Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Commentary 27- School Indoctrination

From the blog Shooting From The Right

National Day of Silence: NOT ME!
By Kris | Apr 28, 2008

Last Friday was the “National Day of Silence”, in which hundreds of secondary schools and colleges around the country celebrated homosexuality. That’s right, our school systems have become nothing more than a social platform for the left wing of this country. I know you already knew that, but this is just another prime example. The idea was that people in the schools would take a “vow of silence” to show solidarity with the homosexuals who have to remain silent for fear of persecution. All students were encouraged to participate.

This movement makes the error of equating speaking out against homosexuality with racism and bigotry. So, those who refused to participate in the “Day of Silence” are marked and persecuted for being “homophobic”. Isn’t that kind of against the very principle they claimed to be promoting? It is a typical liberal ploy: You can have free speech, and you can proclaim your message to the masses…as long as you agree with us.

Well, I for one, will not agree. I thought it was great that there were protests all over the country against this lunacy. Of course, it won’t make the news, as that would be against the principles of the liberal media, but it happened. There was an article in the Seattle Times that related what happened in the Mt. Si School District. It turns out that “Day of Silence” was far from silent. Ken Hutcherson, who speaks out against granting homosexuals special rights, organized a protest at the school. He and at least 100 supporters showed up to protest the activities of the Gay Straight Alliance. About 40 students tried to counter demonstrate, by trying to shout down the protesters and beating on drums. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem to fit in with the whole “Day of Silence” motif. Other students blared radios with gay-favorable music and shouted at the group of protesters. Again…where does “silence” come into this?

By reading this article, you will see the difference between two mindsets. Those opposed to the “Day of Silence” proposed some activity outside of school, and school hours. The point is that such indoctrination of the lefts lack of morality is not appropriate for the school system! How can it possibly be appropriate to teach that it is ok to be a homosexual in our schools, but not ok to teach against it? It is not the school’s role to teach morality to my children at all–they are supposed to be instructing our kids in reading, writing and arithmetic.

On the other hand, those involved in this “Day of Silence” show just how much they think a political and social agenda is a part of their teaching responsibility. In fact, according to this article, one complaint from previous years was that teachers participated, thus remaining silent and NOT TEACHING!

Some teachers also chose to remain silent, drawing objections from students who said they were there to learn. Otherwise, last year’s event occurred largely without incident.

Administrators directed teachers to teach this year and said that students should respond if called upon in class.

So, the school sponsors the event, and then tells the teachers and students not to participate. Obviously, they were not as dedicated to the cause as they tried to act. But, also involved in many of the statements is the reflection that disagreement is not acceptable. Funny how the mantra of the liberal is “tolerance”, but only when you agree with them. One student carried a sign saying “I believe in the separation of church and hate.” That indicates that if you don’t agree with them, then you hate.

Judging from this school, all we see is that one whole day of school was lost. The president of the GSA called this a success. We wonder why our students can’t compete with the rest of the world. This is one reason…this totally wasted day is what is classified as “a success” by liberals. And they want to blame President Bush…

Original Referenced Link

My Commentary:

Zemack April 30, 2008 8:35 pm

“The point is that such indoctrination of the lefts lack of morality is not appropriate for the school system!”

I agree whole-heartedly that this “program” represents indoctrination and has no place in the schools. There is also a broader point here, as well. The “teaching” of current events in general has no place in the schools, especially the elementary and middle levels. Political and social issues are way beyond the ability of school age children to grasp, understand, and form opinions on. They simply don’t have the depth of knowledge, life experience, or mental maturity to deal with these issues.

The purpose of primary education should be, but is not, to teach the child to use the cognitive functions of his brain…i.e., to learn how to think. This means, for example, to not only absorb facts but to understand and integrate the factual knowledge he acquires, to understand the proper hierarchy of that knowledge, and to organize it in his brain via writing. Regardless of one’s position on the homosexual or any other issue, no one who really cares about education should support injecting current events into the curriculum of school children too young to be able to develop informed opinions and to be able to back them up with their own reasoned, coherent logic.

The sad fact is, though, that our public schools have become indoctrination camps. They have become the focal point of all kinds of pressure groups seeking to impose some social or political agenda. Therefore, I now advocate full tax credits for education, giving parents full control over the choice of their children’s school, educational content and standards, with the goal of breaking up the government’s public school monopoly. The ultimate solution to our education woes is to abolish the public schools, ending government’s role in running them. Government-run schools are not consistent with the principles of a free society or of individual rights.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Commentary 26- NJHCC Act

Healthy competition best way to fix problem of uninsured
By JAY WEBBER • April 15, 2008

New Jersey Democrats recently unveiled the latest in a long line of big-ticket spending items: a universal health insurance mandate for New Jersey.

