Friday, September 22, 2017

Freud: The Accidental Classical Liberal

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Freud: The Accidental Classical Liberal

Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, had, during the period from the 1870s to the 1930s, a liberal and cultural atmosphere which nurtured intense activity by an intellectual elite.
The roots of psychoanalysis have major convergences with liberalism.


Not only in literature with Stefan Zweig, music with Gustav Mahler, and psychology with Sigmund Freud and the creation of psychoanalysis, but also in research in economy with the Austrian School of Economics represented by its founder Carl Menger, Ludwig Von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, as highlighted by Professor Guido Hülsmann in his biography of Mises The Last Knight of Liberalism, and the researcher Erwin Dekker, author of The Viennese Students of Civilization.

What is not so well known, however, is that not only a nexus between Freud and certain Austrian economists existed, but moreover, psychoanalysis can be considered as having multiple ramifications for liberal thinking! Such connections would certainly be much greater in number than with Marxism, even though there were several failed attempts to forge a “Freudo-Marxism” marriage between the two revolutionary theories during the 20th century. The “Freudo-Marxist” psychoanalyst heirs of Freud failed to reconcile psychoanalysis centered on the individual, with the ideal of collectivist freedom.

“Subjective Theory of Value” accentuates the subjective dimension of an individual.


Freud: Liberal Inside
After an in depth study of the history of ideas, it seems that the roots of psychoanalysis have major convergences with liberalism.

Freud, heavily influenced by an education which was incontestably liberal, was in turn influenced by enlightenment philosophy and major thinkers of the liberal movement. By virtue of his education and Viennese culture, he was not very far from liberalism even if he didn’t write much on the subject.
In fact, one day he declared that he was an “old school liberal.” From a letter he wrote in his youth, one can see that he considered Adam Smith’s magnum opus The Wealth of Nations to be a fundamental work (in The Letters of Sigmund Freud to Eduard Silberstein). Furthermore, it is worth noting that in his youth he translated several works by the liberal thinker John Stuart Mill.

The Missing Link
How did Freud come to translate Mill? Thanks to the Aristotelian philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano, who presented one of his philosophy students, the assiduous Freud, to a publisher who was looking for a translator! Franz Brentano, therefore, constitutes, symbolically, the missing link between liberalism and psychoanalysis. The propitious environment for intellectual stimulation in Vienna at the end of the 19th century saw the creation of both Freudian psychoanalysis and the Austrian School of Economics, sometimes called the “psychological school”! Why this term? Probably because its founder, the economist Carl Menger, was a close friend of Franz Brentano, whose most well-known work is: Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint.

Mises understood the nature of human action; purposeful behavior entails acts of choice.


Carl Menger developed his “Subjective Theory of Value” which accentuates the subjective dimension of an individual. At the same time, the history of ideas reveals some unexpected filiations: Freud was an assiduous student of Brentano who without a doubt influenced him! Brentano particularly concentrated his reflections on intentionality; how we can represent things that don’t exist outside of the mind. The concept was taken up by his disciple Husserl, the founder of phenomenology.
Although in his above-mentioned work, Franz Brentano seems to be categorically opposed to the notion of the unconscious. Freud was very much influenced by his master and close to him in terms of methodology; Brentano defended an empirical approach, based on observation. However, it has been demonstrated that Freud wanted to go much further.

Freud does not allude to Brentano in his works, but as researchers have demonstrated, he was thinking about him when he refers to “philosophical objections to the unconscious." In fact, we can consider that “in reality Freud continues in the direction taken by Brentano, being that of scientific psychology; he completes and goes even further than the project described by Brentano” (as explained by Maria Gyemant in Dictionnaire Sigmund Freud, Ed Robert Laffont).

Ludwig Von Mises: Freud's First Liberal Admirer 
It is not by chance that Ludwig Von Mises, a disciple of Menger, was probably the first liberal economist to have written in glowing terms about psychoanalysis and Freud (See article from Jeffrey A. Tucker Why Ludwig von Mises Admired Sigmund Freud).

According to Mises, the psychoanalytic approach based on the unconscious and pulsions does not undermine the rational approach of homo economicus. The latter is rational in its choices because it is responsible for them. Psychoanalysis, however, poses the question as to why we make certain choices. This is what Mises understood in his praxeology theory, being the science of the nature of human action; purposeful behavior entails acts of choice.

Praxeology explains the action of an individual, and psychoanalysis provides the same individual if so desired, with an interpretation of the motivation behind the origin of the action. They are two different but complementary domains, as Mises clearly explains in his masterpiece, Human Action.
Freud hoped that science would signal progress for civilization, and help save the world.


Furthermore, Mises was the first to perceive that psychoanalysis had developed because it had escaped being controlled by the state! He insisted, for example, on the fact that Freud, like him, was a “Privatdozent," a university lecturer who received fees from his students rather than a university salary paid for by the Austrian State education system. To my knowledge, no historian of psychoanalysis or biographer of Freud has expounded on Mises’ writings on this subject.

We are, however, certain that Freud and Mises communicated with each other, at least in an epistolary manner. Two letters were addressed by Freud to Mises. Unfortunately, these letters formed part of his working papers and library which were confiscated from his apartment by the Nazis during the Anschluss in Vienna in 1938 (as explained by Guido Hülsmann in The Last Knight of Liberalism).

