The Gates Have Opened —

From The Week Website

By Damon Linker

November 16, 2017

The most stupefying question prompted by Democratic Sen. Al Franken being accused of kissing and groping a woman without her consent isn’t whether he’ll be forced to resign his Senate seat, or whether the news (and Democratic reaction to it) makes it more or less likely that the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama Roy Moore will drop out of the race after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, or whether the Senate will refuse to seat Moore in the chamber in the event that he stays in and wins the race.

The most stupefying question prompted by the disgusting Franken news, coming as it does amidst the steady drip of disgusting Moore news, and the ongoing deluge of disgusting news about similar (and worse) behavior on the part of a slew of movie producers, actors, comedians, journalists, professors, and other prominent men is: Where will it end?

How many senators and House members and elected and appointed officials at the federal, state, and local levels will be forced to resign? And how many men will remain in these positions when it is all over?

It’s far too early to say, because the floodgates have only just been thrown open. But the possibilities are mindboggling.

Consider Joe Biden. A few short weeks ago, the former senator and vice president seemed like he would be a leading contender to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 and then the favorite to challenge President Trump’s bid for re-election. But now? Biden’s polling may look good, but he has a history of wandering hands that is simply incompatible with the new normal. He’s a political dead man.

Now think of all the pages and interns and young staffers cycling through all of those offices on Capitol Hill, year after year, decade after decade. And the countless thousands of staffers who’ve passed through the White House and executive branch departments and agencies across Democratic and Republican administrations. And all the Supreme Court clerks and assistants. How long until one of these pages or interns or staffers or clerks or assistants, or dozens of them, or hundreds of them, begin to talk and make credible accusations against leading public figures of both parties?

How many unwanted advances, kisses, gropes, coerced sex acts, and other forms of harassment, abuse, and assault are we likely to learn about?

I suspect far more than any of us can imagine.

Already we know that the House has paid out $15 million over the last 10-15 years to settle sexual harassment allegations. And that is surely just the beginning.

The reckoning is coming. Washington is going to weather an absolute hurricane of sexual abuse allegations and revelations.

Every man who’s behaved this way knows about his own actions but probably no one else’s. Every woman who’s had to endure this behavior knows about her own experience (or experiences). But as we’ve learned from so many of the stories published over the past few weeks, until now most of these women have been driven by a mixture of humiliation and fear to keep their suffering to themselves.

The result is almost universal ignorance of the extent of the problem. We’re like people stumbling around in the dark in a vast public space, all of us trying to find our way, with many people behaving badly and many others forced to contend with it, but no one really knowing about what’s going on all around each of us. Now, for the very first time, the lights have begun to be thrown on, and little by little more and more areas are being illuminated. By the time the darkness has been fully dispelled and our eyes have adjusted to the glare, we are going to find ourselves in a state of profound cultural and moral shock. And there’s no telling what the political consequences are going to be.

How many terrible men will go down? There’s no way to know. But one thing of which we can be fairly certain is that President Trump will survive. The time for him to suffer the consequences for the appalling behavior he described (and bragged about) on the Access Hollywood tape is long past. He got caught admitting his predatory sexual entitlement and abuse, and he won the presidency anyway.

That’s why it’s oddly fitting that of all the sexual harassers and coercers who have been and will be exposed, Donald Trump should remain untouched by the rising political maelstrom. In some ways, we owe it all to him. There’s no way it’s a coincidence that it was within the first year of the Trump administration that women at long last overcame their fear and shame to tell their stories and take down the perpetrators. It’s as if each perp is in some small way a vicarious stand-in for the sexual predator in the White House who got away with his offenses so egregiously.

So let the president preside over the bloodbath that’s unfolding so brutally before our eyes, serving as an insistent, painful reminder of why the culling must continue until the last abuser has been exposed.

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That UN Climate Conference in Bonn? A German Opinion .

The COP23 climate circus in Germany

Will the fate of the world be decided in foggy Bonn over the next two days? Of course not, DW’s Felix Steiner writes. The costs of putting on the UN’s climate summit are grossly out of proportion with the benefits.

It has become a well-established ritual on the annual political calendar: Mid-November or early December is the time for the Conference of the Parties (COP), the signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to come together. That means representatives from 196 countries, as well as the European Union and regional alliances of states. Even if signatories were only to send one representative each, a large conference room would be needed.
But, of course, the annual COP involves much more than that. The conference, now taking place for the 23rd time, seeks to do no less than save the world. At least that is the impression that many protagonists attempt to evoke. Therefore, every year around this time a number of evermore alarming scientific studies appear, highlighting catastrophic scenarios: The earth is warming faster than ever, storms are getting worse, polar ice caps are melting. And that is also why an ever greater number of island countries everywhere will soon disappear into the ocean.

Therefore, it is only fitting that one such island state, Fiji, should lead this year’s annual chat session, even though it is being held in Bonn, Germany. That is not because Fiji is in danger of disappearing under the ocean waves over the next two weeks — at its highest point it is 1,324 meters (4,344 feet) above sea level, Bonn, at 60 meters above sea level, would seem an illogical choice in that instance. No, the island republic would simply not be able to house the conference’s 25,000 guests. Bonn, as the headquarters of the UN Climate Secretariat, was happy to jump in so as to polish its image as a UN seat. And of course German taxpayers were only too happy to pitch in the more than €100 million ($118 million) required to pay for the massive advertising offensive.

The conference kicked off with a large dose of Fijian folklore, in which neat-looking shirtless men sporting leather aprons drummed up a South Sea mood. One can certainly take the fact that a number of them caught colds as a good sign — at least global warming hasn’t yet had strong a effect in the foggy Rhine region.

