Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘collectivism’

The cyber-collectivist threat

Posted by Richard on July 23, 2010

I was vaguely aware that a group of radical leftists had formed a new organization named "Free Press." And I assumed that their goal was to put control of the flow of information back into the "proper" hands. That they wanted to silence me. Well, not me specifically; they've never heard of me (let's be honest, how many people have?). But everyone like me.

I was right. Adam Thierer has the gory details (emphasis added):

There are many battle fronts in the war for human freedom, but perhaps the least-appreciated of these is the battle over America's communications and media marketplace and whether free markets or government mandates will ultimately rule them. This battle takes on added importance since all other public policy debates depend upon an unfettered press and robust, independent channels of communication.

What many on the far Left have long understood, and many defenders of freedom have failed to appreciate, is that the battle for control of media and communications policy is fundamentally tied up with the broader war for control of our economy and society. "Instead of waiting for the revolution to happen, we learned that unless you make significant changes in the media, it will be vastly more difficult to have a revolution," argues the prolific Marxist media theorist Robert W. McChesney. "While the media is not the single most important issue in the world, it is one of the core issues that any successful Left project needs to integrate into its strategic program."

Normally we wouldn't need to pay attention to what unrepentant ‘60's radicals or neo-Marxist university professors think about media and communications policy. In this case, however, it is essential we pay attention. First, McChesney is right in one sense: history reveals that almost every successful effort to impose sweeping controls over an economy / society was accompanied by government efforts to control press and communication systems. If the State is going to have any luck gaining widespread and far-reaching control of an economy, gaining more control over "the Press" – which means all of us these days – becomes an essential part of the "strategic program" for control. Second, we need to pay attention to these radicals because McChesney and the group that he and John Nichols of The Nation co-founded – the insultingly misnamed Free Press – have given this fight new immediacy with their relentless agitation for media and communications policy "reform." And they are not the only ones.

Read the whole thing. Thierer is correct: control over the flow of information is critical to control over the people. And control over the people is what McChesney, Nichols, and their many friends and ideological allies in the current administration want. 

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Controlling the people and redistributing the wealth

Posted by Richard on March 26, 2010

For a long time, the Socialist Democrats have hidden their true agenda from the American people. No more. They're now so cocky and confident (and so contemptuous of their opposition) that they're dropping the facade of moderation and centrism.

On Tuesday, Rep. John Dingell (SD-MI) was asked on a Michigan radio program why Obamacare would not be fully implemented until 2014 when so many people are dying each year due to lack of insurance (a claim based on a totally bogus study, BTW). Dingell explained that "it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people."

The same day, a New York Times story (I'll link to the excellent fisking at Sweetness & Light) made it clear that the government takeover of the health care industry is "the federal government's biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago" and the centerpiece of Obama's plan to reverse the Reagan Revolution and redistribute wealth. 

And just today, as the Senate was preparing to pass the "reconciliation" bill containing the House "fixes" for Obamacare, Sen. Max Baucus (SD-MT) addressed the Senate as follows: 

Too often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.

So. Now that it's a done deal, the Socialist Democrats are proudly proclaiming what they previously and angrily denied, what they previously denounced as right-wing lies and fear-mongering: the government takeover of the health care industry is intended to control the people and redistribute the wealth. It's intended to turn citizens into subjects and to ensure equality of misery.

They're slightly less crazy-sounding, but fundamentally not all that different from Hugo Chavez.

But don't worry about the constitutionality.  Rep. John Conyers (SD-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and noted constitutional scholar, has assured us that it's all authorized by the Constitution's "Good and Welfare Clause."

Costa Rica's looking better all the time. Or maybe Honduras, where they still respect the rule of law.

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Compulsory union membership — for the self-employed

Posted by Richard on February 13, 2010

Just when you think you've heard it all, along comes a story like this one from Michigan, via John Stossel:

Michelle Berry runs a day-care business out of her home in Flint, MI. She thought that she owned her own business, but Berry's been told she is now a government employee and union member. It's not voluntary. Suddenly, Berry and 40,000 other Michigan private day-care providers have learned that union dues are being taken out of the child-care subsidies the state sends them. The "union" is a creation of AFSCME, the government workers union, and the United Auto Workers.

So, instead of paying the child care subsidy to the people being subsidized — the qualifying child care consumers — the state pays it directly to their providers. And one day, it just told those providers, "We're taking some of the money you're owed and sending it to the union that we've made you a part of." 

This illustrates one important reason why these liberal statists are so opposed to vouchers or credits, whether for education, child care, or whatever, even though it's simple, direct, and eliminates a lot of overhead and bureaucratic nonsense. It's not just about helping "those in need," as they claim — it's about control. If they send a voucher or subsidy payment directly to "those in need," they can directly control only the consumers they're subsidizing. By inserting the state into the transaction as a middleman, they can control both parties to the transaction. 

Patrick Wright, a lawyer for the Mackinac Center, says the union was forced on the women after a certification election conducted by mail in which only 6,000 day-care providers out of 40,000 voted. Wright told me his clients, like Berry, say they were "shocked" to learn they were suddenly in a union.

They want nothing to do with the union. One of my clients has said, “Look, this is my home, I’m both labor and management here.” They’ve wanted nothing to do with this union and don’t think that it has any purpose besides than to siphon money away from them.

Michigan isn't the only state funding unions this way.

Fourteen states have now enabled home-based day-care providers to be organized into public-employee unions, affecting about 233,000 people.

Mackinac sued Michigan on behalf of the day-care owners, but the case was dismissed. They have appealed. Neither Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, the Department of Human Services, nor the union would talk to me about this. Last month, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash proposed a law that would end "stealth" unionization of private entrepreneurs.

