Monday, September 1, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

THE REWRITING OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN HISTORY: Obama is an acolyte of these leftist professors who along with Bill Ayers and his socialist activists are trying to shape the way young people perceive the American role in the world, past and future.

Recently, a few conservative intellectuals have raised serious questions about the College Board’s effort to develop a new curriculum for the Advanced Placement history courses. Stanley Kurtz, at National Review Online, writes that “this Framework will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective.” Naturally, the College Board argues that its intent is only to provide “balance,” to streamline the curriculum, and to enhance teacher flexibility. In other words, all benign matters that educators should welcome.
Are Kurtz and the other critics, like National Association of Scholars executive Peter Wood, right in their criticism? Wood argues in a preliminary report, like Kurtz, that “this newest revision, however, is radical.” The board, he notes, citing other critics, is substituting a specific curriculum in place of their previous broad frameworks, promoting a negative view of the United States, and erasing major figures (the Founding Fathers, of course) from American history.
Wood is concerned that “perhaps more than other parts of the college curriculum,” the board is turning history “into a platform for political advocacy and for animus against traditional American values.”  Moreover, he thinks that the “College Board has turned AP U.S. History into a briefing document on progressive and leftist views of the American past.  It is something that weaves together a vaguely Marxist or at least materialist reading of the key events with the whole litany of identity group grievances.”
We have seen this particularly in the books of Howard Zinn and his followers, and in the book and video series on World War II and the Cold War by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. And, as we know, their works are widely adopted in the assigned readings of many high school teachers and college professors. Within the academy, there has also been a widespread adoption of monographs that are based on race, class and gender to the exclusion of the old type of political history that once exemplified the best the profession had to offer.
These charges have led to an attack on the board’s critics, as revealed in this harsh column in the Los Angeles Times by  columnist Michael Hiltzik. Its blaring headline reads: “The right wing steps up its attack on the teaching of U.S. history.” Rather than address the substance of the claims made by critics like Wood and Kurtz, Hiltzik offers his readers a standard left-wing McCarthyite smear, arguing that it is nothing less than “an anti-intellectual assault.” He accuses Kurtz of declaring that a “grand conspiracy” exists made up of left-leaning history professors to emasculate their profession by belying the concept of “American exceptionalism.” (Kurtz’s answer to Hiltzik can be found here.)
To weigh the accuracy of the claims made by Kurtz and Wood, I read the College Board report. As a historian of recent America, 1900 to the present, and U.S. foreign policy in the 20th century, I evaluated what the curriculum offers in the area of my own expertise. I’ll start with Period 7, 1890-1945. Take as an example how it frames questions about Progressivism and the New Deal. The report puts it this way:
Progressive reformers responded to economic instability, social inequality, and political corruption by calling for government intervention in the economy, expanded democracy, greater social justice, and conservation of natural resources.
There is no indication that Progressive reform actually may have been instituted by corporate regulators for their own benefit, at the expense of small manufacturers and producers. This argument, by historians like Gabriel Kolko, James Weinstein and Martin J.Sklar, whose pioneering work changed the standard view of progressivism, is not even raised as an alternative way to comprehend the Progressive era. The paragraph, as structured, reflects the old traditional left/liberal view of the Progressive Era, and takes it as a given.
Referring to the New Deal era, the authors write:
The liberalism of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal drew on earlier progressive ideas and represented a multifaceted approach to both the causes and effects of the Great Depression, using government power to provide relief to the poor, to stimulate recovery, and reform the American economy.
Radical, union and populist movements pushed Roosevelt toward more extensive reforms, even as conservatives in Congress and the Supreme Court sought to limit the New Deal’s scope.
