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Category Archives: Liberal
Posted: January 9, 2020 at 3:47 am
In early January 2020, Snopes readers inquired about the provenance and authenticity of a quotation attributed to former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt that contained her reflections on the word liberal and the importance of the concept of freedom in American society.
On Dec. 31, 2019, for instance, a Facebook account posted a widely shared meme containing a portrait of Roosevelt and the following quote:
Long ago, there was a noble word, liberal, which derives from the word free. Now a strange thing happened to that word. A man named Hitler made it a term of abuse, a matter of suspicion, because those who were not with him were against him, and liberals had no use for Hitler. And then another man named McCarthy cast the same opprobrium on the word We must cherish and honor the word free or it will cease to apply to us. Eleanor Roosevelt.
The same meme was promulgated even further two days later, when the left-leaning Occupy Democrats Facebook page posted it, along with the message Who else is a PROUD liberal?
The quote is authentic and did indeed originate in something Roosevelt wrote: her 1963 book Tomorrow is Now, which was published shortly after her death in November 1962. The relevant section, towards the end of the book, reads in full as follows:
Long ago, there was a noble word, liberal, which derives from the word free. Now a strange thing happened to that word. A man named Hitler made it a term of abuse, a matter of suspicion, because those who were not with him were against him, and liberals had no use for Hitler. And then another man named McCarthy cast the same opprobrium on the word. Indeed, there was a time a short but dismaying time when many Americans began to distrust the word which derived from free. One thing we must all do. We must cherish and honor the word free or it will cease to apply to us. And that would be an inconceivable situation. This I know. This I believe with all my heart. If we want a free and a peaceful world, if we want to make the deserts bloom and man grow to greater dignity as a human being WE CAN DO IT!
The meme shared widely in early 2020 left out certain words taken from this section, but it properly acknowledged that omission with the use of an ellipsis, and the omission did not misrepresent or change the meaning of what Roosevelt wrote. As such, the meme was accurate and authentic and properly attributed the quotation to its true author.
Read the original here:
Posted: at 3:47 am
The self-styled intellectual class is growing excitable. Under the onslaught of Trump, Brexit, Europe-wide populism, and Jordan Peterson, can we be certain, they ask, that the open society will continue? The only way on from liberalism, they believe, is backward into the darkness whence we allegedly emerged. Even those who are not enthusiastic about liberalisms tender mercies are required to moderate their hopes for its demise, lest the new nurse turn out to be worse than the serving one. A lot of people, including people who call themselves conservatives, appear to be concerned about the future of liberalism, and this concern is causing the age to be misread.
For the discussion is bogus to begin with. What is called liberalism here is not liberalism at all, but its direct opposite. It is liberalism only in name, and therefore offers no guarantee of an open society at all. By corrupting the meanings of terms like equality, tolerance, and human rights, the liberal ascendancy of the past three decades has overburdened the skeleton of our civilization, leaving it weakened and susceptible to collapse.
We should stop using words like liberalism as though they were not already subsumed in irony, as though the sense of virtue and good intention that they are supposed to connote remained valid. I believe it has become necessary to prefix certain words in our political lexicon to alert bystanders to their hidden corruption. For three decades I have referred to pseudo-liberalism. What we call liberalism is no longer to be thought upright. If it dies, it will be a cause of celebration, not dismay.
This pseudo-liberalism is founded on a lie: the idea that freedom resides in getting whatever you demand and doing whatever you desire. In the words of the diabolical occultist Aleister Crowley: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. A moments thought reveals such ideas as civilization-threatening. By definition, what one person demands must be taken from someplace where it already benefits others, and doing exactly what you want will invariably be a cost to someone else or, ultimatelybecause of the complexity of the human instrumentto yourself. There are libraries of philosophy and theology on these topics, but as far as contemporary conversations are concerned, it is as though not a word of this is relevant.
The Sixties generation, which introduced these incoherencies into the bloodstream of modern societies, has not been honest about its own experience of these much-vaunted freedoms, which have left a trail of devastation behind them. One symptom of this is that there is virtually no lucid witness to the errors of pseudo-liberalism, not just in the intimate areas of human relations, but in relation to economics and the movements of people in the modern world. For half a century, these converging strands of insipid thinking have dominated Western societies, steamrolling everything and everyone with the help of corporate money and devious propaganda, their incoherencies protected from scrutiny by the influence and dollars of Big This and Big That, by corrupted media and the force field of political correctness. Self-styled liberals have hijacked the idealism of the young, enlisting them for a project that has the outward appearance of virtue but is rotten to the core. They have convinced even our own children that globalism is an unequivocal good and that human safety and well-being can be maintained without the assistance of the civilization that made all these qualities possible in the first place.
Thus, pseudo-liberalism seeks to turn upside-down the value system of the civilization that once was Christendom, attacking its core institutions and mocking and censoring its history. It justifies genocide in the form of abortion and is clearly intentsometimes unwittinglyupon engineering the cultural and moral demolition of the West itself, by dint of godless relativism, induced migration, the elimination of distinct nations, and the destruction of the nuclear family.
And although this is quite clearly the most intolerant ideology to have emerged in the West since World War II, signs of the demise of this liberalism are met with handwringing from people who ought to know better. All right-thinking people must agree that populism is a bad thing. We must, while admitting its minor blemishes, still accept that what is called liberalism offers the one best way forward for Western societies.
Liberal-progressivismto give it its most informative nameis actually an advanced form of colonialism, imposing itself not just on territories but also claiming dominion over all future time, brooking no dissent and remorselessly punishing recalcitrant doubters. In this sense it is deeply totalitarian, insisting on one best way that cannot be questioned.
In his 1987 essayStories and Totalitarianism, Vclav Havel defined the mechanism of totalitarianism as the assassination of history to achieve both nihilisation of the past and mastery over the future. The instrument of this process he identified as the removal from history of the possibilities of human choice, mystery, and autonomy: History becomes a fixed sequence of unfolding inevitabilities, and the role of human beings is merely to acquiesce and embrace what is pressed upon them.
To put this another way, under the new colonialism the future is a city already constructed, waiting to be moved into. There is no space for human discussion or disagreement. It is already decidedand not, we are archly informed, by some arbitrary human authority but by the mechanistic mind of time, which ordains the course of history according to immutable and unchallengeable laws.
We are now, it is certain, seeing the early stages of the disintegration of this pseudo-liberalism. This liberalism has promised untrammeled economic growth, itself an example of its incoherence: Increasing growth never delivers increasing happiness. Moreover, in ignoring the inevitability of boom-bust, this promise provides an example of pseudo-liberal dishonesty.There is no final glorious destination.
This pseudo-liberalism also promises free speech, while curtailing it in the name of civilityemploying sophisticated abuses of language to impose censorship so as to protect its own incoherence, and arrogating to itself the right to stifle anything that offers a significant threat to itself.It also promises increasingly purer forms of democracy but in reality is pushing us ever closer to mob rule.
Pseudo-liberalism lays claim to the universalization of human rights, but it requires just a moments reflection to realize that what is meant by this is not universal in the least, but a highly ideological recalibration of the balance of power between establishments and minorities, which provide human shields for the prosecution of an undeclared war on what is.
Moreover, it is precisely the pseudo-liberal insistence on a selective understanding of human rights that lies at the heart of the current threat to Europes future. For if universal rights are to trump rights of culture, history, place, locality, home and hearth, the outcome will be the destruction of all culture, loyalty, and trust, creating an intercontinental incontinence that will sweep all order and coherence before it.
What is called liberalism attacks what is most precious in our tradition of community solidarity, opposing those values we have held dearestlove of God, nation, and familyin favor of an empty and faithless materialism and the pseudo-laws of the new ideologies. The flaws of this pseudo-liberalism amount to an indictment that far outweighs even the sum of the promised benefits, for it amounts, in truth, to the negation of democracy, free speech, and meaningful liberty.