The negotiations in Bonn sound more like agenda points run through by a working group of midlevel importance than the work of the largest multination conference ever held in Germany. Two years after the international climate accord was signed in Paris, the task at hand in Bonn was to establish just who was required to do what in the fight against climate change and how their contributions could be measured. Binding agreements were not on the agenda. Those are to be dealt with next year, when signatories meet once again, this time in Katowice, Poland.

Why did German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and 25,000 other guests even need to attend such a second-rate event? The answer for the first two is easy: Their presence has a symbolic value. President Donald Trump may have pulled the United States out of the agreement, they say, but we take the subject seriously. And voters, ever more convinced that the end of the world is approaching, are mindful of that symbolism.

The majority of the conference’s 25,000 attendees are not even involved in negotiations. Alongside journalists, most of those in attendance are from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) — environmental groups, scientists and businesses. Their presence is a sign of transparency, organizers say, and designed to facilitate exchange and networking. Though one could add that these NGO members’ attendance also helps the acquisition of jobs and new subsidies, with which the next catastrophe study can be financed.

The significance of this, the self-referential portion of the annual traveling climate circus, can be clearly measured by the fact that its portion of the enormous tent village constructed for the conference is much larger than that in which governments are negotiating. Furthermore, no expense was spared in providing the men and women attending the conference a bit of absolution from the massive climate sins they committed in getting to COP. Every available electric bus in Germany was commandeered and brought to Bonn in order to provide attendees with an environmentally friendly shuttle service.

It would also be in poor taste to ask about the carbon footprint left by the conference — especially as most of the electricity used to run Bonn’s charging stations is derived from the region’s lignite coal power plants. Such a query would only upset the mood of those inhabiting this taxpayer-funded parallel universe.

Miniver Cheevy—Born Too Late

It’s hard to take!

The hypocritical swamp !

Roy Moore is like Miniver Cheevy in Edward Arlington Robinson’s poem of the same name. Born too late .

You see if he had been born just a short time ago he would have had that paragon of journalistic virtue on his side , Dan Rather , who said of Bill Clinton’s many sexual attacks that they were so long ago it really did not count. Actual words: ‘It was a Long Time Ago.’

That’s the same Dan Rather that tried to smear , unsuccessfully, George W. Bush over military service .

For decades now the American ( and Canadian ) publics have conveniently relegated the unsavoury sexual exploits of shifty Bill in some not to be mentioned memory bin.

He was even barred from practicing law in his own state.

Nothing.

Ancient history.

Truth bends and breaks through the decades it seems.

It’s expendable if it applies to my candidate.

But that was Bill . I mean Hillary is another person.Don’t you know that ? Another person. How stupid are you ? I saw the lawyer Jeffrey Toobin of CNN make that ridiculous point.

Problem is she participated in the cover up seeking to discredit all those women who Bill sexually abused. And she and Bill had their attack dogs in full fury —people like James Carville on TV talking despairingly of Bill’s victims. We watched , knowing all this was the lowest of the low, but said little.

We enabled through our silence.

But then it was not decades ago because we all saw it on display again last year during the election when Hillary dismissed out of hand all such talk and many of us went along.

But then today , a Democratic sitting Senator, Bob Menendez, is before the courts for bribery , exploiting young girls etc and the press’s coverage versus Moore’s , an aspiring Senator, is minuscule. What is this if not deliberate selective reporting of the first order? One a sitting Senator , one aspiring , yet the coverage is all on the aspiring one! And now this morning allegations of sexual abuse against another sitting Senator , Al Franken.

And a Senator has just come out to say there are two other sitting Congress people who are sexual predators that all the Congress knows about.

Much press?

Hardly any !

And, of course , we cannot talk of honesty , and e-mails , and paying money through lawyers and secret agents to get dirt on Trump through the Russians, can we?

Or watch the Clinton Foundation rewarded with tens of millions of dollars while helping friends get into the Uranium business in Kazakhstan ? This , too, no doubt , is another not to be disturbed memory bin.

Ah , Miniver Cheevy

‘Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.’

Pining For Fig Leaves

PINING FOR FIG LEAVES

Obama partisans fret as Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US confront reality on Iran.

November 15, 2017 Caroline Glick

Ms. Glick is with the David Horowitz Freedom Center and writes for the Jerusalem Post

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.

Friday, long-time US diplomats and Middle East experts Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky published an article in Foreign Policy expressing “buyers’ remorse” over Saudi Arabia’s newfound willingness to take the lead in regional affairs.

Titled, “Donald Trump has unleashed the Saudi Arabia we always wanted – and feared,” Miller and Sokolsky note that for generations, US policymakers wanted the Saudis to take a lead in determining the future of the region.

In their words, “During decades of service at the State Department, we longed for the day when riskaverse Saudi leaders would take greater ownership in solving their domestic and regional security problems and reduce their dependence on the United States.”

But now, they argue, under the leadership of King Salman and his son, 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudis are going too far.

Domestically, Miller and Sokolsky accuse Salman and Mohammed of upsetting the traditional power sharing arrangements among the various princes in order to concentrate unprecedented power in Mohammed’s hands. This, they insist, harms the status of human rights in the kingdom, although they acknowledge that Mohammed has taken steps to liberalize the practice of Islam in the kingdom to the benefit of women and others.

While upset at the purge of princes, ministers and businessmen, Miller and Sokolsky are much more concerned about the foreign policy initiatives Mohammed and Salman have undertaken with everything related to countering Iran’s rise as a regional hegemon.

In their words, “Abroad, the Saudis are engaged in a cold war with an opportunistic Iran that’s exploiting their missteps in Yemen and Qatar.”

