The Sarah Sanders fiasco challenges the notion of free exchange of ideas and nation-state.

America’s hypocrisy when it comes to the freedom to exchange ideas was further exposed last weekend when Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary for the White House, was asked to leave the Red Hen, a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. According to The Hill.com, Mrs. Sanders along with seven members of her family, was asked by Stephanie Wilkinson, the co-owner of the restaurant, to leave the establishment because she took issue with the Trump administration’s policy toward transgender members of the military.  Listening to calls this morning to C-SPAN on the issue is giving me the sense of how increasingly polarized the United States is politically. It has me asking, “Are Americans really serious about the free exchange of ideas or is that just some Madison Avenue hype designed to maintain an artificial society?”

The first three words in the Constitution of the United States of America, “We the People”, seem farcical given this latest event. Yes, humans are expected to disagree, but the United States has been transmitting a message to the world that the choice to disassociate based on the groups you want to disassociate away from is somehow a bad thing and that real strength lies in diversity of people and ideas.  The Sanders event is an example that this creed is built on shaky ground. It seems more likely that Americans rather not share space with people who do not share their political beliefs or political lineage. “We the People” means, “We, a Particular People Who Have Taken Charge.” Inclusive means only including those who share your beliefs.

The State had to sell the notion that the disenfranchised were allowed to come to the party. The last thing the United States needed to see was its own version of Bastille Day on American soil. To keep the barbarians at bay the political elite needed a doggy bone and democracy has been that bone since the country’s inception.  But as the guise of democracy and its phony noble intent falls away, are the disenfranchised ready for a world that is not inclusive?

If Americans are serious about freedom of association and the freedom to exchange ideas, they must accept the freedom to disassociate and go one’s own way. The Left is afraid of such a mindset because disassociation means fewer people across which to spread the costs of unnecessary programs and fewer people towing their party line.  The Left has been historically aligned with freedom of thought, but their support for the co-owner of The Red Hen demonstrates to me that even they do not understand their equality standards and the artificial nature of those standards are coming back to harm them.

The co-owner of the Red Hen, again, took issue with transgender policy of the Trump administration and given the lack of anonymity that Mrs. Sanders could not avoid were able to single her out and direct a protest against Mr. Trump by asking her to leave.  Would the Left take issue with a restaurant owner who does not support the Democratic Party because of the party’s support for gay marriage but because she is aware that 90% of blacks support the Democratic Party decides to not serve them? The answer is yes and not because the Left would think the owner is wrong, but the loss of black votes stemming from any Democratic support for the restaurant owner’s free speech would cost Democrats at the polls.

I don’t believe the discussion on free association will ever end. Quite frankly it needs to continue and get louder.

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v Colorado Civil Rights Commission: Colorado must be neutral in application of civil rights laws

The U.S. Supreme Court told the state of Colorado that it must be neutral in its application of equal rights laws in an opinion released today by the high court.  In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, at issue was whether the State’s requirement that the appellant create a cake for a same-sex wedding would violate the appellant’s right to free speech by compelling him to exercise his artistic talents to express a message with which he disagreed and would violate his right to the free exercise of religion? The Court answered in the affirmative, holding that Colorado did not apply its civil rights laws in a neutral manner.

In its analysis, the Court reiterated that religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and, in some instances, protected forms of expression. Masterpiece Cakeshop’s claim that the State compelled him to use his artistic skill to make a statement endorsing a gay couple’s wedding had significant First Amendment implications regarding the sincere religious beliefs expressed by the appellant.  Statements made during the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s hearing of the gay couple’s complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop were, according to the Court, clearly hostile to the appellant. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission had a duty under the First Amendment to not base laws or regulations on hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint.

The individualist can’t help but be concerned about how the State apparatus, a civil rights agency, could be used to help extend one couple’s view of how the world should be over those who don’t agree with the view. Yes, as individualist we promote the individual’s choice to live their life as they see fit, according to their own personal rules. This includes exercising their personal sexual preference. So- called cultural conservatives are guilty of these attempts as well, most notably in the area of abortion where they show a heavy penchant for regulating a woman’s womb.