It is true that there are actors waiting in the wings who represent something even more illiberal than the present dispensation. But we should not cling to a nurse for fear of something worse.Perhaps somewhere about the precincts of this paradox lies the explanation of why liberals have so far supported the influx of Muslims into Europe: This is part of the liberal program of disintegrating the culture, traditions, and civilization of the West. Often one is forced to wonder if liberals know anything about the nature of Islam and its ambitions, whether they are aware that the Islamic concept of the infidel disqualifies all such peoples from what they think their entitlements. No sane person could ever have accused these pseudo-liberals of being far-sighted. Still, here they have surely surpassed themselves with their willful myopia and stupidity. If they wish to imagine how it will end, I recommend they have a quiet read of Michel HouellebecqsSubmission, which tells of the capitulation of a future French establishment to the blandishments of Islam.
But the problem does not lie merely with pseudo-liberalism. Paradoxically, a dangerous tendency of thought has arisen in late times among conservatives: the idea that any flaws of liberalismsuch as, one presumes, its blind utopian globalism and politically correct excessespale compared to the barbarism to be observed elsewhere in the world. They take this to mean that we should not raise a fuss about what is happening in the West, but rather express gratitude for the openness we enjoy and the tolerance liberals extend to their opponents. This, too, is bogus. Tolerance here, like equality, means something different than it used to. Once, tolerance meant not interfering with, or attempting to suppress, beliefs that contradicted ones own, but this response has given way to a dictatorship of intolerance wherein everything is tolerated except the views of those who do not subscribe to the tenets of pseudo-liberalism.
Liberals speak of what they call the liberal order as though its virtues were self-evident. This allows them to adopt a tone of moral sanctimony. Those who disagree, therefore, mustipso factosuffer from some kind of pathological perverseness: They oppose the good out of fear, vexatiousness, or worse. But the pseudo-liberal sense of the good is selective and self-serving, and has no good plans for those who dissent from it. We have seen this, again and again, and what we have seenat the hands of social justice warriors, LGBT activists, #MeTooers, and the likeprovides evidence of what the liberal end of history would actually look like.
So let us not be frightened into shoring up that which is finally disintegrating. Pseudo-liberalism is finally disintegrating under belated retaliation from those it treats with contempt, as well as the weight of its own senselessness. The liberal state of affairs is a bit like the current state of rock n roll: Though on its last legs, no one can imagine what, if anything, comes next.This for a time appeared to be the strongest card of the self-proclaimed liberals: that they did indeed represent the end of history.Now, what is (often pejoratively) calledpopulismhas arisen to put paid to that idea.
This populism may represent the future, in one form or another, or simply the precursor to something we are not yet able to imagine.Butwhatever it is, it seems our only hope. The choice we face is not between left and right, orstill lessliberal and far right. Certainly, the choice is not between a continuation of the present pseudo-liberalism or a descent into Islamismthe first willinevitably give way to the second. Rather, the choice is between civilization and its antithesis. It could hardly be more serious.The time has come tolet the delusions of the Sixties finally die in their dilapidated beds.
John Watersis an Irish writer and commentator, the author of ten books, and a playwright.
I’ve always voted Liberal, but after sheltering my family on a beach I cannot support this government – The Guardian
Posted: at 3:47 am
To Scott Morrison,
I decided to write to you as my family lay face-down in the sand, covered in wet blankets on Malua Bay Beach as hot embers rained down on us on New Years Eve to escape the Clyde Mountain bushfire.
Most of my family (not mum) and I have voted for the Coalition for as long as I can remember. I helped hand out flyers at the 2019 state election. However, after what my family went through the last three days, I can no longer support a government or party that choose to remain on the sidelines on climate change and the devastating effects it causes.
The Liberal party considers itself the natural party of government and its past achievements certainly give credence to that assertion. But any party or government that recklessly endangers lives and the environment is not fit to lead.
By not recognising climate change as a credible threat, you fail to take action on the many side-effects that climate change causes to our community. The one that I have personally witnessed is an increase risk and severity of bushfires. I took a screenshot of the life-saving Fires Near Me app and found most of the New South Wales coast was on fire. Anyone who could think this was status quo either has a hidden agenda or is delusional.
Through inaction you place first responders in ever-increasingly dangerous situations made worse by climate change. By not recognising climate change as a serious threat you fail to prepare overworked, underappreciated (by government not communities) first responders for larger, more frequent bushfires that devastate communities.
I can no longer hope that the adults are back in charge. You have failed to act and you have failed to lead. I have committed myself to ensure my family and as many people as I can manage will never be endangered by events that we fortunately lived through.
I present you a choice: stand up, lead and take action. Make Australia a global leader in the fight to prevent climate change and make the necessary preparations to build resilient communities and be remembered as the leader who provided hope to future generations. Or stay your current path and be remembered as one who could not lead, could not act and doomed future generations.
Posted: at 3:47 am
Compost and recycle bins are seen during the 2019 Outside Lands Music And Arts Festival at Golden ... [+] Gate Park on August 11, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
When they cycle short distances rather than jump in their cars, residents of liberal American cities may consider themselves ecologically sound,but the greenest cities are often politically conservative.
Conservative communities that are more isolated have some of the lowest carbon footprints, points out Chris Jones, director of the CoolClimate Network run from the University of California in the eco-woke city of Berkeley in San Franciscos Bay Area.
For instance, Blackford, Kentucky, is a low population density community thats mostly self-contained, and it has a household carbon footprint many times below those of supposedly green locales. (Kentucky is a deep red state, voting for politicians such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.)
Your political ideology and belief or non-belief in climate change dont have a lot of impact on your emissions overall, reveals Jones.
Many of the U.S. cities with low carbon footprints are what Jones calls micropolitan areas.
Isolated micropolitan areas have the lowest carbon footprints overall, he says.
Low carbon-footprint U.S. cities have jobs and entertainment and shopping and everything that they need all within one micropolitan region.
Out of 32 climate-impacting factors he has studied, Jones says the top six contribute 92% of the variation between carbon footprints of locations.
In order, these are the number of motor vehicles owned, annual income, the carbon intensity of electricity supplied to a city, the size of homes, and the number of people living in each of those homes. As the size of cities increase, the size of carbon footprints tends to go up overall because some residents often drive long distances, adding spice to their lives by searching out options not available in smaller cities.
In larger cities, youve got this new world of possibilities open to you, admits Jones.
This expands your potential to spend money and to travel and take advantage of new opportunities.
(The Cool Climate networkresearchers from around the world specializing in carbon footprint analysis, behavior change and greenhouse gas mitigation policyhas an online calculator to work out your personal carbon footprint.)
Evian recycling bin, New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Roy Rochlin)
The carbon footprint concept was created in 1990 by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. It has become the standard measure for visualizing how much of natures resources humans exploit through production and consumption.
Only about a third of the average individuals carbon footprint is under their direct control. The majority of our footprint is determined by the buildings we use, the transport modes available to us, and the source of energy provided by the locality. These are all things directly under the control of local governments. Overnight a city could switch to renewable electricity or, over a longer timescale, a city could remove car lanes and, in their place, install light mobility lanes to encourage cyclists, e-scooter users, and cargobike riders.
(In urban geography a city is defined as a contiguous population cluster and may not correspond directly to the precise legal jurisdiction for what you or I might define as a city.)
The first Hydrogen bus in France aimed at connecting Versailles and Jouy-en-Josas, west of Paris. ... [+] (Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP via Getty Images)
If cities switched tomore efficient energysourcing electricity from renewable sources rather than coal, for instance, or made their public buses electric or hydrogen-poweredthey could cut their emissions by at least 25%.This is according to Californian environmental economist Dan Moran, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
On a CO2 [emissions] map, [carbon consumption] is concentrated in Northern Europe, the U.S. Eastern seaboard, a few other U.S. cities, Japan and eastern China, states Moran, curator of the Global Gridded Model of Carbon Footprints.
Its starkly visible how unequal it is between whos driving the problem and whos poised to bear the brunt of it.
But cities do not have to become fun-free zones, says Moran.
Im not against consumption. I enjoy the modern world: I love traveling to new places, eating amazing food, having a good laptop that works. Consumption itself is not an evil.
But, Moran adds, concerted action by a small number of local mayors and governments could significantly reduce national total carbon footprints.
See the original post here:
Posted: at 3:47 am
If the Ontario Liberal Party is very lucky, 2020 will be the year it looks back on and remembers as the beginning of its march back into the halls of power at Queens Park. That would mark a substantial improvement over 2019, when it languished in irrelevance and lost nearly 30 per cent of its caucus (that is, two MPPs) to greener pastures. But, then, almost anything would be an improvement.