Hayek and Freud: A Misunderstanding
Experts on liberalism will object that Friedrich Hayek, the best known of the “Austrian School” economists and a disciple of Mises, was very critical of Freud. For my part, I consider that Hayek did not really read Freud’s works, apart from The future of an illusion, one of his most political books. And Hayek seems to ascribe Freud to the latter’s Freudo-Marxist heirs, whom he considered to be dangerous. Because of that, he puts Freud in the same camp as the social constructivists, like Marx.
Psychoanalysis is primarily an individual act.


It is true that given the pessimistic context that reigned prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Freud hoped that science, as a source of progress for civilization, would save the world from the current destructive tendencies at that time. Nevertheless, Hayek was interested in the unconscious, a word he also used, in terms of the economy and to clearly show “what we see and what we do not see," according to the famous expression by Frédéric Bastiat. It seems to me that this way of dealing with economic problems is not too far removed from the Freudian approach, which breaks with the previous dominant form of medical mechanism, and opens new perspectives to understand psychic phenomena.

There is substantial evidence to support the theory where psychoanalysis and liberalism work well together, as we will see in the next part of the article.

Psychoanalysis and Liberalism: Same Combat
It is, therefore, permitted to consider that psychoanalysis constitutes, to some extent, a branch of traditional liberalism. A branch which “turns in on oneself and investigates oneself” as suggested by the Canadian preeminent historian of psychoanalysis Paul Roazen in Freud’s political and social thought.

To be clear, Freud didn’t want any state involvement at all.


In reality, what is psychoanalysis? Psychoanalysis, or depth psychology, remains a powerful therapeutic exercise and a disruptive interpretation system which puts words to individual or collective problems. Whether practiced by purists, taught as part of a philosophy course, used by psychiatrists alongside other therapies, or used in a variety of different ways, psychoanalysis is still an important branch of psychology and continues to influence other disciplines.

Psychoanalysis is primarily an individual act: an individual decides to follow a course of therapeutic treatment to create personal empowerment and self-mastery to resolve their problems. A person undergoing psychoanalysis carried out between the analyst and the “analysand” (the person who is being psychoanalyzed), who, verbally expresses their deepest inner feelings, can attempt to reappropriate their personal history and generate a new feeling of freedom.

Psychoanalysis is a process where individuals attempt to increase their own freedom and to regain self-ownership. This simple definition of psychoanalysis is indisputably close to the family of liberal thinking. Liberalism relies on the pre-eminence of the individual, the importance of individual’s freedom, which goes together with individual responsibility and the notion of property.

Psychoanalysis: A Scalable Startup!
Freud developed his discipline in the same way as one would launch a startup on the international scene. He showed a real entrepreneurial attitude by making a disruption in the healthcare market with the introduction of his Psychoanalysis startup. He had a vision, an intense production activity through his numerous published works, an approach almost like the founder of a franchise network with the International Psychoanalytical Association, and he controlled as much as possible education and training.

Laissez-faire!
Freud was incredibly liberal in his vision of the role the State should play in his discipline. To be clear, he didn’t want any state involvement at all. He supported psychoanalysis by laymen, meaning practiced by people who were not medical doctors. He even says it in the text, and simply, in two words. Wanting only one thing from the state for his discipline: laisser faire, quoting with French words the famous expression by Gournay and Turgot in his book The Question of Lay Analysis! He judged that « interventionism by public authorities » was less efficient than « natural development ». He was wary of the tendency to instinctively make people subject to a guardianship order, and the excesses of legal actions and interdictions.

In France and in England, it is possible to demonstrate that free competition between different movements and different schools of psychoanalysis has allowed the discipline to see substantial growth and development during the 50s and 60s, and to become popular. It is worth noting that famous psychoanalysts can clearly be classed as being liberal.

The most explicit on the subject is the American Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who was close to Ayn Rand’s libertarian philosophical group. In his essay, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis: The Theory and Method of Autonomous Psychotherapy, he considered that the role of a therapist is to help their patient, with whom they have a contract, to become, as an individual, free and owner of their life. He considers that a psychoanalysis which allows individuals to better understand themselves and increase their free thinking and self-confidence is similar to a liberal reform at the state level!
The most surprising, however, was the famous French pediatrician and psychoanalyst Françoise Dolto (see for instance Les Étapes majeures de l’enfance — « Major stages of childhood -), who did a lot to democratize the Freudian practice in France, including presenting a radio program. She used the same words with regard to children that liberals or entrepreneurs would use relative to startups or management in general! She strongly recommended that the education of children should be made in a climate of liberty that was a source of confidence, with a set of rules, of course, but limited to those necessary for their security.

Psychoanalysis + Liberalism = Freudo-Liberalism
On top of the pleasure of absorbing the intellectual history of ideas and trying to establish as yet unknown connections, it could be useful to analyze the Freudo-Liberal approach, as conceptualized in my essay, Freudo-Liberalism the liberal sources of psychoanalysis, which consists of cross-fertilising liberal ideas with psychoanalysis.

The unconscious will remain the ultimate property of each individual.


States that have become too big and have too much debt, hindrances to entrepreneurial freedom, monopolies over the issuance of “paper” money, the rise of fundamentalism… are so many threats which would scare Benjamin Constant who defended « individual freedom in everything: in religion, philosophy, literature, industry, and politics ». So many problems which need solutions. Let’s take the examples of the welfare state and transhumanism.

