Monday, December 15, 2008

The Radzewicz Riddle--The Rise and Fall of Nations

The 17th century English pamphleteer Cato ranked among the great enemies of Kings and champions of the common people. Like Algernon Sidney, John Trenchard, Thomas Paine, Sam Adams, and John Dickinson, he advocated an end to the Divine Right of Kings, and a beginning for the Rights of Men. They were the talk radio of their respective eras and helped fashion the 17th century Glorious Revolution in England and the even more glorious Revolution in America in the following century.

It is impressive to consider the lengthy time periods that were required to throw off the shackles of aristocratic authority from the shoulders of the common people. The Magna Carta had been signed by King John in 1215, six to seven hundred years before these more final revolutions occurred in England and the American colonies. The ordinary citizens had been striving for that long to make headway. And even the Glorious Revolution of the 1680's didn't grant enough rights to dissuade millions of Englishmen from leaving their homes and going to the New World.

It is even more humbling to recognize that that slow centuries long process of gaining freedom for a majority of English speaking citizens was the best there ever had been--anywhere on earth. England's democritization was painfully slow, but at least it happened--and led to America's full blown freedoms. Aside from a few other European nations, there was no movement to free individuals anywhere else on the Globe!

Now there had been antecedents in a few isolated outposts where there was no aristocracy or autocrats to tyrannize the people. Phoenicia, Greece, Rome, Venice, Holland, Iceland, and the Hanseatic cities had flourished while they remained free and open societies, but that's only about a fraction of 1% of the world's population! However, if you look at each of those rare free societies, even though they all Rose for a while to great affluence, sooner or later they all matured, withered, and Declined to obscurity.

The Riddle of History is Why, when these nations were small and isolated, with limited resources, poor school systems, struggling to grow food and manufacture tools and equipment, they somehow did all that, gained prosperity, and yet later, with better schools, a growing elite intellectual class, and expanded governmental systems in place, they commenced a Decline? Did adversity make the people work harder at first? What happened to end the upward progress of these successful enclaves?

And why was the existence of free societies restricted to this tiny handful of the world's people? What was unique to those few "laboratories of history" that showed the way to personal liberty and affluence. The Radzewicz Rule suggests that it was economic freedom and an empowering Faith that allowed the common genius of a citizenry to flourish. But those conditions were extremely rare throughout history for all people. If you had been born somewhere at random on earth during the period from 3,000 BC to 1,775 AD, your odds or chance of gaining personal freedom would be akin to winning the Massachusetts mega jackpot! That is why the pamphleteers for liberty were so praiseworthy--where they were allowed to speak and write they demanded freedom.

Those scribblers, sneered at by the great Philosophers, wrote simply. They laid out the case for liberty in brief essays that were widely read by common people.. There was no need for academics to explain what they wrote. They knew of the actual cases in history where people had gained freedom and they called for more of the same.

Cato wrote, "The People, when they are not misled or corrupted, generally make a sound Judgment of Things. They have natural Qualifications equal to those of their Superiors; and there is oftener found a great Genius carrying a Pitchfork, than carrying a White Staff."

In those two sentences, Cato attests to the fact that common people are often wiser than their intellectual and over-educated betters. However, Cato went on to make a key point about the Rise and Fall of Nations; he echoed the Radzewicz Rule axiom that successful societies were created by common folk only when they were free and unburdened by intellectuals.

Cato wrote: "Besides, there are not such mighty Talents requisite for Government, as some, who pretend to them without possessing them, would make us believe; Honest affections, and common Qualifications are sufficient; and the Administration has always been best executed, and the Publick Liberty best preserved, near the Origin and Rise of States, when plain Honesty and common Sense alone governed the public Affairs and the Morals of Men."

There, in Cato's fine words, is the answer to the Riddle-- Young, vibrant societies are not burdened by non-productive elites that advise and consult but do no real work. They are unregulated, unrestricted, and the citizenry are forced to innovate and free to produce. Only after those ordinary people have created abundance can their society have the where-withall to support parasitic classes--mostly academics, utopianists, government employees, foundation employees and special interest groups.

