Day: January 17, 2018

2018 Comes In like a Lion


If there is one thing most economists understand, about which they agree, it’s the law of supply and demand.  A derivative of that law is that demand and velocity of transactions tend to diminish as costs increase.  While few individuals disagree about this, many in the collective body of economists have become so politicized that when it comes to the cost of variables such as taxes and regulations, that consensus all but vanishes.  Indeed, to listen to many of the pundits and experts, there seems to be notable confusion, denial, and disagreement about how the cost of regulations and taxes actually affects economic activity.

Last year, a University of Chicago Booth School of Business survey of so-called top economists – including Nobel Prize-winners and former presidents of the American Economic Association – found that only one in 42 economists polled thought the Republican tax reduction bill would boost the economy.  Recently, Princeton economics professor and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Blinder stated in the Wall Street Journal that there is “little economic evidence” that “tax benefits showered on corporations will translate mostly into higher wages and vastly faster economic growth.”

It’s not at all difficult to grasp the reasons for the markedly different economic performance of the Obama years compared to what we have experienced in just one year of the Trump administration.  Obama’s best year of his two terms delivered a 2.6% growth rate, and he was the only president in some 88 years (since Herbert Hoover) to fail to deliver economic growth of 3% in any one year he was in office.  In contrast, in the first two full quarters of the Trump administration, the economy experienced 3.2% growth.

During his eight years, Obama oversaw an output of some 3,069 regulatory rules and nine new taxes that were part of the Obamacare health insurance law, adding nearly $900 billion in costs to the U.S. economy, and a record 572,000 pages to the Federal Register.  In contrast, in his first 11 months, Trump eliminated some 66 significant rules while adding only three, which equates to a ratio of 22 to 1 – far exceeding the standards of his Executive Order 13771 requiring two old rules to be eliminated for every new one added.        

The stock market closed out 2017 with a record increase for the eighth year of economic expansion, largely due to deregulation and anticipation of tax cuts.

No sooner had the ink dried on President Trump’s signature on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on December 22 than more than a dozen companies, such as AT&T, Comcast, Boeing, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Bank of America, and Kansas City Southern, announced special $1,000 bonuses to more than 450,000 employees and tens of billions of dollars of spending increases on plant, capacity, facilities, and workforce development.

Twenty-eighteen has come in like a lion, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act delivering more headline news.  Now it’s reported that more than one million American workers at some 100 companies will be receiving pay raises and bonuses – undeniably attributable to the reduction of corporate tax rates from 35% to 21%.  Wells Fargo, PNC, Regions Bank, Fifth Third Bank, BB&T, Comerica, and U.S. Bancorp, to name a few of the larger financial institutions, all cranked up minimum wages paid to $15 per hour and spread the newfound wealth anticipated from tax savings in generous bonuses to more than 150,000 employees.

The momentum of the first two weeks of January is likely to continue as additional companies make similar decisions to stay competitive in attracting and retaining talent.  As company after company announces wage hikes, bonuses, increased contributions to retirement accounts, investment in capital equipment and workplace improvement, and new job openings, attacks on the Trump-GOP tax law will ring increasingly hollow.

President Trump said from the beginning that lowering tax rates, simplifying the tax code, and making American companies more competitive would be the fuel that propels our economy to new heights.

It’s baffling that political bias can obviate empirical evidence and common sense.  One surely doesn’t need a Ph.D. in economics to grasp how tax and regulatory costs affect behavior.

By helping companies retain more income and become more competitive through lower tax rates, a simplified tax code, incentivized capital investment, and removal of regulatory barriers, President Trump and the Republican Congress have actually delivered, in the first year of working together, the essential foundation to make America great again.  

Scott Powell is an economist and senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle.  Reach him at scottp@discovery.org.

If there is one thing most economists understand, about which they agree, it’s the law of supply and demand.  A derivative of that law is that demand and velocity of transactions tend to diminish as costs increase.  While few individuals disagree about this, many in the collective body of economists have become so politicized that when it comes to the cost of variables such as taxes and regulations, that consensus all but vanishes.  Indeed, to listen to many of the pundits and experts, there seems to be notable confusion, denial, and disagreement about how the cost of regulations and taxes actually affects economic activity.

Last year, a University of Chicago Booth School of Business survey of so-called top economists – including Nobel Prize-winners and former presidents of the American Economic Association – found that only one in 42 economists polled thought the Republican tax reduction bill would boost the economy.  Recently, Princeton economics professor and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Blinder stated in the Wall Street Journal that there is “little economic evidence” that “tax benefits showered on corporations will translate mostly into higher wages and vastly faster economic growth.”

It’s not at all difficult to grasp the reasons for the markedly different economic performance of the Obama years compared to what we have experienced in just one year of the Trump administration.  Obama’s best year of his two terms delivered a 2.6% growth rate, and he was the only president in some 88 years (since Herbert Hoover) to fail to deliver economic growth of 3% in any one year he was in office.  In contrast, in the first two full quarters of the Trump administration, the economy experienced 3.2% growth.

During his eight years, Obama oversaw an output of some 3,069 regulatory rules and nine new taxes that were part of the Obamacare health insurance law, adding nearly $900 billion in costs to the U.S. economy, and a record 572,000 pages to the Federal Register.  In contrast, in his first 11 months, Trump eliminated some 66 significant rules while adding only three, which equates to a ratio of 22 to 1 – far exceeding the standards of his Executive Order 13771 requiring two old rules to be eliminated for every new one added.        

The stock market closed out 2017 with a record increase for the eighth year of economic expansion, largely due to deregulation and anticipation of tax cuts.

No sooner had the ink dried on President Trump’s signature on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on December 22 than more than a dozen companies, such as AT&T, Comcast, Boeing, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Bank of America, and Kansas City Southern, announced special $1,000 bonuses to more than 450,000 employees and tens of billions of dollars of spending increases on plant, capacity, facilities, and workforce development.