A Relevant Analysis of the Welfare State
Authors have used psychoanalysis to explain more symbolically the problems they are confronted with, particularly in France where the welfare state is the rule. In Big Mother Psychopathology of political life, the ex-senior civil servant and psychoanalyst Michel Schneider asked questions concerning France, the only country which continues to have « enormous State involvement which is expensive, powerless and ineffectual »… a sort of nanny state.

In La France Adolescente, « Teenaged France », the co-authors Mathieu Laine, a French expert in liberalism, and Patrick Huerre, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, compare France to a teenager who has a lot of potential but is in the middle of a crisis. They advocate therapy treatment and work to « regain confidence in our capacities and abilities, and to relearn how to act and behave like adults».

Liberal Countervailing Power Faced with Transhumanism
The rapid development of nanotechnology, biotechnology, computer systems and cognitive science will, perhaps, allow those who are interested in becoming superhumans or post-humanists. Some of us will, perhaps, one day become hybrid beings, half man, half machine, with the ability to live much longer.

When faced with absolutism, liberalism will always advocate the rule of law and the establishment of countervailing powers. Therefore, psychoanalysis remains a formidable concept of individual countervailing power, which allows man to think about himself and others.

The unconscious — our personal history, that of our grandparents, our childhood, our desires — will remain the ultimate property of each individual. It is improbable that we will be able to translate into digital data, and subsequently interpret using big data, the productions of the unconscious, such as desire or repression…

Conclusion
Having to confront a world that is more and more uncertain and complex, where freedoms are that much more fragile, it is necessary to resort to transversal approaches with contributions from different theories and social sciences. For instance, the psychologist Professor Daniel Kahneman’s Nobel Prize in 2002 and his work on cognitive biases, have had a major influence on economic sciences in recent years. Using the two consanguineous « software » of psychoanalysis and liberalism, in particular, the liberal Austrian School of Economics, is fully part of this plural-disciplinary approach.
Raphaël Krivine
Works in the French digital banking business. He is the author of an essay, Freudo-Liberalism, the liberal sources of Psycho-analysis (Sept 2015)
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Internet Raises $80K for Hot Dog Vendor Mugged by Government


Like all entrepreneurs, Beto Matias saw an opportunity to support his family while simultaneously creating value for his community.

Finding a prime spot right outside UC Berkeley’s football stadium, Matias began selling his craft hot dogs to willing consumers. No one complained about the quality of Matias’ hot dogs, nor did anyone have any objections to his presence outside of the stadium. But that didn’t stop the state from intervening.

Street Theft
Flores knew something wasn’t right when he saw the officer reach for Matias’ wallet. 

Officer Sean Aranas approached Matias as he was going about his business and asked to see identification. Matias, in complete compliance with the officer’s demands, began sifting through his wallet in search of his identification. But this is where the story took a devastating turn.
Before Matias was given the opportunity to hand Aranas his ID, the wallet was ripped from his hands. And instead of merely examining his identification, Officer Aranas proceeded to confiscate the $60 Matias had in his wallet at the time. It was not until after this strong-arm mugging that the officer finally explained to Matias that he was being cited for failing to obtain a business permit.
Luckily, one of Matias’ customers filmed the entire encounter on his smartphone and the video has since gone viral.  

Martin Flores knew something wasn’t right when he saw the officer reach for Matias’ wallet. Thankfully, as so many of us are trained to do in the digital age, he pulled out his smartphone and immediately began documenting the encounter. And he did so just in the nick of time.
In Flores’ footage, viewers see the wallet physically taken from Matias as his hard-earned money is stolen right before his eyes. In the background, Flores can be heard saying, “That’s not right.”
The most innocuous activities now require state permission: from selling hot dogs to playing tennis.


Flores even took his role in the matter one step further and while filming, inquires why the officer deemed it necessary to target this innocent vendor over the loud display of public intoxication that was occurring directly across the street. The only response Aranas supplied Flores with was, “Yeah, well he doesn't have a permit. He doesn't have a permit.”

Penalized for Hard Work
To be sure, Matias never denied his lack of a business permit. But he was shocked and taken aback by Aranas’ actions. To be handed an arbitrary citation is one thing, but to have your cash simply snatched by an officer of the law is especially egregious.
Matias later told Telemundo 48:
“I had already shown him my ID. They saw that I was not doing anything wrong, neither stealing nor anything, I was just working to support my family.”
Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens every day.
The most innocuous activities now require state permission: from selling hot dogs to playing tennis. No one can economically survive without a job. And yet, for many, our government makes it impossible to do so without first running an obstacle course of red tape. For a country founded on freedom of opportunity, something has gone horribly wrong. The market has its own means of protecting consumers through feedback.


In the American workforce, over 30 percent of jobs require an occupational license before an individual can legally earn a living. To make matters worse, many of these permits and licenses target those in the most vulnerable socioeconomic brackets. Not only are these licenses often expensive and require a great deal of paperwork, they are completely arbitrary.

As often as “public health and safety” is cited as justification, licensing does very little to ensure this. It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned the state may be, a permit cannot prevent food poisoning. Occupational licensing has, however, been extremely successful in limiting the number of individuals entering a given work sector. It has also helped protect established industries from unwanted competition, for example, shutting down a “rogue” hot dog vender operating without a license.

But of the many things licensing does, protecting the consumer is most certainly, not among them.
The market has its own means of protecting consumers through feedback. Even before platforms like Yelp and Google allowed for a free flow of review culture, word of mouth has always served to help keep business owners accountable.