Miller and Sokolsky note that Mohammed’s campaign to defeat the Iranian-backed Houthi regime in Yemen has been bogged down. His effort – backed by US President Donald Trump – to force Qatar to abandon its policy of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran has similarly come up short.

They continue, “The latest Saudi gambit – pressuring the Sunni Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign in an effort to expose an Iranian- and Hezbollah- dominated Lebanon – is perhaps too clever by half. What are the Saudis going to do, given their Shiite adversaries’ advantages in Syria and Lebanon, when the Lebanese find themselves plunged into domestic crisis or a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah?” The veteran diplomats conclude their missive by urging Trump to implement his predecessor Barack Obama’s Saudi policy. In their words, Trump needs to place heavy pressure “on the king and his son to de-escalate this conflict and restore equilibrium to America’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

“Because make no mistake,” they warn, “Saudi independence is illusory. Riyadh desperately wants us to back them – and bail them out when they get in over their heads with Iran. If Washington is not careful, the Saudis will sandbag America into standing up to Tehran while the Saudis hide behind its skirt.”

As if synchronized, Robert Malley, Obama’s former Middle East adviser, makes a similar argument in an article in The Atlantic. Malley took a lead role in expanding the US’s ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah during the Obama years.

There are several problems with these policymakers’ claims. The first is that in criticizing the Saudis they deliberately ignore the Obama administration’s central role in engendering the current situation in which the Saudi regime feels compelled to take the actions it is taking.

To be clear, noting the role of the previous administration in causing the rapidly escalating instability of the Middle East is not an exercise in deflecting criticism away from the current administration. The simple fact is that it is impossible for the US to chart a rational course for dealing with the present dangers and opportunities without understanding how they arose in the first place.

For eight years, the Obama administration deliberately alienated and willingly endangered Saudi Arabia and Israel by implementing a policy of appeasing Iran. Despite repeated warnings, the US refused to recognize that as far as Iran is concerned, it cannot have its cake and eat it too.

Iran is at war with Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies and with Israel.

Consequently, Miller and Sokolsky’s claim that there can be an “equilibrium to America’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran” which doesn’t involve the US siding with one side against the other is an illusion. On the ground in the Middle East, as events in Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Gaza and Egypt have made clear, Obama’s strategy of appeasing Iran weakened America’s traditional regional allies and strengthened Iran and its proxies.

The change in the balance of forces that the Obama administration’s policy caused forced the US’s spurned allies to reassess their strategic dependence on the US. Contrary to Miller and Sokolsky’s claims, the Saudis didn’t abandon their past passivity because Mohammed is brash, young and inexperienced.

Mohammed was appointed because Salman needed a successor willing and able to fight for the survival of the kingdom after Obama placed it in jeopardy through his appeasement of Iran. Mohammed is the flipside of the nuclear deal.

Malley noted blandly that like the Saudis, Israel has also been sounding alarms at an ever escalating rate.

It isn’t hard to understand why. In 2009, Israel’s borders and territory were far more secure than they are today. Sunday night three former senior missile developers at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – Israel’s premier missile and missile defense developer – went on television to warn that Haifa’s oil refineries and plans to use surrounding areas as a fuel depot will force the evacuation not only of the population of Haifa, but of all the surrounding satellite cities when war breaks out next with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, they warned, now has the precision missile capability to destroy these vital national infrastructures and render the Gulf of Haifa uninhabitable.

Then there is Syria.

Israel has repeatedly insisted that Iran and its proxies must not be permitted to develop a permanent presence in Syria. Russia and the US ignored Israel’s warnings not only during the Obama years, but, in a sign of the continued power of Obama partisans in the US foreign policy community, during the past year of the Trump administration as well. Over the summer the US and Russia concluded a cease-fire deal for Syria that permitted Iran and its proxies to operate in Syria.

Last week, the BBC reported that Iran is now building a military base 50 kilometers from the border with Israel. On Saturday, the IDF shot down a Russian- made intelligence drone launched against it by forces controlled by Iran’s chief Syrian proxy, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Sunday, following threats from Iranian-controlled Islamic Jihad terrorist forces in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that Israel will not accept assaults against it across any of its borders.

Netanyahu said that he holds the Iranian-supported Hamas regime in Gaza responsible for any attacks against Israel emanating from its territory.

Netanyahu’s statement was notable since just last week Hamas and Fatah began implementing their power sharing arrangement in Gaza. Fatah forces, controlled by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, supposedly took responsibility for border crossings between Gaza and Israel.

By insisting that Hamas is responsible rather than Fatah, despite the agreement, Netanyahu signaled that as far as Israel is concerned, through its power- sharing deal with Fatah Hamas has succeeded in becoming the Palestinian version of Hezbollah. Just as Hezbollah pretends to be a faction in Lebanese politics, when in fact it controls all aspects of the Lebanese state, so Hamas remains in charge of all aspects of governance in Gaza while using the PA as a fig leaf.

This brings us back to Miller, Sokolsky and Malley and their pining for a reset button.

It is hard to view their positions as the basis for forging constructive US policies for the region, transformed by eight years of US appeasement of Iran at the expense of its allies and interests.

Insisting that Mohammed abandon the steps he has taken to expand the prospects of Saudi survival in favor of a policy of pretending that a stable equilibrium can be struck between Iran and Saudi Arabia (and Israel) is not a policy for restoring equilibrium.

Putting Hariri back in office in Beirut so he can continue to serve as a fig leaf for Hezbollah and Iran is not a policy for restoring equilibrium. They are both means for pretending reality away while enabling Iran to wage a continuous war against America’s allies with ever greater power and capacity.