All those new elites that emerge in successful nations are parasites--they were not present in the building--but now they have to carve out a comfortable niche for themselves. Since they are by definition non-productive, their only role can be found in directing the efforts of the remaining productive citizenry. Since they bring an inexperienced vision to the task, tainted with utopian abstractions, the resulting direction will always be counter-productive. This process continues and escalates over time. One mistaken policy requires another worse policy to correct the results of the last failure --and Decline sets in.

The amswer to the Riddle is counter-intuitive. But only if you have an undue respect for the intellectual elites that presume to control the nation from lofty non-productive perches on high. Remember that it was the Honest Affections of the common people at the beginning that made for Efficiency and the maintenance of Publick Liberty. And, sadly, it is the complex ideologies of the new elites that undermine the sturdy foundation built by those honest and simple people.

Do colleges help or hurt America ? ---- The Radzewicz Curve

There is a growing recognition that America's colleges are more and more influenced by the politically correct agendas of the new liberal Left--The vast majority of professors promote a world view that:

1- Supports large governmental bureaucracies that seek to solve everyone's needs.
2- Sees most citizens as victims instead of independent self-reliant individuals.
3- Looks more to foreign nations and laws than to our own traditional principles.
4- Favors socialistic policies and condemns the capitalist system and free markets.
5- Attacks corporations that actually deliver the goods better than any government.

In order to sustain this attack on the very nature of America these ideologues have to resort to abstractions and utopian dreaming. They do not examine the actual record of human advances under free economies -- instead they create grand philosophical theories on how it could be made better. In short, they abandon common sense and a factual analysis of historical progress and resort to theoretical projections, promises, and statements of intent.

Because these jealots place themselves in a position of wanting to make things better they appear to the young or uninformed as "reformers," "progressives" who seek change, and advocates of improvement. This appeals to youth and to those who hope to be on the reciving end of such policies. Unfortunately, since they rely, not on past proven practices, but on arm-chair concepts, the promised "solutions" almost always fail.

There is a type of individual who ignores the nitty-gritty mechanics of how things get accomplished and refuses to come to grips with such hard realities. Instead their minds skip such details and leap to grand conceptualizations of how things should be. They fail to accept the fact that improvements come from fine tinkerring in the shop, office, or the field, by workers who understand how things get done, and work with what they have and try and improve its performance. And those improvements are created in the private labs, factories and offices of entrepreneurial business men and scientists. Governmental planners have rarely if ever created new and better ways of making or delivering a product. But those with that idealistic or utopian mind set never give up dreaming about how it oughtta be--if only their ideas were implemented! And these are the people who teach our youth!

Now, in the hard sciences, American colleges do a good job. Those subjects rely on the scientific method--observation, tests, measurements, and repeatable results. Not so in the soft-sciences, where most American college students enjoy a fun-filled academic life devoid of real scientific or logical inquiry. The weaknesses in those soft-sciences are not the students' fault--the professors have abdicated real teaching for indoctrination. The facts of history, cases in economic policy, and analysis of comparative political systems is OUT. Criticisms of the United States is IN. There is no balance or proportion to what is taught. The two prisoners that were water boarded at Guantanamo are compared to the millions slaughtered by Nazis in WWII. Some professors have on that basis equated Bush with Hitler! The internment of Japanese Americans in 1942 is compared to Russian Gulags. Critical thinking and comparison of possibles is neglected. Instead, unsubstantiated policies that are claimed to be helpful are promoted. Programs are measured by the stated intent of those promoting them, not by the likelihood of their achieving the stated goals.

Students leave college with the idea that the biggest problems facing America are pollution, giant corporations, gender rights, animal rights, gay rights, oil spills, and the lack of a world government. The result is that today's students are actually being hurt by their education, their thinking processes dulled, and their attitudes corrupted. The controversial new theory embodied in the Radzewicz Curves indicates this direct relationship between years of schooling and a decline in common sense and wisdom, also known as "EQ".