The plan would require every New Jerseyan to buy a health insurance policy, and if a person cannot afford a policy, the state would subsidize its cost. The initial annual price for this expansion of government is $1.7 billion. Gov. Corzine has acknowledged taxpayers simply cannot afford the proposal.

And when was the last time we saw a government program come in under budget in New Jersey? Audits already have found wasteful spending, poor oversight and downright fraud in the state's existing healthcare program.

Our state needs health-care reform, to be sure, but there is a better alternative to a taxpayer-funded, bureaucracy-based proposal. I have proposed the New Jersey Healthcare Choice Act, which would lower the cost of health insurance, slash the number of the 1.2 million New Jerseyans now uninsured and require no government subsidy. It is not another massive government program.

One commentator remarking on past attempts at health-care reform called New Jersey "the poster child for how to destroy a health insurance market." How did the state fail so spectacularly?

New Jersey law permits individuals to buy only high-end policies subject to our state's cumbersome and expensive regulations, which may be the most burdensome in the nation. Micromanaging lawmakers have locked us into a Hobson's choice of purchasing gold-plated, one-size-fits-all health coverage or living with no coverage at all.

The government's hyper-regulation of the health insurance market means we pay as much as three times more for coverage than our neighbors in Pennsylvania. For example, a single woman, 29, living in Montville might pay $2,040 annually for a bare-bones health policy. Across the Delaware River in Lansdale, Pa., the same individual would pay $810 for basic health coverage. A family of four living in Parsippany that pays $7,835 a year for low-end coverage would pay $3,172 in Blue Bell, Pa.

The New Jersey Healthcare Choice Act would permit New Jerseyans to access lower prices available in other states by buying health insurance from insurers approved to sell insurance in other states. Individuals, families and small employers would have the right to look for health insurance policies anywhere in the nation to best suit their needs and budgets. Nothing would force New Jerseyans into buying insurance outside New Jersey. Any consumer still would be free to buy New Jersey policies.

But many will not continue to shop only in the Garden State. Policies in our neighboring states are not inferior to those sold here. They just are less encumbered by government regulation. Those policies span a much greater range of affordability. Think of it this way: New Jersey requires everyone who has health coverage to own a Cadillac policy, while other states permit residents to choose from Honda, Chevrolet or Cadillac policies.

That increased accessibility encourages more uninsured people to buy health insurance without costing taxpayers a dime. Health-care choice would help people who lost insurance because they are temporarily out of work. An estimated 45 percent of uninsured people lack insurance for six months or less, most because they are between jobs.

Opening our market to out-of-state insurers would lower the cost of health coverage for those families by as much as 60 percent and woul allow them to maintain health coverage during a tough time, without government assistance. Costs also would plummet for small employers, who often would provide health coverage for their employees but cannot afford it.

Liberating state health insurance markets is a trend across the country. Legislators in Maine, Wisconsin, Georgia, Colorado and California are in various stages of crafting proposals to permit their citizens to go out of state to buy insurance. A bill pending in Congress would accomplish this nationwide.

We live in a state that likes to consider itself progressive and cutting edge. If we are as ahead of the curve as we believe ourselves to be, then let us be the first to open our health insurance market to genuine competition. By loosening state government's iron-fisted grip on our citizens' insurance choices, we can make progress on an important social goal and save taxpayers from a mammoth and counterproductive health insurance mandate we cannot afford.

Assemblyman Jay Webber is a Republican from Morris County.

Original Referenced Link

My letter to Assemblyman Weber:

From: [','','','1')">]
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 9:04 PM
To: Webber, Asm. D.O.
Subject: NJHCC Act

Assemblyman Jay Weber,

I strongly support your New Jersey Health Care Choice Act. A very
damaging myth that is pushing America piecemeal toward a government
takeover of healthcare is that our "free market" system has failed. In
fact, the problems in healthcare have grown in lockstep with
government's steadily increasing intrusions over the decades. Today,
except for bits and pieces here and there, no free market any longer
exists. Consequently, it is government controls, not the non-existent
free market that has failed in healthcare.