Twenty-eighteen has come in like a lion, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act delivering more headline news.  Now it’s reported that more than one million American workers at some 100 companies will be receiving pay raises and bonuses – undeniably attributable to the reduction of corporate tax rates from 35% to 21%.  Wells Fargo, PNC, Regions Bank, Fifth Third Bank, BB&T, Comerica, and U.S. Bancorp, to name a few of the larger financial institutions, all cranked up minimum wages paid to $15 per hour and spread the newfound wealth anticipated from tax savings in generous bonuses to more than 150,000 employees.

The momentum of the first two weeks of January is likely to continue as additional companies make similar decisions to stay competitive in attracting and retaining talent.  As company after company announces wage hikes, bonuses, increased contributions to retirement accounts, investment in capital equipment and workplace improvement, and new job openings, attacks on the Trump-GOP tax law will ring increasingly hollow.

President Trump said from the beginning that lowering tax rates, simplifying the tax code, and making American companies more competitive would be the fuel that propels our economy to new heights.

It’s baffling that political bias can obviate empirical evidence and common sense.  One surely doesn’t need a Ph.D. in economics to grasp how tax and regulatory costs affect behavior.

By helping companies retain more income and become more competitive through lower tax rates, a simplified tax code, incentivized capital investment, and removal of regulatory barriers, President Trump and the Republican Congress have actually delivered, in the first year of working together, the essential foundation to make America great again.  

Scott Powell is an economist and senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle.  Reach him at scottp@discovery.org.



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The Left Will Always Be with Us


In a January 3, 2018 article for American Thinker, “The Left’s 1942,” J.R. Dunn argues that leftism may be approaching its last days, at least in the U.S.  Its losses, failures, and absurdities have ensured its gradual demise.  “While certainly not as dramatic as the events of WWII,” Dunn writes, “the political defeat of leftism may well be just as decisive.”

“Never in my memory,” Dunn concludes, “has leftism been so disarrayed and subdued.  For the first time in many decades, we can turn our eyes toward the bright sunlit uplands, where liberty reigns, and where each may abide by his vine and fig tree and be not afraid.”

Dunn’s assessment deserves to be taken seriously.  The author of a major political work, Death by Liberalism, he has considerable authority to pronounce on the present condition of the liberal-left project. In that book, Dunn expresses his conviction that any government that denies the social “compact” or “bargain” between government and governed will ultimately collapse, “as surely as the British went in 1781, as the imperial states after WWI, as the [USSR] went in 1991.”  We may add that the latest instance of total socialist miscarriage is the oil-rich state of Venezuela, now officially out of gas.

This domino effect is certainly the case in individual historical episodes.  But hybristic liberalism – aka utopianism, leftism, communism, fascism, or any of the sobriquets by which it is known – is a Hydra-headed phenomenon that, after every defeat, inevitably regenerates.  As Jean-François Revel wrote in The Totalitarian Temptation (1976), “[t]he only way to reform [c]ommunism is to get rid of it,” yet even he, in Last Exit to Utopia (2000) admitted “[c]ommunism’s ongoing capacity for ideological terror.”

It seems to me that what we now call “leftism” or any of its nominal substitutes will always be with us.  It is an indelible part of human nature, going back to time immemorial and probably rooted in the necessary sharing arrangements of primitive or subsistence societies.  Socialism also has a message that it relentlessly disseminates.  As Dunn himself points out in Death by Liberalism, dictatorial liberalism – that is, leftism – has profited and spread by virtue of an ideological component abetted by modern technology and communication systems.  “Ideology provided the dictators,” he explains, “with a means of mobilizing support and instilling revolutionary zeal.”  It was – and is – no longer merely a question of jackboots and tanks; the ideological message and missionary zeal guarantee the longevity of the doctrine being propagated.

Further, the doctrine is interpreted and promulgated by the left in a quasi-divine manner as the secular word of God, which is why it is inimical to counter-argument and will not tolerate dissent.  It has proliferated in various forms and guises, theories and practices, right up to the present moment.  Once a ruthless necessity for survival in raw man-vs.-nature circumstances and, also, in its purest form, an expression of human nobility – i.e., caritas – the egalitarian ethos has been warped, deformed, and made monstrous, owing to the human tendency toward envy, resentment, betrayal, and sheer greed.  One thinks of Immanuel Kant’s dictum in The Idea of Universal History: “[o]ut of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

This is particularly true of the socialist dogmatic.  Different manifestations of political “leftism” will succeed for a time and inevitably fail, only to re-emerge from the detritus in some other embodiment.  It is here to stay – and must be constantly fought.  This war will never cease, any more than the devil will ever relent.  And despite occasional victories, it is a war that conservatives cannot decisively win – not only because the utopian passion is perennial, but because genuine conservatives, unlike their leftist antagonists, tend to be decent people who have rarely minded spirited and lucid debate with adversaries.

Leftism, however, is a closed intellectual world.  It survives in large measure because it is immune to facts.  Rousseau laid down the socialist ground plan in his 1754 Discourse on Inequality, when he wrote: “Let us begin … by laying aside facts, for they do not affect the question[.]”  Its canons are regarded as sacrosanct, and those who would open that world to dialogue or dispute are pro forma denounced and pilloried as heretics – or simply annihilated.  After all, it is hard to give up the socialist dream, even among the most reflective.

To take a resonant example, a brilliant mind and wise soul like the socialist thinker Sidney Hook can acknowledge in his autobiography Out of Step what Daniel Bell “called the ‘failure of socialism’ as one of the outstanding developments of the twentieth century.”  Hook recognizes the decline in productivity and the “erosion in the skills of craftsmanship and in the work ethic” as features of socialist dispensations and fully understands “the instability of [s]ocialist welfare states, unable to control inflation [and] eliminate mass unemployment.”  Yet he cannot surrender the socialist dream, confessing that “I still have faith that the democratic welfare societies of the West can be reformed of their waywardness, to function efficiently without creating a permanent welfare class and its evils.”

