Monday, July 26, 2010

Statists' Use of the Race Card Keeps Getting Worse. Here's a Solution

It's absurd. The recent episode of the NAACP denouncing "racist elements" in the Tea Party leads to ham-fisted Internet response. Which leads to more race-baiting from all sides. And the President jumps right in. Here are two books that give you the tools to counter the nonsense:


Click here to get LIBERTARIAN NATION and LIBERTY IN TROUBLED TIMES directly from the publisher for less than $10. That's more than 70% off of the retail price…and the best offer available anywhere.


Statists and Big Government liberals are good at framing media coverage. These books help you shatter those frames. Here's an excerpt from the chapter on race in LIBERTARIAN NATION:


Race doesn't exist. The pigment of your skin and acidity of your hair don't have much to do with your personal identity. And they don't make you similar to or different than anyone else. Race is a social construct. And an old one. The idea that people can be categorized into supposedly objective—or, more recently, "scientific"—groups has been around for as long as human civilization. It's always been subject manipulation, usually by the state. And its categories are always shifting, usually according to the political needs of the people running the state.

When the ancient Greeks spoke of the various "races" of man, they had in mind distinctions that would be invisible to modern eyes. Socrates seemed to consider Cretans a different and lesser race than mainland Greeks. (This launched 3,000 years of jokey connotation of the term "cretin.") Some archaeologists may argue slavishly that there were racial differences between those populations; but their arguments split thin hairs. The Cretans and mainland Greeks were substantially alike. So, why the intense distinction? The archons of Athens stood to gain by convincing their citizens that they were substantively—racially—different than other people around them.

Contemporary notions of race are more ... contemporary ... than most people (even some Nobel Prize-winning biologists) realize. Skin color wasn't the controlling characteristic of race until the end of the 16th Century; and then it had something to do with slavery and something to do with the birth of colonialism. The states that stood to profit from the import of cheap materials and slave labor began a 500-year campaign to convince the world that Africans with dark brown skin were a different class of humans than Europeans with lighter brown or pink skin. They defined "race" to suit their needs. And their campaign took hold.


Americans—regardless of their political beliefs—sense there's something crooked with their government and elected leaders. (They sense there's something crooked with Big Business, too…but they're accustomed to that. The troubling news is that Big Government seems to be enmeshed with Big Business.) This distrust results from one basic fact ignored by most media: There's been a paradigm shift in American politics. And it's not the shift most people expected. The conventional Left-versus-Right axis has been replaced by a new one: statism-versus-liberty.

LIBERTARIAN NATION and LIBERTY IN TROUBLED TIMES are guides to seeing the new paradigm clearly:


The current political debate that you see on TV and online is not a real exchange of ideas. It's bread and circuses. They say generals are always fighting the last war—well, the same is true for TV news producers and newspaper editors. This nation has spent and borrowed its way to a crisis point. We're losing our position as a world leader. And we need to get back to the philosophical roots on which the nation was founded. This won't be good for smirking neocons or self-righteous liberals. They're both yesterday's partisans. But it is good news for ordinary citizens, who sense instinctively that times are bad. And who stand to profit from a return to an ethic of individual liberty.


Author James Walsh explains that GM's recent, misleading ads about "paying back" government debt aren't some shocking departure. The big automaker stumbled into its current circumstances after decades of dissembling. Specifically: GM has been "spinning" unsustainable compensation and benefits plans for its workers and retirees since the early 1970s. In this fatal approach, its management seems to have anticipated government bail-out of its labor costs. And five White House administrations signaled that the Feds would step in at some point, if necessary. This statist signaling creates moral hazard. And moral hazard had borne rotten fruit in the transfer of the costs of GM's benefits programs to the U.S. taxpayer.


Everyone has an interest in a generally-reliable level of public health. …To put this in simple terms, every citizen needs to be reasonably sure that he can bring his goods or services to the marketplace without dying of typhus or contracting some other communicable disease. He needs to be reasonably sure that water is safe to drink, that air is safe to breathe. …These externalities are public, shared goods. They are too big and broad for a single person or firm to provide. They are a rightful responsibility of a limited state. ...But the state's role doesn't extend to providing each individual citizen specific medical procedures or therapies. It has no place determining whether Uncle Earl can have a triple-bypass surgery. …If the state claims charge of triple-bypasses and other procedures, it will end up rationing them. That's all it knows how to do. …If you doubt this, just watch the British Prime Minister's question hour each week on C-SPAN. Most of the complaints raised by MPs involve waiting lines, rationed services and too-few hospital beds provided by Britain's National Health Service.