The Court made a call in the individualist favor although promoting individualism was the furthest thing from the Court’s mind. This holding is a reminder that sometimes the entire State apparatus has to call its own bluff when it comes to its claims that government is protector of liberty.

America needs a new civil rights paradigm; one that puts the individual first

There is racism in America. America’s institutions were designed to route capital away from various groups based on race. America’s founding was race-based evidenced by a European policy of removal of Native American tribes from ancestral homes in North America where removal was based on a theory of discovery that, on one hand acknowledged the occupancy of America by Native Americans, but on the other hand, chose to abide with what it identified as a global rule where the country discovering the occupied land can declare acquisition by discovery of the occupied land and remove the occupants by force.

Europeans used a similar argument when it entered the African slave trade and removed people from their homes in Africa and transported them to North America. Like the Native American, Africans were given sub-human status justifying their removal as nothing but chattel property for use as unpaid labor.

America’s history is steeped in racism and as part of its redress federal, state, and local governments have embarked on an almost 60-year initiative to guarantee the rights of individuals to receive “equal treatment” by prohibiting discrimination against classes of individuals (race, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) who are pursuing certain endeavors, activities, or opportunities including education, employment, housing, borrowing on credit, housing, or voting.

I see two problems with these attempts at redress of wrongs allegedly perpetrated on certain groups. First, there is the total disregard of the individual where civil rights laws attempt to extend the “tyranny of the masses” that is becoming increasingly virulent in democracy. Groups of unknown individuals identified only by the class that they may fall in may now, backed by the force of the State, restrict the ability of the individual or an association of individuals from engaging with who they want or engaging in certain aspects of the market on terms that best serve their individual or group interests.

The second problem, particularly as it involves blacks in America, is that civil rights laws create a reliance on another group’s “safety pin”, a false and dangerous narrative that says that blacks should seek protection from a group whose wealth has been built on a history of systemic and systematic initiatives designed to keep power. There is a fallacy that the group that has kept its boot on the neck of black people is expected to remove the boot solely on the power of morals.  Rather than seek true economic and political empowerment via total independence, the current civil rights framework has the group with the boot creating the framework for redress on its terms while blacks hope and pray that the pressure of the boot is relieved just enough so that they can swallow a couple mouthfuls of fresh air.

Both problems, the attack on the individual’s freedom to disassociate and the lack of empowerment for and among blacks promoted by the civil rights framework, are best addressed by the dismantling of the current framework. Dismantling the framework eradicates the erroneous interpretation of the role of the State as protector of the individual and introduces many blacks to the reality that true empowerment comes from the ability to set your own course toward liberty.

Civil rights is anti-individual and anti-empowerment. The framework must be abandoned. It fosters weakness.

Toward a New Political Market: Rewiring Democracy to Make Entry More Expensive

Democracy has created a political market where prospective providers of political packages challenge each other for the vote and indirect control of society. The perception that democracy is about equal expression of multiple voices within society creates an opportunity for prospective providers of political packages to delineate the market by creating different packages for a variance of voter: marital rights for the LBGTQ community; increased funding for and an increased number of social welfare programs; or progressive changes in affirmative action programs where greater access is created for middle to upper income white women. The reality of democracy, where democracy is an institution that allows more factions to vie for control of society in a bloodless transfer of power, would still result in factions delineating political markets and offering more packages only because the pot has to be sweetened to garner voters into a faction’s camp.

Is this expansion of the supply-side and demand-side of the political markets a bad thing? I believe the answer is yes for the following reasons.