The book was published in 1986.  A generation later, one need merely cast a cursory glance at Europe and much of the Anglosphere to realize how wrong Hook was: enormous debt and unfunded liabilities, rising unemployment, defective medical provisions, a vast parasitical bureaucracy, sub-replacement fertility ratios, social unrest, and a mega-welfare class.  Yet we can also see how powerful and seductive the socialist fantasy can be.  It speaks to the best in us and infallibly produces the worst in us.

So, pace J.R. Dunn, I don’t know about the sunny uplands.  I suspect we will always be entangled in the dark vales of a utopian ideology that needs fighting.

In a January 3, 2018 article for American Thinker, “The Left’s 1942,” J.R. Dunn argues that leftism may be approaching its last days, at least in the U.S.  Its losses, failures, and absurdities have ensured its gradual demise.  “While certainly not as dramatic as the events of WWII,” Dunn writes, “the political defeat of leftism may well be just as decisive.”

“Never in my memory,” Dunn concludes, “has leftism been so disarrayed and subdued.  For the first time in many decades, we can turn our eyes toward the bright sunlit uplands, where liberty reigns, and where each may abide by his vine and fig tree and be not afraid.”

Dunn’s assessment deserves to be taken seriously.  The author of a major political work, Death by Liberalism, he has considerable authority to pronounce on the present condition of the liberal-left project. In that book, Dunn expresses his conviction that any government that denies the social “compact” or “bargain” between government and governed will ultimately collapse, “as surely as the British went in 1781, as the imperial states after WWI, as the [USSR] went in 1991.”  We may add that the latest instance of total socialist miscarriage is the oil-rich state of Venezuela, now officially out of gas.

This domino effect is certainly the case in individual historical episodes.  But hybristic liberalism – aka utopianism, leftism, communism, fascism, or any of the sobriquets by which it is known – is a Hydra-headed phenomenon that, after every defeat, inevitably regenerates.  As Jean-François Revel wrote in The Totalitarian Temptation (1976), “[t]he only way to reform [c]ommunism is to get rid of it,” yet even he, in Last Exit to Utopia (2000) admitted “[c]ommunism’s ongoing capacity for ideological terror.”

It seems to me that what we now call “leftism” or any of its nominal substitutes will always be with us.  It is an indelible part of human nature, going back to time immemorial and probably rooted in the necessary sharing arrangements of primitive or subsistence societies.  Socialism also has a message that it relentlessly disseminates.  As Dunn himself points out in Death by Liberalism, dictatorial liberalism – that is, leftism – has profited and spread by virtue of an ideological component abetted by modern technology and communication systems.  “Ideology provided the dictators,” he explains, “with a means of mobilizing support and instilling revolutionary zeal.”  It was – and is – no longer merely a question of jackboots and tanks; the ideological message and missionary zeal guarantee the longevity of the doctrine being propagated.

Further, the doctrine is interpreted and promulgated by the left in a quasi-divine manner as the secular word of God, which is why it is inimical to counter-argument and will not tolerate dissent.  It has proliferated in various forms and guises, theories and practices, right up to the present moment.  Once a ruthless necessity for survival in raw man-vs.-nature circumstances and, also, in its purest form, an expression of human nobility – i.e., caritas – the egalitarian ethos has been warped, deformed, and made monstrous, owing to the human tendency toward envy, resentment, betrayal, and sheer greed.  One thinks of Immanuel Kant’s dictum in The Idea of Universal History: “[o]ut of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

This is particularly true of the socialist dogmatic.  Different manifestations of political “leftism” will succeed for a time and inevitably fail, only to re-emerge from the detritus in some other embodiment.  It is here to stay – and must be constantly fought.  This war will never cease, any more than the devil will ever relent.  And despite occasional victories, it is a war that conservatives cannot decisively win – not only because the utopian passion is perennial, but because genuine conservatives, unlike their leftist antagonists, tend to be decent people who have rarely minded spirited and lucid debate with adversaries.

Leftism, however, is a closed intellectual world.  It survives in large measure because it is immune to facts.  Rousseau laid down the socialist ground plan in his 1754 Discourse on Inequality, when he wrote: “Let us begin … by laying aside facts, for they do not affect the question[.]”  Its canons are regarded as sacrosanct, and those who would open that world to dialogue or dispute are pro forma denounced and pilloried as heretics – or simply annihilated.  After all, it is hard to give up the socialist dream, even among the most reflective.

To take a resonant example, a brilliant mind and wise soul like the socialist thinker Sidney Hook can acknowledge in his autobiography Out of Step what Daniel Bell “called the ‘failure of socialism’ as one of the outstanding developments of the twentieth century.”  Hook recognizes the decline in productivity and the “erosion in the skills of craftsmanship and in the work ethic” as features of socialist dispensations and fully understands “the instability of [s]ocialist welfare states, unable to control inflation [and] eliminate mass unemployment.”  Yet he cannot surrender the socialist dream, confessing that “I still have faith that the democratic welfare societies of the West can be reformed of their waywardness, to function efficiently without creating a permanent welfare class and its evils.”

The book was published in 1986.  A generation later, one need merely cast a cursory glance at Europe and much of the Anglosphere to realize how wrong Hook was: enormous debt and unfunded liabilities, rising unemployment, defective medical provisions, a vast parasitical bureaucracy, sub-replacement fertility ratios, social unrest, and a mega-welfare class.  Yet we can also see how powerful and seductive the socialist fantasy can be.  It speaks to the best in us and infallibly produces the worst in us.

So, pace J.R. Dunn, I don’t know about the sunny uplands.  I suspect we will always be entangled in the dark vales of a utopian ideology that needs fighting.