In a graph, if you make the horizontal line represent the number of years of schooling in soft-sciences, and the verticle axis represents wisdom and common sense, you will almost always find a steeply sloping line--common sense declines or is extinguished gradually by the teachers' teaching. For simplicity, the statisticians have divided students into two broad categories, although refinements might provide further insights.

For normal, or average, students, the decline in wisdom continues with each additional year of schooling in the soft-sciences but at a declining rate, because such individuals have a significant degree of resistance to abstract concepts that defy reality. Consequently their descending line levels off and continues at a steady if low level of common sense. The final level at graduation is almost always below the good-sense they arrived with.

However, for students with a predilection for abstract thinking, the decline is linear, more precipitous, and there is very little levelling off. Students with the highest SAT test scores that get accepted into the prestigious Ivy League colleges tend to most frequently follow this linear pattern, while students at the less prestigious schools are more apt to have concave lines as they progress through years of advanced schooling. This is explained by the fact that the former are good at and love abstract conceptualizations. And, the latter, God Bless Them, get confused by theoretical ideas and seek a more practical and demonstrable common sense understanding.

Thus, there is a concave line for normal students, and a straight line for the more intellectual types. Although the concave line never reaches zero on the vertical scale, there have been cases where some of those in the other group have penetrated the zero point. In either case, children concentrating in the soft-sciences are left scarred from ever being able to think logically on governmental issues--which is exactly the object of their teachers!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Columbia Univ. Dean: "Honor Killings Not a Problem"

CNN cable news ran a long story on July 8th headlined "Georgia Man Charged in 'Honor Killing.' A Pakistani man is charged with killing his 25-year-old daughter in Georgia (U.S.A.) because she wanted out of an arranged marriage, police said.Chaudhry Rashid, 54, of Jonesboro, an Atlanta suburb, appeared in court Tuesday afternoon to face murder charges in the death of Sandeela Kanwal, according to court records.

Ligature marks were found on Kanwal's body and police found an iron and cord by the doorway of her bedroom, where she was found. A necklace was found downstairs next to what appeared to be a prayer table."Apparently she and the father had argued over the marriage and the fact that it was arranged, and at some point during the altercation he did end up killing his daughter," said Clayton County police spokesman Tim Owens. "Honor killings" -- the slaying by family members of a woman or girl thought to be bringing them shame -- are usually kept quiet, making it difficult to determine how frequently they occur. The United Nations Population Fund estimated in September 2000 that as many as 5,000 women and girls fall victim to such killings each year."

In a 1998 study the same number was given by the UN-- 5,000 women killed by their fathers or brothers, mostly in Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. The practice carries on an ancient Bedouin tradition to maintain the honor and supremacy of male family members, and is established in the statutes of most Arab/ Islamic states. Its popularity among the leaders of those states is illustrated by the fact that: In November 2000, twenty countries abstained from signing a draft resolution condemning crimes of honor, most of them Islamic nations, where tradition calls for a family to kill a daughter who has shamed them. However, individuals in the free world are mounting a campaign to abolish it.

Norma Khouri recently published a moving and gripping book, "Honor Lost," to protest the practice after her best friend who had grown up with her in Lebanon was killed by her father for talking to a non-Isamic boy. She writes with the passion born of first hand observation: "I must find a way to expose honor crimes for what they are: legalized murder; to break through the official Jordanian code of silence and find a way to make all Arab women's cries for justice and freedom heard around the world."

Ms. Khouri's passion was fueled also by the examing doctor's description of the murder scene: Her friend Dahlia was dead, the doctor reported, when she arrived at the hospital. She had been stabbed twelve times in the chest by her father Mahmood, "driven in again and again, going beyond honor to the most primitive brutaility. . .after the stabbing he had waited before calling the ambulance to make sure that she could not be saved." Thus, he allowed her to slowly bleed to death on the floor of their home, waiting for her to die. And Dahlia would have no coffin--part of the harsh end for honor-crime victims. Workmen merely dug a hole, dropped her body in, and shoveled dirt to fill it up. "These grunting men were the only witnesses at her gravside. No visitors, no flowers or tears were left on this unmarked grave.