Additionally, consumer loyalty says a lot about a product or service. This is not the first time Matias has sold hot dogs from his cart, and his consumers keep coming back. And “shockingly” enough, no one has died or even reported any instances of foodborne illnesses.

The quality of a service speaks for itself, and this is something that cannot be obtained through a government license.

Unfortunately, many victims of state abuse are never vindicated. 


Outsourcing Justice
Stories like Matias’ occur every day in this country. Unfortunately, many victims of state abuse are never vindicated. But our digital age is changing all this.

Not only is video footage like Flores’ helping to keep law enforcement accountable for their actions, but crowdsourcing is helping to right the wrong done to Matias, something the state is unlikely to do anytime soon — or ever.

After the footage went viral, social media activists started a GoFundMe page to mitigate the financial losses felt by Matias and his family. The original fundraising goal was set at $10,000. But since the campaign’s launch on Monday morning and the continuous sharing of the footage of the encounter with the officer, over $80,000 has been raised to help cover Matias’ pay for legal fees and recoup his losses. And the donations keep pouring in.  

As for the officer involved, an online petition calling for his immediate termination has already garnered 20,000 signatures. However, the university seems apathetic to the entire incident, claiming that the officer was conducting business as usual.
A representative did make a statement saying:
We are aware of the incident. The officer was tasked with enforcing violations related to vending without a permit on campus. UCPD is looking into the matter.”
In other words, Officer Aranas was “just doing his job.” And unfortunately, the promise of the UCPD “looking into the matter,” does little to calm the fears of many Americans who are tired of having to read about these stories on a weekly basis. Even worse, are the many Americans forced to become part of this narrative as a result of bureaucratic licensing.

But fortunately, social media has acted as the arbiter of justice. And while Officer Aranas’ future in law enforcement is probably just as secure as it was before the incident occurred, at least voluntary crowdsourcing has provided the means to keep the Matias family afloat and perhaps, help him expand his venture and add even more value to his community.
Brittany Hunter
Brittany Hunter
Brittany Hunter is an associate editor at FEE. Brittany studied political science at Utah Valley University with a minor in Constitutional studies.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Origin & Character of Socialism By James Edward Le Rossignol 1921


The Origin and Character of Socialism By James Edward Le Rossignol 1921

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That the fundamental theories of socialism are far from scientific has often been shown, yet many intelligent people are not aware of the fact. Certainly, in these days of discontent, when many panaceas are offered for social ills, it should be worth while to examine their claims before they are tried on the patient, and it is found, by sad experience, that the remedy is worse than the disease.

As we consider the place of socialism in history and the development of socialistic thought from Plato to Lenin, we see that four, if not five, rather clearly marked types have successively appeared.

The first socialists were philosophers, like Plato and Sir Thomas More, who, deploring the evils of their day, had visions of ideal states, but never tried to create a working model.

In the second stage, which came with the industrial and political revolution of the eighteenth century, socialistic ideas took hold of earnest but visionary men, like Robert Owen in England and Francois Fourier in France, who believed that they could actually construct and operate ideal communities, and were not convinced, by repeated failure, that their plans were unworkable.

Origin of Modern Socialism.—In the middle of the nineteenth century, when it was evident that the twin revolutions had failed to bring perfect liberty, equality and fraternity to the world, and when modern science had well begun its great career, Karl Marx proclaimed the "scientific" discovery that a revolution was latent in the very constitution of capitalistic society, and that, because of exploitation, increasing misery, and the disaffection of the working class, the day of socialism was at hand.

About the beginning of the present century, when skepticism had undermined the faith of theoretical socialists, and the rank and file began to mutiny against the soft-handed "intellectuals," the direct actionists came to the fore, impatient, revolutionary evangelists, calling on the workers to arise and spare not.

Finally, after the World War, and the revolutions in Russia and Germany, we find in those countries the administrative socialists, the socialists in office, who, having assumed large responsibility, and with the lives of millions in their keeping, are forced to compromise with the old order, and, having driven capitalism out by the front door, let it come back by the cellar window.

Socialism was in the world long before the time of Marx, and will be, long after his theories have been discarded. "Scientific" socialism, then, is but a passing phase of the eternal protest against things as they are, which follows human society like a shadow, and would, like Satan in the Book of Job, play a leading part in the New Jerusalem.

Such being the case, it might seem futile to offer criticism of "scientific" socialism, but for the fact that socialism, in its scientific garb, goes about in borrowed prestige, authority and force which do not belong to mere visions, utopian schemes, and bitter rebellion against the inevitable evils of every social system. If socialism has a right to the cloak of science, it may wear it, but if not, it must appear in its proper shape and be judged according to its real character and intentions.

Socialism Is a Caricature.—Certainly, socialism, as a system of thought, is a remarkable structure, the parts of which seem at first sight to fit together so well as to prove that it must be a real picture of capitalistic society, and a true prophecy of coming change. And yet, a closer examination shows that fallacy and half-truth pervades every part and that the entire system, with all its plausibility and apparent consistency, is a mere caricature of the industrial world as it really is.

Much of this critical examination has been made by socialists themselves, the more scholarly intellectuals, who are often called "revisionists," because they wish to make the theories of Marx square with facts. To such an extent has this "higher criticism" undermined the faith, that the most fundamental theories stand disproved or discredited in the minds of many socialists.