It makes sense that Obama partisans are unhappy with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed. It makes sense that they are unhappy with Netanyahu and with Trump.

All four of these leaders are impudently insisting on basing their policies on recognizing the reality Obama spent his two terms ignoring: Iran is not appeasable.

The Future Of Capitalism

From The Website of the Hoover Institute

The Future Of Capitalism

by Milton Friedman
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Editor’s note: The founding four hundred members of the Pepperdine University Associates assembled for the first time on February 9, 1977, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the university and to hear the charter address, “The Future of Capitalism,” by Milton Friedman. The text of this speech appears in the new Hoover Press book Milton Friedman on Freedom, edited by Robert Leeson and Charles G. Palm.

When I speak of the future of capitalism, I mean the future of competitive capitalism—a free enterprise capitalism. In a certain sense, every major society is capitalist. Russia has a great deal of capital, but the capital is under the control of governmental officials who are supposedly acting as the agents of the state. That turns capitalism (state capitalism) into a wholly different system than a system under which capital is controlled by individuals in their private capacity as owners and operators of industry. What I want to speak about tonight is the future of private enterprise—of competitive capitalism.

The future of private enterprise capitalism is also the future of a free society. There is no possibility of having a politically free society unless the major part of its economic resources are operated under a capitalistic private enterprise system.

The Trend toward Collectivism

The real question therefore is the future of human freedom. The question that I want to talk about is whether or not we are going to complete the movement that has been going on for the past forty or fifty years, away from a free society and toward a collectivist society. Are we going to continue down that path until we have followed Chile by losing our political freedom and coming under the thumb of an all-powerful government? Or are we going to be able to halt that trend, perhaps even reverse it, and establish a greater degree of freedom?

One thing is clear, we cannot continue along the lines that we have been moving. In 1928, less than fifty years ago, government at all levels—federal, state, and local—spent less than 10 percent of the national income. Two-thirds of that was at the state and local level. Federal spending amounted to less than 3 percent of the national income. Today total government spending at all levels amounts to 40 percent of the national income, and two-thirds of that is at the federal level. So federal government spending has moved in less than fifty years from 3 percent to over 25 percent—total government spending from 10 percent to 40 percent. Now I guarantee you one thing. In the next fifty years government spending cannot move from 40 percent of the national income to 60 percent. (Legislatures have tried to legislate that the value of p shall be exactly three and a seventh, but they cannot repeal the laws of arithmetic!)

We cannot continue on this path. The question is, will we keep trying to continue on this path until we have lost our freedom and turned our lives over to an all-powerful government in Washington, or will we stop?

In judging this possibility, it’s worth talking a little bit about where we are and how we got here—about the present and the past. Let me say at the outset that with all the problems I am going to talk about, this still remains a predominantly free society. There is no great country in the world (there are some small enclaves but no great country) that offers as much freedom to the individual as the United States does. But having said that we ought also to recognize how far we have gone away from the ideal of freedom and the extent to which our lives are restricted by governmental enactments.

In talking about freedom it is important at the outset to distinguish two different meanings on the economic level, of the concept of free enterprise, for there is no term that is more misused or misunderstood. The one meaning that is often attached to free enterprise is the meaning that enterprises shall be free to do what they want.

That is not the meaning that has historically been attached to free enterprise. What we really mean by free enterprise is the freedom of individuals to set up enterprises. It is the freedom of an individual to engage in an activity so long as he uses only voluntary methods of getting other individuals to cooperate with him. If you want to see how far we have moved from the basic concept of free enterprise, you can consider how free anyone is to set up an enterprise. You are not free to establish a bank or to go into the taxicab business unless you can get a certificate of convenience and necessity from the local, state, or federal authorities. You cannot become a lawyer or a physician or a plumber or a mortician (and you can name many other cases) unless you can get a license from the government to engage in that activity. You cannot go into the business of delivering the mail or providing electricity or of providing telephone service unless you get a permit from the government to do so. You cannot raise funds on the capital market and get other people to lend you money unless you go through the Securities and Exchange Commission and fill out the four hundred pages of forms that they require. To take the latest restriction on freedom, you cannot any longer engage in voluntary deals with others or make bets with other people about the future prices of commodities unless you get the approval of the government.

Rising Taxation

Another example of the extent to which we have moved away from a free society is the 40 percent of our earnings, on the average, that is co-opted by the government. Each and every one of us works from the first of January to late in April or May in order to pay governmental expenses before we can start to work for our own expenses.

If you want to look at it still another way, the government owns 48 percent of every corporation in the United States. We talk about ourselves as a free enterprise society. Yet in terms of the fundamental question of who owns the means of production, in the corporate sector we are 48 percent socialistic because the corporate tax is 48 percent. What does it mean if I own 1 percent of a corporation? It means I am entitled to 1 percent of the profits and 1 percent of the losses. Well, the federal government shares 48 percent of your profits and 48 percent of your losses (if you have some previous profits to offset against those losses).

Once when I was in Yugoslavia some years ago I calculated that the difference in the degree of socialism in the United States and in communist Yugoslavia was exactly eighteen percentage points, because the US government took 48 percent of the profits of every corporation and the Yugoslav government took 66 percent of the profits of every corporation. And, of course, those numbers grossly understate the role of the government because of its effect in regulating business in areas other than taxation.