Mr. Rashid in Georgia may have a harder time escaping punishment for this "traditional ritual killing," since it happened in the United States, but such barbaric and semi-religious practices in the Middle East seem to be off-limits to our scrutinizing press. It is interesting to note that CNN never mentioned an Islamic or Arabic connection in their story--they merely referred vaguely to Asian customs. And they chose an equally opaque and politically-correct academic to comment on the murder:

"My immediate reaction was that this is an anomaly in the South Asian community," Ajay Nair, associate dean of multicultural affairs at Columbia University, told CNN on Tuesday. "Most South Asian-American families enjoy wonderful relationships within their families.""I think there's ways that we can rationalize it and make sense of it, particularly in thinking about new immigrant communities in the U.S. and thinking about some of the struggles that they face and the generation gap and the cultural differences that children do face," he said. "I think there are some issues there, but by and large, this isn't a rampant problem within South Asian communities. What is a problem, I think, is domestic violence, and that cuts across all communities."Nair said he believes a "significant human rights campaign" is needed to address such killings."I think more people need to recognize this as a global issue. It's not just a U.S. issue. I think it happens across the world, and I think people need to recognize domestic violence and any kind of violence related to women as a serious, serious issue."

As a dean of "multi-cultural affairs" Professor Nair hues to the party line that all cultures are equal, never mentions the actual devotees of this abomination except as "South-Asian," dismisses it as not a rampant problem, but simply "an anomoly." He continues his apologia by saying "we can make sense of it" and rationalize it! Then he quickly moves on to critique domestic violence throughout the world and basically changes the subject.

Only at Columbia could such a lame white wash occur--an extreme form of intellectual dishonesty designed to sustain their current love affair with multiculturism and moral relativism. If this murder had been perpetrated by a Christian it would have been excoriated at length as a sign of the horrors of Western civilization and Christianity. On a related note, the UN has also recently disclosed numbers concerning the trafficking in human beings--AKA the slave trade-- and the numbers of female circumcision and mutilation victims worldwide--and the vast majority of both of those gross abuses of human rights are also confined primarily to the same Arab/Islamic nations.

While generalizations must be guarded, nevertheless, the fact remains that slavery, genital mutilation, and the stabbing of children to death, are all supported as respectable traditions in one part of the world. Americans and Christians should take pride that that part of the world is not ours. Americans and Christians have been condemned for things they did hundreds of years ago--but we reformed- The Middle East hasn't. That differential in progress stands out as a testament against the tenets of multi-culturalism and moral relativism. In more concrete terms, The Differential in progress means that people are being murdered, mutilated and enslaved in one area of the world and not in another.

I suggest we can conclude four things from this sad story:
1.) Those three barbaric practices common in the Middle East place a big black mark on their civilization and make "The West" look good.
2.) Professor Nair is guilty of glossing over major distinctions between different societies, sacrificing both intellect and honest empathy, in order to hue to the established double-speak of his university colleagues.
3.) CNN News remains unchanged in never broadcasting pro-American news, but avoiding at all cost any slurs against our enemies. We can do no right, our enemies can do no wrong.
4.) American academics and reporters are deliberately presenting distorted news and faulty interpretations of politics and history that undermine any belief in their crdibility.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

America -- The Myth of Limited Government

The Question:

Is America a paragon of Limited Government or Does it Owe its Success to a Big Strong Central Government ?? This question was recently raised by Bill Novak and was posted at "History of American State Power."

THE ANSWER lies in pieces-- Generalities never make for good analysis. If we are talking international affairs, clearly the Power and Influence of America throughout the world, both financial and military, lay in the centralized might of its many States. However, the innovative and enterprising nature of its individual inhabitants, operating in a free and competitive economy, bubbled up from the bottom to create the nation's vast industrial and institutional success. Because every nation must protect its people from foreign threats the need for centralized power in foreign affairs is without question. The remaining question then is in domestic affairs-- how much did the nation's success depend on a centralized government vs. the actions of individuals operating as the invisible hand of economic progress?