The above paragraphs are standard left-wing history, offering an analysis that has been challenged by many historians (including myself here on a leftist site — and the same essay in a book I co-edited on the site of the laissez-faire Ludwig von Mises Institute). The board presupposes that the New Deal was a positive advance on earlier Progressivism and that it stimulated recovery, which it did not since, quickly, the U.S. entered what was dubbed “the Roosevelt depression.” And it omits the failures and challenges to the large business-dominated orientation of the New Deal as reflected in the corporatist structure of the National Recovery Administration (NRA). It is skewered to reflect the position that pressure from the Left was good and necessary, since it led to more extensive reforms that, of course, conservatives opposed.
Turning to Period 8, 1945-1980, I find that the board’s proposals for teaching foreign policy are, at first, more balanced. The proposal states accurately that the US “sought to stem the growth of Communist military power and ideological influence, create a stable global economy, and build an international security system.” It also notes that the U.S. sought “to ‘contain’ Soviet-dominated communism through a variety of measures, including military engagements in Korea and Vietnam.” In Latin America, the board says later, the U.S. “supported non-Communist regimes with varying levels of commitment to democracy.” It does not condemn these policies, letting readers make their own judgments. Perhaps it is because the early Cold War policies were implemented by the liberal administration of Harry S. Truman, and not by conservative Republicans.
When it comes to the later period, however, when Republicans controlled the administration, the period synopsis is particularly biased and egregious. This is evident on its discussion of the Reagan administration’s foreign policy. The board writes:
President Ronald Reagan, who initially rejected d├ętente with increased defense spending, military action, and bellicose rhetoric, later developed a friendly relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, leading to significant arms reductions by both countries.
This is indeed biased in the way that Peter Wood specifies, in a preliminary evaluation for the National Association of Scholars, about the period Recent America — 1900 to the present. Wood writes the following as evidence for why he sees the board’s proposal as little more than leftist propaganda:
The selection of these three key concepts and subsidiary themes for “Period 9” (the last 34 years) is odd.  Any effort to distill to a handful of points the rush of contemporary and near-contemporary events is, of course, fraught with difficulty. But where some see the rise of “a new conservatism in U.S. culture and politics,” others with equal justification see the rise of an aggressive new progressivism in U.S. culture and politics. Where APUSH sees “the rapid and substantial growth of evangelical and fundamentalist Christian churches,” others with equal justification see the rapid and substantial growth of multiculturalism and secularist ideologies such as diversity, feminism, sustainability, and gay rights.
Where APUSH sees a key concept in “the end of the Cold War and new challenges to U.S. leadership in the world,” others with equal justification see the liberation of Europe from a tyranny rooted in the outcome of World War II and the final discrediting of communist ideology.  Where APUSH emphasizes President Ronald Reagan’s “friendly relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev” and “significant arms reductions by both countries” as the hallmark of President Reagan’s foreign policy, others with equal justification see President Reagan’s commitment to a nuclear deterrent in the face of the Soviet-sponsored “nuclear freeze” movement and his advancement of the “Star Wars” nuclear defense initiative as turning the tide against the Soviets.
He concludes:
In sum, almost every item in the APUSH picture of recent history seems to argue for one side of a dispute.  It is, of course, possible that teachers of AP courses will themselves recognize that one-sidedness and attempt to correct it.  But the AP U.S. History exam will be keyed to the College Board’s agenda, not whatever corrective lens teachers may provide.
Is Wood correct? On its treatment of Reagan, he certainly is. Jeffrey Herf in his book on the European missile crisis of the ’80s, War By Other Means: Soviet Power, West German Resistance, and the Battle of the Euromissiles, shows that missiles put into West Germany offset the Soviet introduction of its missiles in Eastern Europe, which helped maintain deterrence and thus  helped prevent a substantial danger posed by Soviet adventurism. In opposing the stationing of the missiles in Western Germany, the Western peace movement echoed Soviet propaganda and in essence took the position of the Soviet Union which favored unilateral disarmament by the West. Nowhere is such a counter narrative mentioned or even cited as a possible alternative analysis, as it should have been.
Moreover, it is widely recognized that the Soviet economy could not expand while putting all its budget into defense spending, and that Reagan’s policies helped expose the contradictions in Soviet economic planning that exacerbated its decline. As for “bellicose rhetoric,” the term itself accepts left/liberal attacks on Reagan, and most probably is referring to the accurate description by Reagan of the Soviet Union, when he called it an “evil empire” and when he challenged Gorbachev in Berlin to “tear down this Wall.”