The NJHCC act addresses one key piece of a much bigger issue. The proper
approach would be for the Republican Party to get behind a
comprehensive, even radical, plan to liberate the insurance market
nationally, including ending the third-party-payer system that stands as
a "Berlin Wall" between individuals and insurers. Republicans should
give Americans "a choice, not an echo" this November. If America rejects
healthcare freedom in favor of socialized medicine, they should at least
have a firm idea of what they are giving up.

Nevertheless, with options limited at the state level, NJHCC is a very
good start to restoring free market medicine. Let those Trenton
politicians who would oppose this act explain why they are standing in
the way of individuals and insurers exercising their rights to agree on
policies without government's coercive interference.

PS: There is an organization called We Stand FIRM (Freedom and
Individual Rights in Medicine) that should provide valuable intellectual
ammunition for healthcare freedom's advocates. It might interest you.
Here is the link to their website:

Thank You,

Michael and Kathleen Zemack

Assemblyman Weber's Response:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Zemack

Thank you for your kinds words and support for the New Jersey Health
Care Choice Act. You're right -- we need market-based solutions to
health care issues, and I'm glad to see that you have linked to your
organization's website.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact me. Your input always is
appreciated and welcomed, and please stay in touch.


Jay Webber
Assemblyman, 26th District
Chairman, Taxpayer Protection Caucus
101 Gibraltar Dr., Suite 1-A
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
(973) 984-0922

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Commentary 25- Heidi Moore on Ayn Rand

April 11, 2008, 5:51 pm
Capitalism Shrugged: Should Ayn Rand Be Required Reading?
Posted by Heidi Moore

As we head into the weekend, we’re thinking about Ayn Rand. And you should be, too, if you’re worried about the current state of capitalism.

That’s because BB&T, a North Carolina bank, has donated over $30 million to 27 universities, including the University of North Carolina Charlotte, with the understanding that “Atlas Shrugged” would become required reading for students, according to Bloomberg. Last month BB&T agreed to donate $2 million to the University of Texas at Austin to create a chair in Objectivism, which would be the first in the country.

Some will applaud, and some will shudder. Rand is the uncompromising author of individualist screeds that all came together under the philosophy of “Objectivism.” Should Rand be part of the American canon? If you’ve read “Atlas Shrugged” or “The Fountainhead,” you’re already familiar with Rand’s instructive, demanding tone that selfishness is the highest good. (It’s also a play on the American qualities of independence and individuality, best expressed by Walt Whitman in his book of poetry, Leaves of Grass. The book includes the poem “Song of Myself” and was frequently given to impressionable females by a famous individualist, former president Bill Clinton.)

There’s no question that Rand’s influence is already pervasive. By now, you know that Alan Greenspan was a disciple of Rand’s. The famous Gordon Gekko speech in Wall Street — though it was not written by Rand at all — was Randian in its philosophy: “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good… Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Rand’s actual writing is not too far off from that, and you could probably mine her work for some bitterness against, say, the Fed’s abnormally strong intervention in the J.P. Morgan-Bear Stearns situation: “Government ‘help’ to business is just as disastrous as government persecution… the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off,” for instance.

(Personally, we believe Rand is a better spokeswoman for architecture than anything else; we know two people who attended architecture school after being inspired by “The Fountainhead.”)

Rand’s work has thrived even though it can be an obstacle to romance; this light essay on love noted that some women are turned off by men who claim Rand among their favorites.

But Rand has a bit of a reputation problem among those who have not drunk the Kool-Aid. Greed and selfishness generally get a bad rap, no matter how you try to redefine them. And there’s a my-way-or-the-highway absolutism about Rand’s work — “There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil,” she once wrote — that may be at odds with today’s cooperative, interlocked financial system, where codependency is the rule. When a firm does refuse to go along with the others — think Bear Stearns at the time of Long-Term Capital Management — the grudge lasts for years and, according to some, may hold the seeds of their eventual destruction. For every individualist aficionado of Atlas Shrugged, there’s an ABC After-School Special that shows people doing whatever the cool kids are doing — like, say, lending money they can’t afford for $26 billion leveraged buyouts, or buying up mortgage securities they don’t understand.

Deal Journal readers, we put the question to you: Should there be more Ayn Rand to instruct young, impressionable minds? Or is the problem with capitalism today too much Rand already?

Original Referenced Link

My Commentary:

“And there’s a my-way-or-the-highway absolutism about Rand’s work — ‘There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil,’ she once wrote.”