THE DOMESTIC INTERNAL RECORD requires a look back at the 400 years of American history. It cannot be answered by analyzing today's opposed forces of centralized power and private interests. We must recognize the time frames involved and the gradual transformation of America over the last 400 years. From 1620 to 1860, there was 240 years of extraordinary growth. American settlors went from a small group on the Eastern seaboard, carving log homes and rustic farms out of a wilderness to the transcontinetal railroads of the mid-nineteenth century. By the early 1700's people such as Benjamin Franklin's parents arrived, seeking relief from the centralized despotism that still persisted in England, and their children took advantage of the opportunities for all in the new "open" and unrestricted New World. John Witherspoon arrived in the 1750's from Scotland, escaping Hume's new secular "enlightenment," to build Princeton University on the back of the Great Awakening religious revival. In the last half of the eighteenth century, Franklin's generation combined with those of an age with two of Witherspoon's famous students to secure independence from England and shape the new Constitutuion. In 1850 Andrew Carnegie arrived from Scotland, was apprenticed out as a "bobbin boy," and quickly demonstrated the upward mobility available in America by founding the largest steel industry in the world. These were extraordinary times, the foundations of a great new super-power were laid. During this period, the central government's role was primarily restricted to securing international interests and providing the legal and judicial systems needed to moderate disputes and protect private property. The 240 years of success in advancing domestic well-being and economic affluence owed little to the powers of a strong controlling central government. Indeed, the 240 year period ended with the Civil War where for the first time the power of the central government was asserted as supreme over more local rights. This was a worthy cause, to the extent that it ended slavery, but it marked the split in time between original limited government and the subsequent expansion of central power.

EARLY AMERICA VS MODERN AMERICA-- America's history is not of one cloth. The early colonists built a great nation quickly because they were not burdened by oppressive regulations or a despotic government. That "country" of independent and self-reliant citizens was already 150 years old when the Constitution was written--and it was written to keep the nation's people free of oppressive government. That entrepreneurial and laissez-faire beginning remains true, but since 1850, it has been gradually weighted down by limitations on freedom imposed by an ever-expanding central government. The spirit of that 240 year period of unshackled growth can be seen throughout history--such an empowering environment created other "new" and vibrant societies in early Greece, 13th century Venice, 16th century Holland, 18th century Scotland, etc. America was modelled after such successful republics of history. As Cato had already observed by the 17th century, societies always faired better in their early days when free and open, than they did in their latter days when they became oppressed by new ideologies, regulations, and oppressive governments.

Novak's article points out the many arguments of those who say America is great, but after all, we have a huge powerful central government that "manages" and directs almost everything happening today. So, they conclude, we need an even bigger and stronger central government to make things even better. These same theorists claim that America's free enterprise and capitalistic nature is a myth. However, the only reason they can now call this a Myth is that over the past 150 years our government has grown to the point where it is limiting the freedom and initiative of its people. But the so-called "myth" was very much in operation when we enjoyed heady growth, and it has not been demonstrated that the more recent expanded role for government has helped. In fact there are signs that it has hurt. The tax rates are creating inequities and a growing burden on all those who work. The expanding governmental programs lay a burden of regulations, licensing, and paperwork on everyone. The Leviathon of Big Government is piling up debt, deficits, and abasing the value of the dollar. There are signs of decline, and other nations, copying the free and unregulated techniques of our past success are catching-up. Because of the momentum of a successful past, and the accumulated wealth and infrastructure slowly built, it takes a long time to destroy a prosperous nation. So, we can conclude, yes, we are not (anymore) a really free capitalistic society flourishing under a very limited government. But we cannot conclude that the change is for the better. Someone wrote that a long lived parasitism requires a sturdy host, and it is possible that the foundations of America, laid during its first couple hundred years, has provided the host for that growing burden of parasitic government.

