AEI: The Moral Case for Capitalism

This is an older article from 2012 by Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute, but it is certainly applicable in this day when capitalism is being thrown under the bus by those who either want to equate capitalism with crony corporatism, those who want to replace it with forms of socialism, or both. Free enterprise has lifted millions around the world from poverty and is the most humane and compassionate economic system.

The topic is expounded upon in the book Wealth & Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism. Brooks and his co-author Peter Wehner note that “a free economy requires a strong civic and social order and a shared belief in an underlying moral code–a moral code that should come not from the government, but from family, churches, neighborhood associations, and local schools.” Capitalism must be a part of the “golden chain” which includes morality and democracy in order to benefit society.

Making a Moral Case for Capitalism

Earlier this month in the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney made an unusual argument by modern political standards: that long-term deficit spending is not just an economic issue, but a moral one. “I think it’s . . . not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation.”

This is a notable occurrence, not just because Romney is frequently chided for being cool and detached, but because it represents a return to something our founders knew but succeeding generations have forgotten: Limited government and individual liberty aren’t merely policy alternatives. They’re moral imperatives. “Limited government and individual liberty aren’t merely policy alternatives. They’re moral imperatives.” — Arthur Brooks

America’s founders were moralists, not materialists. The Declaration of Independence defends not our right to material prosperity, but, rather, the covenant between government and citizens of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In both public declarations as well as personal correspondence, the founders discussed, debated, and explained their thinking using moral language.

In today’s commercial republic, the freedom our founders fought for is expressed in the form of free enterprise: the system of laws and institutions that rewards entrepreneurship and hard work, largely on the basis of markets and competition. Free enterprise is what Thomas Jefferson meant by the “free exercise of industry … and the fruits acquired by it.” Free enterprise is compatible with government in the case of market failures (such as crime) and a safety net for the indigent, but it is inconsistent with today’s growing statism and corporate cronyism.

Today, we rarely hear a moral defense for free enterprise from our politicians, which is why Romney’s statement was so striking. And the general lack of moral defense explains why – despite the fact that surveys find a large majority of Americans think the government is too big and trying to do too much – we acquiesce to larger and larger government from both parties. Indeed, it is why government at all levels has grown from 15 percent of U.S. GDP in 1940 to more than 35 percent today, and – according to the Congressional Budget Office – will hit 50 percent in 2038.

Day after day, politicians offer one government benefit after another to our citizens. This has made a majority of Americans into net beneficiaries of the welfare state, as my colleague Nicholas Eberstadt chronicles in his new book, Nation of Takers. While most Americans dislike the crisis and culture this has brought us, few are eager to give up their benefits. It is not compelling enough to point out that these goodies will lead to fiscal problems sometime in the future. It isn’t even enough to scare citizens with threats of a Greek-style debt crisis, which will surely come if we continue to build a Greek-style social democracy with Greek-sized government.

Only the moral case for freedom and opportunity – the case that stimulated the struggle of our founders – will have a chance to save the American experiment that we say we want. That case requires that we make three arguments.

First, we have to argue for the right of every American to earn his or her success. Earned success does not mean making money. It means creating value with our lives, and in the lives of other people. For some, this means starting a for-profit business; for others, it means creating a beautiful work of art, raising great kids, or helping others. Regardless, there is a tremendous amount of evidence that people who say they have earned their success are our happiest citizens.

For earned success, we need a system that matches our skills and passions, rewards hard work, and lets us keep these rewards. If not, we will suffer what the eminent University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman calls “learned helplessness.” This is a condition in which our earned rewards are stripped away, or we are given something we have not earned. When we learn helplessness, we become passive and unhappy.

Second, we have to argue for basic fairness. For most Americans, a fair society is one in which hard work, creativity, and honest competition result in financial reward. It does not mean that we redistribute resources through government power just to get more equality. It also does not mean rewarding the government’s cronies in favored industries – from green energy, to banks, to labor unions. It means rewarding merit and creating opportunity. It does not mean insider dealing, social engineering, equalizing economic outcomes, and pork-barrel spending.