Source link

What I Learned in the Peace Corps in Africa: Trump Is Right


Three weeks after college, I flew to Senegal, West Africa, to run a community center in a rural town.  Life was placid, with no danger, except to your health.  That danger was considerable, because it was, in the words of the Peace Corps doctor, “a fecalized environment.”

In plain English: s— is everywhere.  People defecate on the open ground, and the feces is blown with the dust – onto you, your clothes, your food, the water.  He warned us the first day of training: do not even touch water.  Human feces carries parasites that bore through your skin and cause organ failure.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a few decades later, liberals would be pushing the lie that Western civilization is no better than a third-world country.  Or would teach two generations of our kids that loving your own culture and wanting to preserve it are racism.

Last time I was in Paris, I saw a beautiful African woman in a grand boubou have her child defecate on the sidewalk next to Notre Dame Cathedral.  The French police officer, ten steps from her, turned his head not to see.

I have seen.  I am not turning my head and pretending unpleasant things are not true.

Senegal was not a hellhole.  Very poor people can lead happy, meaningful lives in their own cultures’ terms.  But they are not our terms.  The excrement is the least of it.  Our basic ideas of human relations, right and wrong, are incompatible.

As a twenty-one-year-old starting out in the Peace Corps, I loved Senegal.  In fact, I was euphoric.  I quickly made friends and had an adopted family.  I relished the feeling of the brotherhood of man.  People were open, willing to share their lives and, after they knew you, their innermost thoughts.

The longer I lived there, the more I understood: it became blindingly obvious that the Senegalese are not the same as us.  The truths we hold to be self-evident are not evident to the Senegalese.  How could they be?  Their reality is totally different.  You can’t understand anything in Senegal using American terms.

Take something as basic as family.  Family was a few hundred people, extending out to second and third cousins.  All the men in one generation were called “father.”  Senegalese are Muslim, with up to four wives.  Girls had their clitorises cut off at puberty.  (I witnessed this, at what I thought was going to be a nice coming-of-age ceremony, like a bat mitzvah or confirmation.)  Sex, I was told, did not include kissing.  Love and friendship in marriage were Western ideas.  Fidelity was not a thing.  Married women would have sex for a few cents to have cash for the market.

What I did witness every day was that women were worked half to death.  Wives raised the food and fed their own children, did the heavy labor of walking miles to gather wood for the fire, drew water from the well or public faucet, pounded grain with heavy hand-held pestles, lived in their own huts, and had conjugal visits from their husbands on a rotating basis with their co-wives.  Their husbands lazed in the shade of the trees.

Yet family was crucial to people there in a way Americans cannot comprehend.

The Ten Commandments were not disobeyed – they were unknown.  The value system was the exact opposite.  You were supposed to steal everything you can to give to your own relatives.  There are some Westernized Africans who try to rebel against the system.  They fail.

We hear a lot about the kleptocratic elites of Africa.  The kleptocracy extends through the whole society.  My town had a medical clinic donated by international agencies.  The medicine was stolen by the medical workers and sold to the local store.  If you were sick and didn’t have money, drop dead.  That was normal.

So here in the States, when we discovered that my 98-year-old father’s Muslim health aide from Nigeria had stolen his clothes and wasn’t bathing him, I wasn’t surprised.  It was familiar.

In Senegal, corruption ruled, from top to bottom.  Go to the post office, and the clerk would name an outrageous price for a stamp.  After paying the bribe, you still didn’t know it if it would be mailed or thrown out.  That was normal.

One of my most vivid memories was from the clinic.  One day, as the wait grew hotter in the 110-degree heat, an old woman two feet from the medical aides – who were chatting in the shade of a mango tree instead of working – collapsed to the ground.  They turned their heads so as not to see her and kept talking.  She lay there in the dirt.  Callousness to the sick was normal.

Americans think it is a universal human instinct to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It’s not.  It seems natural to us because we live in a Bible-based Judeo-Christian culture.

We think the Protestant work ethic is universal.  It’s not.  My town was full of young men doing nothing.  They were waiting for a government job.  There was no private enterprise.  Private business was not illegal, just impossible, given the nightmare of a third-world bureaucratic kleptocracy.  It is also incompatible with Senegalese insistence on taking care of relatives.

All the little stores in Senegal were owned by Mauritanians.  If a Senegalese wanted to run a little store, he’d go to another country.  The reason?  Your friends and relatives would ask you for stuff for free, and you would have to say yes.  End of your business.  You are not allowed to be a selfish individual and say no to relatives.  The result: Everyone has nothing.

The more I worked there and visited government officials doing absolutely nothing, the more I realized that no one in Senegal had the idea that a job means work.  A job is something given to you by a relative.  It provides the place where you steal everything to give back to your family.

I couldn’t wait to get home.  So why would I want to bring Africa here?  Non-Westerners do not magically become American by arriving on our shores with a visa.

For the rest of my life, I enjoyed the greatest gift of the Peace Corps: I love and treasure America more than ever.  I take seriously my responsibility to defend our culture and our country and pass on the American heritage to the next generation.

African problems are made worse by our aid efforts.  Senegal is full of smart, capable people.  They will eventually solve their own country’s problems.  They will do it on their terms, not ours.  The solution is not to bring Africans here.

We are lectured by Democrats that we must privilege third-world immigration by the hundred million with chain migration.  They tell us we must end America as a white, Western, Judeo-Christian, capitalist nation – to prove we are not racist.  I don’t need to prove a thing.  Leftists want open borders because they resent whites, resent Western achievements, and hate America.  They want to destroy America as we know it.

As President Trump asked, why would we do that?

We have the right to choose what kind of country to live in.  I was happy to donate a year of my life as a young woman to help the poor Senegalese.  I am not willing to donate my country. 

Three weeks after college, I flew to Senegal, West Africa, to run a community center in a rural town.  Life was placid, with no danger, except to your health.  That danger was considerable, because it was, in the words of the Peace Corps doctor, “a fecalized environment.”

