The St. Croix Review speaks for middle America, and brings you essays from patriotic Americans.
Our Mission Is to Reawaken the Genuine America Spirit . . .Abraham Lincoln, Part I
Abraham Lincoln, American Statesmen Series, XXV, by John T. Morse, Jr., Editor. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., copyright, 1893 and 1899.
John Hay, American Statesmen, Second Series, V, by William Roscoe Thayer. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., copyright 1915.
Our mission, "To Reawaken the Genuine American Spirit," is the promotion of wholesome ideals and principles. The St. Croix Review measures the American "spirit" from the best we have produced as a people, so that we may take pride in our accomplishments, gather our energy, and work to better ourselves.
America has gone astray. We are encumbered with too many small-minded, self-serving politicians. The American people are lacking good direction, are confused, adrift, and yearning for effective leadership. We are tired of being scolded about our supposed disreputable history by the Obama administration - the people who are the last ones we should listen to on the subject of ethics.
We are bereft of admirable and benevolent public figures throughout much of our culture. We need inspiration, and so this essay is about Abraham Lincoln: May he be an example of the excellence Americans are capable of. By the way, there is a wonderful portrait of Lincoln on each of the new five-dollar bills.
The histories cited above were written more than 100 years ago - there is no taint of political correctness in them. The writers were patriotic. Their use of the English language is skillful - they are a pleasure to read. Their sources were often eyewitnesses to events. John Hay, the subject of the second book, was a personal secretary to Abraham Lincoln throughout the Civil War up to Lincoln's assassination.
My purpose is to present a sense, by no means complete, of Lincoln's character and time. His elevated nature is astounding in consideration of his harsh beginnings in life: from where did the nobility come? I will quote the historians at length so that readers may know the eloquence of our American predecessors. These wonderful historians will carry the story of Abraham Lincoln.
John Morse comments on the rare qualities Lincoln had as a leader, and the miracle of his timely appearance:
The manner in which he controlled without commanding, his rare combination of confidence in his own judgment with entire absence of self-assertion, his instinctive appreciation of the meaning and bearing of facts, his capacity to recognize the precise time until which action should be postponed and then to know that action must be taken, suggesting the idea of prescience, his long-suffering and tolerance towards impolitic, obstructive, or over-rash individuals, his marvelous gift of keeping in touch with the people, form a group of qualities which, united in the President of the United States at that mortal juncture, are as strong evidence as anything which this generation has seen to corroborate a faith in an overruling Providence.
Concerning Lincoln's upbringing Morse writes:
The domestic surroundings amid which the babe came into life were wretched in the extreme. . . . Rough, coarse, low, ignorant, and poverty-stricken surroundings were about the child. . . . The father [Thomas Lincoln] was by calling a carpenter, but not good at his trade, a shiftless migratory squatter by invincible tendency, and a very ignorant man, for a long while able only to form the letters which made his signature. . . . He rested not much above the very bottom of existence in pioneer settlements, apparently without capacity or desire to do better.
It's marvelous how Lincoln was able to rise so successfully above his upbringing, and it's a sad commentary on our day - with our accumulated and shared wealth, and comfortable circumstances - that so many modern Americans don't develop themselves. Morse writes:
The opportunities for education were scant enough in that day and place. In his childhood in Kentucky Abraham got a few weeks with one teacher, and then a few weeks with another. Later, in Indiana, he studied a few months, in a scattered way. Probably he had instruction at home, for the sum of all the schooling which he had in his whole life was hardly one year. . . . The books which he saw were few, but a little later he laid hands upon them all and read and re-read them till he must have absorbed all their strong juice into his own nature. Nicolay and Hay [Lincoln's White House secretaries] give the list: The Bible; Aesop's Fables; Robinson Crusoe; The Pilgrim's Progress; a history of the United States; Weems' Washington. He was doubtless much older when he devoured the revised Statutes of Indiana in the office of the town constable. Dr. Holland adds lives of Henry Clay and Franklin, and Ramsay's Washington, and Arnold names Shakespeare and Burns.
Morse writes of Lincoln's emerging native talents and his occupations:
. . . already Lincoln was regarded as a witty fellow, a rare mimic, and a teller of jokes and stories; and therefore was the champion of the fields and the favorite of all the primitive social gatherings. This sort of life and popularity had its perils for in that day and region men seldom met without drinking together; but all authorities are agreed that Lincoln, while the greatest talker was the smallest drinker. . . .
The stories told of his physical strength rival those which decorate the memory of Hercules. Others, which show his kindly and humane nature, are more valuable. Any or all of these may or may not be true. . . . Lincoln's daily life, he himself, at the time, could hardly have seen much that was romantic or poetical in the routine of ill-paid labor and hard living. Until he came of age his "time" belonged to his father, who let him out to the neighbors for any job that offered, making him a man-of-all-work, without-doors and within. . . . Sometimes he slaughtered hogs, at thirty-one cents a day; and in this "rough work" he was esteemed efficient. . . .
At first Abraham's coming of age made no especial change in his condition; he continued to find such jobs as he could, as an example of which is mentioned his bargain with Mrs. Nancy Miller "to split four hundred rails for every yard of brown jeans dyed with white walnut bark that would be necessary to make him a pair of trousers."
Fighting was a common pastime, and when these rough fellows fought, they fought like savages; Lincoln's father bit off his adversary's nose in a fight, and a cousin lost the same feature in the same way; the "gouging" of eyes was a legitimate resource. The necessity of fighting might at any moment come to any one; even the combination of a peaceable disposition with formidable strength did not save Lincoln from numerous personal affrays, of which many are remembered, and not improbably many more have been forgotten.
Morse identifies a defining quality of Abraham Lincoln's character:
His chief trait all his life long was honesty of all kinds and in all things; not only commonplace, material honesty in dealings, but honesty in language, in purpose, in thought; honesty of mind, so that he could never even practice the most tempting of all deceits, a deceit against himself. This pervasive honesty was the trait of his identity, which stayed with him from beginning to end, when other traits seemed to be changing, appearing or disappearing, and bewildering the observer of his career. All the while the universal honesty was there.
Morse describes the political gatherings on the frontier, and the part Lincoln played:
. . . The canvass  was conducted after the usual fashion, with stump-speaking, fighting, drinking. Western voters especially fancied the joint debate between rivals, and on such exciting occasions were apt to come to the arbitrament of fists and knives. But it is pleasant to hear that Lincoln calmed rather than excited such affrays, and that once, when Ninian W. Edwards climbed upon a table and screamed at his opponent the lie direct, Lincoln replied by "so fair a speech" that it quelled the discord. Henceforward he practiced a calm, carefully-weighted, dispassionate style in presenting facts and arguments. Even if he cultivated it from appreciation of its efficiency, at least his skill in it was due to the fact that it was congenial to his nature, and that his mind worked instinctively along these lines. His mental constitution, his way of thinking, were so honest that he always seemed to be a man sincerely engaged in seeking the truth, and who, when he believed that he had found it, would tell it precisely as he saw it, and tell it all. This was the distinguishing trait or habit which differentiates Lincoln from too many other political speakers and writers in the country.