These more enlightened leaders no longer believe as once they did, and if they still proclaim the orthodox creed, as some do, it is because the old words come readily to the tongue, the old gospel is preachable, and the old promises still have power to stir the soul. Of course, most of the agitation is done by the less intellectual, who still believe. As to the rank and file, they are disposed to believe and feel and do, without looking too closely into the rational basis of their faith.

Character of the Movement.—But if the rational basis is not there, it is surely well for all concerned to known where they stand. If socialism as a system of thought is unscientific and unsound, then it is still where it was in the days of Plato, More, Owen, Fourier, and the rest. And if the economic analysis and doctrines are false, upon what foundation of science or reason does the proposed new system of social reconstruction rest?

Socialism can still be, and is, a denunciation of capitalism, according to which most of the ills of life are attributable to private property.

It is still a highly imaginary scheme of social organization, which, socialists believe, would be a panacea for most, if not all, the ills that flesh is heir to.

It is still a murmur of discontent among the poor, a movement toward a social revolution, and a determination to carry out, on a national or international scale, the plans which they have seen [only] in their dreams.

It is still a promise of a Golden Age, that allures and blinds and disappoints, like the will-o-the-wisp, or the pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow.

The Appeal of Socialism.—All this is left, and socialism still appeals, and will appeal, to people of a certain temperament—the sanguine, emotional, uncritical, visionary, credulous, impatient, intemperate, explosive—but surely not to sane, rational, well-balanced men of common sense, who are the only safe pilots in stormy and uncharted seas.

It is not a useless task, therefore, to expose the unscientific pretensions of "scientific" socialism, unless it be true that man is not a rational animal, but swayed to such an extent by emotion and passion that he will be ready to break up the present imperfect scheme of things industrial, on the chance of being able to fashion out of the wreck something nearer to the heart's desire.

Yet the experience of Russia makes one believe such childish folly possible, and there are people in every country who wish to follow that example. Also, there are those who are moving in that direction, though they do not see the end of the road. Professor Franklin H. Giddings, of Columbia University, recently wrote these significant words: "The whole world at present is intellectually muddled and morally bedeviled. It is trying to reconstruct society upon a hypothetical equality of all mankind. If it succeeds, it will destroy historic achievement from the beginning, and will send mankind to perdition."

Socialism may not stand for absolute equality, but there can be no doubt that its trend is strongly in that direction. It lays itself open to the charge of Plato, who said, in substance, that nothing is more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals. The exploitation of the many by the few is bad, no doubt; but the exploitation of the few by the many, the exceptional men by the sluggish horde, the torch-bearers of civilization by those who walk in darkness, means not only the abolition of private property, initiative and enterprise, but the destruction of our present civilization—and what will follow that, no man knows.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Totalitarianism of the Environmentalists


Late last year, I gave a talk about human progress to an audience of college students in Ottawa, Canada. I went through the usual multitude of indicators – rising life expectancy, literacy, and per capita incomes; declining infant mortality, malnutrition, and cancer death rates – to show that the world was becoming a much better place for an ever-growing share of its population.

It seemed to me that the audience was genuinely delighted to hear some good news for a change. I had won them over to the cause of rational optimism. And then someone in the audience asked about climate change and I blew it.

Every aspect of human existence would be under government interference, all in the name of environmentalism.

While acknowledging that the available data suggests a “lukewarming” trend in global temperatures, I cautioned against excessive alarmism. Available resources, I said, should be spent on adaptation to climate change, not on preventing changes in global temperature – a task that I, along with many others, consider to be both ruinously expensive and, largely, futile.


The audience was at first shocked – I reckon they considered me a rational and data-savvy academic up to that point – and then became angry and, during a breakout session, hostile. I even noticed one of the students scratching out five, the highest mark a speaker could get on an evaluation form, and replacing it with one. I suppose I should be glad he did not mark me down to zero.

My Ottawa audience was in no way exceptional. Very often, when speaking to audiences in Europe and North America about the improving state of the world, people acknowledge the positive trends, but worry that, as Matt Ridley puts it, “this happy interlude [in human history will come] to a terrible end.”

Of course, apocalyptic writings are as old as humanity itself. The Bible, for example, contains the story of the Great Flood, in which God “destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air.” The Akkadian poem of Gilgamesh similarly contains a myth of angry gods flooding the Earth, while an apocalyptic deluge plays a prominent part in the Hindu Dharmasastra.

And then there is Al Gore. In his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, Gore warns that “if Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida,” before an animation shows much of the state underwater. Gore also shows animations of San Francisco, Holland, Beijing, Shanghai, Calcutta, and Manhattan drowning. “But this is what would happen to Manhattan, they can measure this precisely,” Gore says as he shows much of the city underwater.

Thinking Environmentalist Laws Through
It is possible, I suppose, that our eschatological obsessions are innate. The latest research suggests that our species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, is 300,000 years old. For most of our existence, life was, to quote Thomas Hobbes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Our life expectancy was between 25 years and 30 years, and our incomes were stuck at a subsistence level for millennia. Conversely, our experience with relative abundance is, at most, two centuries old. That amounts to 0.07 percent of our time on Earth. Is there any wonder that we are prone to be pessimistic?

That said, I wonder how many global warming enthusiasts have thought through the full implications of their (in my view overblown) fears of a looming apocalypse. If it is true that global warming threatens the very survival of life on Earth, then all other considerations must, by necessity, be secondary to preventing global warming from happening.