The beginning of the new year will definitively end the relatively quiet phoney war phase of the Liberal leadership race, which will see the party vote for delegates in February for the leadership convention in March. The party announced Monday that just under 38,000 people are registered to vote for delegates, who will then in turn vote for the eventual winner. This more intense period of the campaign will involve more debates, more prominent endorsements (on Tuesday, front-runner Steven Del Duca announced one from Thunder BaySuperior North MPP Michael Gravelle), and potentially more acrimony as contestants try to distinguish themselves.
If things go well, the choice of leader will settle a bunch of arguments within the party. Some of them are relatively prosaic and of little interest to the general public: Should the party keep the delegated-convention system of picking a leader or abandon it as the other major parties have? Should the party adopt a free supporter category to expand the membership from the relatively small numbers it has today? Some involve more salient policy questions: Will it pursue Alvin Tedjos proposal to unify the Catholic and public schools in one secular system? Will it support fare-free public transit, which Michael Coteau has called for? Basically, the leader will, to some extent, get to shape the policies the party pursues going forward.
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At least as important, though, is the fact that the party will have to determine at least, for now the direction it wants to take post-Kathleen Wynne. The former premier is still a sitting MPP, and shell be a presence at the March convention, but which direction the party should go in 2020 has been the implicit question behind all the other questions in the race so far. Its usually summed up as should the party stay left or go back to the centre, but that oversimplifies both Wynnes legacy and the choices that lie ahead.
In 2018 and 19 it, became common to say that Wynne had taken the party to the left of the NDP, but her record in office is certainly more complicated than that. Wynne partially privatized Hydro One the provincial hydro utility something the NDP never forgave her for and something thats still controversial even in Liberal ranks. Her government struggled with balancing the provincial budget for years precisely because it spent those years being leery of substantial tax increases, although that changed relatively late in her tenure. Those are real parts of her record just as surely as the Universal Basic Income pilot and the $14 minimum wage are.
Numerous contestants in the current race could plausibly lay claim to part of Wynnes legacy, if they were so inclined. Michael Coteau and Mitzie Hunter served in her cabinet. Kate Graham ran as a Liberal in 2018, supporting Wynnes final platform, and has attracted some important allies of the former premier: Deb Matthews, the former deputy premier and a close friend of Wynnes, is supporting Grahams race. Pat Sorbara, Wynnes former deputy chief of staff, has joined Grahams campaign as an adviser.
Graham, for her part, doesnt endorse the idea of a hard pivot away from Wynnes legacy.
All of the issues we ran on in the last election were very, very popular things that Kathleen and the party championed. They did well at the doors, and they polled well, Graham told TVO.org on Tuesday. Theres an opportunity now to address the much bigger question of what kind of culture we want to build inside the party, instead of turning course away from one person. The partys much bigger than that.
The avatar of returning to the centre in this race is Steven Del Duca, and Del Duca himself has suggested that the Liberals were perhaps too activist under Wynne or, as he put it in debates last year, swung at a few too many pitches. But here, too, its worth appreciating the nuances. Del Duca started his leadership campaign by promising that, if he were leader, half of all Liberal candidates in 2022 would be women. Del Duca supports getting back to the $15 minimum wage, which the Tories abandoned, and has proposed a public group-benefits package (including pension, dental, and other perks) for self-employed and contract workers. It may not be a UBI, but it would represent a substantial expansion of the social-welfare system and meaningfully help the people who could use it.
Its easy to describe the recent history of the Liberal party as a swing to the left and to imagine that someone like Del Duca would move away from that, but leaders arent the sole masters of their parties fates: 2022 wont be like 2003, when the Liberals could start a 15-year-long winning streak with a mix of wonky centrism and not being Mike Harris. Even someone like Del Duca, for all his establishment support, is offering voters policies substantially more progressive even that those Wynne was willing to run on in 2014. Events of the past decade have pushed left-of-centre parties around the world to embrace more progressive policies (even the U.S. Democrats are currently engaged in a pitched debate over the proper role of the state), and the Ontario Liberals havent been, and wont be, immune.
Here is the original post:
Posted: at 3:47 am
Complaints about press bias are as old as the press itself, but in recent decades, conservatives have pushed one complaint above all other: The media is biased against them because it is overwhelmingly staffed by liberal journalists. A new study, forthcoming in Science Advances, provides the strongest evidence ever that theyre half-right but only the least important half: Yes, reporters overall are significantly more liberal than the general population. In fact, almost one in six are more liberal than Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, based on who they follow on Twitter.But no,that doesnt matter even for the most liberal cohort of them. The title of the study says it all: There is No Liberal Media Bias in the News Political Journalists Choose to Cover.
Even though journalists are dominantly liberal and often fall far to the left of Americans, the paper itself was emphatically clear in its conclusion:
In short, despite being dominantly liberals/Democrats, journalists do not seem to be exhibiting liberal media bias (or conservative media bias) in what they choose to cover. This null is vitally important showing that overall, journalists do not display political gatekeeping bias in the stories they choose to cover.
In a way, thats not that surprising: Journalists place a high value on objectivity and balance. Avoiding ideological bias rates very high among journalists, lead author Hans Hassell of Florida State told Salon 8.5 on scale of 10 in the survey these researchers conducted. As Hassell acknowledged, A response you give to a survey may be very different from the actual behaviors that you express in the things that you do.
So the authors Hassell, John Holbein of the University of Virginia and Matthew Miles of Brigham Young University turned to a correspondence experiment, which Hassell said was essentially an experiment to test for biases that individuals may not be willing to explicitly state, because it may be socially unacceptable to be biased in a certain way, or they may even be unintentionally biased.
Historically, these kinds of experiments are "commonly used to detect racial bias, Hassell said. (Its primarily been used in employment studies, where it can detect gender bias as well.) Using this technique to detect ideological bias among journalists broke new ground.
We created a fake state legislative campaign," Hassell explained. "We created an email account that purported to be from an individual in the community who was going to announce his candidacy for state legislature. Then we posed as a staffer for that campaign and sent an email to every single individual asked to participate in the survey, Hassell explained.
The email provided basic candidate information and asked whether reporters they "would be interested in sitting down with the candidates and talking about their positions with regard to state government. Crucially, researchers randomized whether employees of a given publicationreceived an email that indicated whether the candidate was a strong conservative, a moderate conservative, a moderate progressive or a strong progressive.
The texts of the emails were the same in all cases, with the only differences being the candidate biographies included at the bottom of the emails. We might expect progressives to be more interested in covering progressives and conservatives more interested in covering conservatives, Hassell said, with a liberal bias predominating, simply because there are more liberals in the population at large. Instead, they found no significant evidence of bias, either for the respondents as a whole, or broken down by ideology or by the partisan leaning of the counties they served. In short, the premise that the profession still has governing standards was fully borne out by the experiment.
The overall results are shown in the following figure:
The paper explains:
As can be seen, there is no statistical or substantive difference in the probability of a journalist responding to the email based solely on the treatment conditions. Comparing the two poles, strong conservative candidates are, on average, a mere 0.4 percentage points less likely to get a response than strong progressive candidates. This effect is minuscule (being equivalent to 0.47% of a standard deviation) and is far from significantly different from 0 (p=0.87).
One possible explanation for the lack of bias might simply be journalists responding to the marketplace they serve giving more coverage to conservatives in counties that voted for Trump, for example, and more coverage to progressives in counties that voted for Clinton. But in fact that wasnt the case:
[W]e find that a journalist working for a newspaper in a county that voted for Trump is just as likely to respond to a request for an interview with a progressive candidate as they are to a request from a conservative candidate. This shows that even in spite of powerful economic incentives from the readership of ones newspapers, journalists still show no signs of ideological gatekeeping bias in what they choose to cover.
The authors also divided journalists into three ideological categories exploring the possibility that we might not see evidence of bias overall, but, instead, we would see polarized coverage but the differences observed were barely perceptible, and even those minimal variations didnt fall into a clear pattern: [W]e find that journalists regardless of their own ideology treat candidates from different ideological backgrounds the same.