William R. Thayer, in John Hay, American Statesmen, describes Lincoln during his debates with Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas in 1858:
Eloquence still meant to them [the people of the time] the Olympian dignity, and the deep, sonorous voice of Daniel Webster, and the tidal ebb and flow of his periods, and the polish of his diction; or it meant the forceful declamation of [John] Calhoun, or Wendell Phillips' invectives gleaming like bayonets in the sun. Lincoln differed from all these. He had neither Webster's imperial presence, nor the rich, supple voice, nor the polished diction and gestures of the model orator. He breathed no echo of Burke or Chatham, no reminder of Cicero or Demosthenes. He was plain Abraham Lincoln, addressing crowds in the prairie towns as naturally as he would have talked to them one by one on his front porch. He had a power rarer than intellectual keenness or the zealot's fervor, or than intoxicating eloquence - the power to penetrate to fundamental principles. He saw the simple bases on which slavery and abolition, union and secession, finally rested; and in every debate he quickly stripped away confusing details and laid bare the essentials, which he presented so simply that they had the settled quality of scientific formulas. But he clothed his arguments in some parable or picturesque figure which everybody understood, and could not forget; and he spoke so sincerely that it was evident that he set truth above a political victory. Where Douglas evaded or straddled, Lincoln stood on principle; he resorted to no devices and wasted no time on quibbles, but squarely dislodged Douglas from one perch after another. Lincoln's good-nature, his humor, his wit, and large-hearted charity were as conspicuous as his trenchant logic - indeed, they sometimes blinded his hearers to the extraordinary skill with which he up held his cause. We see now that while he was ostensibly working for the success of the Republican Party in the next election and his own choice as Senator, he was really proclaiming the impossibility that the nation should continue half-bond, half-free, and he was restating the fundamental principles without which civilization sinks into barbarism.
Many of Lincoln's speeches, and much of the Lincoln-Douglas debates were preserved. Somehow the newspaper writers of the time had the wherewithal to produce seemingly verbatim copies of hours-long debates. It would be profitable to read Lincoln's words to get a better graph of him - this editorial is limited by space.
Wonderful example of Lincoln's clarity of expression is his address at Cooper Institute, in New York City on February 12, 1860. The text can be easily read on the internet.
John Hay was Lincoln's personal secretary; he was then twenty-three-years-old. Thayer describes Hay's impressions of Lincoln:
Hay loved wit, and here was a mind of singular penetration and clearness, which saw right to the heart of principles and could state them in language that a child understood. One by one, the best minds in Washington came into contact with Lincoln; he met them squarely and seldom failed to expose their fallacy, if there were one, or to uphold his own decision, if he approved it, by a phrase or story not to be forgotten. The speeches of the famous orators at the Capitol have faded; Lincoln's remain.
The following is an observation of Hay's involving George B. McClellan. Lincoln appointed McClellan General-in-chief of the Army of the Potomac, and afterwards Lincoln concluded, with much reluctance, that McClellan needed to be replaced. These are quotations from Hay's diary:
I wish here to record what I consider a portent of evil to come. The President, Governor Seward, and I went over the McClellan's home to-night. The servant at the door said the General was at the wedding of Colonel Wheaton at General Buell's and would soon return. We went in, and after we had waited about an hour, McClellan came in, and without paying particular attention to the porter who told him the President was waiting to see him, went up-stairs, passing the door of the room where the President and Secretary of State were seated. They waited about half an hour, and sent once more a servant to tell the General they were there; and the answer came that the General had gone to bed.
I merely record this unparalleled insolence of epaulettes without comment. It is the first indication I have yet seen of the threatened supremacy of the military authorities. Coming home, I spoke to the President about the matter, but he seemed not to have noticed it specially, saying it were better at this time not to be making points of etiquette and personal dignity.
The historian William Thayer comments:
It was this invincible patience, called by some men vacillation and by others attributed to obtuseness, which proved in the end one source of Lincoln's mastery. Patience, the least showy of the virtues, works cumulatively; but what she does endures. There could be no finer example of the contrast between shadow and substance than appeared that winter in McClellan and Lincoln: Little Mac self-confident, idolized, showered with laurels before his battles, and barely condescending to listen to the advice of his chief; and the magnanimous President, bent on hearing all sides, suspending judgment until he had considered every fact, and loyally supplying the General with everything he demanded.
Can anyone doubt that if America had today the enlightened and "magnanimous" quality of leadership of another President Lincoln, that American morale would be entirely better? So much of our attitude depends upon whether we believe in ourselves or not. For too long progressives have been propagating negatives views of America. This essay is offered as a corrective to progressive propaganda. There is so much within this nation's history that takes our breathe away in admiration and pride! Why should we dwell on the negative?
The next essay on Abraham Lincoln will address political, cultural, and wartime topics. I will finish this essay with historian John T. Morse's description of the pioneers:
Individuals might differ ever so widely; but the wisest and the dullest, the most worthless and the most enterprising, had to rub shoulder to shoulder in daily life. Yet the variety was considerable: hardy and danger-loving pioneers fulfilling the requirements of romance; shiftless vagrants curiously combining utter inefficiency with a sort of bastard contempt for hardship; ruffians who could only offset against every brutal vice an ignoble physical courage; intelligent men whose observant eyes ranged over the whole region in a shrewd search after enterprise and profit; a few educated men, decent in apparel and bearing, useful in legislation and in preventing the ideal from becoming altogether vulgarized and debased; and others whose energy was chiefly of the tongue, the class imbued with a taste for small politics and the public business. All these and many other varieties were like ingredients cast together into a cauldron; they could not keep apart, each with his own kind, to the degree which is customary in old established communities; but they all ceaselessly crossed and mingled and met, and talked, and dealt, and helped and hustled each other, and exerted upon each other that subtle inevitable influence resulting from such constant intercourse; and so they inoculated each other with certain characteristics which became common to all and formed the type of the early settler. Thus was made "the new West," "the great West," which was pushed ever onward, and endured along each successive frontier for about a generation. An eternal movement, a tireless coming and going, pervaded these men; they passed hither and thither without pause, phantasmagorically; they seemed to be forever "moving on," some because they were real pioneers and natural rovers, others because they were mere vagrants generally drifting away from creditors, others because the better chance seemed ever in the newer place, and all because they had struck no roots, gathered no associations, no home ties, no local belongings. *
The following is a summary of the February/March 2015 issue of the St. Croix Review:
Elizabeth Moss, in "Wartime Reflections," captures moments when W.W. II POWs of the Japanese, of many nationalities, felt liberated: the war was over, and rescue had arrived!
In the editorial, "The Gifts of Capitalism," Barry MacDonald details the benefits of the American free enterprise system.
In "Witness to the Wall, and to Socialized Medicine," Paul Kengor interviews George Schroeder, a physician who recently became an American citizen. George Schroeder has practiced medicine in many nations, and he details the failings of socialized medicine: decreased quality and access to care, leading to killer waiting lists.