On domestic policy, the board argues that “as liberal principles came to dominate postwar politics and court decisions, liberalism came under attack from the left as well as from resurgent conservative movements,” which is certainly true. It does not tell students how to expand on this, although it suggests in the way the curriculum is worded that the effort to expand the definition of “rights” is positive, and that those pressuring for more “social and economic equality” and who seek to “redress past injustices” are correct. In mentioning LBJ’s Great Society, it says that “liberalism reached its zenith” with the Great Society programs and by Supreme Court decisions that “expanded democracy and individual freedoms, Great Society social programs and policies, and the power of the federal government,” before concluding that “these unintentionally helped energize a new conservative movement that mobilized to defend traditional visions of morality and the proper role of state authority.”
This characterization assumes the success of Johnson’s Great Society programs, and the summary does not indicate anywhere that, in fact, they failed, and in the long run compounded the problems they supposedly had solved, such as increasing welfare dependency. It also suggests critics of its plans were all conservatives, giving students no leeway to learn that liberals like Daniel Patrick Moynihan became sharp critics of the programs, including welfare, and efforts to end racism by government edict without addressing problems in the culture that prevented African-Americans from moving from poverty to the middle class. It suggests that the only other critics were on the left, and that they assailed liberals for “doing too little to transform the…status quo at home and pursued immoral policies abroad.” Clearly, the wording used expresses the authors’ own bias towards the viewpoint of the Left, and is written in a manner suggesting that the authors agree with that leftist perspective, while denigrating any criticism made from the right.
The report is better in the section that outlines how a student might answer an essay question (pp.117-120 of the report) on how the New Deal, the Great Society and conservative movements would deal with changing the federal government’s role in American society. The board presents different ways in which a student might answer the question in a successful essay on whether the New Deal was conservative or revolutionary, or made minor reforms but hedged on whether or not to do more, and whether or not the New Deal was “substantial but had negative effects.” Students, it notes, can even modify the question and answer it differently than suggested, by arguing the New Deal took a “middle course” between groups calling for radical change and others advocating minor incremental reforms. The section on how students might answer a complicated essay question is not biased, and it appears almost as if someone else other than the previous authors wrote this section.
Except for the two areas I point to — the long discussion on how essays may be answered and early Cold War U.S. policy — critics Stanley Kurtz and Peter Wood are correct in their arguments. Kurtz makes it quite clear that he is not asking for history to be taught only from the viewpoint of scholars on their side of the political divide. What he is concerned with is the demand that it be taught only from the side of the Left, rather than, as he puts it, be taught “from various perspectives.” He lets readers see the evidence that the Left wants only its position adopted and taught. At one point he refers to a speech by Thomas Bender that appears on the College Board’s own website. Bender writes that early American history “is not only about utopian dreams of opportunity or escape, whether from religious persecution or from poverty. It is also about the beginnings of capitalism, and it is about capture, constraint, and exploitation.”
Bender is the man who Kurtz points out “is the leading spokesman for the movement to internationalize the U.S. History curriculum at every educational level,” a major critic of the idea of American exceptionalism, and a scholar who has played a major part in the development of the new approach now offered for the AP courses.
Bender’s claim for teaching a history that will change the way in which American history is taught is the scholarly example of Barack Obama’s campaign speech in which he said we were steps away from a “fundamental transformation” of the United States. The newly proposed AP placement test curriculum is part of the New Left’s goal of making “a long march through the existing institutions” that would end with a new radicalized United States, on the road to socialism.  By emphasizing hegemony in the sphere of culture, taking their cue from the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, they have now moved a further step ahead in that long march.