To understand the proper context of Ms. Moore’s quote, the following statement by Rand should be added:

“There can be no compromise on moral principles”

Unless, of course, one believes it is wrong to steal, except to do it once in a while is fine, just as a compromise. Or that honesty is good, except dishonesty is okay once in a while, just as a compromise. Or that freedom is good, except that it is okay to give it up, bit by welfare state bit, just as a compromise.

To compromise… i.e., to seek a middle ground… is acceptable, according to Objectivism, when dealing with specific, concrete issues that don’t involve violation of one’s principles. For example, negotiating the terms of a contract on the sale of a property, or deciding which movie or restaurant to attend with a spouse or friends, or determining the choice of a job, etc. The “absolutism about Rand’s work” involves basic principles and fundamental moral issues. Would you say that there is a middle ground between a life of theft and a life of productive work? Or between honesty and deception or fraud? Or between freedom and slavery? On basic principles, “the middle is always evil” because it implies that there is no distinction between right and wrong. “In any compromise [middle ground] between good and evil,” Rand writes, “it is only evil that can profit.” (For a wider discussion on this, see Rand’s essay “Doesn’t life require compromise?” in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness.)

Of course, it is the moral absolutism of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that must be discredited by power-lusters and seekers of the unearned. It is the Objectivists’ absolute, uncompromising, and selfish defense of the moral principle of inalienable individual rights that threatens the steady growth of welfare statism in America. It is the middle-of-the-roaders seeking compromise between government controls and inalienable rights who are responsible for the steady erosion of freedom and subsequent growing social and economic problems in America (which no longer has a Capitalist, but a mixed economy)

It has now been some 40 years since first reading Ayn Rand, and I have discovered that there is one common tactic shared by most of Rand’s critics. First misrepresent, then attack, her views. Heidi Moore is a master at this.
It seems very few people are willing (or able) to present her ideas honestly and objectively before critiquing them.

The problem is not too much Rand or not enough Rand, but understanding Rand.

Comment by Zemack - April 12, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Friday, April 4, 2008

Commentary 24- Entitlement Mentality

Entitlement Mentality is Wrecking Economy
By Jonathan Hoenig

FROM WELFARE TO food stamps to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, our country now marshals a massive network of trillion-dollar entitlement programs colloquially known as the "social safety net." Many Americans, including a few of those running for president, see these bureaucracies as defining achievements of a nation where "nobody is left behind."

Forget the fact that the entitlements, many of which began with the goal of providing "basic minimum benefits" have grown into a gargantuan burden costing over $1.5 trillion a year and careening toward total collapse. For example, payouts will begin to exceed the revenues into Social Security in just nine years and current estimates have the entire system going belly up in 2041.

The fundamental problem with the social safety net, however, isn't bankrupt economics but bad philosophy.

A government can only provide a safety net insofar as the wealth that net consists of — food, clothing, shelter, medical services — has been created by productive individuals. The freebies government is so eager to expropriate don't grow from the ground, but must be produced by entrepreneurial individuals who create corporations, raise cattle, invest in financial markets, run restaurants, develop pharmaceuticals, and so on. From the creation of kidney dialysis to the transportation of affordable food, it's the reasoning mind that produces the wealth that makes our lives secure, not a bloated government bureaucracy.

As I've written before, it is America's historical commitment to capitalism and individual rights that has differentiated our prosperous economy from the socialist basket cases of North Korea, China and communist Cuba. When economic freedom is protected, societies see vast increases in productivity that result in higher-quality, lower-cost products.

One only need look at the least-regulated sectors of our economy — electronics, computers and food, all of which have declined in price — to see that phenomenon occur. Yesterday's luxuries, like huge flat-panel TVs from Best Buy (BBY: 42.89, +0.36, +0.84%), become affordable mass-market items in just a few years.

This is true even in health care, which proponents of the entitlement safety net argue is uniquely vital enough to require governmental interference. Procedures like laser eye surgery that are not part of the government safety net have dropped in price and improved in quality in a short period of time. This is precisely what would happen if our entitlements were eliminated: Less-wealthy individuals would not go without care, but would become the eager focus of entrepreneurial businessmen competing to offer them cheap, quality health care...or education...or anything else.

