Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Education, Economics, and Self-Government

Larry P. Arnn, the twelfth president of Hillsdale College, received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in government from the Claremont Graduate School. From 1977 to 1980, he also studied at the London School of Economics and at Worcester College, Oxford University, where he served as director of research for Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill. From 1985 until his appointment as president of Hillsdale College in 2000, he was president of the Claremont Institute, an education and research organization based in Southern California. In 1996, he was the founding chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative, the voter-approved ballot initiative that prohibited racial preferences in state employment, education, and contracting. He sits on the board of directors of several organizations, including the Heritage Foundation, the Army War College, and the Claremont Institute. He is the author of Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education.

The following is adapted from speeches delivered in Indianapolis, Indiana, on September 24, and in Pocahontas, Arkansas, on October 19, 2009.

I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO talk today about education and economic development. The standard thing to say on this topic is that the former is vital to the latter. We live in the modern world, so we all have to be highly informed and highly skilled and understand the power of modern science. It is a task of the very first importance to train a workforce that will be able to compete in the global marketplace. That is the standard thing to say, and we hear it said often by education bureaucrats from the federal level on down. And of course it is perfectly true, as far as it goes. But there is more to be said.

The practical point of this standard thing to say is that America needs more technical education—more scientists and mathematicians. And of course we do need scientists and mathematicians. But I like to remind people when they say this that the word "technical" comes from the Greek word "techne," which means "art." And Aristotle points out that art is about making, and that the question of what one should make is always superior, in point of order and logic, to the question of how to make it.

What does this mean? Consider one of the greatest scientific achievements of the last century—the development of the atomic bomb. The question of whether to build an atomic bomb, and then the question of whether to drop it on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end World War II without the need of invading and conquering the Japanese mainland, were more important questions—superior in order and logic—to the question of how to make the bomb. The brilliant physicists who accomplished the latter had immense technical training, but that training gave them no special knowledge about those more important questions. Or to put the point in a slightly different and more general way, a technical education can make a person wealthy and famous, but it does not teach that person what is best to do with wealth and fame.

So the first point I would make about education and economics is the importance of liberal arts education, which is the kind of education offered at Hillsdale College. Many think of liberal arts education as a broad education, but in fact it is a high education. We understand things to be arranged in a hierarchy. Hillsdale College has plenty of science and math majors, and our students go on to the very best graduate and professional schools. But whatever their majors, they learn the distinction I just made about questions of greater and lesser significance, and they study how to think about the very greatest ones.

The second point I want to make has to do with politics and education. The greatest example of economic development in human history was in the United States during the 19th century. At the beginning of that century, we were about five million people huddled along the East Coast. By the end of it we had grown at a rate of about 25 percent—much faster than China is growing today—and had settled an entire continent, largely without the help of modern science. To the question of how it was done, I think the short answer is the Homestead Act—the greatest piece of legislation I know. Signed by President Lincoln in 1862, the Homestead Act is short and beautiful—two qualities good legislation should have, and two qualities in which legislation today is utterly lacking.

What the Homestead Act did was to take the western land of the United States—surely one of the greatest assets ever held by any government in history—and give 160-acre plots to anyone with the backbone to live on them and work them. These plots of land were granted regardless of who someone was and with the certainty that no one settling on them could ever vote for this congressman or that. It is one of the greatest impartial acts of legislation in all of human history. It, and things like it, built America and the character of the people who spread across it.

How does this connect to my first point? It connects because the spirit of the Homestead Act, which led to unprecedented economic growth, could not be more different from the spirit of our legislation today. And the key to this difference is the difference between the education our leaders today have had, and the education students get at Hillsdale.

The principle that justified the Homestead Act has two parts, and both are found in the first 15 lines of the Declaration of Independence. The first is the idea of human equality—the idea that it does not matter what race or what family you come from, it only matters what you do—which has been the source of our greatest struggles in an attempt to live up to it. The second is the idea of the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." At Hillsdale College, we study the Declaration of Independence as the greatest thing of its kind. The signers of the Declaration were risking their lives. There is a beautiful passage at the end of it where they write, "we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." But the document begins in an opposite mood, because the cause they are willing to die for is not specifically about them at all: "When in the course of human events"—that means not our time, but any time—"it becomes necessary for one people"—that means not our people, but any people—and then this sentence goes on to speak of the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," laws true always and everywhere.