Important addendum:

Jeffrey Herf, a major historian of European history, has added this very important addendum to the issue of Reagan administration foreign policy, which has been distorted in the summary provided by the authors of the new proposed AP standards. Here is Herf’s statement:
My thanks to Ronald Radosh for mentioning War by Other Means and the arguments in it. The AP discussion of these issues does appear to need some changes along the following lines.
First, in response to the deployment of SS-20 intermediate range ballistic missiles in the Soviet Union with three independently targeted nuclear warheads, the NATO alliance led by the Carter administration agreed to the “double-track decision” of December 1979 to deploy Pershing ballistic missiles in West Germany and Cruise missiles in West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Britain if the Soviet Union refused to dismantle or drastically reduce its SS-20 arsenal. Pressure for the decision came from the center-left government in West Germany led by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Its purpose was to reassure the West Europeans that if the Soviet Union attacked Western Europe, it would face a high possibility of retaliation against its own territory. This was a restatement of NATO’s long standing policy of extended deterrence.
Second, in 1981, President Reagan proposed a “zero-zero” option that proposed to abandon the NATO deployments completely if the Soviet Union would dismantle its SS-20 arsenal targeted at Western Europe—but also capable of reaching 2/3 of humanity in Asia and the Middle East. The Soviet Union, and much of liberal opinion in Western Europe and the United States, denounced Reagan’s zero-option as a cynical ploy intended to justify deployments. The “peace” movements in Western Europe opposed the NATO deployments even if the Soviet Union did not abandon any of its intermediate range forces. France’s Socialist President Francois Mitterand quipped that “the Soviets deploy missiles and we deploy pacifists.” Much of the Democratic Party in the United States abandoned support for the NATO deployments which Carter had set in motion.
Third, following hysteria about a “nuclear holocaust,” the missiles were deployed in 1983. The deployments represented the single most important defeat of Soviet policy in Europe in the entire history of the Cold War. The hard liners in the Kremlin had miscalculated that the pressure of the Western left would undermine NATO resolve. Reagan’s determination, along with that of Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterand foiled the Kremlin’s efforts. The defeat of the hardliners in 1983 was of great importance for the ability of Mikhael Gorbachev to make that case that a “new thinking” was need in foreign policy. The Western—not just American—but the Western hardline of 1983 brought about a hugely significant and still largely underappreciated victory in the Cold War.
Fourth, in 1987, the INF Treaty was signed. It was based on Reagan’s zero-zero option of 1981. The United States withdrew all of its Pershing and Cruise missiles from Western Europe and the Soviet Union dismantled its entire arsenal of SS-20s (and older SS-4 and SS-5) intermediate range ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.
Fifth, I do not know of a single analyst or historian who denounced Reagan’s foreign policy in Europe who has subsequently acknowledged the success of the hardline in Europe from 1981 to 1983. The warming of relations with the Soviet Union was possible because Soviet policy changed and it changed because its hardline had suffered a crushing defeat in the battle of the euromissiles, a battle that was one of the most important, and thank goodness still peaceful, political battles of the entire history of the Cold War.
Last, War by Other Means received critical acclaim but is out of print. It may be a good idea to publish a revised and updated version. Historians of the Cold War tend to give these momentous events much less attention and import than they deserve.
Jeffrey Herf
Distinguished University Professor of HistoryUniversity of Maryland

THE ENDGAME OF GOVRNMENT SUITS AGAINST BANKS: This truly is a scandal that will never see the light of day until Obama and company are long gone, retired in some foreign land beyond the reach of an honest government (if we ever see one of those again!
Read this and weep. Its the ultimate projection example.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Ron Radosh