Environmentalism, like all -isms, can become totalitarian.
That includes, first and foremost, the reproductive rights of women. Some global warming fearmongers have been good enough to acknowledge as much. Bill Nye, a progressive TV personality, wondered if we should “have policies that penalize people for having extra kids.”
Then there is travel and nutrition. Is it really so difficult to imagine a future in which each of us is issued with a carbon credit at the start of each year, limiting what kind of food we eat (locally grown potatoes will be fine, but Alaskan salmon will be verboten) and how far we can travel (visiting our in-laws in Ohio once a year will be permitted, but not Paris)? In fact, it is almost impossible to imagine a single aspect of human existence that would be free from government interference – all in the name of saving the environment.

These ideas might sound nutty, but they are slowly gaining ground. Just last week, a study came out estimating the environmental benefits of “having one fewer child (an average for developed countries of 58.6 tonnes CO2-equivalent (tCO2e) emission reductions per year), living car-free (2.4 tCO2e saved per year), avoiding air travel (1.6 tCO2e saved per roundtrip transatlantic flight), and eating a plant-based diet (0.8 tCO2e saved per year).”

And then there is Travis N. Rieder, a research scholar at Johns Hopkins’ Berman Institute of Bioethics, who says that “maybe we should protect our kids by not having them.” He wants tax penalties to punish new parents in rich countries. The proposed tax penalty would become harsher with each additional child.

And that brings me to my final point. Since the fall of communism, global warming has been, without question, the most potent weapon in the hands of those who wish to control the behavior of their fellow human beings. Lukewarmists like me do not caution against visions of an environmental apocalypse out of some perverse hatred of nature. On the contrary, concern for the environment is laudable and, I happen to believe, nearly universal. But environmentalism, like all –isms, can become totalitarian. It is for that reason that, when it comes to our environmental policies, we ought to tread very carefully.
Reprinted from CapX.
Marian L. Tupy
Marian L. Tupy
Marian L. Tupy is the editor of HumanProgress.org and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Not Yours to Give - Davy Crockett

 
[The following story about the famed American icon Davy Crockett was published in Harper's Magazine in 1867, as written by James J. Bethune, a pseudonym used by Edward S. Ellis. The events that are recounted here are true, including Crockett's opposition to the bill in question, though the precise rendering and some of the detail are fictional.]
One day in the House of Representatives, a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Davy Crockett arose:

“Mr. Speaker–I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him.

Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

Later, when asked by a friend why he had opposed the appropriation, Crockett gave this explanation:
“Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown . It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. In spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made homeless, and, besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them. The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done.

“The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up. When riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up, I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly.

“I began: ‘Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and–’
“‘Yes, I know you; you are Colonel Crockett, I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.’

“This was a sockdolager . . . I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

“‘Well, Colonel, it is hardly worth-while to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in the honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the constituent to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest. . . . But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.’

“‘I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, for I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any constitutional question.’

“‘No, Colonel, there’s no mistake. Though I live here in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown . Is that true?’

“‘Well, my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did.’

“‘It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown , neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington , no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.

“‘So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.’

“I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go to talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I was so fully convinced that he was right, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:

“‘Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it fully. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said here at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.’

“He laughingly replied: ‘Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and, perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way.’

“‘If I don’t,’ said I, ‘I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it.’

“‘No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. This is Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.’

“‘Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-by. I must know your name.’
“‘My name is Bunce.’
“‘Not Horatio Bunce?’
“‘Yes.’
“‘Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me, but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend.’
“It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence and incorruptible integrity, and for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.

“At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had every seen manifested before.

“Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.

“I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him–no, that is not the word–I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if every one who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.

“But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted–at least, they all knew me.
“In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered up around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:

“‘Fellow-citizens–I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only.’

“I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:

“‘And now, fellow-citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.

“‘It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit for it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so.’

“He came upon the stand and said:

“‘Fellow-citizens–It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today.’

“He went down, and there went up from that crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.

“I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.
“Now, sir,” concluded Crockett, “you know why I made that speech yesterday.

“There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week’s pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men–men who think nothing of spending a week’s pay, or a dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased–a debt which could not be paid by money–and the insignificance and worthlessness of money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighted against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”

Holders of political office are but reflections of the dominant leadership–good or bad–among the electorate.

Horatio Bunce is a striking example of responsible citizenship. Were his kind to multiply, we would see many new faces in public office; or, as in the case of Davy Crockett, a new Crockett.
For either the new faces or the new Crocketts, we must look to the Horatio in ourselves!
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Persistent Influence of Bad Ideas

The Persistent Influence of Bad Ideas

Sometimes books, and the ideas they contain, have a much longer-lasting impact than anyone would expect or realize. Long after the book itself has been forgotten and languishes unread in the reserve stacks of libraries or on the shelves of secondhand-book dealers, the ideas it puts forward continue to influence people and the way they see and understand the world and current events. In such cases the effect on people’s thinking is all the more profound for the ideas are no longer associated with a particular author or viewpoint. Instead they have achieved the hallowed status of “common sense,” or things that everybody knows to be the case—even when they are not. One of the historian’s most important roles is to uncover such hidden influences and, very often, to show how they are mistaken. Bad ideas have a long life and often outlive their originators.

