13 August 2017

Who is really rewriting history?

This issue regarding Charlottesville brings out the professor in me. As a professor, I want people to know the facts, be able to use reason to analyze the facts, and then arrive at their own decision. What I see going on regarding Charlottesville involves history being rewritten and "alternative" facts being promoted. The following is my analysis of the current underlying politics regarding the Charlottesville situation.

Defenders of Confederate monuments on government land have rewritten history, and believe in myths unsupported by facts. For example, an article from The Atlantic, "The Myth of the Kindly General Lee," documents some facts about Gen. Lee that reveal he was not a noble man. One fact that stands out to me is that Gen. Lee personally beat his slaves, or had them beat by others. So, where is the justice and nobility in such actions?! Likewise, I have found that Gen. Lee's supporters often ignore the fact that because he went into rebellion against the US Constitution, he broke a just body of law, and that made him a lawbreaker. Certainly, taking his monument down off of US government land is not a case of rewriting history. Such monuments belong in museums for public viewing.

I think it is interesting to compare Gen. Lee to Gen. Grant because as president, Grant was a strong supporter of civil rights and the United States Constitution. However, so-called constitutional conservatives rarely defend men like Grant or Lincoln. It is baffling to me how so many Southern Republicans admire men like Jefferson Davis and Robert E Lee, but ignore or oppose the policies of Pres. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president and, in my view, the greatest US president.

Where are the so-called "Constitutional conservatives" on this issue? I find they too often support states rights, which I conclude is a foundational issue underlying the protest about removing Gen. Lee's statue. Yet, "states rights" is a term NOT in the Constitution. The 10th Amendment addresses state powers, but rights are addressed in the 9th Amendment stating that people possess rights. From our US Constitution:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

States and the national government possess powers, but people possess rights (this goes back to ideas promoted by political theorists such as John Locke).

Also, states rights advocates prior to the Civil War argued that the Bill of Rights applied to the national government, not to the states. After the Civil War the 13th Amendment put this issue to rest:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This means no state can deny its citizens their rights. Of course, this was not implemented throughout the South and in other states outside the South when it came to African-Americans and other people. In other words, these states continued to oppress their people. In contrast, states rights advocates during and prior to the Civil War believed states had rights over their people, including the right to abuse African-American people. In practice, the Confederacy wanted an oppressive government at the state level of government, but not at the national level.

Feeling empowered by Pres. Trump, those marching in Charlottesville march in support of racism. As racists, they understand that to enforce racism, they need an oppressive government at the state and local levels of government. The US Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights, stands in their way.

So, who is rewriting history? Those who support states having rights over people, which includes racists and those who honor Confederates.

10 August 2017

Anti-Free Market Propaganda

"The younger generation of today has grown up in a world in which in school and press the spirit of commercial enterprise has been represented as disreputable and the making of profit as immoral, while to employ a hundred people is represented as exploitation but to command the same number as honorable."
- F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, edited by Bruce Caldwell, The University of Chicago Press (2007), p. 155.

When I read the above quote, I thought of Sen. Bernie Sanders. He makes a command and control type government and economy sound good. In his speeches, he seems to hate individual innovations that are not controlled by an elite group of political planners.

I have found present day conservatives to be no better. They do not really support a free market economy which has rules that allow individuals and small groups to begin a small business that challenges established corporations. Rather, they support businesses even when they seek to destroy competition. As such they are pro-business, but not pro-free market. In this, they have departed from conservative beliefs of previous political generations which sought to maintain a system that controlled the power of big business and allow small businesses to freely compete in the economy.

15 July 2017

Guaranteed Minimum Income in a Free Market Economy?

"There is no reason why in a society which has reached the general level of wealth which ours has attained...that some minimum food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody."
- F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, edited by Bruce Caldwell, 2007, University of Chicago Press, p. 148.

F. A. Hayek is often quoted by political conservatives and libertarians, but they rarely acknowledge this quote.

23 June 2017

Where Might the Rise of New Fascism Originate?

F. A. Hayek observed that the bulk of supporters of fascism and National Socialism prior to World War II did not come from the poor or rich classes. Rather, he notes:

"The resentment of the lower middle class, from which fascism and National Socialism recruited so large a proportion of their supporters, was intensified by the fact that their education and training had in many instances made them aspire to directing positions and that they regarded themselves as entitled to be members of the directing class."
- The Road to Serfdom, edited by Bruce Caldwell, 2007, The University of Chicago Press, p. 145

Sounds like some of the contemporary political movements in both parties in the United States today.

14 June 2017

Political Extremism

Regarding the shooting incident today by a Bernie Sanders supporter attempting to murder Republican Congressmen: this is what can happen when someone allows politics to define their life: extremism. This is why I urge people not to let politics distort how they view people. Those with whom you disagree are usually people like you. When we dehumanize our political opponents, this type of behavior can occur. This guy was clearly an extremist on the left, and it can happen on the right, as well.
Also, the Capitol Police who responded are real heroes! They prevented a massacre from happening.

15 March 2017

Liberal Gardeners

The attitude of the liberal towards society is like that of the gardener who tends a plant and, in order to create the conditions most favorable to its growth, must know as much as possible about its structure and the way it functions."
- F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, edited by Bruce Caldwell, The University of Chicago Press, p. 71.

19 October 2016

Final Presidential Debate 2016

Regarding tonight's presidential debate: former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton is the worse presidential candidate I have seen in my lifetime, second only to Donald Trump. I make this comment NOT about each person's policies, but about each person as a candidate.