Burke Brownfeld, a former police officer, in "Police Lives Matter, Too," calls for dialogue and empathy.
Allan Brownfield, in "When American Society Is Called 'Racist'- to What Is It Being Compared?" points out that when the Constitution was written slavery was legal everywhere in the world, and that America is exceptional for crusading against slavery; in "Anti-Police Rhetoric Misunderstands the Reality of Inner-city Life," he writes about the profound injustice done to police generally, and New York City Police in particular, by President Obama, New York Mayor de Blasio, and legions of Leftist agitators; in "Terror in Paris Raises the Question: Is the West Prepared for Jihadis Returning from Syria and Iraq?" he addresses comprehensive issues about assimilation and Islam; in "Confronting Torture: A Violation of American Values," he notes that the CIA was not honest with the White House about CIA actions, and that the use of very brutal techniques inescapably corrupts a government and, by extension, a people.
Mark Hendrickson, in "The Fed: Painted Into a Corner," doesn't see how the Fed can safely abandon its zero-interest-rate policy, even though interest rates cannot be suppressed forever; in "Heeding History's Lessons in the Search for the Right Macro-Economic Policies," he compares the wildly successful, laissez faire, economic solutions adopted in the 1920-21 depression with the interventionist, deficit spending, policies applied a decade later that lengthened and deepened the Great Depression; in "Countering Egalitarian Ingratitude with 'Thanks!' for Wealth Creators on Thanksgiving Day," he exposes the pride, foolishness, and blindness of intellectuals.
Herbert London, in "The Virus of Violence," writes about the worldwide and national eruption of violence, used as a political tactic, and its daunting power of intimidation; in "Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age," he discusses the emerging dangers posed by Iran's drive for Nuclear weapons; in "What We Are "Sure" We Know about Foreign Policy," he writes about a disorientating flux in which long-standing assumptions underlying foreign policy no longer apply.
Paul Kengor, in "Is Obama Still Relevant?" assesses President Obama's power from now on; in "Wolfboy and Princess Cupcake: The Complementarity of the Sexes," he reaffirms the ideal form of a family, headed by a father and mother.
In "Students Beware: A University Degree Without Humanity," Thomas Martin identifies two types of human vision, and he asserts what a university education should be.
In "Cause of the Pause in Global Warming," Fred Singer discusses several theories for the absence of the warming of the climate.
In "The Cost of Class Unconsciousness," John Ingraham writes of fracking, mining, and economic decline.
Jigs Gardner, in "The Indian's Pig," describes the butchering of pigs, and human relations, much in the style of Ernest Hemingway.
Jigs Gardner, in "Three African Stories," describes three wonderful novels.
In the previous issue was Jo Ann Gardner's essay, "Understanding the Bible from the Ground Up in the Book of Ruth." This is the introduction the essay should have received:
Jo Ann Gardner is the author of Seeds of Transcendence: Understanding the Hebrew Bible Through Plants from which this essay was drawn. She can be reached through her website: www.joanngardnerbooks.com
I raised pigs for some years with an Indian who admired the size and condition of our pigs. When an Indian raises a pig he keeps it in a small pen and feeds it table scraps and a little grain now and then. You can imagine how impressed he was by our pigs: well housed, raised on milk waste, and corn. Immediately we settled on a deal: he'd bring piglets in the spring, I'd raise them, and he'd buy the grain.
It turned out to be a good deal for both of us: I didn't have to pay for the piglets, and he didn't have to buy that much grain, because I was feeding them so much milk waste. In the fall I'd send him a note when it was slaughtering time, and he'd come with a couple of his pals early on a Saturday morning, and we'd all do the job together. Build a fire to heat the water, bring a pig out, shoot it, stick it, hang it from a block and tackle in the barn, and dip it in the water, scrape the hair off, cut it open and gut it, cut it in half down the backbone with the bone saw, put it aside and then do another. Depending on everyone's needs, we'd do from two to four pigs. We had a good time joking and laughing, doing a job of work together. Afterwards we'd have a lunch and they'd go. John would butcher his carcasses when he got home, but I'd let mine hang in the barn overnight to cool out.
This went on for some years, four I think, and the next year I sent a note on Monday telling him next Saturday was the day. It was late in the season, mid-November, and I was trying to get the plowing done before it snowed or the ground froze, so I was anxious to get the slaughtering out of the way. After breakfast I went over to the back of the barn, set up a barrel and hauled buckets of water from the pond to fill it. I lit the fire and then I opened the big double doors exposing the wide barn floor between the stables where I set up sawhorses and across them laid a platform made of two by sixes, set up the dipping barrel beneath the block and tackle, sharpened several knives set out on the table, sprinkled sawdust on the floor, and went out to the fire with a thermometer to check the water temperature. Jo Ann came over and we waited together. No John. When the temperature was right I said, "We might as well start." We were doing only two pigs this time, one for each of us.
Jo Ann led the pig out to the barn floor where I put some apples on the floor, and when he lowered his head I shot him with the .22 between the eyes but a little above. Quickly I flipped him over, avoiding his kicking legs, stuck the long knife in his chest just above the breastbone, plunged it in beneath the bone and severed the carotid artery. When he was done bleeding to death, we dragged him over to the dipping barrel and I cut a slit under his jaw and caught the hook from the block under it. Hauling the pig above the dipping barrel, we tied the tackle rope to a post. We moved quickly to haul the hot water to the dipping barrel, filling it a little more than half full, and then we lowered the carcass into the water, hauling the rope up and down to move the pig in the swirling water. In two or three minutes, as soon as the hair was loose, we hauled the carcass up and began scraping off the hair. This is the hardest part of the operation, but if the water temperature is just right the hair will come off readily. We had to dip it a few more times before the first half of the carcass was done. Then I slacked off on the rope while Jo Ann guided the carcass to the table, where I cut a slit behind each leg, exposing a tendon. Using the hook at each end of a whiffletree, I snagged the tendons, secured the block to the whiffletree, and we hauled up the carcass to dip it again. Jo Ann had dumped three buckets of hot water into the barrel, and now we worked the carcass up and down until the hair was loose and scraped the hair off the rest of the carcass. The whole thing took us about an hour. Still no John.
Now we hauled the carcass up in the air, tied the rope to a post, and bucketed the water back to the barrel on the fire. Moving the empty dipping barrel to one side, we let the carcass down until the rear end was just about eye level. I opened it from the anus to the jaw with my knife and then began the delicate task of removing the innards without cutting anything except those ligaments that bound everything to the backbone. Carefully I worked down, releasing kidneys, liver, and heart into Jo Ann's hands until I was able to dump the rest in a wheelbarrow. Finally I washed the carcass with cold water from the pond. We were done with our pig and we dare not touch John's - what if he didn't show up at all? "Oh to hell with it. I've got to get back to plowing." Se we doused the fire and left the carcass to hang until the morrow.
