MORE CLIMATE CHANGE CLAMOR

By Mike Cronin

Dear scientists,

I am pro science. Really, I am. I’m with you on evolution, medicine, fusion research, etc. and so on. So, I want science to tell us what is really going on with the climate and to come up with a rational response. You might be tempted to tell me that you already have, but here’s the thing:  It’s hard for most folks to to tell where your good climate science ends and leftist environmental dogmatism begins.

We are told that the hypothesis “human activity is the cause of global climate change” is “settled science.”  Hmm. The fact that the climate is changing is certainly settled science.  The climate has always changed, even before humans existed, and certainly before human industry emitted extra CO2 into the atmosphere.  Even so, it does sound plausible to us lay folk, given the amount of greenhouse gasses human industry produces, that humans are changing the climate – but the entire body of climate science becomes suspect when, every so often, “scientists” and/or politicians are caught “cooking the books,” i.e. exaggerating the evidence for human-caused global warming, or altering or evading evidence that may contradict the hypothesis.

We lay people are taught in primary school that good science happens as a result of following the scientific method. This includes testing hypotheses with repeatable experiments, and submitting one’s findings to critical review. If one’s experiments can only be done on climate “models” that necessarily can’t accurately replicate the actual climate, and/or if one’s hypotheses requires “cheating” the scientific method for “validity,” and/or one labels other scientists (much less lay critics and skeptics) who have found flaws in your work as “deniers” (i.e., heretics), one is not doing good science.

It gets worse: It seems like for every good climate scientist doing proper, credible work, there is a gang of anti-technology leftist zealots who weaponize scientific findings in order to bludgeon the credulous into enacting premature policies, legislation, and regulations that stymie human freedom, and to steer public funding towards additional politicized “scientific” climate investigation that produces yet more suspect “data” – bought and paid for. The zealots don’t stop there.  It’s not enough to scare people into worrying that the climate is going haywire. Rather, these maniacs blame climate change on white oppression and demand restrictions on technological advancement, carbon taxes, and the like for developed countries such as the US (all in the in the name of social justice, of course), but not for developing countries such as China and India.  In other words, their climate “solution” doesn’t do anything to curb human industrial activity, it just shifts the worst of it to Asia – and in so doing, reveals the true goal of most “environmentalism:” Wealth redistribution.

The unparalleled ability of humans to adapt our surroundings to ourselves is one of the things that makes us unique among species.  Technological and industrial advancement has led to steadily increasing human life spans. Surely, the answer to human-caused climate change, if indeed an answer is even required, is for humans to employ technology to adapt ourselves to the changed environment or adapt it to ourselves – or both.  This requires unchaining human minds and harnessing the power of the free market, not the pseudo-scientific dogma and choking restrictions of enviro-socialism.

A Capital Idea: an “-ism” for Freedom

By Mike Cronin

Last week, I offered the view that adopting socialism is a recipe for disaster. Most of the political “-isms” (socialism, communism, fascism, imperialism, etc.)  “-chies” and “-cracies” (monarchy, anarchy, theocracy, democracy, plutocracy, oligarchy, etc.) sound different on paper, but they all have two things in common: the rule of one human or few humans over the rest, and the absence of individual freedom.

There is an alternative.  Our founders gave us a Constitutional republic which enshrined the rule of law and individual liberty.  The essential element of freedom is property rights, including self-ownership.  The political-economic system that arises where freedom reigns is called capitalism.  It has never been fully embraced by any country.  Our own country perhaps came the closest, which greatly contributed to the vast economic achievements and ever-increasing prosperity we came to expect as Americans.

Yet our failure to fully adopt it has had a profound effect on our history. The institution of slavery was a direct affront to the concept of freedom, and it convulsed our country from its beginnings through the Civil War and beyond. I’ve written elsewhere of slavery and unjust war as two of the four major dysfunctions that have afflicted our country.

Want some examples of how capitalism is better than socialism?

The Ukraine is a geographic bread basket, similar in productive potential to the US Midwest; yet the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (of which Ukraine was once one of the socialist republics) had to import grain from us during the height of the cold war. Why couldn’t they produce and distribute enough to feed themselves?

Virtually every labor saving and communications device and other technological advancement since the Dark Ages was invented or perfected in the US or another semi-capitalistic country. (E.g. the electric light bulb, the car, the airplane, the microwave oven, the TV, VCR, and DVD, the laser, vaccines, etc.). Have you ever considered buying a car designed and manufactured by an Iranian or North Korean company?  Does such a thing even exist? Why aren’t such things invented in dictatorships and socialist utopias?

In most cases, landlocked nations are doomed to economic mediocrity or worse. (Examples: Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Bolivia). But a few, such as Switzerland and Lichtenstein, are incredibly well off.  What separates them? The ones that are well off have a much higher degree of individual freedom and capitalism than the others.

China was once every bit the communist leviathan that the Soviet Union was.  Why didn’t China go the same way the USSR did? Conversely, why is the US going through a decline?