Let me give you another example of the extent to which we have lost freedom. About a year or so ago, I had a debate in Washington with that great saint of the United States consumer, Ralph Nader. I planted a question on him because I knew what the answer would be and I wanted to extract the answer. The question I took up was the question of state laws requiring people who ride motorcycles to wear motorcycle helmets. Now I believe in many ways that law is the best litmus paper I know to distinguish true believers in individualism from people who do not believe in individualism because this is the case in which the man riding the motorcycle is risking only his own life. He may be a fool to drive that motorcycle without a helmet. But part of freedom and liberty is the freedom to be a fool! So I expressed the view that the state laws that make it compulsory for people who are riding motorcycles to wear helmets were against individual freedom and against the principles of a free society. I asked Ralph Nader for his opinion, and he gave the answer I expected. He said, “Well, that’s all very well for a different society. But you must realize that today, if a motorcyclist driving down the road without a helmet splashes himself on the pavement, a government-subsidized ambulance will come to pick him up, they will take him to a -government-subsidized hospital, he will be buried in a government-subsidized cemetery, and his wife and children will be supported by government-subsidized welfare. Therefore we can’t let him!” What he was saying was that every single one of us bears on our back a stamp that says “Property of the US Government. Do not fold, bend, or mutilate.”

That is essentially the fundamental principle that animates the Ralph Naders of our time—the people who want the power to be in government. You see it everywhere. You see it in a law passed a few years ago that requires the Treasury Department to report to the Congress a category called “Tax expenditures.” Tax expenditures are taxes that are not collected from you because of various deductions permitted by the law (such as interest or excess depreciation). The principle is that you are, after all, the property of the US government. You work for the US government, and the US government lets you keep a little of what you earn in order to be sure that it’ll keep you working hard for it. But the rest of it is the property of the US government. And if the US government allows you to deduct something from your taxes, it’s providing for the expenditure. It’s not a right that you have to keep it. It belongs to the government!

Other Freedoms Denied

We have gone very far indeed along the road to losing freedom. But you may say that I am talking only about economic matters, about whether you can enter a profession or an occupation. What about political freedom? What about the freedom of speech? How many businessmen have you heard in the past ten years who have been willing to stand up on some public rostrum and take issue with governmental policies? I have heard many a businessman get up and express general sentiments in favor of free enterprise and of competition. I have heard very few get up and criticize particular measures taken by government. And I don’t blame them. They would be fools to do it! Because any businessman who has the nerve to do that has to look over one shoulder and see what the Internal Revenue Service is going to do to his books the next day. And he has to look over the other shoulder to see whether the Justice Department is going to launch an antitrust suit. And then he has to find two or three more shoulders to see what the Federal Trade Commission is going to do. You can take any other three letters of the alphabet and ask what they are going to do to you. In fact, a businessman today does not have effective freedom of speech.

But businessmen don’t matter since they’re only material business people. What about those people for whom we are really concerned: the intellectuals?

I asked my colleagues, suppose I take a professor from a medical school whose research and training is largely being financed by the National Institutes of Health. Do you suppose he wouldn’t think three times before he gives a speech against socialized medicine? Suppose I take one of my colleagues in economics who has been supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. I personally happen to think there is no justification for the National Science Foundation. (As it happens, I have never received a grant from them though I might have. It isn’t that they have turned me down; I haven’t asked them!) But nonetheless, do you suppose my colleagues would not be inhibited in speaking out? In fact, I have often said about the only people who have any real freedom of speech left are people who are in the fortunate position of myself: tenured professors at major private universities on the verge of retirement!

Freedom of the Press

Let me give you an even more chilling story about freedom of the press. The other day I got a clipping from an English paper from a friend of mine, indicating that the London Times had been prevented from publishing on one day because the unions, who have controlled the press, refused to publish because the issue carried a story that was critical of the policies of unions. Do you mean to say that there aren’t American newspapers that would hesitate very much before printing stories and articles that would be regarded as antagonistic by the trade unions on which they depend to produce their papers?

So there is no way of separating economic freedom from political freedom. If you don’t have economic freedom, you don’t have political freedom. The only way you can have the one is to have the other.

The Nineteenth Century

So much for the present, what about the past? The closest approach to free enterprise we have ever had in the United States was in the nineteenth century. Yet your children will hear over and over again in their schools and in their classes the myth that that was a terrible period when the robber barons were grinding the poor miserable people under their heels. That’s a myth constructed out of whole cloth. The plain fact is that never in human history has there been a period when the ordinary man improved his condition and benefited his life as much as he did during that period of the nineteenth century when we had the closest approach to free enterprise that we have ever had. Most of us in this room, I venture to say, are beneficiaries of that period. I speak of myself. My parents came to this country in the 1890s. Like millions of others they came with empty hands. They were able to find a place in this country, to build a life for themselves and to provide a basis on which their children and their children’s children could have a better life. There is no saga in history remotely comparable to that of the United States during that era, welcoming millions and millions of people from all over the world and enabling them to find a place for themselves and to improve their lives. And it was possible only because there was an essentially free society.

If the laws and regulations that today hamstring industry and commerce had been in effect in the nineteenth century, our standard of living today would be below that of the nineteenth century. It would have been impossible to have absorbed the millions of people who came to this country.

Why Regimentation?

What produced the shift? Why did we move from a situation in which we had an essentially free society to a situation of increasing regimentation by government? In my opinion the fundamental cause of most government intervention is an unholy coalition between well-meaning people seeking to do good on the one hand and special interests (meaning you and me) on the other taking advantage of those activities for our own purposes.