HAVE AMERICANS CHANGED ?? If our economic and governmental character has changed during the last few hundred years, what if any, was the impact on the attitude of the nation's citizenry. One might expect that as government's role expands, so the individual's role contracts. It is important to consider such a change on our citizenry because, after all, it is simply the individual citizens that make everything happen. The government can influence and regulate the people but only the people man the production lines, grow the food, and make the sale, collect the proceeds, and give the government half to cover its costs. Today, with almost one-half of the populace on welfare, retired, on disability, or working for the government, there has been a big change from early colonial days when almost nobody was in those ranks. It follows that many Americans no longer possess the independent and self-reliant attitude of those who settled and developed the continent. They have been encouraged by utopianists to become victims and accept governmental largesse. American history has followed past examples of free nations that gradually succumbed to populist democratic notions of a "nurturing and controlling" central government. To the extent that an ever-growing portion of the citizenry opt to accept or take advantage of such largesse, the ranks of the producers will shrink. Any understanding of human motivation suggests that if the largesse is ample, easily obtained, and without stigma, the ordinary person would be considered a fool to choose the alternative--working for a living. If the supply of welfare funds and programs increase, the demand for same will inevitably follow, and grow, to always exactly equal the supply. While the individual who opts for welfare may be showing a shrewd and wise common sense, there remains a debilitating impact on the children who never see their dad go to work. And that is how the citizenry's "attitude," the all-important measure of a society's vigor, usually enters a deteriorating tailspin.

GOOD GOVERMENT VS HARMFUL GOVERMENT -- In evaluating government power, it is the distinction between two critically different types of intervention that must be looked at. We need a strong government, but its power must be only directed in a way that empowers individual action. A laissez-faire society needs a "strong" government to maintain and protect the institutions that allow free competition--such as an equitable legal and justice system, a strong international presence to protect its citizens, police to protect personal and property rights, and an efficient system of deeded property and financing rights. What the nation does not need is a strong governmental role in banning cigarettes, licensing every trade, handing out taxpayers funds to every special interest group, and a Congress that spends an inordinate amount of time investigating the use of strength enhancing drugs for athletes. Alan Deshowitz' book "Rights from Wrongs" makes that distinction-- between such rights that protect individuals from the government (negative rights) and the "positive rights" that have gradually come to pre-occupy the government with such things as free drugs for the elderly, monetary rewards to single moms with illegitimate children, and huge personal injury awards to people who spill hot coffee on themselves! This same division of government authority has been clarified by Joseph Johnston in "The Limits of Government:" In a "protective" state, ". . .officials concern themselves with preserving the conditions under which private interests may be pursued. The affirmative state, on the other hand, chooses a goal to be pursued on behalf of everyone. . . the vocabulary of the affirmative state tends to be military (the 'war on poverty'), and it relies on the organizational structures of administration, command and bureaucracy rather than adjudication and arbitration of disputes. It spawns overseers, bureaucrats and inquisitors, whose function is to supervise adherence to the path of virtue and conformity. Civil law gives way to administrative command. People are treated not as free individuals but as subjects to be treated, hospitalized and nurtured--and of course, taxed to pay for all these privileges." Clearly such a change in American governmental philosophy has had and will continue to have a debilitating effect on a growing number of its people.

THE LESSONS OF HISTORY show that what Novak is trying to recap--the varying role of government--follows an age old pattern: Successful societies that presaged the American miracle of affluence and freedom had to originate in an environment of economic freedom but as they grew in affluence and were seduced by new elites that championed centralized governments offering more and more "positive rights," each successful society entered a period of decline. It is no "myth" that America was started by free and independent people and it is no "myth" that we are approaching an ending as the docile dependent sheep that every advanced welfare state breeds. This historical pattern can be illustrated by posing "The Radzewicz Riddle" : "If simple young societies can grow rapidly, why is it that when their people become better educated, more intellectual, and more compassionate, their early success falters and Decline sets in ?"
Posted by: bill greene July 01, 2008 at 09:57 AM
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