In plain English: s— is everywhere.  People defecate on the open ground, and the feces is blown with the dust – onto you, your clothes, your food, the water.  He warned us the first day of training: do not even touch water.  Human feces carries parasites that bore through your skin and cause organ failure.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a few decades later, liberals would be pushing the lie that Western civilization is no better than a third-world country.  Or would teach two generations of our kids that loving your own culture and wanting to preserve it are racism.

Last time I was in Paris, I saw a beautiful African woman in a grand boubou have her child defecate on the sidewalk next to Notre Dame Cathedral.  The French police officer, ten steps from her, turned his head not to see.

I have seen.  I am not turning my head and pretending unpleasant things are not true.

Senegal was not a hellhole.  Very poor people can lead happy, meaningful lives in their own cultures’ terms.  But they are not our terms.  The excrement is the least of it.  Our basic ideas of human relations, right and wrong, are incompatible.

As a twenty-one-year-old starting out in the Peace Corps, I loved Senegal.  In fact, I was euphoric.  I quickly made friends and had an adopted family.  I relished the feeling of the brotherhood of man.  People were open, willing to share their lives and, after they knew you, their innermost thoughts.

The longer I lived there, the more I understood: it became blindingly obvious that the Senegalese are not the same as us.  The truths we hold to be self-evident are not evident to the Senegalese.  How could they be?  Their reality is totally different.  You can’t understand anything in Senegal using American terms.

Take something as basic as family.  Family was a few hundred people, extending out to second and third cousins.  All the men in one generation were called “father.”  Senegalese are Muslim, with up to four wives.  Girls had their clitorises cut off at puberty.  (I witnessed this, at what I thought was going to be a nice coming-of-age ceremony, like a bat mitzvah or confirmation.)  Sex, I was told, did not include kissing.  Love and friendship in marriage were Western ideas.  Fidelity was not a thing.  Married women would have sex for a few cents to have cash for the market.

What I did witness every day was that women were worked half to death.  Wives raised the food and fed their own children, did the heavy labor of walking miles to gather wood for the fire, drew water from the well or public faucet, pounded grain with heavy hand-held pestles, lived in their own huts, and had conjugal visits from their husbands on a rotating basis with their co-wives.  Their husbands lazed in the shade of the trees.

Yet family was crucial to people there in a way Americans cannot comprehend.

The Ten Commandments were not disobeyed – they were unknown.  The value system was the exact opposite.  You were supposed to steal everything you can to give to your own relatives.  There are some Westernized Africans who try to rebel against the system.  They fail.

We hear a lot about the kleptocratic elites of Africa.  The kleptocracy extends through the whole society.  My town had a medical clinic donated by international agencies.  The medicine was stolen by the medical workers and sold to the local store.  If you were sick and didn’t have money, drop dead.  That was normal.

So here in the States, when we discovered that my 98-year-old father’s Muslim health aide from Nigeria had stolen his clothes and wasn’t bathing him, I wasn’t surprised.  It was familiar.

In Senegal, corruption ruled, from top to bottom.  Go to the post office, and the clerk would name an outrageous price for a stamp.  After paying the bribe, you still didn’t know it if it would be mailed or thrown out.  That was normal.

One of my most vivid memories was from the clinic.  One day, as the wait grew hotter in the 110-degree heat, an old woman two feet from the medical aides – who were chatting in the shade of a mango tree instead of working – collapsed to the ground.  They turned their heads so as not to see her and kept talking.  She lay there in the dirt.  Callousness to the sick was normal.

Americans think it is a universal human instinct to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It’s not.  It seems natural to us because we live in a Bible-based Judeo-Christian culture.

We think the Protestant work ethic is universal.  It’s not.  My town was full of young men doing nothing.  They were waiting for a government job.  There was no private enterprise.  Private business was not illegal, just impossible, given the nightmare of a third-world bureaucratic kleptocracy.  It is also incompatible with Senegalese insistence on taking care of relatives.

All the little stores in Senegal were owned by Mauritanians.  If a Senegalese wanted to run a little store, he’d go to another country.  The reason?  Your friends and relatives would ask you for stuff for free, and you would have to say yes.  End of your business.  You are not allowed to be a selfish individual and say no to relatives.  The result: Everyone has nothing.

The more I worked there and visited government officials doing absolutely nothing, the more I realized that no one in Senegal had the idea that a job means work.  A job is something given to you by a relative.  It provides the place where you steal everything to give back to your family.

I couldn’t wait to get home.  So why would I want to bring Africa here?  Non-Westerners do not magically become American by arriving on our shores with a visa.

For the rest of my life, I enjoyed the greatest gift of the Peace Corps: I love and treasure America more than ever.  I take seriously my responsibility to defend our culture and our country and pass on the American heritage to the next generation.

African problems are made worse by our aid efforts.  Senegal is full of smart, capable people.  They will eventually solve their own country’s problems.  They will do it on their terms, not ours.  The solution is not to bring Africans here.

We are lectured by Democrats that we must privilege third-world immigration by the hundred million with chain migration.  They tell us we must end America as a white, Western, Judeo-Christian, capitalist nation – to prove we are not racist.  I don’t need to prove a thing.  Leftists want open borders because they resent whites, resent Western achievements, and hate America.  They want to destroy America as we know it.

As President Trump asked, why would we do that?

We have the right to choose what kind of country to live in.  I was happy to donate a year of my life as a young woman to help the poor Senegalese.  I am not willing to donate my country. 



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Why Leftists Hate Masculinity


An ongoing mantra of the left is that everyone is a victim, with a singular carve-out for white men.  A large group of the female population has embraced this chant.

While there may be a number of grievances put forth by this movement, there also comes a theme that is particularly dangerous: the feminist attack on masculinity.  This is derived not only from feminists; it comes from the left in general.