First, the suppliers of political packages and the voters that demand them are creating an ever increasingly expanding State.  As an instrument of the State, government has expanded way beyond what the framers of the Constitution intended.  Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provided limited duties for the government; limited duties that included providing post offices, a national defense, the regulation of domestic and foreign commerce, the coining of money and protection against counterfeiting, the regulation of bankruptcies, the promotion of science and useful arts, and establishing courts. Any other police powers would be left to the individual states.

Today, the federal government is involved in many parts of the individual American’s personal life. The federal government has weighed in on abortion; the regulation of marriage; on the use of contraceptives; the amount of privacy for sexual acts between consenting adults; the use of radio frequencies by individuals; who a proprietor may serve or not serve in her store; whether an individual must enter the markets to buy health insurance; the amount of information businesses must share with consumers; the amount of information companies must share with investors; and the manner in which a private corporation must manage its communications networks.

For the individual who is best able to determine and promote her personal and economic self-interests, this expansion comes with administrative rules and procedures. It comes with limits on individual experience, growth, and decision-making. It comes with limits on freedom.

The mention of freedom provides a segue to the second reason: taxation. Among Congress’ powers is the power to lay taxes. Even with the limited powers of the Congress, I would expect the amount of taxes levied and collected from Americans to grow along with the population of the United States and the infrastructure and other needs the government would be expected to provide. But along with extra-Constitutional supply of political packages comes the additional costs of supplying those packages and a heftier tax bill to go along with it.

The limited enumerated powers afforded to the U.S. government per the Constitution do not support social welfare programs such as social security, Medicare, or Medicaid, yet programs like these account for a significant and growing portion of federal government expenditures.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in fiscal year 2016, the federal government spent $3.9 trillion.  Social security spending accounted for 24% of federal budget spending. Together, Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and other medical aid subsidies accounted for 26% of federal budget spending. Safety net programs such as refundable portions of the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, supplemental security income, food stamps, school meals, and low-income housing assistance contributed nine percent of federal government spending.

For those believing that defense expenditures and aid to foreign governments take a larger share, think again. Military spending accounts for 16% of the budget. In addition, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, interest on money borrowed by the federal government amounts to six percent of the federal budget.

Approximately 84% of the fiscal year 2016 budget was financed by government revenues including taxes. Whether debt financing increases or not, Americans will still be on the hook for paying federal outlays or paying the debt as increased burdens due to increased programs and policies are crafted.

And the burdens will increase. Analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the federal debt load as a percentage of gross domestic product will increase from 77% today to 96% by 2029.  Spending is expected to increase over the next ten years, from 20.8% of GDP in 2017 to 28.6% of GDP in 2027.

We have a political market place that is delivering tyranny. By creating more market participants, more issues are being spawned that lead to more expensive solutions chasing in some cases problems that do not exist. For the problems that do exist, the solutions that political packages promise are not blossoming. Democracy is failing. It is creating a society built on burden creation. A growing number of individuals no longer wish to carry the financial burdens the current representative democracy creates, especially when they are seeing no returns from their expenditures.

I propose one solution here for now: reduce the number of voters which will lead to a new voter base that providers of political packages will have to adjust to. The United States should require states to impose voter registration requirements every two years, with the registration closing one year before the midterm and general elections. Just like new immigrants are required to take a civics test in order to become naturalized citizens, Americans should be required to take a rigorous civics test in order to vote. Such a test will meet three goals.

First, a civics test will move the U.S. closer to ensuring a better-informed voter is entering the voting booth. In theory, a voter becomes a more effective citizen when they stay abreast of current political events and can apply critical thinking skills to assess those events. Today, this is just not happening.

Second, the required time to prepare and take the exam along with paying a nominal fee for taking the exam will leave the door open to only the most serious and informed voters. If democracy is to have any validity, shouldn’t participants demonstrate the concept’s importance by investing the time into taking the exam? Is this not the type of voter you want making decisions on leadership and issues placed in a referendum?

Last, a civics test challenges the very notion of democracy itself. I take to heart the following quote from Winston Churchill:

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

In today’s social media world, that argument extends into perpetuity given the overwhelming level of misinformation regurgitated by users of Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. I at times wonder why these individuals are allowed into a voting booth and indirectly cause the creation of policies that for the most part work against my freedoms and liberties.