Understood comprehensively, the Declaration points us to an unalterable law of God, visible in nature, that man is inferior to God and superior to the beasts, such that it is unjust for one human being to rule any other without his consent. And it is this same understanding of human nature on which Madison rests his case in Federalist 51, in explaining why government is both necessary and must be limited:

. . . [W]hat is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

This is the understanding that animates legislation like the Homestead Act. And note the humility in it. America's founders understood themselves to be bound and limited by something higher. And it is precisely this understanding that is missing among our political leadership today. Nearly 20 years ago now, when Clarence Thomas was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings, several senators questioned him about the idea of natural law, which seemed to them a foreign and dangerous idea. And why would it seem that way?

These senators have been taught to understand government as a means by which they can do marvelous things, changing society for the better in countless and unlimited ways. And in this light, the old-fashioned idea of natural law—which, as we saw in the passage from Madison, leads to the idea of limited government—becomes simply an impediment to progress.

President Obama is an impressive man, and there is much good to be said about him. But he falls firmly into this newer school of thought. Let me read you a passage from his book, The Audacity of Hope:

Implicit in [the Constitution's] structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or "ism," any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course. . . .

One can see immediately the practical results of this in the health care debate. Advocates of one of the latest plans are proud to place the cost at only $900 billion—apparently it takes $1 trillion to impress in this day and age! But consider that, in most of the plans that have advanced in the Congress, people making in the range of $30,000 to $80,000 a year will be forced to pay health insurance costs—or fines of about the same amount—that come to between ten and 20 percent of their income. They will be compelled to buy plans that have certain specific features. There will be an allocation of health care resources as part of the plan. And it will not be legal to buy or sell a plan that does not fit the criteria. Compare the spirit of this legislation with the spirit of the Homestead Act. There is a bullying spirit behind it. And that bullying spirit is becoming ever more pervasive.

The means are already in place for the federal government to control what people say in elections. As a recent example of how it tries this between elections, consider that Henry Waxman—a congressman of some power and influence—sent a letter in August to the CEOs of health care companies asking for schedules of all salaries above a certain amount, and of the conferences they had been to, and how much they cost, and who was there. Was it a coincidence that he wanted this information just as a health care debate was starting up? Could it be that he was trying to intimidate and silence potential opposition? One of the many "czars"—isn't that an ominous word?—in the Obama administration is Cass Sunstein, the czar of regulatory policy. Mr. Sunstein is a very smart man—a law professor, like the president—but he is on record saying that speech rights should be redistributed by government bureaucrats much as wealth is redistributed through post-New Deal tax and entitlement policy. This is not supposed to be a country where there are czars dealing with things like speech. But it is such a country right now.

The economic policies being proposed these days are very bad. But the principles behind them are worse. They represent a return to the idea that the American Revolution repudiated—the idea that some are equipped by nature or training to manage the lives of others without their consent. I have been making the point lately that people are wrong who accuse the Obama administration of being socialist. I take the president at his word when he says that he has no desire to own the automobile companies. Instead, he wants to control them—and the rest of us as well—through a regulatory apparatus overseen by czars and bureaucrats. And again, his intentions are good. What is bad is the view underlying them of what human beings are. Rather than looking on us as equal beings with a set nature—such that none of us should rule another in the way that God rules man or man rules beast—our political leaders today have been taught to see us as material to be shaped and perfected by experts who have the proper technical training.

It has been close to 100 years now that the majority of people teaching in American colleges and universities have agreed with Woodrow Wilson, one of the founders of the Progressive movement and the first to write explicitly that the Declaration of Independence is obsolete, and that we need to liberate the Constitution from the Declaration's restraints. This liberation leads to the idea of a "living Constitution," characterized by constant change or progress. Absolute truth, to the extent that ordinary people still believe in it, obstructs change or progress—which is why President Obama refers to it, in the passage I read, as tyrannical. But if change or progress is the rule, who is to determine what version of change or progress is good? And the logical problem here—as any Hillsdale student could tell you—is that once you deny the existence of absolute truth, the definition of "good" becomes subjective and the only standard of behavior is what we want—"we," in the political sense, meaning the government or bureaucracy. It reduces politics not to right, but to force. That is why there is this bullying spirit about our government today, and why so many Americans are worried.