There has emerged a war on masculinity.  Why?  Because masculine men are harder to control under tyrannical socialism.  The modern beta male, on the other hand, craves socialism.  This is why the left has branded masculinity as toxic: it stands as a roadblock to their endgame. 

Leftists blame, of all things, masculinity for the recent spate of sexual harassment scandals.  For eons, masculinity has been considered a natural and even required trait of being male, but it is now apparently the reason for deviancy.  Who knew?

The glaring problem with this argument is that the men who are typically being accused of such transgressions are anything but masculine.  Sexual harassment is bipartisan; both liberal and conservative men in positions of power seem to harass women with aplomb.  But where is this referenced masculinity?  Harvey Weinstein?  Al Franken?  Louis CK?  I posit that a consistent theme among most accused harassers is a complete lack of masculinity.  I would go so far as to suggest that the lack of masculinity is a contributing factor to this problem. 

Most of these accused public figures are modern men – perhaps not quite beta males, but certainly closer to Obama’s now infamous Pajama Boy than they are to John Wayne.   Are men who display a lack of masculinity less likely to victimize women?  Obviously not.  But the left does not let reason or rationality interfere with an opportunity to degrade social decency or further its collectivist agenda.

The feminist hatred for masculinity is only another tool in the toolbox of communism.  Masculinity tends to make a man individualistic.  Individualistic men are capitalists, not communists.  They are men who cherish individual liberty, and they rely on themselves rather than on government.  Self-reliance is a four-letter word for leftists, and masculine men are generally self-reliant.  Beta males like Pajama Boy rely on government, and such modern men, devoid of any semblance of masculinity, are ideal for leftist indoctrination.

Were the frontiersmen communists or capitalists?  How about the cowboys?  How about the Navy SEALs or Army Rangers?  Sure, the press may find in the military a few Che Guevara t-shirt-wearing idiots and parade them all over the place, but I am willing to bet that the majority of SEAL Team 6 comprises masculine capitalists.

What games do young boys play?  They pretend to be cowboys.  They pretend to be soldiers.   They don’t pretend to be soviet textile workers slaving under Stalin’s system.  They don’t pretend to be entitled Millennial brats who congregate at Starbucks and talk about the wonders of socialism, either.  Most boys hit the ground embracing masculinity.  Some maintain it, but many have it berated out of them by the weak society they walk in or by their leftist parents.

Masculinity leads a man to seek to better himself in many regards, while collectivism thrives on mediocrity.  Collectivism in this country is sought by the lazy who don’t want to work but feel entitled to free handouts of all kinds.  Unfortunately, collectivism is also touted by many who are successful, such as middle-class suburbanites who feel guilty for what they have achieved through hard work while others have not been so fortunate.  Yet, when suggesting that the redistribution effort begins with their own 401(k)s, seldom will you find volunteers.  Collectivism is also cheered on by certain billionaire hypocrites who made their wealth through capitalism yet now tout the wonders of socialist systems.  The irony.

While these social groups appear quite different, there is a common trait among the men in all of them: no masculinity to be found.  Be it the lanky hipster in skinny jeans or the billionaire hypocrite, imposing is not one of their descriptions.  The billionaire may travel everywhere with a fleet of personal security, but he has no strength of body and apparently little strength of character.  Are there plenty of physically weak men who are capitalists?  Absolutely.  Capitalism is not dependent on machismo or charisma.  However, few alphas are socialist, and self-reliance is a collectivism-killer.  That is why the left finds masculinity toxic.

The denigration of masculinity is high on the leftist agenda.  The pushing of acceptance of the “transgender” movement is the latest machination in this crusade.  This fosters further blurring of male masculinity and female femininity, and the plight of a small group of people who wrestle with this issue has become a politically polarizing topic – a tool maximized by the left.  Masculinity is maligned as a trait of the bigot, not as a desirable trait among men, as it once was.  The goal is to foster an entirely androgynous society that makes no distinction between male and female.  This breeds a culture more easily shaped by the almighty state.

The left’s war on masculinity should come as no surprise.  The cultures in history that have resisted oppressive regimes in the past have celebrated masculinity rather than demeaned it.

There is an often quoted poem that sums up a society’s life cycle: “hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, weak men create hard times.”  The abundance of weak men in our society is ushering in those hard times, and it is celebrated by the left every step of the way. 

The eradication of masculinity from our society will ultimately result in the elimination of all resistance to tyranny.  Freedom-loving males know this, and women who believe in individual capability rather than dependence on the government also know it.  Remember: subjugation of all to a collectivist regime is the ultimate goal, and branding masculinity as toxic is one of many pieces in the game.

An ongoing mantra of the left is that everyone is a victim, with a singular carve-out for white men.  A large group of the female population has embraced this chant.

While there may be a number of grievances put forth by this movement, there also comes a theme that is particularly dangerous: the feminist attack on masculinity.  This is derived not only from feminists; it comes from the left in general.

There has emerged a war on masculinity.  Why?  Because masculine men are harder to control under tyrannical socialism.  The modern beta male, on the other hand, craves socialism.  This is why the left has branded masculinity as toxic: it stands as a roadblock to their endgame. 

Leftists blame, of all things, masculinity for the recent spate of sexual harassment scandals.  For eons, masculinity has been considered a natural and even required trait of being male, but it is now apparently the reason for deviancy.  Who knew?

The glaring problem with this argument is that the men who are typically being accused of such transgressions are anything but masculine.  Sexual harassment is bipartisan; both liberal and conservative men in positions of power seem to harass women with aplomb.  But where is this referenced masculinity?  Harvey Weinstein?  Al Franken?  Louis CK?  I posit that a consistent theme among most accused harassers is a complete lack of masculinity.  I would go so far as to suggest that the lack of masculinity is a contributing factor to this problem. 

Most of these accused public figures are modern men – perhaps not quite beta males, but certainly closer to Obama’s now infamous Pajama Boy than they are to John Wayne.   Are men who display a lack of masculinity less likely to victimize women?  Obviously not.  But the left does not let reason or rationality interfere with an opportunity to degrade social decency or further its collectivist agenda.