Third, we have to argue for the rights of the poor, and fight for the system that lifts them up by the billions. Between 1970 and 2010, the percentage of the world’s population living on less than a dollar a day has been reduced by about 80 percent. What explains this miracle? The United Nations or International Monetary Fund? U.S. foreign aid? Of course not. It was globalization, free trade, entrepreneurship, property rights, and the rule of law spreading around the world.

So what is the system that satisfies our demand to let people earn their success, that is fair, and that lifts up the poor by the billions? There is only one: free enterprise.

Two hundred years ago, Jefferson wrote: “The last hope of human liberty in this world rests on us.” That is as true today as it was then. Free enterprise is America’s blessing, and our gift to the world. Yet it is in peril, and only a moral defense will save America from squandering it as we follow the ruinous path of our European allies. We need more politicians, intellectuals, activists, and everyday Americans to stand up for free enterprise – not just because it makes us better off, but because it makes us better.

Rutherford Institute: No, the Government Shouldn’t Be Policing the Globe

Here is another good article from author and Constitutional law attorney John Whitehead on whether the U.S.A. will have its empire collapse and remain a democratic republic, or have its democracy collapse and keep the empire. An excerpt follows:

Guns for Hire: No, the Government Shouldn’t Be Using the Military to Police the Globe

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” — James Madison

Eventually, all military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome.

It’s happening again.

At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise. As historian Chalmers Johnson predicts:

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire and its incestuous relationship with a host of international defense contractors, is one of its best buyers and sellers. In fact, as Reuters reports, “[President] Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry.”

Under Trump’s leadership, the U.S. military is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes.

This follows on the heels of President Obama, the so-called antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who waged war longer than any American president and whose targeted-drone killings resulted in at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror

Click here to read the entire article at the Rutherford Institute.

Tenth Amendment Center: Step by Step for Liberty

Michael Boldin at the Tenth Amendment Center has a nice, short article about the federal government’s usurpation of powers never delegated to it by the Constitution – Step by Step for Liberty: Small Things Grow Great by Concord.

Let us remember that if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom!

Writing as Candidus in the Boston Gazette on Oct. 14, 1771, Samuel Adams recognized an important and timeless truth. Turning a blind eye to an attack on liberty only guarantees that more attacks will come in the future.

The same goes for violations of the Constitution, which the Founders often referred to as “usurpations,” or the exercise of “arbitrary power.”

In his 1791 Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, Thomas Jefferson agreed with Adams in principle when he wrote:

“I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.’ [10th Amendment] To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.” [emphasis added]

Here’s something that shouldn’t be surprising: Jefferson was right.

But turning things around from a government with tens of thousands of unconstitutional “laws,” regulations, rules and orders on the books isn’t going to happen in a single step either…

Click here to read the entire article at the Tenth Amendment Center.

City Journal: The Knife Went In

City Journal recently reprinted an article from 1994 in their Spring 2019 issue, The Knife Went In by Theodore Dalrymple.

It is a mistake to suppose that all men, or at least all Englishmen, want to be free. On the contrary, if freedom entails responsibility, many of them want none of it. They would happily exchange their liberty for a modest (if illusory) security. Even those who claim to cherish their freedom are rather less enthusiastic about taking the consequences of their actions. The aim of untold millions is to be free to do exactly as they choose and for someone else to pay when things go wrong.

In the past few decades, a peculiar and distinctive psychology has emerged in England. Gone are the civility, sturdy independence, and admirable stoicism that carried the English through the war years. It has been replaced by a constant whine of excuses, complaint, and special pleading. The collapse of the British character has been as swift and complete as the collapse of British power.

Listening as I do every day to the accounts people give of their lives, I am struck by the very small part in them which they ascribe to their own efforts, choices, and actions. Implicitly, they disagree with Bacon’s famous dictum that “chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.” Instead, they experience themselves as putty in the hands of fate.