One classic example is a book first published in 1902. This was Imperialism: A Study, by J. A. Hobson. Although this book is often referred to by scholars, it is almost never read nowadays. But its main ideas continue to have a powerful effect on current debate. The author, John Atkinson Hobson, was one of the most important figures in the “New Liberalism,” which between 1890 and 1914 brought about a transformation of the British Liberal Party, moving away from the limited-government, classical liberalism of Gladstone and Cobden to the social liberalism of Keynes and Beveridge. Hobson and the other New Liberals were closely associated with the Progressives in the United States, such as Herbert Croly, who over the same period brought about a transformation of the structure of American politics and a change in the Democratic Party similar to that of the British Liberal Party. Hobson wrote extensively on economic issues, but his unorthodox ideas prevented his obtaining an academic position. So he made a living through political journalism. What he and his intellectual allies did was to take classical-liberal ideas and arguments, and recast them in ways that often changed their content considerably while not totally abandoning them. Imperialism was an example of this.

The context for this work was the great revival of imperialism in the latter part of the nineteenth century. During the first two-thirds of the century imperialism had been out of fashion as a deliberate policy. The general view was that colonies were a waste of resources and that wars to acquire them were not only foolish but immoral. This view, shared even by people who later became identified with empire, such as Benjamin Disraeli, derived primarily from the arguments made by a series of classical-liberal thinkers, from Adam Smith onwards. Its definitive version was put forward by the British classical liberal Herbert Spencer. He argued that all human societies could be divided into two types, the military and the industrial. The military kind, historically predominant, was marked by social hierarchy and the rule of classes that derived their position from the use of force.

By contrast the industrial society, which had appeared in modern times, featured social relations based on free association and trade. Empire, meaning the rule of one people by another, was one of the central elements of the military type of social organization. For Spencer and other classical liberals, the growth of modern capitalism and the increasing interconnection of the peoples of the world by trade and the division of labor (globalization as we now say) necessarily implied the disappearance of empires. A revival of imperialism could only be retrograde. Moreover, it was economically foolish and counterproductive, as wealth was created by trade, not imperial rule and force—a point made by Smith.

Until about the 1870s these ideas were generally accepted, but the last three decades of the nineteenth century saw the rebirth of imperialism in both theory and practice. In 1884 the Berlin Conference divided Africa among the European powers. The years 1899 to 1902 saw the Boer War, with Britain seeking to conquer the Boer Republics and gain control of South Africa’s minerals and diamonds.
Most dramatic was the change in attitude and policy in the United States. From 1776 onwards most Americans saw their country as inevitably and naturally opposed to empire and colonialism. In the 1890s, however, people such as Theodore Roosevelt argued that America should join the quest for empire. This found effect in the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the subsequent bloody conquest of the Philippines. By 1902 it also seemed that the United States, along with the European powers and Japan, was going to take part in a competition to dismember China. At this time imperialism was rightly associated with the “progressive” side of politics and with those who wanted to expand the role of government (such as Roosevelt), while the remaining classical liberals opposed it. In the United States most of the opposition to the new imperialism came from this direction and involved such figures as Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, and former presidents Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland. The clearest reiteration of the classic individualist argument against imperialism was made by William Graham Sumner in his trenchant essay “The Conquest of the United States by Spain.”

So in 1902 the division of opinion seemed clear cut. One side stood for limited government, free trade, capitalism, and individualism, and was opposed to empire. The other favored empire and argued for expanded government, protectionism, socialism or interventionism, and collectivism.
Hobson’s book changed all this. His central belief, almost an idée fixe, was underconsumptionism. He thought that in a capitalist system an unequal division of wealth and income leads to excessive saving by the rich and lack of consumption by the poor. As a result, the system does not function effectively because there is a chronic insufficiency of demand and much production cannot be consumed. This means that a modern economy needs government intervention and redistribution to right matters.

A Free-Trader
Hobson, however, favored free trade and was strongly opposed to imperialism, and his book combined these two elements. He argued, in the classical-liberal vein, that imperialism, besides being morally wrong, did not benefit the majority even in the imperial nation. Instead, it only benefited a small corrupt, predatory, and unproductive class. However, he identified this class not with the holders of political power (as Spencer and Sumner did) but with capitalists, above all finance capitalists (explicitly identified with Jews in several passages of Imperialism). His thesis was that imperialism was driven by the economic interests of finance capitalists, above all by the need to find investment outlets for capital that could not be invested at home. This argument was seriously flawed, not least because the bulk of British overseas investment was not in the empire but in the United States and Europe. Despite much criticism, Hobson brought out a virtually unchanged second edition in 1938, but he admitted in his autobiography that he no longer thought imperialism had a primarily economic motive, seeing it rather as driven by desire for power.

However, by that time the message of his work had become common wisdom. This was partly because Lenin had effectively adopted Hobson’s argument in his own Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism and so made it orthodoxy for most of the Marxist left. In the United States, Hobson’s analysis was successful on its own and became widely accepted by the 1920s. Today, Hobson is forgotten by most people, but his ideas live on. Above all, he established what has now become a commonplace, that capitalism and imperialism are intimately connected, with the one growing out of the other. Authors such as Naomi Klein see the process of “globalization” as involving the spread of neo-imperialism. Instead of correctly seeing the growth of trade, exchange, and economic integration as being diametrically opposed to imperialism, these authors see them as allied.