The great movement toward government has not come about as a result of people with evil intentions trying to do evil. The great growth of government has come about because of good people trying to do good. But the method by which they have tried to do good has been basically flawed. They have tried to do good with other people’s money. Doing good with other people’s money has two basic flaws. In the first place, you never spend anybody else’s money as carefully as you spend your own. So a large fraction of that money is inevitably wasted. In the second place, and equally important, you cannot do good with other people’s money unless you first get the money away from them. So that force—sending a policeman to take the money from somebody’s pocket—is fundamentally at the basis of the philosophy of the welfare state. That is why the attempt by good people to do good has led to disastrous results. It was this movement toward welfare statism that produced the phenomenon in Chile that ended the Allende regime. It is this tendency to try to do good with other people’s money that has brought Great Britain—once the greatest nation of the earth, the nation that is the source of our traditions and our values and our beliefs in a free society—to the edge of catastrophe. It will be touch and go whether over the next five years Great Britain will be able to maintain a free society or relapse into collectivism.

When you start on the road to do good with other people’s money, it is easy at first. You’ve got a lot of people to pay taxes and a small number of people for whom you are trying to do good. But the later stages become harder and harder. As the number of people on the receiving end grows, you end up in the position where you are taxing 50 percent of the people to help 50 percent of the people or, really, 100 percent of the people to distribute benefits to 100 percent! The reductio ad absurdum of this policy is a proposal to send out a rain of $50 checks to all and sundry in the next few months.

The Future

Where do we go from here? People may say, “You can’t turn the clock back. How can you go back?” But the thing that always amuses me about that argument is that the people who make it and who accuse me or my colleagues of trying to turn the clock back to the nineteenth century are themselves busily at work trying to turn the clock back to the seventeenth century.

Adam Smith, two hundred years ago, in 1776, wrote The Wealth of Nations. It was an attack on the government controls of his time—on mercantilism, on tariffs, on restrictions, on governmental monopoly. But those are exactly the results that the present-day reformers are seeking to achieve.

In any event, that’s a foolish question. The real question is not whether you are turning the clock back or forward but whether you are doing the right thing? Do you mean to say you should never learn from your mistakes?

Some people argue that technological changes require big government and that you can no longer talk in the terms of the nineteenth century when the government only absorbed 3 percent of the national income. You have to have big government because of these technological changes. That’s nonsense from beginning to end. Some technological changes no doubt require the government to engage in activities different from those in which it engaged before. But other technological changes reduce the need for government. The improvements in communication and transportation have greatly reduced the possibility of local monopoly, which requires government intervention to protect the consumers. Moreover, if you look at the record the great growth of government has not been in the areas dictated by technological change. The great growth of government has been to take money from some people and to give it to others. The only way technology has entered into that is by providing the computers that make it possible to do so.

Other people will say, how can you talk about stopping this trend? What about big business? Does it really make any difference whether automobiles are made by General Motors, which is an enormous bureaucratic enterprise employing thousands of people, or whether they are made by an agency of the United States government, which is another bureaucratic enterprise?

The answer to that is very simple. It makes all the difference in the world because there is a fundamental difference between the two. There is no way in which General Motors can get a dollar from you unless you agree to give it to the company. That’s a voluntary exchange. It can only get money from you by providing you with something you value more than the money you give it. If it tries to force something on you that you don’t want, ask Mr. Henry Ford what happened when Ford tried to introduce the Edsel. On the other hand the government can get money from you without your consent. They can send policemen to take it out of your pocket. General Motors doesn’t have that power. And that is all the difference in the world. It is the difference between a society in which exchange is voluntary and a society in which exchange is not voluntary. It’s the reason why the government, when it is in the saddle, produces poor quality at high cost, while industry, when it’s in the saddle, produces quality at low cost. The one has to satisfy its customers and the other does not.

Two Possible Scenarios

Where shall we go from here? There are two possible scenarios. The one (and I very much fear it’s the more likely) is that we will continue in the direction in which we have been going, with gradual increases in the scope of government and government control. If we do continue in that direction, two results are inevitable. One result is financial crisis and the other is a loss of freedom.

The example of England is a frightening example to contemplate. England has been moving in this direction. We’re about twenty years behind England in this motion. But England was moving in this direction earlier than we were moving and has moved much farther. The effects are patent and clear. But at least when England moved in this direction and thus lost its power politically and internationally, the United States was there to take over the defense of the free world. But I ask you, when the United States follows that direction, who is going to take over from us? That’s one scenario, and I very much fear it’s the more likely one.

The other scenario is that we will, in fact, halt this trend, that we will call a halt to the apparently increasing growth of government, set a limit, and hold it back.

There are many favorable signs from this point of view. I may say that the greatest reason for hope, in my opinion, is the inefficiency of government. Many people complain about government waste. I welcome it. I welcome it for two reasons. In the first place, efficiency is not a desirable thing if somebody is doing a bad thing. A great teacher of mine, a mathematical economist, once wrote an article on the teaching of statistics. He said, “Pedagogical ability is a vice rather than a virtue if it is devoted to teaching error.” That’s a fundamental principle. Government is doing things that we don’t want it to do, so the more money it wastes
the better.

In the second place, waste brings home to the public at large the fact that government is not an efficient and effective instrument for achieving its objectives. One of the great causes for hope is a growing disillusionment around the country with the idea that government is the all-wise, all-powerful big brother who can solve every problem that comes along, that if only you throw enough money at a problem it will be resolved.

Several years ago John Kenneth Galbraith wrote an article in which he said that New York City had no problem that could not be solved by an increase in government spending in New York. Well, since that time the budget in the City of New York has more than doubled and so have the problems of New York. The one is cause and the other effect. The government has spent more but that meant that the people have less to spend. Since the government spends money less efficiently than individuals spend their own money, as government spending has gone up the problems have gotten worse. My main point is that this inefficiency, this waste, brings home to the public at large the undesirability of governmental intervention. I believe that a major source of hope is in the widespread rise in the tide of feeling that government is not the appropriate way to solve our problems.