It is time for that to stop, and there are two conditions for stopping it. The first is for the ordinary folk of the United States to see in this the despotism that it is, and to rise up and repudiate it. The second thing is longer term, but equally vital: It is to replace leaders who have bad educations with leaders who have good educations. This is our work at Hillsdale College. We aim to recover the meaning of the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" and to place that meaning firmly in the minds and hearts of ambitious young men and women who have the courage to do something with that knowledge. And I swear that we shall not stop pursuing that task.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mr. Obama - Who Are You?

The Fundamental Transformation of America

When Obama wrote a book and said he was mentored as a youth by Frank,

(Frank Marshall Davis) an avowed Communist,

people said it didn't matter.

When it was discovered that his grandparents, were strong socialist,

sent Obama's mother to a socialist school, introduced Frank Marshall Davis to

young Obama,

people said it didn't matter.

When people found out that he was enrolled as a Muslim child in school and his

father and step father were both Muslims,

people said it didn't matter.

When he wrote in another book he authored “I will stand with them (Muslims)

should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

people said it didn't matter.

When he admittedly, in his book, said he chose Marxist friends

and professors in college,

people said it didn't matter.

When he traveled to Pakistan , after college on an unknown national passport,

people said it didn't matter.

When he sought the endorsement of the Marxist party in 1996 as he ran

for the Illinois Senate,

people said it doesn't matter.

When he sat in a Chicago Church for twenty years and listened to a preacher

spew hatred for America and preach black liberation theology,

people said it didn't matter.

When an independent Washington organization, that tracks senate voting records,

gave him the distinctive title as the "most liberal senator",

people said it didn't matter.

When the Palestinians in Gaza , set up a fund raising telethon to raise money for his

election campaign,

people said it didn't matter.

When his voting record

supported gun control,

people said it didn't matter.

When he refused to disclose who

donated money to his election campaign,

as other candidates had done,

people said it didn't matter.

When he received endorsements from

people like Louis Farrakhan and

Mummar Kadaffi and Hugo Chavez,

people said it didn't matter.

When it was pointed out that he was

a total, newcomer and had absolutely

no experience at anything except

community organizing,

people said it didn't matter.

When he chose friends and acquaintances

such as Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn

who were revolutionary radicals,

people said it didn't matter.

When his voting record in the Illinois

senate and in the U.S. Senate

came into question,

people said it didn't matter.

When he refused to wear a flag,

lapel pin and did so only

after a public outcry,

people said it didn't matter.

When people started treating him as

a Messiah and children in schools

were taught to sing his praises,

people said it didn't matter.

When he stood with his hands over

his groin area for the playing of the

National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance,

people said it didn't matter.

When he surrounded himself in the White house

with advisors who were pro gun control, pro

abortion, pro homosexual marriage and wanting to

curtail freedom of speech to silence the opposition

people said it didn't matter.

When he aired his views on abortion,

homosexuality and a

host of other issues,

people said it didn't matter.

When he said he favors

sex education in Kindergarten,

including homosexual indoctrination,

people said it didn't matter.

When his background was either

scrubbed or hidden and nothing

could be found about him,

people said it didn't matter.

When the place of his birth

was called into question,

and he refused to produce a birth certificate,

people said it didn't matter.

When he had an association in Chicago

with Tony Rezco, a man of questionable character,

who is now in prison and had helped Obama

to a sweet deal on the purchase of his home,

people said it didn't matter.

When it became known that George Soros,

a multi-billionaire Marxist,

spent a ton of money to get him elected,

people said it didn't matter.

When he started appointing czars

that were radicals, revolutionaries,

and even avowed Marxist/Communist,

people said it didn't matter.

When he stood before the nation

and told us that his intentions were to

"fundamentally transform this nation"

into something else,

people said it didn't matter.

When it became known that he had

trained ACORN workers in Chicago

and served as an attorney for ACORN,

people said it didn't matter.

When he appointed a cabinet members

and several advisors who were

tax cheats and socialist,

people said it didn't matter.