These findings are all the more striking, given how liberal journalists as a whole were found to be. First, the authors conducted an extensive survey, emailing a list of just over 13,500 journalists with working email addresses. We got about a 13% response rate, which is about in line with most surveys of political elites, and about double that of surveys of journalists that have been published in recent years, Hassell said. There are two significant problems: First, a large number of journalists report being independents and/or report no ideology, and second, a large majority dont respond to surveys. So the question is, Are the journalists who are not part of the online response going to be different in some ways?
To address these two problems, a team of eight undergraduates gathered all the Twitter handles they could find about half the 13,500 journalists originally identified. Then the accounts were analyzed using a technique developed and validated by Pablo Barber in a 2015 paper, Birds of the Same Feather Tweet Together: Bayesian Ideal Point Estimation Using Twitter Data. As the paper explains:
The logic of this methodological technique is that individuals display their preferences (in this case, for ideological homogeneity) through their actions (in this case, who they follow on Twitter), just as they do with many revealed preferences.
Barber showed that this method produces ideology measures that are strongly correlated with other measures both self-reported ideology and party registration records among both the public and elites in the U.S. and five European countries. Hassells team found they correlated strongly with self-reports of those who responded to their survey, as well. Thus, theres high confidence in the validity of this measure, the results of are summarized visually here:
So if journalists actuallyreflecting their own views in covering the news, conservatives would have a strong case for bias. But as weve just seen, thats not what Hassells team found: There was no significant bias at all.
Because these results are both surprising (even unbelievable) to some, and significant, its worth explaining a bit more about what the experiment reveals, and the thinking that went into it. Identifying gatekeeping bias is difficult, the paper notes, because identifying the full population of news from which journalists could select stories is difficult. As Hassell put it, It could be that there arent an even number of liberal and conservative stories available for journalists to choose from. The correspondence experiment responds to that difficulty by ensuring balance, and presenting a simplified representation, where the potential for bias is well-defined and measurable.
Its also both sensitive and realistic. They didnt want to do anything that could violate ethical standards "presenting a scandal seemed unethical, Hassell noted. So we settled on this because we felt it was something that was logical in terms of something that would commonly happen, and where judgment and discretion were involved. Some stories are so compelling that everybody has to cover them," he observed, "and then there are other things that are not news at all, so this is kind of in the middle in the realm of journalistic discretion. It was also something he knew from the other side, he later told me, which is part of why it was chosen. As a student, I worked on a couple of election cycles working for a campaign, and I remember the candidates complaining, Why can't I get coverage? Why won't the paper cover me? What's going on?
Another factor to consider is that state legislative races are themselves gateways to partisan politics: Its plausible that someone youve never heard of could not just enter, but win such a race, and doing so could have long-term political consequences, depending in their subsequent career. Many state legislators go on to Congress, and a few to the Senate and national prominence. So, this experiment taps into something central to the way American politics works.
Still, experimental evidence is always stronger when support comes from lines of inquiry. In this case, Hassells team did some of that themselves. In the original survey, they presented journalist respondents with two pairs of hypothetical candidates who were announcing their candidacy for governor in the state, but with a set of limitations, so that only one could be covered. Who would that be? This randomized test also found minimal evidence of bias. If anything, they are more predisposed to cover Republican candidates, the paper reported, although the effect was deemed "not statistically significant."
But a stronger form of supporting evidence would come from asking a different sort of question entirely. I asked about that. I think absolutely there should be other ways to do this, Hassell said. Then he described some of the difficulties in doing so, starting with ethics. You don't want to damage a journalist's reputation with a false story lead, and you don't want to waste his or her time and resources "following up a story that really doesn't exist. One idea Hassell suggested might work was to pose as a researcher announcing a new study, varying the topic. Some topics are more conservative or more preferential to liberals, he said. That way you're not forcing the journalist to go out and do any research on it. You can be the researcher.
From a broader perspective, one can certainly question how adequate this kind of evidence is, however. As Ive noted before, we can understand this in terms of Daniel Hallinsthree-sphere modelof how the media functions, from his 1986 book "The Uncensored War":
At the center is the sphere of consensus, mom-and-apple-pie country. Surrounding that, like a donut, is the sphere of legitimate debate, where journalists attention is usually focused, where there are two sides to every story and a need for objectivity and balance to be maintained.
Beyond that, though, is the sphere of deviance, the outer darkness in which dwell political actors and views which journalists and the political mainstream of society reject as unworthy of being heard.
In that piece, I went on to discuss the shoddy fact-checking" directed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, which reflected "a boundary-policing instinct, and an outdated one, considering that the entire political landscape has been irrevocably changed.
All three of Hallins spheres can be problematic for journalists. Those rejected in the sphere of deviance might actually have the most accurate, and most important things to say: I cite a number of examples of how this applies to Ocasio-Cortez, but, for historical perspective one could also consider the earlyfeminists who convened at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848.
The sphere of legitimate debate can be problematic as well: Objectivity and balance can be sharply at odds with one another, as another example I cited pointed out:
As far back as 2004,a study foundthat US prestige-press coverage of global warming from 1988 to 2002 has contributed to a significant divergence of popular discourse from scientific discourse, and that the prestige press's adherence to balance actually leads to biased coverage of both anthropogenic contributions to global warming and resultant action.
Another problematic aspect of this sphere was pointed out to me by Jim Naureckas, the editor of FAIR.org, the website of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:
The traditional model of "objectivity" followed by corporate media uses the two major parties as the two poles that journalists are expected to drive their stories straight between. This "both sides" approach often leaves out several other sides either to the left or right of the two big parties, or looking at politics from a different angle entirely.
One of the biggest biases we find in political coverage is toward seeing politics as a spectator sport. Sometimes when reporters are covering protests and other grassroots efforts to influence policy, I'm reminded of sports reporters writing about fans running onto the field.
This way of dismissing the very citizens who should be central to a democracy is hardly conducive to a healthy democracy over time. It stands in stark contrast to the kind of active engagement that health require.
Finally, the sphere of consensus at any point in history may be wildly at odds with what it was a generation or two earlier or later. Theres a reason we find past eras unfathomable at times: their spheres of consensus baffle us.
None of this is to question the value of Hassell and his colleagues' work. But the good news that it reveals the extent to which journalists are guided by professional standardsstrongly suggests the potential power of revising those standards to address the above-noted shortcomings, and other failings, to achieve the kind of objective, reliable reporting to which journalists aspire.
In addition, the innovative combination of approaches used in the study calls out for further breakthroughs that may help us better understand these broader sorts of challenges. I was reminded of a number studies Ive written about here, such as UNC sociologist Christopher Bails book, "Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream" (author interview here), which used big data techniques to understand how factually deficient political actors came to have such disproportionate media and political influence, actually enabled by common media practices. There was also the Columbia Journalism Review study, "Dont blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media" (Salon story here) with this astonishing factoid: The New York Timesran as many cover stories  about Hillary Clintons emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.
As these two examples (along with coverage of the climate crisis) suggest, supposedly neutral media practices can be heavily tilted toward conservative points of view,regardless of individual journalists attitudes. The fact that conservatives have a highly salient, although groundless, narrative of bias surely complicates matters for journalists trying to report the truth. They should take this study to heart as a validation that they are doing exactly what they claim, under extreme duress, and that charges of bias are unfounded at best, and quite likely deliberate attempts to manipulate reporters and shape coverage.
Such problems are especially vivid in matters of religion, where conservatives make a deeper claim: Liberals misunderstand them and thus systematically misrepresent them. In fact, the big problem is arguably the reverse. The media tendency to take the religious right at its word is arguably the greatest barrier to accurate reporting. For some insight on this I contacted author Frederick Clarkson, senior research analyst at the progressive think tankPolitical Research Associates.
Reporters and editors are often in a tricky spot. Clarkson said. Sometimes they lack the knowledge and vocabulary in this dynamic field. This can be particularly challenging when political figures or their prominent supporters are profoundly motivated by their religious views.
He cited the example of the 2012 Republican primary, the early stages of which featured two candidates, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who were unambiguously influenced by overtly theocratic ideas and figures from well-established theocratic camps called Christian Reconstructionism and the Pentecostal, 'dominionist' movement called the New Apostolic Reformation.
Leading figure in NAR, for example, staged a prayer rally of 30,000 people in Houston to launch Perry's campaign. Journalists who had written accurately, about all this became the targets of a smear campaign," Clarkson said. "They were (falsely) said to be tarring evangelicals in the broader sense, and media coverage of dominionism collapsed.