What makes this particularly tragic is the way the last 15 years have seen the cause of empire once again become respectable, not least among the advocates of the “Third Way.” Bad ideas, like the ones that Hobson produced, obscure our understanding of what is at stake and what the real issues are.
Find a Portuguese translation of this article here.
Stephen Davies
Stephen Davies
Stephen Davies is a program officer at the Institute for Humane Studies and the education director at the Institute for Economics Affairs in London.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"May we be so fortunate as to suffer 8 more years of Obama"...A Rejoinder.


May we be so fortunate as to suffer 8 more years of Obama - A Rejoinder.

I keep seeing an article circulating entitled: 8 years of suffering under Barack Obama: Fair enough. Let’s take a look...by Teri Carter.

Teri Carter goes on to prove how the 8 years of Obama was not as bad as many think, and was actually quite good. This cannot stand :)

The article first points out that the Dow tripled under Obama. The stock market only partly explains things. Don't forget that Zimbabwe, while suffering from inflation at 231 million percent, also had a great stock market at the same time. People are forced into the stock market when they lose confidence in the dollar. This was also the time of the birth of bitcoin, a digital alternative to the dollar that grew popular as people lost faith in government fiat currency.

Also: "Soaring stock market prices are not a result of increased productivity or innovation — they are a symptom of central bank fueled asset inflation and corporate debt. In fact, since 2008, corporate debt has doubled. Almost 100 percent of all corporate issued debt has been used to buy back stocks and prop up equity prices. This bears repeating. Almost none of America’s recently issued corporate debt has gone toward investing in plant and equipment, increasing the workforce, research and development, or expanding operations in any meaningful way." ~Yonathan Amselem

Next the article points out that Obama saved the auto industry with bailouts of which they were paid back with interest.

That's not exactly true. What Obama saved was the United Autoworkers Union. Obama didn't care about all those workers in the numerous dealerships he closed down. He didn't care about the countless Americans who lost their warranties. He certain't didn't care about the tens of thousands of (non-union) workers that supplied parts to GM that lost their jobs. Also, taxpayers spent a total of $79.7 billion on the auto bailouts, but received only $63.1 billion back, which makes for a total loss of $16.6 billion.

She also states that Obama set a record 73 straight months of private-sector job growth.

What Obama did, with Obamacare, was set a cap for employers at 50 employees or less, and to reduce work hours to 30 hours or less. As a result, one good full-time was replaced with 2 or more part time jobs...and there you have the growth. Many lousy jobs were created to replace the good full time jobs. Additionally, labor participation dropped to historic lows with a record of about 95 million Americans not in the labor force. Also, Obama's GDP growth was the worst since the Great Depression. He was the first president EVER to not reach 3% GDP growth.

As for the Affordable Care Act, it destroyed my health benefits. I am now forced to pay for a policy that is utterly useless to me. In fact, I now have to pay more out of pocket WITH a healthcare plan than without. I now avoid doctors and clinics even when I need them. Many others are suffering even more. In fact, as reported in the Washington Post, life expectancy fell for the first time in decades under Obama. What an absolute travesty.

Welfare spending is not down. Food stamp recipients increased by over 10 million under Obama. A number we should not be seeing if the economy was really great. Historically low home ownership rates, a rise in tent cities and a rise in middle-aged male suicides, which happened under Obama, is also something you should expect with a really bad economy. Homelessness for veterans may have decreased, but it increased for others (and there are still homeless vets out there). This doesn't even factor in the growth of adult children still living with their parents. This is something you expect under an anemic economy. At some point you have to ask why there has been great support for Trump from working-class Americans? If most Americans really thought they were better off today than in January 2009, Hillary would be president right now.

Obama did indeed sign The Lilly Ledbetter Act, an act based on an economic fallacy. Even his own White House had a "gender pay-gap".

The fact that Obama reduced the federal deficit from 9.8 percent of GDP in 2009 to 3.2 percent in 2016 only obscures the fact that he spent an enormous amount of money in the early years. The deficit was still higher than the average of the past 60 years. Let's not forget that Obama spent more money than anyone else in the history of the world. This will end badly one day.

Obama did order the hit on Obama. His administration also helped depose Gaddafi's Syria, which destabilized the Middle East and created ISIS and the migrant crisis...and the world is now a much more dangerous place because of it.

And yes, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. A prize that was given to him at the outset of his presidency when he accomplished nothing but getting elected. It was a prize given to a leader who was at war for the entire duration of his presidency. As Penn Jillette mentioned a few years ago: “The only difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama is killing more people. He’s about double the numbers now. Can you imagine if McCain had won and did precisely what Obama has done, with every speech and every political maneuver overseas? There’d be riots in the streets about the people we’re killing. And yet because it’s Obama, and he’s better looking and better at reading the teleprompter, we let him get away with it.” President Obama even bragged to his aides that he’s “really good at killing people,” during discussions about drone strikes, according to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's book: Double Down.

Also, under Obama race relations in America had degenerated and was dragged back 50 years. Any progress that was made in this area over the decades was stripped away by Obama, who fuelled racism in order to disguise a bad economy, which then produced home-grown racist terrorist groups and anti-Free Speech groups. That's right, under Obama, free speech no longer became a cherished ideal, but instead became something that needed to be quelled by any means necessary.

After eight long years of obfuscations, lies and propaganda, it's time to call Obama exactly what he is.

Worst.President.Ever                           

-Heinz Schmitz