There are also many unfavorable signs. It’s far easier to enact laws than to repeal them. Every special interest, including you and me, has great resistance to giving up its special privileges. I remember when Gerald Ford became president and he called a summit conference to do something about the problems of inflation. I sat at that summit conference and heard representatives of one group after another go to the podium—a representative of business, a representative of the farmers, a representative of labor, you name the group—they all went to the podium and they all said the same thing. They said, “Of course, we recognize that in order to stop inflation, we must cut down government spending. And I tell you the way to cut down government spending is to spend more on me.” That was the universal refrain.

Many people say that one of the causes for hope is the rising recognition by the business community that business enterprise is a threat to the free enterprise system. I wish I could believe that, but I do not. You must recognize the facts. Business corporations in general are not a defense of free enterprise. On the contrary, they are one of the chief sources of danger.

The two greatest enemies of free enterprise in the United States, in my opinion, have been, on the one hand, my fellow intellectuals and, on the other hand, the business corporations of this country. They are enemies for opposite reasons. Every one of my fellow intellectuals believes in freedom for himself. He wants free speech. He wants free research. I ask him, “Isn’t this a terrible waste that a dozen people are studying the same problem? Oughtn’t we to have a central planning committee to decide what research projects various individuals are to undertake?” He’ll look at me as if I’m crazy, and he’ll say, “What do you mean? Don’t you understand about the value of academic freedom and freedom of research and duplication?” But when it comes to business he says, “Oh, that’s wasteful competition. That’s duplication over there! We must have a central planning board to make those things intelligent, sensible!”

So every intellectual is in favor of freedom for himself and against freedom for anybody else. The businessman and the business enterprise are very different. Every businessman and every business enterprise is in favor of freedom for everybody else, but when it comes to himself, that’s a different question. We have to have that tariff to protect us against competition from abroad. We have to have that special provision in the tax code. We have to have that subsidy. Businessmen are in favor of freedom for everybody else but not for themselves.

There are many notable exceptions. There are many business leaders who have been extremely farsighted in their understanding of the problem and will come to the defense of a free enterprise system. But for the business community in general, the tendency is to take out advertisements, such as the US Steel Company taking out full-page ads to advertise the virtues of free enterprise but then to plead before Congress for an import quota on steel from Japan. The only result of that is for everybody who is fair-minded to say, “What a bunch of hypocrites!” And they’re right.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I don’t blame business enterprise. I don’t blame US Steel for seeking to get those special privileges. The managers of US Steel have an obligation to their stockholders, and they would be false to that obligation if they did not try to take advantage of the opportunities to get assistance. I don’t blame them. I blame the rest of us for letting them get away with it. We must recognize what the real problem is and recognize that that is not a source of strength.

Faith in the Future

Where are we going to end up? I do not know. I think that depends upon a great many things.

I am reminded of a story that will illustrate what we may need. It has to do with a young and attractive nun who was driving a car down a superhighway and ran out of gas. She remembered that a mile back there had been a gas station. She got out of her car, hiked up her habit, and walked back to the gas station. When she got to the station, she found that there was only one young man in attendance there. He said he’d love to help her but couldn’t leave the gas station because he was the only one there. He said he would try to find a container in which he could give her some gas. He hunted around the gas station and couldn’t find a decent container. The only thing he could find was a little baby’s potty that had been left there. So he filled the baby potty with gasoline and gave it to the nun. She took the baby potty and walked the mile down the road to her car. She got to her car and opened the gas tank and started to pour it in. Just at that moment a great big Cadillac came barreling down the road at eighty miles an hour. The driver was looking out and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. So he jammed on his brakes, stopped, backed up, opened the window, and looked out and said, “Sister, I only wish I had such faith!”

Finally, may I say a word of congratulations to Pepperdine University, especially the associates, for your ability not only to survive but to flourish in an educational world increasingly dominated by government institutions. Unless this trend can be contained, or even better reversed, by the continued existence and growth of private institutions like Pepperdine University and my own University of Chicago, our free society will be in mortal danger. Thank you.

The Lurch Into Cultural Fascism

THE LURCH INTO CULTURAL FASCISM
NOVEMBER 13, 2017 MELANIE Phillips

Both Britain and America appear to be lurching into a kind of cultural fascism.

Roy Moore, the controversial Republican nominee in the Alabama Senate race, has been accused by Leigh Corfman and three other women that he made sexual overtures to them when he was in his 30s and they were between the ages of 14 and 18.

These claims may or may not be true. At present, we don’t know. But that hasn’t stopped Moore’s fellow Republicans from behaving as if they’re the regime of a banana republic. Presumption of innocence? Forget about it.

According to one-time presidential hopeful Mitt Romney: “Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.”

Senator John McCain also had no doubts about Moore’s guilt. He tweeted: “The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.”

In Britain, the tsunami of sex-pest allegations is similarly washing away the bedrock principles of justice.

Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke was suspended from the party without being told what he was accused of having done. He told his constituency association last Thursday:

“I received a call from a journalist just after 9pm on Friday evening saying he had heard I was having the whip withdrawn in time for the 10 o’clock news and asked me what was going on,” he said. “I said I had absolutely no idea. Minutes later I received a call from the chief whip telling me that serious allegations had been made against me earlier that week and that these had been passed to the police. I asked what the allegations were and he would not tell me.

He added:

“It is also a denial of justice when people who have had allegations made against them, lose their job or their party whip without knowing what those allegations are. I believe this is fundamentally wrong. Wrong because it’s an injustice to those who stand accused, but also wrong because it undermines our values as a country.”