Clarkson continued: This turning a blind eye to the theocratic politics animating much of public life remains more the rule more than the exception. Even though evangelical historian John Fea described Ted Cruz as a Dominionist in anessayfor the Washington Post, reporters did not much follow his lead.
Such willful blindness is difficult to square with any coherent notion of objectivity, and has contributed significantly to the ongoing state of bewilderment that Trump retains such high levels of support from white evangelicals. The coverage of all American politics directly suffers from this blindness.
This study may help empower the media profession to be less easily intimidated going forward. There is a great deal that needs repair and renewal in American democracy, and journalism has a vital role to play in that process. By recognizing its own strengths, as revealed in this study, and building on them to address its weaknesses, the press can once again perform its democratic duty, and help the American public to navigate dark times.
See the rest here:
Posted: at 3:47 am
Liberal support among voters living on reserves fell significantly in October's federal election, as the New Democrats remained the top choice. But the Liberals nevertheless retained more than two-thirds of the support they had gained in the previous election, before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's stated commitment to Indigenous reconciliation hit some obstacles during his first four years in office.
Indigenous engagement in the 2015 federal election was high, with turnout reaching a historic summit of 61.5 per cent on First Nations reserves. While the NDP won that vote, the Liberals made significant inroads among First Nations voters, more than tripling their support.
On-reserve turnout figures for the 2019 federal election are not yet available, but an analysis of Elections Canada data by CBC News finds that the New Democrats were able to win the vote in on-reserve polling divisions for at least the third consecutive election but their lead over the Liberals was virtually unchanged from four years before.
A measure of First Nations people living on-reserve represents a minority of Indigenous Canadians, as it excludes any who live off-reserve as well as Inuit, Mtis, and non-status Indians. Only about half of First Nations peopleand around a quarter of all Canadians who claim Aboriginal identity in the census live on reserves. Additionally, roughly 10 per cent of people living on reserve are not Indigenous.
But among those in October who voted in polling divisions located entirely on-reserve, the NDPreceived the greatest share with 40.2 per cent of ballots cast. The Liberals finished second with 32.5 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 17.2 per cent and the Greens at 7.5 per cent. Together, the People's Party, Bloc Qubcois and other candidates earned2.5 per cent of the on-reserve vote.
This suggests First Nations voters at least those living on reserves were more than twice as likely to vote for the NDP as other Canadians. The party captured 15.9 per cent of the vote nationwide, less than half of the share it received on reserves. Conversely, the Conservatives were twice as popular in the country as a whole as they were on reserves.
The Liberal vote share on reserves and nationwide was not significantly different.
Despite finishing first, for the NDP this representsthe party's second consecutive decrease in support on reserves. The NDPreceived58.4 per cent of the vote in polling divisions located entirely on reserves in 2011, when the New Democrats formed the Official Opposition. That dropped 12 points to 46.4 per cent in 2015 and another six points in 2019.
The Liberals saw their share of the vote on reserves drop eight points since 2015, though their score was still significantly higher than the 12.9 per cent the party received in 2011. While their drop was more than any other party's, itis perhaps not as steep as some expected, particularly after the SNC-Lavalin affair and the expulsion of Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada's first Indigenous attorney general, from caucus.
The Conservatives saw an increase of eight points on reserves between 2015 and 2019, though their result was still lower than the 22.8 per cent earnedin 2011.
There were some significant regional variations in how First Nations voted in on-reserve polling divisions.
The Liberals were the top choice onreserves in both Atlantic Canada and Quebec, outpacing their nearest rivals by 23 and 27 percentage points, respectively.
That advantage for the Liberals appears to have been decisive in two ridings. The Liberals won the New Brunswick seat of MiramichiGrand Lake by a margin of 370 votes over the Conservatives, fewer than the gap of 414 votes separating the Liberals and Conservatives onreserves in the riding.
In the Nova Scotia riding of SydneyVictoria, the Liberals won by an overall margin of 1,309 votes over the Conservatives. Their edge over the Conservativesin on-reserve polling divisions was 1,711 votes.
In Ontario, however, the New Democrats were particularly strong. The party received58 per cent of the votes on reserves in the province, well ahead of the Liberals' 29 per cent. That is a big shift from 2015, with the New Democrats widening their margin over the Liberals by 20 points.
In TimminsJames Bay in northern Ontario, the NDP's Charlie Angus earned86 per cent of the vote in on-reserve polling divisions, more than twice his share in the rest of the riding. He received 99 per cent in KashechewanFirst Nation up from 88 per cent in 2015 where a state of emergency was declared in April due to flooding.
In Grassy Narrows First Nation, where residents have struggled with the health effects of mercury poisoning, Chief Rudy Turtle captured 72 per cent of the vote for the NDP. Defeated Liberal incumbent Bob Nault took just 27 per cent of the vote, roughly half of his share from 2015. He was probably not helped by Trudeau having to apologize after sarcastically thanking a Grassy Narrows protester for their donationat a Liberal fundraiser last year.
Turtle, however, was not able to win the Kenora riding despite his strong support on reserves. The NDPreceived67 per cent of the vote in on-reserve polling divisions in Kenora, compared to just two per cent for the Conservatives' Eric Melillo, whose support was strong enough in the rest of the riding to secure the seat.
This was also the case in the Saskatchewan riding of DesnethMissinippiChurchill River, in which 71 per cent of the population claims Aboriginal identity. The Liberals' Tammy Cook-Searson, chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, won 49 per cent of the on-reserve vote, edging out NDP incumbent Georgina Jolibois by five points.
The Conservatives' Gary Vidal took just six per cent of the vote in on-reserve polling divisions, but managed to get 56 per cent of the vote in the rest of the riding. This made the difference, as Joliboisand Cook-Searson finished well back in other polling divisions with only 23 and 18 per cent of the vote, respectively.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer received only five per cent of the vote in on-reserve polling divisions in his ReginaQu'Appelle riding. He won theSaskatchewan riding,in which 21 per cent of the population claims Aboriginal descent, with 63 per cent of the vote.
This was typical for the Conservatives in the region. Across Alberta and Saskatchewan, where the partywon 47 of 48 seats, the Conservative had just 10 per cent support in on-reserve polling divisions. The NDPhad 47 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 39 per cent.
Only in British Columbia did the Conservatives edge out the other parties in on-reserve voting, with 31.4 per cent of ballots cast to the NDP's 30.8 per cent and the Liberals' 21 per cent.
Posted: at 3:47 am
Richard Ebeling is a professor of economics at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan.
In the midst of the Second World War, the famous Austrian-born economist Joseph A. Schumpeter (1883-1950), published his famous book, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy(1942). He asked the question, Can Capitalism Survive? He answered, No. He expected some form of socialism, dictatorial or democratic, to supersede the private market economy in postwar America. He was proven wrong. Postwar American capitalism may have been increasingly regulated and interfered with by the government, but it was not replaced by socialist central planning.
Today, the media and a variety of more serious public policy publications are awash in articles and essays insisting that the postwar neoliberal era has finally and inescapably come to an end, with a far more progressive and socialist system the way of the future. Planetary problems and domestic income inequalities and other social injustices require and demand nothing less than the more direct and guiding hand of government over social and economic affairs for the betterment of humankind, it is argued. Liberalism and relatively competitive markets have had their day, its critics insist. (See my articles,All Socialisms are Antisocial,andWhy Neo-liberalism is Really Neo-socialism,andHow the Word Liberalism Came to Mean Its Opposite.)
Most of these criticisms and challenges have come from progressives, the new democratic socialists, and a growing number in the Democratic Party, as well as in the academic community. But criticisms and rejection of domestic and international liberalism have also come from conservatives, who have called for a new nationalism, that would require a more activist state to serve national interests and identity, and to which the citizen of the nation-state must conform and offer allegiance. (See my articles,Conservative Nationalism is Not About LibertyandHazonys Tradition-Based Society is a Form of Social Engineering.)
There has also been a number of those who have come around to rejecting classical liberalism and libertarianism, who previously considered themselves to be proponents of these views. They have insisted that classical liberal and libertarian ideas are not in tune with the social problems and progressive trends that are inescapably part of the modern world. (See my articles,Liberal Capitalism as the Ideology of Freedom and ModerationandClassical Liberalism and the Limits to Compromise.)