Democracy needs a reboot. It might just need to be tossed, at least on the national level. ….

 

Fifty years after MLK’s death, the civil rights movement has become a revenue stream for event planners

I don’t know if it is still done, but I remember watching some movie filmed in black and white where in one scene there was an attractive white girl walking around with a box strapped in front of her containing cigarette cartons. She would use her voice, smile, and good looks to charm the men in the room into buying a cancer stick or two. From a consumer perspective this type of traction creation for marketing and selling product is standard operation.  I see it when good looking women are pictured on magazine covers laying on the top of race cars. I see it at conferences when the best looking bartenders are placed behind the cash bar. I see it when a pretty face women is placed at the receptionist desk of an office or at the registration table of an event.

An event planner realizes that her staff responsible for connecting with clients must be able to create a level of trust and comfort such that the client pays attention to what the event’s sponsors are selling. The sponsors want event planners to weave the sponsors’ products into an event’s theme creating exposure of the product’s benefits to the prospective consumer. The greater the exposure to the product, the greater the likelihood of a sale in the short or immediate term.

In politics, political messages are the products pushed through partisan politics channels. Those messages ask tax payers to vote for a particular candidate or support some policy. Today’s post Martin Luther King civil rights movement has become an event planning channel for partisan messages from the left. Some of the “event planners” are familiar to some of you: the NAACP, the National Urban League, the National Action Network, the National Rainbow Coalition. Others have emerged over the past decade such as Color of Change and Black Lives Matter. Their business model is simple. Led by a bunch of college educated black elites, they invite people from the black masses to participate in forums, panel discussions, parades, etc., where they can discuss issues impacting the “black community.” During these forums they intertwine the messages of the progressive left and then close with calls to action, including during an election season, a call for blacks to vote for liberals.

During Dr King’s time, civil rights leaders exchanged information and inspiration in their church meetings. Other than planting a bug in a church (I wouldn’t be surprised if the FBI did this often), you couldn’t “hack” these meetings unless you convinced civil rights leaders that it was important for you, especially as a non-white, to attend. Contrary to the images you saw on “Mississippi Burning”, of helpless blacks dependent on the white man to get him through, black Americans were very resourceful in addressing and pressing their grievances on their own.

Today they have been convinced that a “go it alone” approach is not feasible. By relying less on their own resources, blacks have opened themselves up the carpet bagging of liberals who have sold them on a new corporate model where the black civil rights movement is underwritten by the Democratic Party and other progressive groups. There is a price to pay for the underwriting. The price is a dilution of message.

Now civil rights has extended to groups that quite frankly don’t need civil rights attention or protection: white women, other ethnic groups, and the LGBTQ communities. Black Americans have been pushed so far down to the bottom of the civil rights ladder that they are a fossilized movement, compressed by the weight of all the other communities that have managed to get ahead of them that today, just like the fossils of dead dinosaurs and mammals, they are fueling the civil and human rights campaigns of everyone else.

Martin Luther King’s death removed any last viability of a movement that was moving its focus toward economic empowerment. The movement opted to go the route of political empowerment, falling for its glamour and surface glitz. That power has traditionally been urban based, but as whites return to core cities and old black neighborhoods gentrify, that power is quickly eroding. Fifty years after his death, all the black civil rights movement may have going for it is putting another event on a calendar.

Social programs. Money laundered through the Great Unwashed

America needs poverty. Poverty eradication proposals are head fakes. America, especially the America that was created right after the Civil War, would not be where it is today without poor people.

Since the industrial revolution, and definitely as America entered the information age in the 1960s, the products designed and built by highly educated, highly paid labor had to be consumed by a large mass of “dependents.” These people are typically wage earners who do not have the capability to be self-sufficient and hold little to no capital. The greater the mass of consumers, the larger the network used to deliver goods. The larger the network to deliver goods means the higher educated, higher paid laborer and entrepreneur faced lower costs for delivering goods.

