that happen with water and other important services like schools, roads and so on?

It is now up to Flint citizens to reconsider its relationship to government.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Discrimination, an attack on judgement.

 I'm re-posting this from Sept. 2015. I meant to post it then but just discovered that I did not. Don't know how that happened. Anyway, it's about Dr Ben Carson being attacked in the press for discriminating against Muslims.



The Friday 9/25/15 print edition of the Detroit News carries an oped by Chicago Tribune writer Clarence Page titled "Muslim? What's so wrong with that?" About Ben Carson Mr Page says: "He has boldly called for religious discrimination against any Muslims who run for president." Page cites Carson's statement that "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that." Page goes on to point out that our Constitution requires that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust under the United States." True enough.

But Mr Carson is not guilty of religious discrimination. In fact he is properly discriminating against an ideology that is anti-American; Islam. There is of course nothing wrong with discriminating against or even for an ideology. I discriminate heavily for individualism, capitalism etc. We fought World War Two against two ideologies: Naziism in Germany and Shintoism in Japan. In fact, there is nothing wrong with discrimination as such. To discriminate means to discern differences and similarities. Nothing more. The only kind of discrimination that should be illegal is government discrimination for or against people all of whom are supposed to be equal before the law.

Mr Page however, treats Islam as if it were nothing more that another friendly, neighborhood religion. It is not. It is a complete philosophy and political system which is diametrically opposite that of the United States. Let's look at the differences in the five branches of philosophy as I see them.

1. Metaphysics, in Islam, the malevolent universe premise where misery and suffering are the norm and happiness the exception and can only be achieved in the next world with Allah. In America, the achievement of values and happiness are the norm while failures and suffering are the exception.

2. Epistemology, in Islam, faith is the main if not only form of knowledge. In America reason is the main and (and should be) the only means to knowledge.

3. Ethics, in Islam, the morality of sacrifice of all earthly pleasures to Allah. In America, the morality of rational self interest and respect of the life of others.

4. Politics, in Islam, a theocratic dictatorship which forces sacrifices on those unwilling to volunteer them. In America, Capitalism, a system of individual rights including property rights in which free trade is the main political virtue.

5. Aesthetics/art, in Islam, none. Since art is a concrete manifestation of human values, and since Islam is against human values, there is no art in Islam. In America, art is plentiful because Americans tend to celebrate the good that is in man's nature. Hero worship is big in America.

Islam has nothing in common with America. Mr. Page points to two Muslims in congress and how they are not bringing Sharia into America. So what? The president has a lot more power than congressmen and judging by how president Obama has been getting away with ignoring Congress and the Constitution, a bonafide Muslim would be worse than what we have now.

I suspect Mr Page being widely considered left leaning, doesn't want to miss a chance to  bash a popular Republican.

No, Dr Ben Carson is not a bigot but rather a loyal American who loves life. He wouldn't be a doctor if he didn't.