The feminist hatred for masculinity is only another tool in the toolbox of communism.  Masculinity tends to make a man individualistic.  Individualistic men are capitalists, not communists.  They are men who cherish individual liberty, and they rely on themselves rather than on government.  Self-reliance is a four-letter word for leftists, and masculine men are generally self-reliant.  Beta males like Pajama Boy rely on government, and such modern men, devoid of any semblance of masculinity, are ideal for leftist indoctrination.

Were the frontiersmen communists or capitalists?  How about the cowboys?  How about the Navy SEALs or Army Rangers?  Sure, the press may find in the military a few Che Guevara t-shirt-wearing idiots and parade them all over the place, but I am willing to bet that the majority of SEAL Team 6 comprises masculine capitalists.

What games do young boys play?  They pretend to be cowboys.  They pretend to be soldiers.   They don’t pretend to be soviet textile workers slaving under Stalin’s system.  They don’t pretend to be entitled Millennial brats who congregate at Starbucks and talk about the wonders of socialism, either.  Most boys hit the ground embracing masculinity.  Some maintain it, but many have it berated out of them by the weak society they walk in or by their leftist parents.

Masculinity leads a man to seek to better himself in many regards, while collectivism thrives on mediocrity.  Collectivism in this country is sought by the lazy who don’t want to work but feel entitled to free handouts of all kinds.  Unfortunately, collectivism is also touted by many who are successful, such as middle-class suburbanites who feel guilty for what they have achieved through hard work while others have not been so fortunate.  Yet, when suggesting that the redistribution effort begins with their own 401(k)s, seldom will you find volunteers.  Collectivism is also cheered on by certain billionaire hypocrites who made their wealth through capitalism yet now tout the wonders of socialist systems.  The irony.

While these social groups appear quite different, there is a common trait among the men in all of them: no masculinity to be found.  Be it the lanky hipster in skinny jeans or the billionaire hypocrite, imposing is not one of their descriptions.  The billionaire may travel everywhere with a fleet of personal security, but he has no strength of body and apparently little strength of character.  Are there plenty of physically weak men who are capitalists?  Absolutely.  Capitalism is not dependent on machismo or charisma.  However, few alphas are socialist, and self-reliance is a collectivism-killer.  That is why the left finds masculinity toxic.

The denigration of masculinity is high on the leftist agenda.  The pushing of acceptance of the “transgender” movement is the latest machination in this crusade.  This fosters further blurring of male masculinity and female femininity, and the plight of a small group of people who wrestle with this issue has become a politically polarizing topic – a tool maximized by the left.  Masculinity is maligned as a trait of the bigot, not as a desirable trait among men, as it once was.  The goal is to foster an entirely androgynous society that makes no distinction between male and female.  This breeds a culture more easily shaped by the almighty state.

The left’s war on masculinity should come as no surprise.  The cultures in history that have resisted oppressive regimes in the past have celebrated masculinity rather than demeaned it.

There is an often quoted poem that sums up a society’s life cycle: “hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, weak men create hard times.”  The abundance of weak men in our society is ushering in those hard times, and it is celebrated by the left every step of the way. 

The eradication of masculinity from our society will ultimately result in the elimination of all resistance to tyranny.  Freedom-loving males know this, and women who believe in individual capability rather than dependence on the government also know it.  Remember: subjugation of all to a collectivist regime is the ultimate goal, and branding masculinity as toxic is one of many pieces in the game.



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Does Conservative Populism Exist?


Having just read Matt Purple’s comments on The American Conservative website why “Bannonism will live on,” I thought I’d weigh in as a critical observer of what now passes for the “conservative movement.” Like Bannon, I have generally chastised that movement from the Right. But like Mr. Purple, I find President Trump’s erstwhile adviser to be downright inept in selling his conservative populist message. Bannon has behaved like an egomaniac, who viciously turned on the president he was supposed to be assisting. He couldn’t even serve the populist cause he purports to believe in without making it entirely about himself. Some of Bannon’s more widely-publicized political choices, such as favoring Judge Roy Moore for the vacant senatorial seat in Alabama, is a case in point. His involvement in that race gave him ample opportunity to exhibit himself on camera, in his bag man attire and four o’clock shadow. But we know how disastrously that race turned out. Despite his supposedly persuasive rhetoric, moreover, I don’t think that I’ve ever heard Bannon say anything memorable or notably coherent.

But my criticism goes beyond Bannon’s demeanor and extends to the populist brand that he’s selling. Although I’m not categorically against the Right embracing populist tactics, I just don’t think these tools can work well in the U.S. Populism assumes a high degree of homogeneity, cultural, historic, and ethnic, among the “majority” to whom a populist leader appeals. The white working class base that Bannon and Trump have targeted includes no more than about 35% of the voting population; and at least that number of voters and probably more are allied to the cultural and social Left.

Bannon, Stephen Miller, and the American Greatness crowd are always claiming they’ll bring American blacks into their populist alliance. But in Alabama and Virginia black turnout for Democratic senatorial candidates, in what was at least partly an expression of anti-Trump sentiment, was over 95%. It doesn’t matter that Trump’s policies have helped blacks and Hispanics economically. There’s no indication that help is even minimally appreciated, and even less that racial minorities are running to join an expanding populist alliance. Ditto for college-educated, upwardly mobile women, who are running toward the social-cultural left in droves. Despite the continuing protests of pro-Trump populist websites against the legalization of DACA Dreamers, 69% of American adults polled in favor this measure. Although there may be good reasons to oppose the legalization, “the people” and the democratic will are not among them.