Claiming that Classical Liberalism is a Spent Force
Now another voice has offered his view on whether or not classical liberalism and libertarianism can survive in their historical forms of defending individual liberty, free markets, and a government primarily limited to the protecting of peoples individual rights to life, liberty and honestly acquired property without interventionist regulation and compulsory redistribution. And his answer, too, is, No.
Tyler Cowen is a prominent professor of economics at George Mason University in Virginia. He has written a number of insightful books devoted to aspects of the economics and culture of a free society, and has written regular columns for bothThe New York TimesandBloomberg News. He also co-authors the provocative and widely read blogsite, Marginal Revolution.
Professor Cowen rang in the 2020 New Year with a blog contribution on,What Libertarianism Has Become and Will Become State Capacity Libertarianism.The gist of his argument is that classical liberalism and libertarianism are out-of-date and pass political philosophies that had their relevance and significance in the 19thcentury for advancing the cause of personal liberty and freer markets, and during the first half of the 20thcentury as an argument against radical socialist central planning. But society and its problems have moved on and what people want from their government has become more expansive.
Insisting that the Welfare State is Here to Stay
He expressed part of this argument in an earlier essay onThe Paradox of Libertarianismbefore the financial crisis of 2008-2009, in which he said: The bottom line is this: human beings have deeply rooted impulses to take newly acquired wealth and spend some of it on more government and especially on transfer payments. Lets deal withthat. Furthermore, The more wealth we have, the more government we can afford. He concludes that this is a package deal. The more wealth a market-based economy produces, the more government people will want in terms of social welfare programs. Thats just the way it is, Professor Cowen asserts. Live with it and give up the classical liberal and libertarian idea of prosperity and a highly limited government. With prosperity will come bigger government, he asserts.
The inevitability implied in this is, in fact, nothing of the sort. It could be just as reasonably argued that as the members of the society grow in wealth and improved standards of living, they will need and desire less government dependency and support. Rising standards of living enable more people to financially support themselves, as well as providing the means for those gaining in material comfort and ease to have the monetary means to demonstrate more willingness and generosity to assist some who may still be less well off than themselves through avenues of private charity and philanthropy; plus, having the greater leisure time to participate in such endeavors through the institutions of civil society.
Why any such spirit of private giving and benevolence has diminished in fairly wealthy countries in Europe and in various circles in the United States may be taken as the consequences resulting from governmental redistributive largess and an ideology that has weakened the belief in or the goodness of self-reliance and personal responsibility. Ten years ago, the German news magazineDer Spiegel,reported that in a survey of leading businessmen in Germany, the vast majority said that private giving was not their responsibility; it was the job of government and its bureaucratic experts. Where did that come from, other than an ideological and intellectual culture that presumes and persuades too many in society that political paternalism is superior to personal responsibility and the voluntary private sector.
Chronological Sequence Does Not Imply Causal Necessity
It is very easy to see a trend in the past and presume that it is inevitable or irreversible. Back in 1968, in reviewing a variety of forecasts and predictions of whatthe year 2000was likely to be like, conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet (1913-1996), pointed out that it is easy to fall into the trap that what has chronologically happened in the observed past implies what must continue in the future:
We are confusing continuity of chronology with continuity of circumstance and event. We are mistaking our metaphoric reconstructions of the past, by which we assuage the pain of need for temporal order, for causal connection . . .
Nothing, I assume, could seem more certain to the individual for whom reality consists of the hard data of atoms, molecules, reflexes, social-security numbers, and the like than that absolute knowledge of the hard data of the present should yield properly processed in the machines knowledge of the future. But it wont and it never will. And the reason, I repeat, is that the present does not contain the future, the far is not to be found in the near, nor was our present ever contained in the past. Not if what we are concerned with is change . . .
A trend, the dictionary tells us, is the general direction taken by a stream, a shoreline, etc.; it is an underlying or prevailing tendency or inclination. These are all tempting words for the historian or predicter of societal development. How easy it is, as we look back over the past that is, of course, the past that has been selected for us by historians and social scientists to see in it trends and tendencies that appear to possess the iron necessity and clear directionality of growth in a plant or organism.
We think of these trends as cumulative movements, as genetic sequences, as actually causal. We forget that they are, one and all,a posterioriconstructs, frequently metaphoric in character, alwayspost hoc, propter hoc. But the relation among past, present, and future is chronological, not causal.
Nisbet especially emphasized all this is the case in the arena of man and society, because something is at work here that is not present in the world of atoms and molecules, that being human ideas and purposes.
Faulty Reasoning at Work, Not Propensities for More Government
Why do so many people accept the notion that imposing and raising legal minimum wages are good for people at the lower income levels? Do they have some inexplicable propensity to demand higher wages for others through government mandate as their own economic circumstances improve? I think the more reasonable explanation is a failure to understand and appreciate all the implications of the logic and reality of supply and demand in labor markets. That is, it is the result of wrong and faulty ideas that are sometimes easier to impress upon people than the often abstract and indirect chains of causation through which market processes operate, including in the demand for labor.
So, if we observe that as wealth and material betterment have improved in our society, people at the same time have been supporting increases in redistributive welfare programs, the more rational explanation is an educational, cultural and intellectual setting in which academics and opinion makers and writers have been successful in influencing the climate of ideas in socialist and welfare statist directions through their ability to interpret the past and the present through the prism of their collectivist ideas.
Friedrich A. Hayek (1899-1992) once pointed out, in his introduction toCapitalism and the Historians(1954), the underestimated power of historians in society in shaping public opinion by the interpretive schemas they give to historical events. Does Professor Cowen believe that the Great Depression of the 1930s or the financial crisis of 2008-2009 proved the failure of capitalism and free markets? Does he believe that a private property, free market economy is inseparable from exploitation and abuse of women and people of color by white, male capitalists? Does he believe that an international liberal economic order of free trade and investment is the vehicle by which capital oppresses people in less developed countries around the world?
Well, these are the ideas that have been and are now, certainly, floating around in academic, intellectual and social media circles. If they end up triumphing in the arena of political and economic policy, will Professor Cowen conclude this is how society responded to being wealthier, that is, wanting more government regulation, redistribution and control over domestic and global affairs just because people were materially better off?
It will have been the success of false ideas about how markets work, how incomes are determined, and what equality under liberty and the rule of law means and offers in a free society. So, Professor Cowen, the welfare state and bigger government is not a package deal with growing prosperity. It is the misfortune of the coinciding of material betterment due to the extent to which markets have been able to operate and the influence of misguided and dangerous ideas about man, society, justice and government that have been at work in American society for decades.
The New Third Way: State Capacity Libertarianism
What does Professor Cowen offer as an alternative to the presumed pass paradigm of classical liberalism and libertarianism? He calls for State Capacity Libertarianism. Certainly, we have here a catchy phrase that is clearly meant for a movie theater marquee. At least classical liberalism harks back to the idea of something better that should be returned to, like Classic Coke, for those old enough to understand to what that refers.
But State Capacity Libertarianism? What imagery does that conjure up? A State that allows as much liberty as the political authorities are willing to put up with? Perhaps President Xi of China could write the playbook for that one!
What Professor Cowen is searching for is the elusive, I would suggest mythical, third way, a system that is neither unrestricted laissez-faire, free market capitalism (which he considers to be a thing of the past, if it ever existed) and a heavily top down centralized planning and regulating system that would stifle entrepreneurial innovation and siphon off through its fiscal burden the financial capacity for longer-term economic growth.
The State, as he conceives it, needs to be centralized and legally strong enough to maintain the stability and working order of a market-based economic system; but it must also have the power, ability and financial means to perform a wide array of additional tasks that he believes the State can or must do, and which the people clearly want to be done by government outside of market supply and demand.
So what are these additional tasks? Professor Cowen believes that this includes government regulation and direction for solutions to climate change. There needs to be a strong (though not tyrannical) State for infrastructure building, exploration of space, better K-12 education, and health issues that threaten the safety of society. There must be subsidies for science, the fostering of nuclear power, intellectual property dispute resolutions, and coordination of various global policies.