LIBERTARIAN NATION discusses how American academia embraced post-modernism as its core value system after the fall of Soviet communism delegitimized Marxism in the late 1980s. Post-modernism shares many traits and values with Marxism—and adds a few values that American will recognize. Chief among these: An emphasis on "tribalism" and identity politics. Back to race again. And quotas—along with the bureaucracies necessary to administer them.

On the matter of "illegal" immigration, LIBERTY IN TROUBLED TIMES makes a clear point: people are human capital and a net immigration of people into a particular jurisdiction should be seen as a validation of that jurisdiction's validity. "The problem isn't that people want to come here to work. It's that we've built a system of social welfare that makes residing here a net expense. This clouds the value of human capital," writes Walsh. "If we reduce the social welfare system, it will be plain that having more workers in our economy is a positive thing."

The latest Gulf oil spill is a problem—and one that should be addressed with greater emphasis on burning and skimming technology for when spills occur. But this point, too, is clouded by confused political debate. On this count, LIBERTARIAN NATION helps reasonable people make rational sense of "climate change" and the "Green movement." In the book, Walsh writes:


The kerfuffle over so-called "carbon footprints" is based more on emotion than logic. The truth is that higher levels of carbon emissions, by themselves, don't mean much….Some reputable climate scientists believe that the higher levels of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere may be caused by increases in solar radiation, a cyclical phenomenon that reaches back, deep into geologic history. …Other scientists point out that the geological record shows that some historical increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide were preceded by temperature increases and, therefore, could not have been the cause of those temperature increases. …These "alternative" theories and observations suffer from several political disadvantages to statist environmentalism. For one thing, their authors tend to be actual scientists bound by scientific method.


According to Walsh, the legitimate externality of having breathable air doesn't require transfer payments from rich countries to poor ones. It doesn't require bizarre family-planning schemes. And it doesn't require pronouncements from people who think plants and lower animals should be accorded the same societal value as human beings. It simply requires mechanisms for measuring the costs of environmental impacts and funding those costs as efficiently as possible. The book recognizes the "Green" movement for what it is: a marketing ploy embraced and embroidered by statist politicians and their corporate cronies:


A reasonably clean environment is a legitimate externality; radical environmentalism and the demand for a return to pristine nature are politically-biased frauds. If you want to live in a pristine paradise, earn enough money to buy enough land in a distant enough place to live as you please. You shouldn't rely on cheap melodrama to make yourself feel superior to others—or to coerce money from naive dupes.


This confusion goes beyond just matters of the environment. It's endemic in a legal system so full of overlapping laws that even professionals can't keep them straight. And so, Rep Henry Waxman beclowns himself by criticizing companies for following one law (that he supported) by reporting the real costs of another law (that he supported…and the costs of which he would prefer to obscure).

According to Walsh, these laws share a common—and troubling—trait: "you can draw a straight line from the Clean Water Act to the USA Patriot Act to the Wall Street and auto bailouts of the past two years. The theme is: government dictating how people should shape their environment. This is a perversion of America's founding principles."


LIBERTARIAN NATION has been reviewed and excerpted in various media outlets during its first weeks of publication. The most significant of these has been the mention given the book by Glenn Reynolds at LIBERTY IN TROUBLED TIMES remains a category bestseller on several ebook platforms. Both books are available in most book stores and major online retailers. James Walsh has appeared in documentaries about Big Government and white-collar crime on The History Channel and the BBC; he has been interviewed by The New York Times, Bloomberg and CNN.


Click here to get LIBERTARIAN NATION and LIBERTY IN TROUBLED TIMES directly from the publisher for less than $10. That's more than 70% off of the retail price…and the best offer available anywhere.


Libertarian Nation

The Call for a New Agenda

ISBN: 978-1-56343-886-8 

Hard Back (6" x 9") 

288 pages

$19.95 retail


Liberty in Troubled Times

A Guide to Laws, Society, Freedom and Rights in a Terrorized World

ISBN: 1-56343-778-3

Trade Paperback (6"x9")

$17.95 retail

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