Much of what Bannon has advocated as populist nationalism seems to be a grab bag of his own preferences, combining tough trade deals with the Pacific Rim, increased solidarity with the Israeli government, and a general relaxation of relations with Russia. Although Bannon may be able to defend his individual positions, I’m not sure they amount to a populist posture. And while I fully share Bannon’s traditionalist views on social moral questions, I doubt they represent what a majority of the American population believe about any of them. When the Trump administration ordered the firing of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat air base in Syria in April, 2017, Bannon opposed that move as not being in America’s interest. Are we supposed to think that Bannon was taking a “populist” position because it was he who took it? If so, would his stance have been equally “populist” if it had been the opposite of the position he took, by virtue of the fact that he took it?  In contrast to our situation, leaders of the populist Right in Hungary, Poland and Serbia usually speak for the views of most of their citizenry. They don’t have to fabricate their “people.”

Allow me to offer a much less exuberant description than Bannon’s of what the American Right might be reduced to if present demographic and cultural trends in the U.S. continue. And please note that I’m referring to the “real Right” as opposed to GOP deal-makers and centrists who are eager to compromise in order to stay in the political game.  A moment of disenchantment for this Right is bound to come sooner or later.  At that point it will have to stop deluding itself that “the people are behind us,” when most of them are not. The wisest strategy may be for cultural and social traditionalists (and those are the ones I’m addressing) to try to protect themselves against the “popular will,” as more and more of that will is likely to be found on the enemy side.

The right must try to limit immigration if for no other reason than because it increases the electoral power of a well-organized left; and it must work to decentralize administration in order to allow non-leftist minorities to continue to have influence over their political fate. Least of all should the right (as opposed to neoconservatives) be interested in having the U.S. play the role of global policewoman or try to impose what it considers “human rights” on societies that have no interest in them. One might of course wish that “conservative” foundations devoted the same energy and resources to these stands as they do to promoting the purchase of new weaponry by the Pentagon. But that may be more than one has a right to expect. 

Having just read Matt Purple’s comments on The American Conservative website why “Bannonism will live on,” I thought I’d weigh in as a critical observer of what now passes for the “conservative movement.” Like Bannon, I have generally chastised that movement from the Right. But like Mr. Purple, I find President Trump’s erstwhile adviser to be downright inept in selling his conservative populist message. Bannon has behaved like an egomaniac, who viciously turned on the president he was supposed to be assisting. He couldn’t even serve the populist cause he purports to believe in without making it entirely about himself. Some of Bannon’s more widely-publicized political choices, such as favoring Judge Roy Moore for the vacant senatorial seat in Alabama, is a case in point. His involvement in that race gave him ample opportunity to exhibit himself on camera, in his bag man attire and four o’clock shadow. But we know how disastrously that race turned out. Despite his supposedly persuasive rhetoric, moreover, I don’t think that I’ve ever heard Bannon say anything memorable or notably coherent.

But my criticism goes beyond Bannon’s demeanor and extends to the populist brand that he’s selling. Although I’m not categorically against the Right embracing populist tactics, I just don’t think these tools can work well in the U.S. Populism assumes a high degree of homogeneity, cultural, historic, and ethnic, among the “majority” to whom a populist leader appeals. The white working class base that Bannon and Trump have targeted includes no more than about 35% of the voting population; and at least that number of voters and probably more are allied to the cultural and social Left.

Bannon, Stephen Miller, and the American Greatness crowd are always claiming they’ll bring American blacks into their populist alliance. But in Alabama and Virginia black turnout for Democratic senatorial candidates, in what was at least partly an expression of anti-Trump sentiment, was over 95%. It doesn’t matter that Trump’s policies have helped blacks and Hispanics economically. There’s no indication that help is even minimally appreciated, and even less that racial minorities are running to join an expanding populist alliance. Ditto for college-educated, upwardly mobile women, who are running toward the social-cultural left in droves. Despite the continuing protests of pro-Trump populist websites against the legalization of DACA Dreamers, 69% of American adults polled in favor this measure. Although there may be good reasons to oppose the legalization, “the people” and the democratic will are not among them.

Much of what Bannon has advocated as populist nationalism seems to be a grab bag of his own preferences, combining tough trade deals with the Pacific Rim, increased solidarity with the Israeli government, and a general relaxation of relations with Russia. Although Bannon may be able to defend his individual positions, I’m not sure they amount to a populist posture. And while I fully share Bannon’s traditionalist views on social moral questions, I doubt they represent what a majority of the American population believe about any of them. When the Trump administration ordered the firing of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Shayrat air base in Syria in April, 2017, Bannon opposed that move as not being in America’s interest. Are we supposed to think that Bannon was taking a “populist” position because it was he who took it? If so, would his stance have been equally “populist” if it had been the opposite of the position he took, by virtue of the fact that he took it?  In contrast to our situation, leaders of the populist Right in Hungary, Poland and Serbia usually speak for the views of most of their citizenry. They don’t have to fabricate their “people.”

Allow me to offer a much less exuberant description than Bannon’s of what the American Right might be reduced to if present demographic and cultural trends in the U.S. continue. And please note that I’m referring to the “real Right” as opposed to GOP deal-makers and centrists who are eager to compromise in order to stay in the political game.  A moment of disenchantment for this Right is bound to come sooner or later.  At that point it will have to stop deluding itself that “the people are behind us,” when most of them are not. The wisest strategy may be for cultural and social traditionalists (and those are the ones I’m addressing) to try to protect themselves against the “popular will,” as more and more of that will is likely to be found on the enemy side.

The right must try to limit immigration if for no other reason than because it increases the electoral power of a well-organized left; and it must work to decentralize administration in order to allow non-leftist minorities to continue to have influence over their political fate. Least of all should the right (as opposed to neoconservatives) be interested in having the U.S. play the role of global policewoman or try to impose what it considers “human rights” on societies that have no interest in them. One might of course wish that “conservative” foundations devoted the same energy and resources to these stands as they do to promoting the purchase of new weaponry by the Pentagon. But that may be more than one has a right to expect. 



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