If VP Biden or Gov. O'Malley were the Democratic presidential nominee, either would be much farther ahead of Trump in the polls than is Clinton.

If Gov. Kasich were the Republican nominee, he would already have the election wrapped up over Clinton.

This is just my opinions about these individuals as candidates, not their respective policies.

10 October 2016

An Unwritten Political Rule in the United States Today

An unwritten political rule in the 21st Century American political scene: if you disagree with me, I have a right to classify you as the worse sort of person I can imagine. Plus, you have no right to disagree with me because your opinions have no worth, no insight, and therefore, are not worthy of thought and consideration.

28 September 2016

Political Moderates: Political Problem Solvers

What is a Moderate? A politically moderate person is someone who is a problem-solver because no plan or ideology survives first contact with reality.
- Rob Bittick

19 September 2016

Religiophobia: Acceptable Discrimination?

Just a thought: "Religiophobia" should be understood as both the fear of religious people and the fear of other people's religion. This seems to be an acceptable phobia in the United States. Many secular people seem to fear those of us who are religious, and define us by the worst examples of religious people. Likewise, many religious people fear others who peacefully practice a different religion whether they be Muslims, Evangelical Christians, etc.

This is a fear that should be discouraged. If a particular religions is violent by nature, then it is the violence that should be feared, not the practice of religion. John Locke explained this very well in his A Letter Concerning Toleration written in 1689.

09 September 2016

The only people who do not change their minds

"I have often thought that the only people who do not change their minds are sleeping peacefully in some cemetery or in an institution involuntarily -- and have lost the capacity of changing their minds. So I hope the time will never come when I can't adjust to new circumstances and new conditions, because it is an accelerated world."

- Everett Dirksen, Republican Senator from Illinois. Quoted in Dirksen of Illinois: Senatorial Statesman, by Edward L. Schapsmeier and Frederick H. Schapsmeier, University of Illinois Press, 1985, p. 28.

08 September 2016

Firing Bad Teachers or Creating Good Teachers

The Los Angeles Times ran an excellent Op-Ed article today by Karin Klein entitled, "Why firing bad teachers isn't nearly as important as creating good ones." I highly recommend reading this article.

I wish more of us understood how K-12 teaching is a most challenging profession. This is where the foundation is laid in students for their future careers and for our future society. It is also where learning and other behavioral disabilities in students are often first revealed. The critical professionals in this endeavor are not school administrators or politicians, but teachers. Yet, we overload such teachers with large classes, underpay them, do not provide them the resources they need to do the job, and then blame them when failures occur. And we wonder why there is a teacher shortage!

Some propose a business model to run schools. Yet, no successful business is run the way we run or propose to run schools. Furthermore, whatever the service or good provided by a business, the profit motive must be central. A business will die without eventually making a profit. In contrast, the student is the focus of education, not financial profit. So, while schools must be efficient and accountable with taxpayer's money, financial matters must serve the principle mission of schools: educating students. This means financial profit is not the goal.

In his classic book, The Administrative State (Transaction Publishers), political science and public administration scholar Dwight Waldo noted that the United States' culture is a business culture. This may explain why we hold education and educators in such low esteem. We respect business but belittle education. Solve that attitude and perspective problem, and we will then be able to find reasonable solutions to our education problems.

As a professor in higher education, I see the outcomes of the combined efforts of K-12 teachers in my students. I build on what these teachers and students have accomplished over the years. This is why I sincerely appreciate and value K-12 teachers.

01 August 2016

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime

It has been said, 

"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. 

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

If we really believe this, why don't we pay real teachers more and respect those who are real teachers better?

- Rob

25 July 2016

The Illegal Immigration Question

The illegal immigration question: if the US immigration system worked, would this person or family be here? If so, then they should be granted residency. Otherwise, we are keeping the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.

19 July 2016

The Political Science that Predicted Trump's Rise.

An excellent video that explains Trump's political emergence is entitled, "Authoritarianism: The political science that predicted Trump's rise." Trump is no Hitler, but he resembles many authoritarian leaders throughout history in that he sees himself as the authority, but not under the authority of the law.

Although he promotes many extremist policies, his politics in some other ways are more moderate than those of Sen. Ted Cruz (e.g. his comments about Planned Parenting doing many good things other than abortion regarding women's health). However, his extremism is apparent in other policy areas, and can be especially seen in his way of using power.

In contrast, President Eisenhower was a man in authority and under authority.  He was the General and the Chief Executive in manner. He also saw himself under the authority of the U. S. Constitution and the American people. He was no authoritarian. This is in contrast to Trump who argues that the rules should bend to his own will. Listening to Trump speak now for several months, I conclude Trump clearly wants to be both in authority and the authority in spite of what the U. S. Constitution says.

For example, when Gov. John Kasich did not drop out the of the Republican race early this year, Trump argued that Kasich should not be allowed to run. Yes, he said "Kasich shouldn't be allowed to run. Honestly, Kasich should not be allowed to run..." ." In a free country, all qualified individuals are allowed to run for office, no one is forced to drop out until the final election results are certified. A man who understands he is under the authority of the law could say that Kasich should drop out of the race, but Trump said Kasich's liberties should be curtailed. His choice of words reveals his approach to politics: it must bend to his will.

Trump's nomination will at best set the Republican Party back by four to eight years or more, and at worse may destroy the party that once nominated such presidents as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight David Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. What the Tea Party has not destroyed in the party of Lincoln, Trump is now finishing off.