In addition, fearful of terrorist attacks, foreign hacking and hijacking of American elections, the dangers of proliferation of nuclear weapons, and destabilizing wars abroad, Professor Cowen is also a foreign policy interventionist supportive of an activist role for the United States around the world.
He tries to balance his proposals between those offered by the more radical progressives and democratic socialists on the one hand and other moderate libertarians, those labelled liberaltarians, who are willing to work and concede too much to the political left in terms of State intervention.
No Logical Limits Once on the Interventionist Highway
But once you are in the ideological and policy quagmire between free market liberalism and some form of democratic socialism with its demands for extensive and intrusive government control and planning, who decides and how do you decide the right balance, the correct degree of markets mixed with the interventionist-welfare state?
The German ORDO Liberals of the postwar period in Germany advocated and attempted to implement what they called a social market economy, what one of their leading intellectual mentors, Wilhelm Rpke (1899-1966), called, the middle way. Their idea was, as they expressed it, a State strong enough to secure a functioning market economy that offered an accompanying array of limited but essential welfare state safety nets; but which at the same time was a State strong enough to be able to also ward off the attempts of more radically interventionist and socialist-leaning policy advocates from lurching the system too far to the left.
But in the late 1950s, Rpke and other ORDO Liberals were already warning of the dangers of that balanced middle way being pushed too far in the interventionist and redistributive direction. As Rpke expressed it, once the State takes on these welfare state responsibilities there was no logical limit, other than fiscal bankruptcy and the danger of inflation as politicians turned to monetary-supported deficit spending to cover the costs of a welfare system the private economy could no longer afford to maintain through taxes alone.
It is possible to reasonably define the minimal limit below which a laissez-faire liberal system should not be reduced, that being a government restrained but strong enough and sufficiently funded to properly secure each individuals right to his life, liberty, and honestly acquired property through police, courts and defense. But in the real world of modern democratic politics, where is the logical and unambiguous maximum limit to the interventionist-welfare state short of complete paternalistic government control of all social and economic affairs?
Is it necessary to remind a professor at George Mason University of the insights provided by such economic theorists as James M. Buchanan (1919-2013) that the logic of increasingly constitutionally unrestrained democratic decision-making is a powerful nexus between the three sides of what Milton Friedman (1912-20006) called the iron triangle of politicians willing to sell other peoples money in exchange for campaign contributions and election day votes; of bureaucrats interested increasing their budgets and the administrative authority of their departments, bureaus, and agencies for purposes of personal advancement; and the network of special interest groups hungry for regulations and redistributions to improve their own economic circumstances at other citizens expense through the power of the State?
Professor Cowens State Capacity Libertarianism is merely another fools errand in search of the political holy grail of a perfect (or far superior) political arrangement just matching the utopian dream of a mixed economy society in which government is just the right interventionist-welfare state size: one that is not too small and not too big, but one that is just right.
Now, on Adam Smiths Great Chessboard of Society, Professor Cowen would, certainly, leave the human pawns a far wider latitude to move themselves about among the squares on that board in pursuit of self-interested association and mutual betterment. But he points to the undeniable gains and improvements from government-healthcare services, infrastructure improvements, and educational opportunities in lesser developed countries that also have degrees of market openness and competition. On the other hand, he frowns upon the disastrous policies in these areas in places such as New York City, for instance.
So, are we back to the argument that it isnt the government interventions that are a problem, its just that the right people were not elected and put in charge to get it right and better? Isnt that the rationale we heard throughout the 20thcentury every time socialism failed somewhere in the world? It was just bad people in power, it was never the socialist idea, itself.
Political Decision-Making Means Economic Irrationality
Which gets us to another point. If government is to take on various responsibilities under State Capacity Libertarianism far beyond strictly limited government classical liberalism, how will it be decided on the right form and location of infrastructure maintenance and extension? How much and what type of space exploration should be financed? Where and at what cost should nuclear power be developed? What policy strategy should be introduced and funded for dealing with climate change? What public school educational reforms should be implemented and at what expense, even as a waystation to a future privatized education, as Professor Cowen suggests might be a longer-term goal?
There are no rational answers to these and many similar questions once the provision of such goods and services are removed from the arena of market-determined buying and selling at competitively established prices. The year 2020 marks 100 years since the publication of Austrian economist Ludwig von Misess (1881-1973), famous essay Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth (1920), in which he demonstrated the difficulties if not impossibilities of rational economic decision-making in an institutional setting in which private property in the means of production have been nationalized, and markets and prices for the factors of production no longer exist. (See my article,Socialism and the Green New Deal are Economically Impossible.)
No doubt, Professor Cowen might reply that to raise this point is a misplaced and extreme exaggeration, since in no way, shape or form is he calling for the abolition of markets and prices. And he would be absolutely correct in giving that reply. I, in no way, wish to make any such accusation. Professor Cowen is a most cogent defender of competitive markets and the price system.
But, nonetheless, to the extent that the government subsidizes scientific research or development of nuclear power; or directs the forms and locations of infrastructure activities; or determines when and how there may be space exploration; or what reforms will be introduced into public education; or any number of other similar instances of government intervention and planning preempting or replacing private sector provision of such goods and services, the society has lost part of its capacity for market-based, rational decision-making as to what should be done, where, when, and in what forms in these areas of social interest.
Are such goods and services desired by the public at large, and at what costs in the form of forgone other productions that might have been possible instead, can only be fully known when consumers express their demands for such goods and services on a functioning market; and only when entrepreneurs are left free to best estimate the future prices buyers might be willing to pay as a basis upon which to competitively bid for the use of the factors of production in the face of similar bids by their supply-side business rivals.
To the extent that tax-based government bids for goods and resources influence the formation of prices, and to the extent that government subsidies and other forms of financial support distort more fully market-determining costs of producing and supplying any such goods and services, to that extent the members of the society make irrational decisions. In this instance, such an element of irrationality means the degree to which prices and production decisions are not completely determined by interacting participants in the private sectors of the economy.
Government Successes Compared to What?
Professor Cowen says at one point, Public health improvements are another major success story of our time, and those have relied heavily on state capacity lets just admit it. It has never been denied by any classical liberal economist that government can tax the citizenry, direct the use of resources, and generate results, even results that when looked at alone and out of other contexts seem to be success stories.
But is that how people, themselves, would have demonstrated their personal and family preferences for health improvements through allocating portions of their own earnings for this purpose compared to using those sums of money for other things that might have been ranked by them as more important, all things considered in their lives? We dont fully know because incomes were taxed and those in political authority made these decisions for people. To me, that is not the positive freedom of control over ones own life that Professor Cowen emphasizes as so important to value and preserve in a free society.
Now, admittedly, unless one is an anarchist, there will always be such irrational decision-making in so far as even in the classical liberal society, government will need tax revenues to perform the minimal functions usually associated with classical liberalism. Decisions will have to be made about how and to what extent police, courts, and national defense will be provided for and supplied. But precisely because non-market-based decision-making is an inescapable element to all government directing activity, the moral of the lesson is an important economic reason why the arena of government activity should be kept to a minimum. (See my articles,Public Goods, National Defense, and Central PlanningandWhy Not Private Provision of Many Government Services?)
The Need to Make Classical Liberalism an Exciting Vision for the Future
What about Professor Cowens starting premise that classical liberalism and libertarianism are out of touch with the contemporary world, that they do not speak to the issues of the day, and that the purpose of a State Capacity Libertarianism is precisely to fill this void? In my opinion, all that Professor Cowens proposal does is continue Americas drift in political and economic collectivist directions.
He has conceded all the essential premises of the opponents of classical liberalism. The constitutionally minimal state is unworkable and undesirable. There are numerous economic activities that cannot be left to the marketplace, which means not left to the individual choices and interactions of people themselves. The society needs and must have a wide variety of redistributive social safety needs because, well, just because current public opinion wants them. And, implicitly, it is a waste of time to try to buck this trend and attempt to argue against it. The welfare state is here to stay; live with it.
I would argue the exact opposite from Professor Cowen. It is precisely because of the prevailing opinions and views and the pressures that they are placing on public policy decision-making that is it necessary to logically, factually, and morally insist that this is an undesirable and dangerous direction for the country to continue moving in.