I'm not surprised that this is happening in Michigan. If it's anti-liberty, anti-business, and anti-growth, the government of Michigan is probably doing it. I'm surprised, though, that 14 other states are pulling this outrageous scam. But I guess if it benefits a public employee's union, plenty of state legislators everywhere will fall all over themselves to support it. They've been bought and paid for by those unions.

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Who but the mindless

Posted by Richard on December 30, 2009

Dan Freeman at BigGovernment.com argued that the novels of Ayn Rand, in particular Atlas Shrugged, can explain the insane rush toward collectivism by the Obama administration. The country is being run by mystics of muscle:

Recent headlines seem lifted directly out of an Ayn Rand novel. President Obama decries the “fat cat bankers on Wall Street”. Harry Reid attacks insurance companies for making too much profit. House Democrat leaders call Tea Partiers “Racist, Nazi, Gun Nuts”.  How about this nauseating statement made by Army General George Casey after the Muslim terrorist attack on Ft. Hood?

As great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well

Each of these headlines might well have been uttered by an Ayn Rand character. Rand, whose father’s pharmacy was confiscated by the Soviets during the communist revolution of 1917, and who came to America in 1926, seems uniquely able to speak to us about the inverted morality of our times. Virtue is to be apologized for. Depravity commands respect. Success is cast as evil and punished while failure is blamed on others and rewarded. Rand’s insights into the psychological state of collectivists—those who demand that we sacrifice our individual freedom and happiness for the sake of the state—explain what often seems incomprehensible to thinking people.

Read the whole thing. Please!

 

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Dismantling America

Posted by Richard on October 28, 2009

Dr. Thomas Sowell:

Just one year ago, would you have believed that an unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate but simply one of the many "czars" appointed by the President, could arbitrarily cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent?

Did you think that another "czar" would be talking about restricting talk radio? That there would be plans afloat to subsidize newspapers — that is, to create a situation where some newspapers' survival would depend on the government liking what they publish?

Did you imagine that anyone would even be talking about having a panel of so-called "experts" deciding who could and could not get life-saving medical treatments?

Scary as that is from a medical standpoint, it is also chilling from the standpoint of freedom. If you have a mother who needs a heart operation or a child with some dire medical condition, how free would you feel to speak out against an administration that has the power to make life and death decisions about your loved ones?

Does any of this sound like America?

How about a federal agency giving school children material to enlist them on the side of the president? Merely being assigned to sing his praises in class is apparently not enough.

How much of America would be left if the federal government continued on this path?

Read. The. Whole. Thing.

 

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Pledging to serve the President

Posted by Richard on September 5, 2009

Have you seen the "I pledge" video by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (it's produced by Oprah's company, Harpo Productions), and featuring a score of their whackjob Hollyweird friends? It dates all the way back to inauguration day, but someone has recently been promoting it anew (over 100,000 new views in the past few days). A friend sent me the link, and it was new to me.

I found it very disturbing, and I'm not going to embed it here for fear that someone might think I'm promoting, endorsing, or approving it. But here's "Ashton Kutcher's Creepy Pledge" (it's really Demi Moore who utters the creepiest part), a 48-second rejoinder that starts with the money quote from the Kutcher-Moore video: 

[YouTube link]

You might also want to check out "Pledging to be a Servant" (embedding disabled), Penn Jillette's 6-minute response. It's a bit rambling, but it expresses exactly the revulsion, disbelief, and sense of ickiness that I felt.

"I pledge" is the quintessential expression of both the cult of collectivism and the cult of personality. I wonder how long until these people start a movement to appoint Obama "President for Life"?

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Cocky and dumb

Posted by Richard on April 3, 2007

There's still more evidence that American kids don't measure up to their foreign counterparts, and according to Ralph Reiland, American kids are cocky and dumb by design:

Only 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of eighth-graders in the United States, according to the latest annual study on education by the Brown Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The problem is that the surveyed Korean students are better at math than the American students.

Their kids are unsure and good, in short, while ours are cocky and dumb — not exactly a good position for the U.S. to occupy in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Reiland sees this as the predictable consequence of educators' aversion to competition and embrace of unearned self-esteem. They've chosen to promote "unskilled self-satisfaction" over competence:

…  For those in American education with an aversion to competition, an aversion to the thought of winners and losers, the idea of putting self-esteem ahead of academic performance was an easy concept to adopt.

It's like those no-score ball games. The goal is good feelings. Everyone plays, no one loses, every kid gets a trophy. It's like the teachers' contracts — no scorecard, no linking of pay hikes to performance, everyone's a winner.

It's a mind-set that sees score-keeping as too judgmental, too oppressive, too capitalist, too likely to deliver inequality and injured self-images, whether it's with pay or on the ball field.

In a related development, Seattle's Hilltop Children's Center recently banned Legos because they "teach capitalism" and promote private property rights:

According to the teachers, "Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."

The children were allegedly incorporating into Legotown "their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys." These assumptions "mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive."

They claimed as their role shaping the children's "social and political understandings of ownership and economic equity … from a perspective of social justice."

This is the same contemptible mindset made even more explicit.

The field of education is largely in the hands of extreme egalitarians and collectivists. They despise winning, achievement, and success because they see every instance of those things as a reproach. They loathe individualism because it encourages people to differentiate themselves from the herd in which they think we should all be submerged. They hate liberty because it frees some to rise above others, and they believe we should all be constrained to the level of the least of us.

Nothing would do more for the future of liberty than wresting control of the schools of education from the socialist scum who currently dominate the field. Of course, it would help if those wresting control had a coherent philosophy that celebrated the individual, freedom, and reason, instead of the incoherent, unprincipled mess that is today's conservatism.

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