Our Bien Pensant American Historians: The New Friends of Hamas

August 22nd, 2014 - 8:58 am
In July of 1945, an organization called the Friends of the Haganah was created by American Jews, to support the defense forces of the Jewish community in Palestine. They knew that the Yishuv — the name of the Palestinian Jews who had built up the basis for a future state — were living under the dire threat of constant attacks by the surrounding Arab states.
How things have changed. Nowhere has this been illustrated better than in the recent petition signed by over 200 American historians (who now claim over 1000 signatures), condemning Israel for its “disproportionate” use of force and demanding the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, a permanent end of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and most telling of all, the suspension of US military aid to Israel, until such time that aid is no longer used for “the commission of war crimes.” Nowhere in the petition is Hamas mentioned. (The list of those who were the initial signers and writers of the petition can be found here.) In essence, those who signed the document can be called “the Friends of Hamas.”
As a historian who has studied the American far Left for many years, and decades ago was part of, I immediately noticed that many on the initial list of signers are veterans of the already old New Left and either supporters of or fellow-travelers of the defunct  Soviet Union and the Communist movement. Indeed, I know many of them personally, and are aware of their old affiliations and political allegiances.
The petition is a document created by a group called “Historians Against the War.” It refers not to the current war in Gaza, but to the war in Iraq, as exemplified by a panel sponsored by the group held about it in 2003, which I wrote about here.  It is commonly believed that the group actually had its origins in the effort by leftist historians to create a caucus within the historical profession made up of historians opposed to the war in Vietnam. Then, and now, the group was composed of historians of the far Left. At their start, and it is hard to imagine, they were actually a minority of the historical profession.
What is different about this anti-Israel petition, is that the signers are writing not simply as American citizens opposed to Israel, but as “historians,” whose credentials are being used as evidence that their position in the profession gives them more expertise to comment on Israel’s would be perfidy. As historian K.C. Johnson writes at Minding the Campus, “This approach is odd given that many of the organizing signatories appear to have no academic specialty in U.S. foreign relations, Israeli history, or Palestinian history, the subjects of the petition.” To put it bluntly, the claim to be speaking as historians is nothing less than an attempt to fool the gullible into listening to them. Undoubtedly they are intelligent, Johnson says — a claim that I actually dispute — but, he adds, “they seem to possess no more academic qualifications to comment on U.S. foreign policy or Israeli-Palestinian security relations than random people wandering Central Park.”
Given that Central Park is in New York City, I actually think that the random bicyclist or walker in the park has ten times more wisdom than any of these historians. Even the left-wing Mayor Bill DeBlasio heralds his pro-Israel views, undoubtedly because he realizes that his own leftist base is out of touch with the majority sentiment of the city’s residents.
More importantly, the petition is not just anti-Israel, it is pro-Hamas. In a forthcoming op-ed that will appear in The American Interest by historian Jeffrey Herf, (to which a link will be provided when it is put online) he notes the spurious nature of their charges. They argue for Israel’s guilt without attempting to prove their case. To the left, this conclusion is simply a given. The actions of Hamas, which has fired more than three thousand rockets into Israel, cynically use civilians as human shields as they launch them from mosques, hospitals, UN schools and from heavily populated civilian areas, is not even mentioned once in the historian’s petition.
The demands they make upon Israel, Herf argues, without corresponding demands made on Hamas, is in essence repeating Hamas’ demands as their own. The petition writers do not even mention that the fighting in Gaza began with Hamas’ aggression. This is, Herf continues, a major change in the Left’s position taken over many years. Once a movement that always claimed to be “anti-fascist” above all, it is now supporting and praising the equivalent of the Islamic fascists.