It rained Monday, so I worked in the shop fixing harness. Just before noon a pickup drove in. A cousin of John's; I'd seen them hunting together. Ed something. His story was that John had moved, so he didn't get my card in time. "We'll be there next Saturday at 8:30," he said. I didn't know who "we" was, but I began to have misgivings, remembering now that I hadn't seen much of John this summer; strangers usually delivered the grain.
The weather cleared Thursday, so I plowed Friday and Saturday morning early. I went through the procedure: filled the barrel from the pond, lit the fire, set up the table, the dipping barrel, and the block and tackle, sharpened the knives. You have to understand that a pig is not fed the day before, just given water, so this pig now had two hungry Fridays to his credit. At 11:30 we doused the fire, put everything away (the barn floor has to be kept clear for other work), and I went back to plowing.
Dark comes down early in winter at the latitude of Cape Breton, so by four o'clock I was at the stable unharnessing. Jo Ann came to help and told me Ed, with a black eye, had turned up in the afternoon with two others, one of whom was passed out in the back, and promised again to be here next Saturday at 8:30.
We had two clear days the next week for plowing, and I figured one more day would do it. Once again on Saturday we got out the barrels and so on, and once again no one showed up. At noon I was hitched up, heading out to the field, when a pickup drove in. I turned the team and drove over to the house. There were two Indians in the truck, strangers to me. They said they'd come to slaughter a pig. I sat there on the sulky plow, looking at him and thinking. Then I climbed down and handed the reins to the driver. "Hold on, I'll be right back." I strode to the house, went to my desk and wrote on a pad: "Ed - Come and get your pig tomorrow, without fail." I went out and gave the note to the driver. "Give that to Ed." He drove off and I went to the field.
I finished plowing that day, and none too soon, for the weather turned sharply colder that night and the pond froze. I broke the ice and we were watering the horses there when a pickup drove into the barnyard and four Indians piled out, one man and three teenagers. They walked toward the barn and Jo Ann said, "One's carrying a rifle." "Uh-oh." I grabbed the halter and headed the horse for the barn on a run. I shut him in his stall and went through to the cow stable where the pigpens were. The Indians were standing, irresolute, in the barnyard before the door. I opened the door, looked at them and said. "Wait. If there's any shooting done around here, I'll do it. Wait right here."
I walked the 80 yards to the house without visibly hurrying, got the .22 and the sticking knife and walked back to the barn. The Indians were standing at attention against the side of the barn. "Come on" I said, as I passed them. I led them back to the pigpens. I showed them a heifer calf in a nearby pen. "I wouldn't want her struck by a stray bullet. Now it's my responsibility, you see?"
I loaded the gun and handed it with the knife to the man. "Give 'em to me when I tell you." I took two apples from a barrel, climbed over the pigpen door, and put the apples on the floor in the middle of the pen. "Rifle," I said, and the Indian handed it to me. As the pig bent to the apples, I shot him in the place above his eyes and immediately handing the gun to the Indian, I said, "knife." Flipping the pig on his back, I slid the knife in the flesh, ran it up the breastbone and plunged it into the carotid artery.
Blood gushed out all over my arm. I climbed out of the pen and the Indian and I unbarred the door and dragged the bloody carcass to the door. The truck was backed up to the door, and the two of us easily rushed the pig up into the bed of the pickup. "Here" I said, reaching in behind the door producing a rag. The Indian wiped his hands and then I wiped my arm. "You see why I had to do it myself?" I said smiling. He smiled and nodded. They all piled into the truck and drove off.
I enlarged the hole in the ice and we began watering the cows, two by two. The wind was picking up. We stood side by side, looking down at the icy water. Jo Ann said, "I feel sorry for the Indians." I thought for a moment, remembering the Indians lined up against the barn. "Yes," I said. After a bit she asked if I thought John would be back in the spring? I didn't think John was in it anymore, but all I said was, "Spring's a long way off." *
John Ingraham writes from the Champlain Valley.
I quote from a recent Science Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) report:
On December 17, Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to ban hydraulic fracking of shale in New York State. The important Marcellus formation is in the southern and western part of the state, which is experiencing economic stagnation. The governor referred to his experts who cited unspecified health concerns. As The Wall Street Journal stated: "In other words, all of the Governor's men couldn't find conclusive evidence that fracking presents a significant risk to public health or the environment. So they're going to ban fracking until they do." Hydraulic fracturing has been used since 1947 and the EPA has yet to uncover credible evidence that it causes groundwater contamination. The best one of the governor's experts, the acting state health commissioner, could do was that he would not want to live in a community where fracking was taking place. One may not wish to live in a community with a jet airport, but is that reason to issue a statewide ban on jet airports?
New York's Governor Cuomo has presidential aspirations, so obviously he feels it more important not to offend his liberal Manhattan constituency, and Greens nationally, than to promote development in economically desolate upstate New York. Formerly industrial towns like Ticonderoga and Port Henry have little to show but shuttered storefronts, while the pretty little towns clustering along the shores of Lake Champlain, like Westport and Essex, have been summer resorts since the latter years of the 19th century, and now, although most of their stores are gone, they are largely populated by affluent retirees. The decline of the economy does not greatly disturb them. They are the gentry. A thin middle class layer - lawyers, doctors, store owners, town officials, and so on, live in the towns while the working class lives in the countryside on what were recently farms (very few farms are left - they have moved westward).
The area is within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park Authority that has become, since the 1970s, the master of everything within its bounds, dictating details of land usage and building. Hiking is widely promoted, and some prominent Greens hope that the area will become so depopulated that it will become wholly wild, a playground for them. And they are helping the process along.
There are several Green organizations here always ready to sue the APA for not being Green enough. For example, recently the APA allowed a mining company to swap 200 acres of its own land for 200 acres in the Park because without access to that land and its minerals, the company would soon exhaust its own minerals and would have to close. The swap was approved by the voters; after all, the company has been a big employer there for years. A couple of Green groups are suing, hoping to see the plant shut down.
Now we come to the purpose of this little essay: the valley newspaper, the principal advertising medium of the area, is a big moneymaker for its owners. The people who run the paper are not gentry, but as respectable members of the middle class they defer to the gentry. So they have opposed fracking for years, opposed the only chance for development and prosperity for the area. The editor seems blind to what will happen to his advertising revenue as more people move away (New York is steadily losing population) and more stores close.
This is a classic case of the perils of class unconsciousness. *
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics. An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is a Senior Fellow of the Heartland Institute and the Independent Institute. He co-authored NY Times best-seller Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 years. In 2007, he founded and has chaired the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), which has released several scientific reports [See NIPCCreport.org]. For recent writings see http://www.americanthinker.com/s_fred_singer/ and also Google Scholar.
There has been essentially no global warming since 1998. Some would choose 1997, others would more conservatively use 2002 as the proper starting date, based on satellite data. Of course, this is quite unexpected, since CO2 - a leading greenhouse gas which climate models presume to cause anthropogenic (human caused) global warming- has been increasing rapidly in the 21st century.