China is ascending to the same degree it has adopted limited capitalistic market reforms. Our country is declining to the same degree we adopt the socialist dysfunctions that destroyed the Soviets and continues to hamper the Chinese. Imagine the productive energy that could be unleashed if 1.4 billion people enjoyed a fully free existence!

Despite the vast body of historical evidence that capitalism works and socialism doesn’t, capitalism has been given a bad name.  Individual freedom requires individual responsibility for one’s own actions and living with the consequences of one’s choices.  For that reason, capitalism will always be a hard sell compared to the free goodies and cradle-to-grave care promised by the heralds of the other “-isms.” On top of that, where capitalism has some influence, prosperity follows. Prosperous people are easy for envy-baiters to blame in order to gain an audience…and power. In virtually every human system of organization other than capitalism, anyone with wealth could only attain it by taking a bigger share of “the pie” than everyone else. Capitalism is unprecedented – it allows the productive to enlarge the pie!  But the envy mongers can’t or won’t see that.  They say capitalism fosters greed.  There’s no denying that greedy people exist,  and some of them advance quite far under semi-capitalistic economies, but socialism is absolutely powered by greed and envy!

It is easy for the prophets of utopia to blame capitalism for the sins of the other systems. The latest example is the appellation “crony” capitalism.  The proper term for companies using influence, connections, and campaign donations to get laws passed that stifle their competition is “corporatism.”  Using the coercive power of government to stifle your competition when you can’t win competitively through offering better value is not capitalism at all, though it has some capitalistic trappings (namely the privately-owned nature of the corporation).

The really ironic thing about the other “-isms?”  They need the productivity of capitalism.  A greedy socialist can’t “redistribute” wealth from the productive to the parasitic if there isn’t any wealth to start with.  He must decry capitalism even as he robs the capitalistic in order to buy votes from those he has bamboozled.

Socialism Seems Free, but You WILL Pay for it!

By Mike Cronin

No doubt you’ve heard the word socialism being bandied about a lot lately. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is an avowed socialist. A recent poll shows that 36% of millenials favor socialism.  And whys shouldn’t they? Free education!  Free healthcare!  Subsidized housing, food, & utilities! Socialism sounds really good. But it isn’t.

It might help if we have a common understanding of what socialism really is.

Simply, socialism is a political/economic theory where all property is owned “by the people.” What could be better than a place where all property is shared and nothing is owned?  That’s the theory.  In practice, It results in the state asserting primacy in all aspects of life and individuals having few, if any, rights. It is a form of collectivism – which means the group, or collective, is prioritized over the individual. Bee hives, ant colonies, and human “communes” are collectives. Under any form of collectivism, the majority can do away with the rights (and often lives) of the minority (of which the individual is the most basic element).

Collectivism/socialism comes in various forms, such as communism, which the Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics (USSR) subscribed to, and “Nationalsozialismus” (the German term for National SOCIALISM, from which the term “Nazi” is derived).  Some might argue that the Nazis were in fact fascist, not socialist.  Fascism was also the system of socialism that Mussolini oversaw in Italy. (The term fascism derives from the Latin term “fasces,” a bundle of sticks with an axe protruding from it. Fasces was the Roman symbol of power.)

Some political scientists argue that communism is on the political left, while fascism is on the right, as depicted in this graphic:

I argue that the only practical difference between communist variety of socialism practiced in Soviet Russia and the fascist-flavored socialism animating Nazi Germany and Italy was that the fascists gave lip service to the idea of private property rights – as long as the property was used at the direction of the state.   There were no private property rights at all in the Soviet Union.

Whether people have no property rights at all, or have the “right” to own property in service to the state, is a distinction without a difference. Both systems had charismatic, murderous dictators in charge. Both systems had secret police, concentration camps, and mass murders. Both systems failed to create wealth; they could only steal it or destroy it. There was no freedom in either system.

Thus, a more accurate depiction of communism and fascism on the right-left political model would be to put them both on the left under socialism, with freedom and capitalism on the right.  The diagram below is closer to the truth:

Consider that every country that has adopted any form of socialism has been degraded or destroyed in direct proportion to the degree of socialism it enacted. Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union. North Korea. Cuba. Venezuela.

China and Vietnam were once in the same boat, but both have attained some limited reversal from the crushing oppression the others experienced through adoption of limited free-market economic reforms. But make no mistake, the Chinese and Vietnamese people are not free.

Consider Karl Marx’s famous aphorism: “From each, according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” It sound so wonderful, but it glosses over the essential question: Who decides what your gifts and needs are? (Newsflash – it sure isn’t going to be you!) “From each, according to his ability” means that the state will extract every bit of use out of you that it can, and your desires are irrelevant.  “To each, according to his needs” means that the state, not you, will determine what you need, and you will be lucky to get it.

So how bad is socialism?  At it’s best, socialism creates resentment and dependency; at its worst the people living under socialist governments are slaves – the ones who survived mass murder.