Herf makes a sound analogy between their position and that taken by the old Communists in the years of the Nazi-Soviet Pact from Aug. 1939 to June 1941. Just as the Communists ignored fascism — the Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov famously said that “fascism is a matter of taste,” the historians now justify many of the Islamists’ actions as a cultural difference that Westerners should respect. Recall that historian Joan Scott of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton a few years ago refused to condemn Tariq Ramadan’s failure to oppose the stoning of women to death in Muslim nations. Stoning, she said at a forum, was an aspect of their culture that we had to understand.
What explains these historians’ actions? Do they really want to be known as supporters of Hamas? Have they bothered to read the Hamas Charter? If not, how can they purport to be scholars and historians? Either they have read it and ignore it; or are so negligent as to not have bothered to learn what Hamas’s beliefs and aims are. It is especially shameful that these senior scholars, many of whom are historians of Germany no less and are proud of their anti-fascism, totally ignore the nature of Israel’s enemy.
There is an answer to why these historians are all anti-Israel, and it is the same answer I gave in my column last week at PJ Media. The American Left, following the long standing stance of its British comrades, favors an alliance with the West’s greatest enemies. The Left is now defined by one thing — hatred of and opposition to Israel. The hatred of their own country — they used to spell it as “Amerika” — has now been replaced by their hatred of Israel. As for Hamas, its own agenda is eerily similar to that of ISIS. True, they do not behead their enemies or crucify them. But as Alan Dershowitz notes in an important op-ed appearing today, “Hamas has probably killed more civilians — through its suicide bombs, its murder of Palestinian Authority members, its rocket attacks and its terror tunnels — than ISIS has done.” As for its own tactics, he says, they are the moral equivalent of beheading:
And it matters little to the victim’s family whether the death was caused by beheading, by hanging or by a bullet in the back of a head. Indeed most of ISIS’s victims have been shot rather than beheaded, while Hamas terrorists have slaughtered innocent babies in their beds, teenagers on the way home from school, women shopping, Jews praying and students eating pizza.
Shame on these supposed intellectuals, historians all, who have abandoned the most basic tenants of the historical method to propagandize for the Islamists, whom the late Christopher Hitchens aptly referred to as “Islamofascists.” As Roger Cohen of The New York Times wrote recently, the recent conflict has shown “how the virulent anti-Israel sentiment now evident among the bien-pensant European left can create a climate that makes violent hatred of Jews permissible once again.” For the Europeans, he writes, “not having a negative opinion of Israel is tantamount to not having a conscience.”
Writing in The Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen asks, “how did the moral center of the American left get so isolationist and selfish?” He adds another question: “Why does it see no difference between a moral obligation to save lives, [he refers to Israel’s self-defense measures taken against Hamas rockets] by avoiding murder — not just with humanitarian measures — and a kind of militarist lust” exemplified by Hamas?
Both columnists — men who are often critical of various Israeli policies — understand the legitimacy of Israel’s current fight against its enemies. How different are their arguments than these would-be intellectuals and historians, who indeed reveal themselves as nothing more than part of the bien pensant group of thoughtless intellectuals, who spout anti-Semitism as a new form of wisdom.
They exemplify well what in the 1920s, the French writer Julian Benda called La Trahison des clercs, roughly translated asThe Treason of the Intellectuals. In an introduction to a new printing of the book, my PJM colleague Roger Kimball writes that once the intellectuals abandoned their traditional scholarly and philosophical set of ideas, they “had lately allowed political commitment to insinuate itself into their understanding of the intellectual vocation as such.” He quotes Benda who wrote that “Our age is indeed the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds.” The historians who wrote the current petition verify Benda’s insight, as well as his statement that the current work of intellectuals was a “cataclysm in the moral notions of those who educate the world.”
These words indeed do apply to these thoughtless historians, who whether they intend it to or not, have come down on the side of not only Israel’s enemies, but the humanistic values they purport to hold. Let us respond by no longer listening to anything these people write, including all their books and articles.