It is instructive to listen to the language they use to describe their lives. The language of prisoners in particular teaches much about the dishonest fatalism with which people seek to explain themselves to others, especially when those others are in a position to help them in some way. As a doctor who sees patients in a prison once or twice a week, I am fascinated by prisoners’ use of the passive mood and other modes of speech that are supposed to indicate their helplessness. They describe themselves as the marionettes of happenstance…

Click here to read the entire article at City Journal.

Liberty Blitzkrieg: Arrest of Julian Assange Is Attack on Journalism, Liberty

Michael Krieger at Liberty Blitzkrieg has a nice article summarizing the ways in which the recent arrest of Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame is a bad sign for our liberty and western civilization.

A key quote is this: Americans are being taught, by repeated example, that there exists two main classes of people in this country. Those aligned with — in one way or another — the national security state, and those who are not. If you’re aligned with the interests of empire and are somewhat prominent, you will never suffer consequences for any of your actions.

Your career will flourish irrespective of how wrong you are, how many countries you destroy, how many civilians you murder, or how many lives you ruin with fraud and corruption. You are for all intents and purposes a member of the imperial royalty, and as such, completely and totally above the law. This isn’t speculation or exaggeration, it’s demonstrably provable reality. We’re being gradually conditioned to accept a society comprised of rulers and the ruled, of masters and servants. There’s no place in such a construct for self-government. You are a subject not a citizen. 

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

American Partisan: So You Have a Group — Now What?

Kit Perez over at American Partisan has a useful article up about what your group should be doing, or not doing, if you have one. Here’s an excerpt from So You Have a Group — Now What?

Groups are all the rage. A lot of people like to identify with some kind of group. It can give them the feeling that they’re “doing something,” or even fill the validation need. That’s not a good or bad thing, it just is.

If you’ve already read about how to recruit, and who not to have, you might be wondering what’s next. You’ve whittled down your existing group to the people you need or created a new, small group of solid folks, and you’re looking for the next step. Well, here it is:

Your group needs a goal.

What do you want? What would you like to accomplish? Now is not the time for some grandiose “liberty” idea. Now is when you decide exactly what your particular group wants to see happen in your local area. Be realistic here; if you choose a goal that is more fantasy than reality you’ll not only fail to achieve it but you’ll get burned out in the process.

Once you have a goal, look at specific, actionable things you can do that will push you toward that goal.

The #1 Thing You Need

Keep in mind that regardless of what your goal or action plan ends up being, if the public will know about your group, then you need the public to support you. There is no shortcut, no way around this. If your group will have a public face, that face better be a positive one — and not just among your echo chamber of like-minded folks, either…

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

Related:

American Partisan: Forming a Community Survival Group

American Partisan: Defense Against Tyrants

A new author, Bryce Sharper, over at American Partisan has written an introductory post titled Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (Defense Against Tyrants) where he says that he will be writing about moral and mental aspects of resistance in order to achieve victories on the spiritual level.

…What about our families?  Almost every philosopher of every faith or tradition has agreed that the family is the basic building block of civilization.  If ours are coming apart, how will we have the support we need to play IRL Call of Duty come The Revolution?  How can we preserve our way of life if we’re failing to raise our kids?  How will our local prepper group respect us, if our wives don’t?  How can we cooperate on greater levels if we can’t cooperate on a family level?

These are questions I intend to explore in upcoming articles.  As a leading-edge Millennial who was raised by diligent parents who brought me to church and are still married, I still feel like I’ve had to learn everything from scratch.  We have lost all our traditions [L. traditio = hand down] and so no knowledge is being handed down to the next generation and our civilization is dying.  Since this website is a “vanguard movement of Western civilization,” let us begin with ourselves and practice the small-but-important things in the hopes they will lead to greater things.