Even if we cannot readily find the cause for the "pause" - as it is sometimes called - we can be absolutely sure that it was not predicted by any of the dozens of the UN-IPCC's General Circulation Models. Therefore, logically, such non-validated models cannot, and should not, be used to predict the future climate - or as a basis for policy decisions.
Here I would like to discuss some of the possible causes for the global warming "hiatus." Its existence is creating a scientific challenge for climate skeptics - and a real crisis for alarmists; it can no longer be ignored by any who consider themselves to be scientists - nor, indeed, by responsible politicians.
One possibility, of course, may be that the pause is simply a statistical fluctuation, like tossing a coin, with 15 to 18 heads in a row. Such an explanation cannot be dismissed out of hand, even though it has a very low probability - which becomes even smaller with each passing year of no warming. Obviously, climate alarmists like this possibility - although the number of such "true believers" is shrinking. Most have started to look for a physical cause for the pause - an explanation of why current models are failing to match observations.
When we look at possible causes, we should first of all distinguish between internal and external ones that might offset the expected global warming from CO2. Internal causes rely on negative feedbacks from either water vapor or clouds; they act to decrease the warming that should be attributed to increasing CO2. The problem with internal effects is they can never fully eliminate the primary cause - almost by definition. So even if they diminish the CO2 effect somewhat, there should still be a remaining warming trend, though small.
It is quite important to obtain empirical evidence for a negative feedback. In the case of water vapor, one would look to see if the cold upper troposphere was dry or moist. If moist, as assumed implicitly in current UN IPCC models, one gets a positive feedback - i.e., an amplification of the CO2-caused warming. On the other hand, if the upper troposphere is dry, then most emissions into space take place from water vapor in the warm boundary layer in the lower troposphere. This leaves less energy available to be emitted into space from the surface through the atmospheric "window," and therefore produces a cooler surface.
Note Well: To avoid the vexing issue of the effects of the down-welling infrared radiation, it is easiest to think of long-term zero energy imbalance, as measured by satellites at the top of the atmosphere - after the underlying atmosphere adjusts. Imbalance equals incoming less reflected solar radiant energy minus the heat energy from surface and atmosphere escaping to space.
The physical model I have in mind for this negative water vapor feedback is based on a proposal of Prof. William Gray (Colorado State University), who pictured cumulus clouds carrying moisture into the upper troposphere, but occupying only a small area; the remaining (and much larger) area experiences descending air ("subsidence") - hence drying. In principle, it should be possible to measure this difficult-to-explain effect fairly easily, using available satellite data.
Negative feedback from increased cloudiness is easier to describe but more difficult to measure. The idea is simply that a slight increase in sea-surface temperature (from the greenhouse effect of a rising CO2) also increases evaporation (according to the well-known "Clausius-Clapeyron" relation), and that this increased atmospheric moisture can also increase cloudiness. The net effect is a greater (reflecting) albedo, less sunlight reaching the surface, and therefore a negative feedback that reduces the original warming from increasing CO2.
Unfortunately, establishing the reality of this cloud feedback requires a measurement of global cloudiness with an accuracy of a small fraction of a percent - a very difficult problem.
We now turn to external effects that might explain the existence of a global warming pause; the principal ones are volcanism and solar activity. The problem here is one of balancing; the amount of cooling by volcanism, for example, has to be just right to offset the warming from CO2 during the entire duration of the pause. It is difficult to picture why exactly this might be happening; the probabilities seem rather small. Still, the burden is on the proponents to demonstrate various kinds of evidence in support of such an explanation.
Similarly, atmospheric aerosols, generally human-caused, can increase albedo and cool the planet - especially if they also increase cloudiness by providing condensation nuclei for water vapor.
Note that all the explanations mentioned so far act to reduce "climate forcing" - defined as the energy imbalance measured at the top of the atmosphere.
There is an important school of thought that does not rely on offsetting the forcing from increased CO2; instead it assumes that there really exists an imbalance at the top of the atmosphere and that global warming is taking place somewhere, but is not easily seen. Many assume that the "missing heat" is hiding in the deep ocean. It is difficult to see how such a mechanism can function without also raising surface temperatures; but an oscillation in ocean currents might produce such a result.
Still, if measurements could demonstrate a gradual increase in stored ocean heat, one would be forced to consider possible mechanisms. Its proponents might be asked, however, why the storage increase started just when it did; when will it end; and how will the energy eventually be released, and with what manifestations?
There is yet another possibility worth considering: The missing energy might be used to melt ice rather than warm the ocean. Again, quantitative empirical evidence might support such a scenario. But how to explain the starting date of the pause - and how soon might it end?
It is generally accepted that the warming effect from CO2 increases roughly as the logarithm of CO2 concentration. The reason has to do with the broadness and shape of the CO2 absorption lines - as is well known among molecular spectroscopists. But even the log of CO2 would show a steady rise, albeit smaller than that of CO2 itself - so this simple explanation does not work.
But CO2 is an interesting and complicated molecule. Its climate-forcing effect might actually decline to zero - albeit for only a number of years. The reason is that part of the CO2 absorption and emission takes place in the stratosphere, where the temperature gradient is positive, i.e., there is warming with increasing altitude, instead of cooling.
But until someone does the necessary work, by analyzing available satellite data, one should not put too much faith in this hypothesis.
So after all, the global warming pause still remains somewhat of a puzzle. The simplest description is that the climate sensitivity is close to zero - as demonstrated empirically. But why? How then to explain the reported surface warming from 1975 to 2000?
Regardless of any unsettled scientific details, it seems sure that current climate models cannot represent what is actually happening in the atmosphere - and therefore one should not rely on predictions from such un-validated models that are based simply on increases of carbon dioxide. It should be obvious that this discussion has important policy consequences since so many politicians are wedded to the idea that CO2 needs to be controlled in order to avoid "dangerous changes of the global climate." *
Thomas Martin is the O. K. Bouwsma Chair in Philosophy at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Along with his fellow colleagues who are dedicated to the study of the Great Books, he teaches the works of Plato, Aristotle, and G. K. Chesterton.
A local friend, who was impressed by all the building going on the campus at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, commented:
Your university is really on the move with all the new construction, and the interim President James Linder at Rotary talking about the proposed University Village. Wow, this is really something.
It is "something." However, it is not necessarily the case that UNK's new buildings and the proposed University Village are signs my university is doing well.
Case in point: it is now possible to graduate from the University of Nebraska at Kearney without taking a course in history, literature [British, American, or World] or philosophy, but rather to satisfy the humanities requirement through the general studies program.
A student can satisfy the humanities requirement by taking an intermediate Spanish, French, or German course, and a Cross-Cultural Communication class. These beginning language classes can be learned in the third grade, and Cross-Cultural Communication - whatever it is - does not require reading primary sources of history, literature or philosophy, the very core of the humanities and of learning what it means to be human.
In other words, there is a core curriculum, but it is not being required of all the students to graduate.
What do you make of students graduating from an institution advertised as a university without a sense of history, a love of literature, or the ability to distinguish between a civil law implemented by the government as opposed to a moral law uncovered through an examination of conscience?