Too right. Not only does this undermine British values, it has destroyed a human being. The former Welsh minister Carl Sergeant, who was sacked from his political post and suspended from the Welsh Labour Party because he was accused of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping” but without ever even being told exactly what he was supposed to have done, hanged himself last week.

Then there’s the quicksand of gender and sexual fluidity, which is sucking not merely justice and liberty but linguistic meaning and physiological reality into a sinkhole of coercion and bullying.

Joshua Sutcliffe, a Christian maths teacher in Oxfordshire, faces a disciplinary hearing this week on charges of “misgendering”. His crime, it seems, was to tell two pupils who were working hard, “Well done, girls”.

One of the two girls, however, identifies as a boy. Following a complaint by the pupil’s mother, Sutcliffe was suspended. Reportedly, he also faces claims that he breached the school’s equality policy by referring to the pupil by name rather than as “he” or “him”.

The words “mother” and “father” will be removed from Catholic school admission forms after a parent complained the terms discriminated against some families, such as those with gay or step-parents.

The Scottish government has told teachers they should allow primary pupils who wish to switch gender identity in schools to do so without seeking parents’ consent. School staff have also been told to explain the “ethos of inclusion” to parents who “voice concerns” about their child sharing a changing room or lavatory with transgender pupils — and to consider telling the local authority if parents “struggle” with their child’s transgender identity.

This creeping extinction of justice, tolerance and reason by the very people who constantly proclaim that they alone embody justice, tolerance and reason is precisely why my thinking over the past three decades evolved in the way it did – as I record in my personal and political memoir Guardian Angel, which is being published in paperback in the US at the end of January.

Now this onslaught has reached critical mass, the battle lines are drawn and combat is engaged on both sides of the pond. But when the smoke finally clears, who will have won?

Herbal Supplement Kratom Dangerous

Citing 36 deaths, the Food and Drug Administration chief will warn consumers today not to use the herbal supplement kratom to ease opioid withdrawal and announce plans to step its regulatory oversight to combat the opioid epidemic.

The FDA public health advisory on kratom follows the Drug Enforcement Administration’s reversal or at least delay of plans to classify kratom as a controlled substance on the same level as heroin and LSD. Gottlieb says the FDA plans to work with the DEA to determine how kratom should be classified.

Kratom, a plant grown naturally in countries including Thailand and Malaysia, is widely sold in smoke shops and other locations as a powder that can be used in tea to slow the effects of opioid withdrawal. But it has addictive properties of its own, FDA says. public health advisory related to the FDA’s mounting concerns regarding risks associated with the use of kratom.

The FDA says kratom carries similar risks of abuse, addiction and in some cases, death, as opioids. It is also often used recreationally for its euphoric effects.

Along with opioid withdrawal, kratom is also believed to relieve fatigue, pain, cough and diarrhea. Anita Gupta, an osteopathic anesthesiologist and licensed pharmacist, has expressed concern about an increase in the use of kratom among her chronic pain patients.

Still, Jessica Bardoulas of the American Osteopathic Association said many “were dismayed to learn of the DEA’s plan to classify the plan as a Schedule 1 substance … despite anecdotal and scientific evidence indicating kratom could be an effective opioid alternative.”

Because kratom is largely unregulated, “you never know the real strength, ingredients, or how it’s prepared,” says Chris Barth, who used the medication Suboxone to recover from a pain pill addiction a decade ago.

“Limited access and or lack of knowledge of approved treatments is what’s probably driving this.” says Barth. “It’s probably easier to ‘do it yourself’ with kratom ordered over the internet than find — if it’s available — and pay for FDA approved, doctor supervised treatment.”

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb also plans to tell his agency’s criminal investigations staff that he may ask Congress for more authority and resources to fight the opioid epidemic, according to remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday afternoon.

Gottlieb also says in the remarks that a new working group with Customs and Border Patrol is working on stepped-up enforcement at entry points for illegal narcotics.

Keatom has become a popular drug sold over the counter by smoke shops and other vendors. Made from the leaves of a southeast Asian tree, the product is usually sold as a fine powder that can be mixed into food or taken inside a capsule. The DEA has proposed making kratom as a Schedule 1 controlled narcotic. Kratom leaves have long been used as both a pain reliever and stimulant in Thailand, where the tropical evergreen tree grows wild. (Photo: Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY)

The fact Gottlieb is speaking to the investigations staff is significant because “if they find people here who are opening the gates to these drugs, there may be opportunities for the FDA to investigate at a high level,” says Joshua Sharfstein, former principal deputy FDA commissioner in the Obama administration.

Importers, organized crime or others in the supply chain could be part of conspiracies to distribute illegal opioids, Sharfstein says.

FDA is already using import alerts and other authority to stop foreign, unapproved and misbranded drugs at the border to keep kratom shipments from entering the United States. Hundreds of shipments have already been detained and many are seized.

Still, more than 340 million packages reach the U.S. every year.

“Given that massive volume, it’s estimated that only a small percentage of the illicit drugs smuggled through the (international mail are being intercepted,” Gottlieb said.

While it’s very important to strengthen border enforcement, “the challenge is akin to pushing the tide back into the ocean,” says Sharfstein.

Gottlieb, who did two previous stints at the FDA, has publicly expressed misgivings about how long it took the agency to truly address the crisis.

“We’ve learned a tragic lesson from the opioid crisis: that we must pay early attention to the potential for new products to cause addiction and we must take strong, decisive measures to intervene,” said Gottlieb in his prepared remarks. “From the outset, the FDA must use its authority to protect the public from addictive substances like kratom, both as part of our commitment to stemming the opioid epidemic and preventing another from taking hold. ”