Emancipation, reconstruction, and the Jim Crow era coincided with the growth of consumerism. The American political economy, not knowing what to do with freed slaves was willing, in lieu of distributing productive capital to them, to turn them into a mass of consumers, with a willing cadre of banks and bond holders willing to launder money through “social welfare” programs.

The food stamp program? An opportunity for bond holders to launder money by financing a program whose clearinghouses are administered by banks.

Affordable housing programs? An opportunity for bond holders to finance the construction of low cost homes with principal and interest guaranteed by taxpayers, many of whom are not in the upper ten percent.

Medicaid and Medicare? Again, bond holders are offered a guarantee that taxpayers will provide a backstop for premium payments while insurance companies collect fees for administering them i.e. WellStar and Medicaid in Georgia.

There is a reason why the poor are referred to as the Great Unwashed. It is because dirty money is laundered through their misery.

#BlackHistoryMonth: Shit Jesse Jackson, Roland Martin, or Tom Joyner won’t tell you for the next 28 days

In 1619, Africans were brought here as capital inputs for an agricultural industry in a British colony. Over the next 400 years the status of that human capital would be transformed through a civil war fought to transition a country into a nation-state; an economic reconstruction period where said agricultural society would become an industrial society; a civil rights period where the industrial society would begin its transition into an information society.

During this period, descendants of African slaves brought to America would inherit and practice the politics of appeasement and inclusiveness hoping that a narrative of diversity would serve as a preamble for full incorporation into a society that never valued them for anything more than physical labor and entertainment.

As we approach the 400th anniversary of their enslavement in what is now known as the United States, descendants of African slaves brought to America have to ask themselves how and why their narrative of appeasement, inclusiveness, diversity, and social justice was co-opted by every other ethnic or sub-culture group and how these groups have been able to leap ahead of blacks in terms of employment and capital ownership.
America and the globe is entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution. When will blacks, those descendants of African slaves brought to America, begin their first real revolution?

Government defined by distraction

The past 85 years have created an illusion as to what American government is. In the 1930s, government became a fuel injector for the American economy where the Executive branch pumped money into public works programs designed to employ idle labor. New regulatory regimes were created to regulate away the excesses of speculation and manage the extraction and use of natural resources.

By the 1960s, government took on the additional role of social justice guarantor, crafting and delivering legislation designed in part to further incorporate black Americans into national society and to provide other social services including healthcare to children and the elderly.

Through its military and science branches, government continued its research, development, and investment into computer networks and outer space. It was out of these activities that the internet was spawned allowing my five faithful followers to read this blog.

It is no wonder that Barack Obama said in 2012 with some authority the following:

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

The reality is that government as a noble entity is a myth; that the past eight plus decades have been a distraction from what we should only expect from government; that it is an entity that expands its control over jurisdictions anywhere in the world for the benefit of its financiers. What we should expect from government should be more in line with Donald Trump’s views on Iraqi oil:

“If we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place, so we should have kept the oil, but, OK, maybe we’ll have another chance.”

While many were taken aback at the bluntness of Mr Trump’s statement, the President honed in on the primary expectation we should have of government, an entity that acquires and manages resources.

Americans have an issue with ugliness being exposed. They are weary of the guilt-fest they have endured over the past sixty years in particular, from scenes of police dogs attacking black Americans in Birmingham, Alabama to American military personnel being accused of murdering civilians in Iraq. But in the words of Mr Trump, “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?”

Unbeknownst to him, Mr Trump summed up the core expectation of government; that of acquirer of resources. Any “noble” distribution is a response to the distractions caused by the powerless who are able to sneak into democracy’s nooks and crannies to agitate just long enough for social benefits that pale in size to the benefits flowing to the holders of government bonds. An irony, that there is distraction on both sides ….