In effect, we are training a generation for the work force, but we are not educating responsible citizens with a sense of their heritage.
Aristotle saw that, of all the creatures, man is the only one who is born ignorant. Fortunately, man is also the only creature who by nature desires to know. In other words, we must be taught to understand what is before our eyes.
Man has two eyes.
He has an external eye, which looks out on the world of chronological events streaming right before him. This is the quantitative eye, the scientific eye, which measures everything by size, shape, color, speed, and quantity.
The second eye is the internal eye, the qualitative eye, the eye of the heart looking deep down into man's soul through time. This is the eye of memory and self-examination; and it is anchored by a conscience and the moral judgment necessary to distinguish between what is just and unjust, good and evil, smoke and mirrors.
The external eye can be taught to see and describe what is right before it and its medium is the natural science.
The internal eye looks back in time through the lens of history, literature, philosophy, art, scripture, etc., to learn the necessary art of being. It requires learning moral principles to distinguish between good and evil, and what is just and unjust.
Deprive a student of either one of his eyes and you have a Cyclops, with myopic vision that makes for a narrow mind. He will be all head and no heart, or all heart and no head.
The former leads to heartless abstraction and the later leads to mindless compassion.
In all of this, it is important to remember a university is not housed in its buildings. A university is housed in the minds of her students, who can see as far as they can read, what is in front of them as well as those permanent thoughts rooted in the past, with understanding. *
Burke Brownfeld is a former police officer. This essay is republished from the Alexandria Times located in Virginia.
I am a former cop, but I am also an advocate for criminal justice reform. This puts me in a unique position with the recent high profile cases in Ferguson and New York. Many social activists have used these cases as poster-children for racial inequality, police brutality, and all that is wrong with our justice system.
There have been plenty of snazzy one-liners and hashtags like "#icantbreath" or "black lives matter." I have heard people yelling and screaming at protests, and news pundits make sweeping claims about "indicting the justice system." This gets people angry, but is it helpful? Are the complaints about use of force and police training based on fact or emotion?
On the other side of things, I have seen people from the police community say things like, "Well, next time, don't resist the police." Is that a comprehensive analysis of an entire police encounter that resulted in death? If these bouts of spewing out inflammatory one-liners, and road-blocking protests are our version of conflict resolution, then I would say we are failing.
Where is the constructive dialogue? Where is the path to progress? At this point, the details of each case do not matter. What does matters is how do we move on from here?
We can talk about body cameras, and special prosecutors, but will those ideas actually save the lives of citizens or police officers? At 3 a.m. in a dark alley, when a police officer, alone, confronts the suspect of a crime, what is going to actually keep this encounter from getting violent? Much of that outcome is going to be based on each person's life experience, training, perspectives, opinions, words, and actions.
What if we stopped yelling and screaming at each other, and decided to proactively learn from each other? What if we seek out opportunities for dialogue between police officers and the citizens that they serve, outside of these confrontational moments? What if officers could explain what an encounter feels like for them, how use of force works, how they perceive threats to their safety (e.g., a person who won't take his hands out of his pockets)?
And what if community members had a forum where they could explain to police officers what has gone through their minds when an officer approached their car during a traffic stop, or when an officer told them they had been stopped because they fit the description of a suspect?
What if both groups started to be able to empathize with each other? What if citizens started to respect police officers as members of the community, with families, feelings, and identities beyond the uniform? And what if police officers gained a better understanding of how citizens experience life, crime, and police interaction within their communities?
People can continue to be angry, but until they turn their anger into positive action, we are only making things worse, not better. *
"V&V Q&A," Vision and Values, Questions and Answers, is an e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. Paul Kengor is executive director of the Center. He interviews George Schroeder, who is a physician working in America and is a brand new American citizen who was born and raised not far from the Berlin Wall. George Schroeder fights the fight for freedom, including a free-market healthcare system in America. He is eager to share his unique experiences as a physician who has practiced throughout the world.
Dr. Paul Kengor: Dr. George Schroeder, welcome to "V&V Q&A."
Dr. George Schroeder: Thank you, Dr. Kengor. I consider it an honor and privilege to share my views and opinions with your readers.
Kengor: First off, tell us a bit about your background.
Schroeder: I was born in a border town in West Germany, divided by the border of East and West, prior to German re-unification. Multilingual, I am versed in the socio-cultural norms, customs, and vast political differences across the continents of Europe, South America, and North America, especially Canada.
Kengor: This past week, the world marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. What did that wall - and its fall - mean to you? How is this personal to you?
Schroeder: As eloquently expressed in a statesman-like, Thatcher-esque, address to a joint session of Congress, German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered an unwavering admonition:
Freedom is precious, and attained only through great, almost insurmountable challenges, and must be fought for and maintained every day.
What makes it personal to me, particularly now as a grateful, newly naturalized American citizen, is that I mourn the deaths of those who desired freedom with such passion and intensity that they gave their lives in the relentless and perilous pursuit of freedom. In coming to America, I hope to bring honor to the memory of their dream, their fervent quest and desire, which had been foiled by a totalitarian oppressive regime - one whose guns were pointed only inward, toward the east.
Kengor: Where did you go to school? What kind of medicine do you practice, and where?
Schroeder: Grammar school in Europe, high school partly in South America, and Canada. College and medical school in Canada, and a masters' degree in healthcare management at the University of Texas. My areas of medical practice specialization are Urgent Care and Emergency Medicine. I've practiced in Canada and the United States. I also assisted my parents in building a rural-outreach, primary-care clinic and freestanding surgical suite in South America, which was equipped with instruments donated by philanthropic Americans serving a native population.
Kengor: What can you tell us about medical-care delivery in those countries, especially compared to the American system? Most importantly, tell us what's happening in Germany right now with government healthcare.
Schroeder: The finest quality of medical care is delivered to patients in the United States.
Government involvement in healthcare has eroded choice, access, efficiency, and, thereby, quality. It has done so in direct proportion to government control of healthcare. The recent center-right coalition in Germany, which is emblematic of a repudiation of Marxist policies since the fall of the Iron Curtain, has led the new pro-business FDP ("Freedom Party") to announce as its first policy initiative to roll back "The Public Option," known as the "Gesundheitsfonds."
My aunt Gretchen in Germany, who would have been 77 years old on November 9, died of cancer last year. She died near Heidelberg, Germany - one of the finest medical centers in that country. Knowing her cancer cell type and the staging of her tumor, I am convinced she would be alive today if she had been treated for her curable tumor in America. So, that makes November 9 even more personally significant for me. If, immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, Germany had had a free-market medical system of innovative excellence, like we have in America, instead of a system devised by a red-green, left-wing, socialist coalition which bred mediocrity, my aunt would have received the doses and type of chemotherapy and radiation she needed.
Europe has painstakingly learned the folly and detrimental effects of socialized government control of healthcare.
Kengor: Now, today, you practice in America. What lessons have you gleaned from other systems that apply to the current debate in America over healthcare?