In reality, skyrocketing health-care costs are a government-created phenomenon, where someone besides the patient (usually the government) pays the bills and insurance is assumed to be infinite. So there's no need for the producers of advanced medical devices to cut costs because such treatments quickly become a "right" under government-regulated health plans. If an innovative chemotherapy or AIDS treatment immediately has a huge, state-provided market, why focus on cutting costs? You'll note that the producers of notebook computers or hamburgers have no such disincentive.

Most disturbing is the reality that the "security" promised by the safety net is anything but secure. Unlike a mutual fund or checking account, there's no actual investment or savings when it comes to Social Security. It is, at its core, a Ponzi scheme in which the government loots your money today for the benefit of retirees and promises to do the same to future generations on your behalf.

So there is no real account with your name on it. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled that the government does not owe us Social Security benefits by law, meaning that Congress is perfectly able to modify or cut benefits, which it has already done well over a dozen times since the program began.

At the heart of the social safety net is the moral belief that the government is responsible for our lives, and that, as Barack Obama has often said, "We are our brothers' keeper." Under this altruist sensibility, we are duty-bound to serve the needs of others, meaning that anyone needy has an inherent claim on anyone better off. The wealthy aren't merely able to deal charitably with those in need, but are legally obligated to sacrifice their earnings for the benefit of those they might not voluntarily wish to support.

As entitlements grow, so does regulatory authority. As I wrote a few weeks back, the Federal Reserve is now getting explicitly in the business of being the de facto risk manager of the nation's largest banks. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's new mandate to overhaul oversight of U.S. financial markets moves us more toward a controlled society where individual choice is subordinate to "the public good," whatever the ruling class believes that to be at the time.

Moral bankruptcy eventually leads to financial collapse as well, and the evidence is growing more obvious with each passing day. As noted in Barron's over the weekend, the future obligations of Medicare are now so staggering that liquidating all the residential real estate in the country — a sum of almost $12 trillion dollars — wouldn't even cover the costs. The Social Security tax rate, which began at 2% in 1935, has been raised consistently since, with the system's trustees suggesting the payroll tax will need to be increased to 16% by 2041 in order to maintain benefits — higher if life expectancy rates continue to climb. The same suffocating scenario will inevitably play out for insurance, health care, housing or any other government-controlled efforts to redistribute wealth from those who've earned it to those who haven't.

It's more than evident that a government "safety net" is anything but safe. Instead of the altruist philosophy that only the needy matter, our country desperately needs to return to the notion of rugged individualism under which we are each responsible for and capable of achieving our own security without the immoral coercion of publicity-seeking politicians. Any alternative leads to dependency, stagnation and economic despair.

Original Referenced Link


My Commentary:

Judging by some of the commentary here, it seems that certain basic points have to be made.

Money is not wealth. The idea that simply “circulating” money away from those who earned it and may invest in future production through their savings to those who didn’t earn it and who will thus consume the economy into prosperity is absurd. When you receive money for your work (i.e., the wealth you produced), you have not received wealth in return. You have merely received something that you hope can be exchanged for real wealth. When you are ready to make the exchange, you had better hope that there are people out there “greedy” and “selfish” enough to have produced the wealth that you desire and did not produce, but which gives your money value. This leads to the next point.

Production comes before consumption and need. This I think is one of the main points of Mr. Hoenig’s essay. I would call it an axiom. The great virtue of the Gateses and Buffetts of the world is the production of the fortunes…the wealth…that they accomplished. Their philanthropic endeavors are merely a consequence and are minor by comparison. This same principle applies to productive people at all levels of income. Anyone who reverses this axiom is advocating mass destitution and poverty and thus cannot claim any kind of compassion or concern for those in need. Need doesn’t produce wealth. If it did, the world would be awash in prosperity, without any human effort what-so-ever. Capitalism is the only social system that recognizes production for personal gain as the primary virtue, which is key to its success at alleviating poverty. Which leads me to the next point.

Freedom from force, including governmental force, is a necessary pre-condition of human production. This means individual rights. Need is everywhere, but wealth production is not. To the extent that individuals are free to pursue their own welfare and happiness, is the extent to which a country prospers. Failing to recognize the destructive nature of physical force in human relationships is an evasion of all of human history. Equating the voluntary charitable efforts of Gates and Buffett with the coercive efforts of those seeking to “do good” with other peoples tax money through government programs obliterates the very concept of moral action.

I applaud Mr. Hoenig’s courageous stand for individual rights and the productive members of society, and he does not deserve the vitriol of some of the commentators here. His stand against the growth of welfare statism in America is the truly compassionate stand.