Will Durant said that civilizations begin in stoicism and end in epicureanism.  We see the latter every day, complete with public orgies found in ancient Rome.  Can our destruction be far behind our decadence?  We may not be able to preserve the United States.  In fact, I think it is near its end.  We can recover our traditions and preserve our way of life, or at least try.  How?  I’ve become convinced that the United States began with good Americans.  In one sense, there were never golden years to look back on because “former days were not better than these” (Ecc 7:10).   However, even secular historians such as Durant and many of our Founding Fathers agreed that civilizations die in licentiousness.  Civilizations follow an arc of birth, life, and death and most indicators point to our death.  If this is the case, we should look forward to rebuilding and we can start with ourselves…

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

RELATED:

Beauty Beyond Bones: Drowning in Indifference – a thoughtful article from a brave young woman in New York City about the difficulty of trying to make a difference against the opposing freight train when you feel like a feather.

We are all just sitting back and letting this all happen.

Just like my response to the PP [Planned Parenthood] canvassers today.

No one is willing to stand up and take the unpopular opinion that, Hey, this is wrong. This needs to stop. We need a change…

When are we going to push the pause button and at least ask the question of: What is the implication of all this?

But the even more important, and sobering question, is, How am I contributing to what our world has become? 

Sure, my heart and mind say one thing, but do my actions shout, “Indifferent?!”

And that is a hard question. Because we are to live in this world, but not be “of” this world. And further to that, what can we do? Really? 

It is a discouraging conversation to have with oneself. How do you stop a freight train with a feather?

Brandon Smith: Fighting Globalism Requires Decentralization

Brandon Smith at Alt-Market.com has written on a piece worth your time titled Fighting Back Against Globalism Requires An Honest Movement To Decentralize. Globalism isn’t the only threat to liberty, but it is a major one, affecting people the world over and not just US citizens.

…Liberty activists have to lead by example, first by educating the public on the concept of the non-aggression principle — the principle that force is not an acceptable method of compelling a group of people to organize in the way you wish. Force is not incentive, it is criminal. Force is only an acceptable reaction when someone else is trying to harm or enslave you and those around you. This concept is paramount to the long-term survival of any society. It should be codified and taught to each new generation.

Next, liberty activists need to organize locally into voluntary groups based on mutual aid. Modern civilization has been directed over many decades to assume that participation in the system is mandatory and that the survival of the system is paramount over the rights or prosperity of the individual. But a system that is hostile to individual liberty does not deserve to exist. It should not be allowed to survive.

People have to walk away and build something else.

Voluntarism is the key to changing decades if not centuries of misallocated human labor and time. Imagine a world in which every person is a “free agent,” and they join groups (or partnerships) based on shared goals or shared beliefs rather than being born into servitude — fuel to keep a global machine that does not care about them running. They join these groups based on their interests, abilities, merit and how they might help a particular project progress. Then they are free to leave the group whenever they wish or when the project is done.

In other words, voluntarism is a kind of return to a tribal system, but one in which some tribes exist temporarily based on what they plan to achieve. The GOAL becomes the focus, instead of the endless perpetuation of a group that has outlived its usefulness. The more legitimate achievements for the betterment of humanity a tribe attains successfully, the longer it would stay relevant.

The incentive to better one’s self would be considerable in a voluntary society, for you are competing against every other individual that is also improving their own skill sets and knowledge for a spot in each project or tribe. Individual excellence would become the core virtue of such a civilization.

Voluntarism is perhaps a lofty vision, but one that can be pursued in steps. One of the first steps is self-sufficiency and production…

Click here to read the entire article.

Brandon Smith: Human Courage for Liberty Activists

From Brandon Smith at Alt-Market comes the article Human Courage And Kindness Stand As Obstacles To The Void, explaining the reasons liberty activists disagree on solutions and how to use courage and kindness to over come the same.