Welfare Nation

New data has come out on means-tested welfare programs, and the news is alarming.IBD points out that we are reaching a tipping point, which many of us believe has been the goal of the progressives all along.
New data on federal public assistance programs show we’ve reached an ignominious milestone: More than 100 million Americans are getting some form of “means-tested” welfare assistance.
The Census Bureau found 51 million on food stamps at the end of 2012 and 83 million on Medicaid, with tens of millions of households getting both. Another 4 million were on unemployment insurance.
The percentage of American households on welfare has reached 35%. If we include other forms of government assistance such as Medicare and Social Security, almost half of all households are getting a check or other form of government assistance. The tipping point is getting closer and closer.
So much is shocking and dismaying about these numbers. (Read More)
Even more disturbing is that the numbers don’t include disability, unemployment, or those added to the Medicaid rolls under Obamacare. This is the legacy of the Democrats – turning the United States into a welfare nation.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

IT'S COME TO 1984:
Lewis & Clark’s Racial Inquisition
How good-natured joshing turned two college football teammates into pariahs.
12 August 2014
Has it really come to this? This spring, the estimable Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reported on a caseout of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, in which two friends and football teammates—one black, one white—were punished for joking about race during a game of beer pong at a private dorm party in November 2013. No one at the party was offended, but an informer in another room overheard the banter and turned them in.
The black student had jokingly named his beer pong team “Team Nigga” and would shout the name whenever the team scored. At some point, the white student—reprising a running joke on the football team, in which black students would greet white teammates with the phrase “White power!”—said, “Can I get a white power?” The black student replied, “White power!”
The noise from the party awakened a student in another room in the residence hall (no doubt, college football players of all races, creeds, and colors can be loud and rowdy while playing beer pong). She reported this exchange to the Campus Living office, and an inquisition began. Campus Living turned the matter over to the campus police, which launched an investigation into the “racial and biased comments” at the party. Learning of the comments’ origins on the football field—where not only did black players greet white players with “White power!”, but blacks and whites both used “What’s up nigga?” as a friendly greeting—the investigating officer spun into full Inspector Javert of the Left mode. As stated in his report, “I asked . . . which players . . .—naming them individually—commonly used the n-word” and “expressed hope that . . . [the black student] would shoulder the responsibility to speak up and shed some awareness to his teammates and friends about how those particularly racist comments, and other even less inflammatory biased comments, negatively affect community members of color—and the community as a whole.”
Justice was swift. Several days after the party, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the two students were charged with inflicting “Physical or Mental Harm” and “Discrimination or Harassment,” as well as with disorderly conduct. The complaint noted that the charges were based both on the banter at the party and on “suggest[ions] that similar language may have occurred at other times . . . in the Football team locker room, and around campus generally.” The students were told to submit the names of any defense witnesses by 9 a.m. on Monday morning following the break, and directed to appear at a hearing on Tuesday.
Within days after the hearing, the two were found guilty of all charges, placed on probation, and ordered on threat of suspension to undergo “Bias Reduction Training.” The ruling stated, without any support, that their “language ha[d] contributed to the creation of a hostile and discriminatory environment.” They were given five days to submit “full and complete appeals.” (By comparison, appellants in court have months to prepare their cases.) The appeals were rejected in less than two weeks.
Rarely does the modern Left’s humorlessness, authoritarianism, and subversion of its own goals come together as starkly as in this case. Today’s liberals not only threaten to create a 1984 culture, in which informers who overhear private conversations turn in the perpetrators for reeducation. More troublingly, in the name of “multiculturalism,” they also seek to ban the kind of affectionate ethnic teasing between friends that for years—long before our elite liberal betters came along to lecture us on “diversity”—has allowed people in this polyglot country to break down barriers between groups and bond with one another. The upshot is that the only intercultural relationships allowed will be the phony liberal ones at food coops and faculty lounges, in which no one ever talks except to mouth hackneyed dogma and platitudes, and, in the absence of honest and unstilted conversation, increasingly Orwellian efforts are employed to ferret out “unconscious bias” and “micro-aggressions.” It’s all done in the name of a false multiculturalism that increasingly drives people apart.
I don’t know if the “Bias Reduction” brainwashing worked on the Lewis & Clark teammates, or whether, to the gratification of the Investigating Officer, they emerged to lecture their friends on the evil of their former ways. But I’m sure that if it did work, it also created a wall between them, and that their new, exquisitely polite, politically correct relationship will never approach the closeness of their previous friendship. I hope, of course, that the reeducation efforts failed, and that, like Galileo in the dock, as the Bias Reduction Trainer droned on, they whispered to each other: “What’s up nigga?” “White power, bro!”

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


AN ETHNOGRAPHER WEIGHS IN:An ethnographer is one who weighs in on black crime.