Schroeder: I have practiced medicine for over 25 years. Ten of those years, I have practiced in Canada, for which I was never sued, even once, because of a different paradigm (no contingency fees for attorneys) as well as a less litigious culture.
Over my 15 years in four states in America, I was named as a co-defendant in suits, and released along with other co-defendants in the uniquely American tort system, and never named into the dreaded physician National Data Bank listing egregious errors and mistakes by physicians and hospitals in America.
Defensive medicine in America causes significant and unnecessary cost escalation. Imposing a socialized government-run system without meaningful tort reform will lead to an irrefutable fiscal calamity. The U.S. system consists of what I descriptively term "Medico-legal disease-care."
Kengor: How many people in America are genuinely uninsured or somehow not covered? Do those people get medical care?
Schroeder: The true number of uninsured citizens and legal residents of America is fewer than 10 million. The infamous, totally misleading and deliberately inflated number of 46 to 47 million uninsured "Americans" - widely disseminated by mainstream media - does not reflect the fact that approximately one third of those people are undocumented illegal immigrants. And those illegal immigrants are never denied actual medical care. They receive care based on the EMTALA [Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act], which mandates hospital emergency departments to treat "everyone" regardless of coverage. In some cases, this has actually led to deaths of insured Americans diverted in ambulances from crowded emergency departments to other hospitals, and essentially denied timely care for their heart attack or acute coronary event. This has also led to bankruptcy and closure of entire hospitals, particularly along southern border states.
Kengor: Aside from what should be done to "fix" America's healthcare system, tell us what, in your view, should not be done.
Schroeder: It would be a travesty to have government-funded abortions - abhorrent to even moderate "Blue Dog" Democrats.
Kengor: We hear the words "nationalization" and "socialization." Are we facing a potential nationalization or socialization of our healthcare system? Could the so-called "public option," which you call a "misnomer," be the camel's nose in the tent, or the slippery slope that takes the nation toward nationalization or socialization? And might that be the real intention of those pushing this benign-sounding "public option"?
Schroeder: This is clearly the case, and it is a rudimentary principle in business as well as any sport in the world, that the entity making the rules and regulations cannot also be competing fairly with competitors delivering a service. In a truly free market, the government cannot function as a team or a player in a game for which it is also the indisputable "referee."
Consider our current economic situation, which adversely impacts small business in particular. Small business is an essential provider of life-sustaining employment and thereby healthcare coverage. If America implements the "public option," many companies will drop their employees' healthcare coverage, leaving them no choice, i.e., no "option," but to ultimately accept the proposed government-run healthcare coverage - a public healthcare "coverage," or as it is known in England, "The National Health Service" (N.H.S.) - available to all legal residents and citizens and funded by taxpayers.
Socialism, as some Canadian and British expatriates have termed it, is "more addictive than heroin." It is very difficult to roll back once implemented.
Kengor: You say that you're concerned about a "loss of freedom" in America today, and especially via this current push toward some form of unprecedented, heightened government management of healthcare. Explain that.
Schroeder: Well, consider this question as an illustration: If the government were to take over the privately competing, efficient, dependable, and predictably reliable mail-courier services, such as FedEx or UPS or DHL, and the American people were only allowed to send mail and important documents via the U.S. Postal Service, how would that affect the important and essential delivery of mail and important documents? Loss of individual choice equals loss of freedom.
By attempting to ensure what they refer to as "coverage" for all Americans, what is being concealed in media sound-bites is a basic fact: When you add millions of people to insurance rolls (particularly if they end up being government run), and without adding a significant number of additional providers (more doctors and nurses), rationing of care is inevitable. What good is the government-issued insurance card that all Canadians carry in their wallets if Canadians are placed on a waiting list for life-saving surgery? Then it is not really "coverage," is it? It sounds good, but you're not really "covered" if your access is delayed. Some 800,000 Canadians on long waiting lists have come to the United States for life-saving treatments, and almost one out of every five Canadians does not have and cannot find a family doctor in their government-run, socialized healthcare system.
Kengor: To borrow from the Berlin Wall metaphor, do you see the current changes advocated in Washington, by President Obama and the Pelosi-Reid Democratic Congress, as tantamount to the erection of a kind of barrier to healthcare access?
Schroeder: A government takeover of this system - which would inevitably ensue from crowding out decreasingly competitive private companies by preventing them from lowering costs - would lead to unavoidable rationing. Healthcare delayed equals healthcare denied, particularly if you die while on a waiting list.
I'm intrigued by self-declared "experts" in "healthcare" who denigrate the American system as "inferior to Costa Rica and Slovenia," as arbitrarily measured by their cronies at the United Nations. I wonder, do those same "experts" want to send Americans dying on waiting lists to Costa Rica and Slovenia for their life-saving medical care?
Kengor: How do Americans halt that wall before it's built?
Schroeder: By engaging their energies in electing term-limited citizen-legislators to all three branches of government, such as my hero, Dr. Tom Coburn. Coburn, a distinguished U.S. senator, over two years ago provided America with his detailed universal healthcare plan (S. 1019), and, most recently, produced another plan in a collaborative and generous fashion (Senate Bill S. 1099, The Patient Care Choice Act). I highly recommend reading Dr. Coburn's Book, Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders into Insiders.
Americans must make daily phone calls to Capitol Hill as well as local and regional district offices of their elected representatives to ensure that their "freedom to choose" - patient "choice," the operative part of the title of Dr. Coburn's bill - is preserved.
Kengor: When did you become an American citizen, George?
Schroeder: In July of this year .
Kengor: Well, you truly understand the essence of American freedom - better than many of the natives. Dr. George Schroeder, thank you for talking to "V&V Q&A."
Schroeder: Thank you for this honor and privilege, Dr. Kengor, and may God bless America! *
Our Mission Is to Reawaken the Genuine American Spirit: of living in a good, great, and growing nation - as free individuals.The Gifts of Capitalism
Problems with Piketty: The Flaws and Fallacies in "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," by Mark Hendrickson. The Center for vision & Values, Grove City College, 100 Campus Drive, PA, 16127, ISBN-13: 978-1503145214, ISBN-10; 1503145212, pp. 100.
In politics there is meanness and deception, dressed up, of course, in noble rhetoric. Too often politicians pose as saviors of the poor and middle class (the middle class is the cash cow) while the rich are the targets (there aren't enough to carry the load). Behind the curtain the same politicians who target the rich carefully cultivate wealthy cronies to share power with - it's all a cynical game.
Too many of today's experts - scientists, statisticians, economists - serve political roles. Too much writing on economics is laden with emotional impact, aimed not at increasing understanding but at motivating the angry into supporting a progressive agenda. The angry do not realize they are being used to cement politicians and cronies in a ruling class. The angry give away their liberties - the freedom to arrange their lives for themselves - in exchange for trifles and creature comforts.
The progressives seek to redistribute wealth. The progressives pretend that redistribution is done without harming individual freedoms, discouraging entrepreneurial productivity (why produce if the rewards will be stripped away?), and making the entire society poorer.