Among liberty activists, there is a rather universal consensus on what ails our nation. We understand that there is a concerted and deliberate effort by the establishment to undermine individual rights and constitutional protections. We understand that there is a coordinated effort by international financiers to destabilize our economy and siphon wealth from the middle class until it shrivels up and dies. We understand that there is an organized plan to radicalize the public along ideological lines and pit them against each other. We understand that geopolitics and regional wars are exploited to distract us from underlying issues. There is not very much debate over these realities; the evidence is overwhelming.

However, there is constant disagreement among activists on solutions to these problems, and there are several reasons why this conflict persists. Let’s examine them…

It is these two characteristics that will help to dissolve the conflicts within liberty activism listed above.  It is these two characteristics that defeat tyrants, and so it will be these two characteristics that tyrants will seek to undermine. It is difficult to conquer a people when they are not afraid of sacrifice and when they are not afraid to organize in the real world. It is difficult to isolate people with selfishness when they are driven by the empathy inherent in kindness. ALL solutions, all practical strategies rely on the existence of these two forces within a movement.

As 2017 comes to a close, it is my hope that every liberty activist prepares for more dangerous days ahead. But above all else, their preparations must flow from a foundation of struggle and self sacrifice, foresight and endurance, community and practicality, courage and kindness. If not, then really, what is the point?

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Lies of Omission, Freedom Documentary, Now Available on DVD

http://www.liesofomission.com/

The one thing this documentary is not, is a hysterical, finger-pointing accusation, it is more of a reasoned, compelling argument for freedom, individual rights and an explanation of how they are disappearing and why they need to be defended. This is a message that the next generation of this battle is not being taught in school and even if it were, it would not be taught by people who truly understand the nuances like this community does. We are seeking a diversity of points of view to help drive the message home so that no matter where the viewer lands on the spectrum of beliefs, they will have a voice and a reason to consider the arguments.

Interviewees in the documentary include Kit Perez, David Codrea, Mike Vanderboegh, Claire Wolfe, Larry Pratt, and Matt Bracken

Click here for a table of contents

How “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide”

From The Daily BellHow “Nothing to Hide” Leads to “Nowhere to Hide” – Why Privacy Matters in an Age of Tech Totalitarianism

Would you allow a government official into your bedroom on your honeymoon? Or let your mother-in-law hear and record every conversation that takes place in your home or car – especially disagreements with your husband or wife? Would you let a stranger sit in on your children’s playdates so that he could better understand how to entice them with candy or a doll?

Guess what? If you bring your phone with you everywhere, or engage with a whole-house robo helper such as Alexa or Echo or Siri or Google, you’re opening up every aspect of your life to government officials, snooping (possibly criminal) hackers, and advertisers targeting you, your spouse and your children…

When you ask Siri or Echo or Alexa or Google (and others of their ilk) something, it’s great to get an immediate answer… but the corollary is that Siri and Echo and Alexa and Google are listening to every conversation you’re having with your spouse, every fight you’re having with your kids, and every bit of heavy breathing that might be taking place in the dark.

That response inherently grants legitimacy to the search in the first place. The implication is that if you have nothing to “hide,” then the tech companies, the advertisers, the government, etc. should indeed have full access to every aspect of your life…

Technology can lead to convenience, but it can also lead to abuses of power. In its extreme, that is called totalitarianism.

In the end, we must take precautions if we’re to have anything close to liberty. Some of you have, no doubt, read Jonah Goldberg’s excellent book from 2007, Liberal Fascism, the hardcover of which features a smiley face graphic with a Hitler mustache. In the introduction, Mr. Goldberg quotes a segment from a Bill Maher show in which George Carlin says, in essence, (and I’m paraphrasing) that “when fascism comes to America it will be wearing a smiley face.”

I’d go a step further — it will be cloaked in an emoji seemingly innocuous, friendly, and ubiquitous.

We must stop giving away our privacy. We must start thinking about personal “data” as the commodity that it already is, and even as a weapon that can be used against us.

If we don’t stop and reconsider what we’re giving away, not only will there be nothing to hide, but nowhere to hide.

Read the entire article here