MORE CONFUSING EMPLOYMENT DATA: Whee's the labor participation rate number?

Diminishing Marginal Utility: It's a Law

Mises Daily: Monday, November 03, 2008 by 
Why are diamonds, which are little more than decorative baubles, so much more valuable than water, without which we would die? The answer is that value is determined at the margin, meaning that we value not "diamonds" as a category compared to "water" as a category, but one more diamond compared to one more unit of water.
Water is super-abundant while diamonds are not; this is one reason why a diamond is so expensive while water is not. This also illustrates an important point about decision making. Instead of "setting priorities" and viewing things in terms of all-or-nothing decisions, we should look at trade-offs.
One of the most important principles of economics is that decisions are made at the margin, and one of the key problems in classical economics concerned the source of value. The law of diminishing marginal utility is a fundamental tenet of economics, and it is every bit as much a scientific law as the law of gravity (more so, perhaps, as it can be deduced from an axiom — man acts — that is self-evidently true). Marginal utility is not decreasing just because we assume it is. The law of marginal utility is an implication of the action axiom, not merely an ad hoc assumption.
The "utility" one derives from consuming a good or undertaking an activity is best understood as a set of wants that can be satisfied by employing means, not as the output of a function mapping from an agent's consumption set into the real number line. Following this definition, the "marginal utility" of employing another unit of a homogeneous supply of goods or services must be understood as the additional set of wants that can be satisfied by employing that marginal unit. From the fundamental axiom of praxeology — that "human action is the use of means to arrive at preferred ends"[1] — we can see that the marginal utility of employing unit n is preferred to the marginal utility of employing unit n+1; in the language of mainstream economics, marginal utility must be decreasing.
In his classic article "Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics" and in his treatiseMan, Economy, and State, Murray Rothbard asks us to consider eggs as an example. (I alter the example slightly here.) Consider Joe, who has a wife, a daughter, a dog, and the following value scale:
  1. Feed his family with cake
  2. Feed his daughter with scrambled egg
  3. Feed his wife with scrambled egg
  4. Feed himself with scrambled egg
  5. Feed his dog with scrambled egg
Suppose he needs four eggs to bake a cake. With his first egg, he will feed his daughter because he prefers this to all other sets of wants he can satisfy with one egg. With his second egg, he will feed his wife, and with his third egg, he will feed himself.
Now, suppose Joe purchases a fourth egg. This leads us to a possible misconception: one might be tempted to look at the situation and exclaim, "Aha! With the fourth egg, Joe can feed his family with cake, which he clearly prefers to feeding them with scrambled eggs! Clearly, then, the marginal utility of the fourth egg is higher than the marginal utility of the third egg; therefore, marginal utility is increasing!"
This line of reasoning neglects a crucial point: the fourth egg can only be used to bake a cake in the presence of the first three eggs. Since "marginal utility" is a concept that can only be applied tohomogeneous units of a given supply, "one egg" is no longer the relevant unit of analysis. The homogeneity of units is determined by the set of wants that can be satisfied with a unit of a good; in this case, the relevant unit of analysis becomes "1 unit=a set of four eggs." Thus, Joe's value scale may now be
  1. Feed his family with cake
  2. Feed his family with scrambled eggs
He will clearly choose to feed his family with cake and, should he happen upon a second set of four eggs, scrambled eggs as well.
The astute reader will notice that the value scales listed above were listed according to the wants satisfied by the marginal unit of a given good, not by the good itself after the fashion of Rothbard in "Toward A Reconstruction." Our hero Joe didn't prefer the first egg to the second in and of itself; he preferred feeding his daughter to feeding his wife. If only one egg is available, he must choose between competing ends, and the end that satisfies him most is feeding his daughter.
It should be evident that the law of marginal utility should be accorded just that epistemological status: a law. As Rothbard explains (and as Carl Menger and others showed before him), this theorem, which can be deduced from the action axiom, is more than merely empirically demonstrable: it is irrefutably true.