America is in danger of losing its freedoms - our freedoms - that have made it the wealthiest nation in history. America is in danger of becoming a bifurcated nation, with a repressive regime on top, and the ruled over beneath. The strengthening ruling class would be an exclusive grouping, and social mobility could be greatly impacted.
The progressive vanguard is drawing a veil over the American people, so that we lose sight of what has been vital and nurturing to us. It has taken a long time to inculcate the many myths perpetuating the progressive agenda. The myths are spun in our politics, media, schools, and entertainments. It is the duty of The St. Croix Review to reawaken Americans to the truth.
The truth is that America has been blessed to enjoy flourishing capitalism. Capitalism was with us from the beginning. The quest for freedom, to make one's own new life - which has much to do with capitalism - impelled the pioneers over the Atlantic in tiny ships. The thirst for economic freedom and property rights propelled the American Revolution; colonists resented unjust taxation, and so a critical number of motivated leaders took the painful steps towards independence from Britain. It took a War of Independence to secure our capitalistic impulses: Our nation was born with capitalism as a defining quality.
America would not be America without flourishing capitalism. Yet most Americans are blind to the blessings of capitalism. In fact, "capitalism," and "the profit motive" are currently dirty words.
Mark Hendrickson's book, Problems with Piketty: the Flaws and Fallacies in "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," is a concise refutation of a French, progressive/hero, economist. Thomas Piketty's book is Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
It was remarked in the British magazine, The Economist, that Thomas Piketty's book, in which he argues for a "global wealth tax" to lessen income inequality and reduce the concentration of capital "within and between countries," was "too moderate in tone," and "too tame" in policy to "enthuse Europe's zealous leftist intellectuals." Piketty writes that:
. . . there is no obvious reason to think that nearly all needs should b[e] paid for through taxes . . . [Generous, don't you think?]
And Piketty writes the "optimal [top income] tax rate in the developed countries is probably above 80 percent" (rather than 100 percent).
Imagine a world in which progressives had the power to control the distribution of income "between and within countries"! What kind of monstrous, supranational, busybody organization would be necessary? It would take a terrible ruling class - a foreign ruling class; and the American ethic would have to die.
Mark Hendrickson writes that Piketty became an "economic superstar" to American progressives, because of the timing of the publication (2014), and because his writing promotes an effective rhetorical weapon: "income inequality."
Income inequality has become a wedge issue for President Obama and the Democrats: they are able to point a finger overtly or subtly at the wealthy, and convince the poor that they are poor because the wealthy made them so. The rich have not earned their wealth, as President Obama infamously said: "You didn't build that! Somebody else made that happen!"
Mark Hendrickson points to the truth: that rich people get rich by providing something of value to fellow Americans. The very rich have provided low-cost, high quality goods to very many Americans. The rich in America have earned their wealth, and all of us have benefited, as we have wonderful homes to live in, with wonderful furnishings, and beautiful cars to drive. We have the wealthiest poor people in the world: most of the poor have one or two cars, homes (with more living space than Europeans), cable or satellite T.V., internet access, refrigerators, cell phones, etc., all produced by the rich - even the poor share in the American dream, though they don't know it. They have been trained to be resentful.
Mark Hendrickson writes that before capitalism emerged in the 18th century humanity lived within rigid class systems. A blacksmith stayed a blacksmith all his life; and his son was a blacksmith too. The ruling elite rigged the economic system to their benefit; they kept the power and had no incentive to raise the standard of living for those outside their caste.
There was chronic poverty for most people. There was no middle class. There was no social mobility. There was no opportunity for entrepreneurial talent to emerge.
The American Founding Fathers were enlightened, and science was bursting with discovery, which allowed the creation of new wealth. The Founders created a governing system that protected free Americans from a possible elite that would re-impose the rigid class structures of Europe in America. Because we have individual rights (originating from our creator), property rights, economic contracts, we have economic freedom. Because we have economic freedom entrepreneurial genius flourished, and many thousands of businesses were born.
Because we have economic freedom we have social mobility; there are two sides to mobility - poor people can become rich through talent and hard work, but rich people can lose wealth through mismanagement.
In American history there have been very few true monopolies, according to Mark Hendrickson, because even the most established businesses are subject to market forces, and if they do not continue to provide high quality goods they remain vulnerable to competition. Pan Am Airways, Montgomery Ward, and Circuit City are examples of businesses that lost out. One of the true monopolies Mark cites is the Post Office, and it was founded and is preserved by government protection.
The American people determine which businesses succeed through their free choices. We choose high quality, low priced goods - goods that in a pre-capitalistic society were not possible.
It is tough for businesses to survive in free markets. Mark Hendrickson writes in "Capital, Capitalists and Capitalism (Part V)":
. . . a majority of U.S. business enterprises fail within four years, and . . . even the most successful corporations eventually die out.
We should be grateful for every business that honestly tries to serve the American public without government subsidies - these people have courage, intelligence, and drive. They provide us continuously with new products, often using cutting edge technology.
Only when government interferes with subsidies are inferior companies with shoddy products continued, and even then inferior products fail: note the floundering solar energy ventures.
If President Obama and other demagogic progressive politicians had their way, they would re-impose a rigid class structure, with themselves cemented on top. And they would foment and perpetuate class divisions as a means to blind Americans from seeing who is being put down, and who is appropriating the wealth: the progressives only really care about preserving their own elite status.
I enjoyed the company of a social group I belong to before Christmas. My friends are college educated, professional people. One woman said she disapproves of the "capitalism of Christmas" - I believe she dislikes the crass commercialism surrounding the holiday. A very intelligent friend, who holds a Ph.D. in the medical field, said "Christ fought capitalism!" - capitalism didn't exist during the time of Christ: The Roman Emperor rigged the system - if there are no property rights there can be no capitalism.
Obviously my good-hearted, intelligent friends don't understand what capitalism is - and therein is our problem. How may we preserve the underlying foundation that supports our freedoms, opportunities, and prosperity?
We must inform the American people of the gifts of capitalism. We must remind our fellows that it is a sin to resent the rich because they are rich.
The wealthy should be thanked, because without them there would be so much less prosperity: There would be no seed capital in the banks from which new businesses could be started. The more millionaires America produces, the more seed money becomes available - from which additional prosperity becomes possible - and thus wealth multiplies.
We must encourage our fellows to get busy and do something productive instead marching in a mindless mob.
We must not let our schools' curriculum fall under the control of the federal government, because however benevolent the curriculum seems today, it can be modified in the future and used as a vehicle for the progressives to disparage economic freedom, and propagate myths.
We must reintroduce the importance of character development into our schools. We must lead children to value courage, compassion, duty, hard work, and the need to have dreams to work toward.
And we must all learn to ignore the deceitful incitements of progressives, from whichever platform they propagate their myths, from whichever political party the deceit may come, until election time - then the progressives must be defeated.
In addition to his book on Thomas Piketty, Mark Hendrickson's six-part "Capital, Capitalists, and Capitalism" on FrontPageMag.com would be helpful for anyone who wants to learn more about free enterprise. *