A principled stand for the classical liberal idea and ideal is essential if the collectivist premises of our time are to be challenged and reversed. I know this is not easy. Classical liberals have known for more than two hundred years how difficult the logic of the economic way of thinking can be for many to, at first, grasp and understand. They have understood the appeal of what is seen from short-term government policies, as opposed to what are the unseen longer term consequences. They have appreciated the appeal to emotion compared to calmer reasoning.
We must do what Hayek called for in his famous essay,The Intellectuals and Socialism(1949), we must once more make the case for liberty and the classical liberal order an exciting challenge and attractive vision. That cannot be done, in my view, when the starting presumption is that essential elements of the socialist critique of the market economy is implicitly taken for granted and the core elements of the welfare state have been accepted by default, including the idea that its here to stay. And, why, according to Professor Cowen? Because people like it and when looked at in isolation (that is, without due regard for the opportunity costs of preempting peoples personal choices) it has had claimed successes.
Not Limiting Ourselves to the Politically Possible
I would suggest us taking the advice that was offered by British economist, W. H. Hutt (1899-1988) in his monograph,Politically Impossible . . .?(1971), when thinking about the role of government and public policy issues. We should generally ignore, or at least heavily discount, the question about whether or not a social or economic policy is politically possible at the present moment.
As classical liberal (or libertarian) -oriented economists, we should follow our economic thinking to the conclusions that our reasoning and the historical evidence suggests to us. That is, we should be concerned with truth and validity, not the expediency of to what democratic public opinion seems to confine discussion of a free society at a moment in time.
Our eye should be on the horizon of the ideal of a truly free (classical) liberal society. Yes, no matter how far and fast we try to move towards that horizon, it always seems to remain in front of us, never approached in an ultimate and final sense; and the terrain through which we travel toward it at any moment may be different than the issues that have had to be confronted in the past.
But we will never come really anywhere near that beautiful and exciting ideal of the free human being, guiding and directing his or her own life in voluntary and mutually beneficial association with others in all facets of everyday existence, if we stop far short of moving as much toward it as we, otherwise, might by conceding what need not be conceded, and in this instance the self-limiting presumption that the welfare state is here to stay. (See my recent book,For a New Liberalism.)
[Originally Published at AIER]
Not Losing Sight of the Classical Liberal Ideal was last modified: January 7th, 2020 by Richard Ebeling
Posted: at 3:47 am
Leave it to politics to turn a show as mundane as Project Runway into the subject of a brief scandal.
During the latest episode of the long-running show, in which aspiring designers compete against each other, one of them took criticism of his boring design as a chance to get a little salty.
I cannot see Karlie wearing it anywhere, honestly, one judge said of the outfit, referring to host and judge Karlie Kloss.
To that, contestant Tyler Neasloney responded, Not even to dinner with the Kushners?
For context, Klosss husband is Joshua Kushner, brother to Jared Kushner, who is a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Trump.
Kloss, however, had been dating Kushner since 2012, long before Trump's campaign. The couple is also vocally liberal. Kloss is pro-Hillary Clinton, pro-Planned Parenthood, and pro-gun control. According to reports, the rest of the Kushners dont like her very much.
So after Neasloneys comment, Kloss looked understandably shocked. Thats your husband, Neasloney noted, as if the comment werent politically charged.
Keep it to the challenge, Kloss responded.
The clip went viral, with plenty of liberals on social media applauding Neasloney for his snark. The way he ended her, one commenter gushed.
Apparently, it doesnt matter that Kloss is a Democrat who appears to be estranged from the Trump-y side of the family. Its been hard to marry into the Kushner family, she said this summer. But I choose to focus on the values that I share with my husband, and those are the same liberal values that I was raised with and that have guided me throughout my life.
So why dont liberals love her? Because she doesnt spend every waking moment trashing her pro-Trump family, la George Conway. Conways public sparring with wife and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway has made him something of a resistance hero, and its even inspired a Saturday Night Live skit. Liberals accept Conway because hes willing to sacrifice family loyalty for loyalty to their political orthodoxy.
Until Kloss starts trashing the Kushners on Twitter, she will be loathed for prioritizing her family over her liberal ideals.
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One Small Liberal Arts College is Showing The World How Higher… – Diverse: Issues in Higher Education
Posted: at 3:47 am
January 7, 2020 | :
It is hard to recall a time in my life filled with more cynicism than the one we are in today. If you want to believe that as a country, we cant do better, stop reading now. Because I want to tell you a pretty cool story that reminds us that individuals and institutions can do good.
Im the CEO of KIPP Schools. Today, KIPP has 242 schools and every day, over 100,000 students walk through our doors. Just under 90% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. More than 15,000 KIPP alumni are currently in college, and KIPP alumni graduate from college at higher rates than the United States general population.
Weve also come to see that getting to college is not the same as getting through college. So, over the past decade, we have developed over 90 college partners working to create a stronger pathway to completion for first-generation college-goers. Today, a third of KIPP high school seniors will enroll at one of these partners. We are still in the early days of this work, but some great examples of what can be different are already emerging.
Heres one story of a private liberal arts college thats worth sharing. Lycoming College is a small, liberal arts college in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The institutions origins date back to 1812, and it began awarding B.A. and B.S degrees in the middle of the twentieth century. Lycoming has educated young people with limited financial resources for years. Historically, about 30% of Lycomings students have been Pell Grant eligible. Most of those students were from small towns in Pennsylvania and New York State. It has a history as an engine of social mobility.
Selected by the Lycoming College board in 2012 as its next president, Kent Trachte, Ph.D., arrived at Lycoming from Franklin and Marshall. Kent and the board recognized that Lycoming could build on its legacy of working with first-generation college students and adapt that strength to a changing world. In 2013, KIPP entered into a partnership with Lycoming College and since then 173 KIPP alumni have enrolled at Lycoming. This year alone, 117 KIPP students are attending Lycoming. Today, 45% of Lycomings students are Pell Eligible, with the majority of those students coming from urban areas. In 2013, Lycomings freshman class included 13% of students of color from the United States, while today that number is at about 35%. Most importantly, 75% of KIPP alums who have enrolled are either persisting or have graduated. Students of color are graduating at the same rate as white students at Lycoming. Moreover, Lycomings graduation rate of students from low-income families stands just shy of 70%.
I visited Lycoming to try to understand how this has unfolded. Heres the bottom line: it requires commitment and work on everyones part. The college has created a transition program for KIPP and similar groups of students that employs the proven tools of cohorts, faculty and peer mentors. Lycoming created a retention fund so that students did not have to drop out of college because of unexpected expenses or a family crisis. They have reworked their career advising by embedding the career advisors in clusters of academic departments and created a much better ratio of career advisors to students. Lycoming counselors are accountable for contacting and helping every student under their care to devise a plan during and after college. Financially, Lycoming commits to meeting 100% of KIPP students needs, based upon the billable cost and the students FAFSA results. They do this through a combination of federal and state grants, Federal Stafford Loans, and significant Lycoming College scholarships and grant funding. This enables KIPP alumni to graduate with no more than $27,640 in cumulative student loan debt from their four-year education at Lycoming.
Additionally, Lycoming has bolstered its financial commitment by providing plenty of opportunities for KIPP alumni to secure work both on and off campus through community work-study positions. This enables students to earn spending money throughout the academic year.
I also had a chance to speak with Ericka Booker, a KIPP alum from NYC and a 2018 graduate of Lycoming. Erica didnt downplay the challenges of transitioning from a huge city to a small town, or from a high school that was entirely African American and Latinx to a predominately white institution. But Erica loved that Lycoming was a liberal arts institution and that she was able to explore multiple disciplines before deciding to major in Spanish. The size of Lycoming really made a difference for her she felt that she wasnt just a number in a classroom, but an individual whose story was of interest to many faculty. With small class sizes, professor-to-student relationships were able to flourish.
It is all too clear that higher education needs to evolve. From where I sit, the most selective colleges in America should aim to (at least) double the number of students of low-income families they enroll. Our state flagship institutions should mirror their states demographics (they dont right now) rather than serving as homes away from home for the children of their more affluent families. Our state systems need more, not less, public support. In the case of Lycoming, we see how private liberal arts colleges can play a real role in providing opportunity and mobility for Americans. Its all about leadership and a willingness to roll up our sleeves and do the work.
Richard Barth is the CEO of KIPP Foundation.
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