When he appointed a science czar, John Holdren,

who believes in forced abortions, mass

sterilizations and seizing babies from teen mothers,

people said it didn't matter.

When he appointed Cass Sunstein as regulatory

czar and he believes in "Explicit Consent",

harvesting human organs with out family consent,

and to allow animals to be represented in court,

while banning all hunting,

people said it didn't matter.

When he appointed Kevin Jennings, a homosexual,

and organizer of a group called gay, lesbian, straight,

Education network, as safe school czar and it became known

that he had a history of bad advice to teenagers,

people said it didn't matter.

When he appointed Mark Lloyd as diversity czar

and he believed in curtailing free speech,

taking from one and giving to another to spread

the wealth and admires Hugo Chavez,

people said it didn't matter.

When Valerie Jarrett was selected as Obama's

senior White House advisor and she is an

avowed Socialist,

people said it didn't matter.

When Anita Dunn, White House Communications director

said Mao Tse Tung was her favorite philosopher

and the person she turned to most for inspiration,

people said it didn't matter.

When he appointed Carol Browner as global warming

czar, and she is a well known socialist working

on Cap and trade as the nations largest tax,

people said it doesn't matter.

When he appointed Van Jones, an ex-con and

avowed Communist as green energy czar,

who since had to resign when this was made known,

people said it didn't matter.

When Tom Daschle, Obama's pick for health

and human services secretary could not be

confirmed, because he was a tax cheat,

people said it didn't matter.

When as president of the United States ,

he bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia ,

people said it didn't matter.

When he traveled around the world

criticizing America and never once

talking of her greatness,

people said it didn't matter.

When his actions concerning the middle-east

seemed to support the Palestinians

over Israel , our long time friend,

People said it doesn't matter.

When he took American tax dollars to

resettle thousands of Palestinians

from Gaza to the United States ,

people said it doesn't matter.

When he upset the Europeans by

removing plans for a missile defense system

against the Russians,

People said it doesn't matter.

When he played politics in Afghanistan by

not sending troops the Field Commanders

said we had to have to win,

people said it didn't matter.

When he started spending us into a debt

that was so big

we could not pay it off,

people said it didn't matter.

When he took a huge spending bill

under the guise of stimulus

and used it to pay off organizations,

unions and individuals

that got him elected,

people said it didn't matter.

When he took over insurance companies,

car companies, banks, etc.

people said it didn't matter.

When he took away student loans

from the banks and put it

through the government,

people said it didn't matter.

When he designed plans to take over

the health care system

and put it under government control,

people said it didn't matter.

When he set into motion a plan

to take over the control of all

energy in the United States

through Cap and Trade,

people said it didn't matter.

When he finally completed his

transformation of America

into a Socialist State ,

people finally woke up........

but it was too late.

Any one of these things, in and of themselves does not really matter. But.... when you add them up one by one you get a phenomenal score that points to the fact that our Obama is determined to make America over into a Marxist/Socialist society. All of the items in the preceding paragraphs have been put into place. All can be documented very easily. Before you disavow this, do an internet search. The last paragraph alone is not yet cast in stone. You and I will write that paragraph. Will it read as above or will it be a more happy ending for most of America ? Personally, I like happy endings.

If you are an Obama Supporter, please do not be angry with me because I think your president is a socialist but there are too many facts supporting this. If you seek the truth you will be richer for it. Don't just belittle the opposition. Search for the truth. I did. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Constitutionalist, Libertarians and what have you, we all need to pull together. We all must pull together or watch the demise of a society that we all love and cherish. If you are a religious person, pray for our nation.

Never before in the history of America have we been confronted with problems so huge that the very existence of our country is in jeopardy. Don't rely on most television news and what you read in the newspapers for the truth. Search the internet. Yes, there is a lot of bad information, lies and distortions there too but you are smart enough to spot the fallacies. Newspapers are a dying breed. They are currently seeking a bailout from the government. Do you really think they are about to print the truth? Obama praises all the television news networks except Fox who he has waged war against. There must be a reason. He does not call them down on any specifics, just a general battle against them. If they lie, he should

call them out on it but he doesn't. Please, find the truth, it will set you free.

Our biggest enemy is not China , Russia , Iran ; no, our biggest enemy is a contingent of politicians in Washington DC .