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Philadelphia Insists on Worship of the Progressive gods

Welcome to the new “inclusive” paradigm:

Over the past 25 years, Sharonell Fulton has been a mother to more than 40 children through foster parenting in Philadelphia.

She has opened her heart and home to children who have suffered abuse and trauma, offering them an oasis of love and comfort during tumultuous times. …

When Philadelphia recently severed ties with Catholic Social Services, Fulton said that she felt fully “the pain of rejection.” Fulton, who had been using the Catholic Social Services program for her own foster parenting, said that seeing “the city condemn the foster agency that has made possible my life’s work fills me with pain.”

Sadly, nothing is as important to progressive governments as fealty to their gods.  Everybody must proclaim the truth of the progressive religion.  In ancient Rome, Christians were persecuted and executed if they would not go through the motions of worshiping Roman gods.  Very often, the early martyrs weren’t required to explicitly reject their own beliefs (by, for example, speaking ill of Jesus) so much as to bend a knee to the supposedly more powerful ones under a supposedly divine caesar.

Just so, Philadelphia Catholics aren’t forced to proclaim the falsehood of their beliefs, but only to behave as if their beliefs must be false for all practical purposes.  This modern variation is so much the worse because it doesn’t exact its punishment on the believers, but on the suffering and disadvantaged people whom the Catholics wish to help.

We’ll see how history judges secularists who believe it is better that children should suffer than that they be helped by Christians acting according to their beliefs.  Of course, those of us who believe in God also believe there is a much more important judge than credentialed chroniclers of the past.

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Maine Council of Churches Finds Inclusiveness to Require Exclusion

We should expect to see more of this sort of news:

After the Maine Council of Churches changed its decision-making process earlier this year, the Bishop of Portland was forced to withdraw from the group, the Portland Press-Herald reported Tuesday.

The council had previously required unanimous agreement before advocating on a public policy issue, but in February adopted a simple majority vote. This meant that continued membership in the group could have forced the Diocese of Portland to be represented by views at odds with Catholic teaching.

This shows the typical progressive approach to tolerance. When the radicals were in the minority, they were satisfied with an organizational neutrality and acceptance that allowed the group of religious leaders to work together on issues on which they all agreed.  As soon as the radicals had secured a majority, the organization shifted its focus to excluding those who disagree on a very narrow range of cultural (essentially sexual) questions.

Being inclusive, you see, means excluding.  Acknowledging agreement on just about every area of social interaction is sublimated to the LGBTetc agenda.

This is not so new.  Progressives like to think that they’re at the cutting edge of human evolution, but their impulses are very old.  An in-group defines a moral necessity, and as soon as they’re able to enforce it as the mandatory law, they will.

Western civilization has had a pretty good run advancing pluralism and the ability to coexist while disagreeing.  Perhaps it is ironic that the (abstract, arguably demonic) forces of intolerance would manage to reverse that progress in the name of tolerance, but I fear that our education system has too long tilted toward propagandizing over truly educating younger generations for us to recover without drifting a while into darker times.

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A More Competitive United States Means Better Lives

One never knows how much weight to put on these sorts of indexes, but this is good to see:

The U.S. dethroned Hong Kong to retake first place among the world’s most competitive economies, thanks to faster economic growth and a supportive atmosphere for scientific and technological innovation, according to annual rankings by the Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Center. . . . The renewed top ranking aligns with the positive U.S. growth narrative over the past year. Growth averaged 2.9 percent in the four quarters through March, versus 2 percent in the prior period.

The mind boggles at the notion that Americans would be content to give up that title.  Of course, the complexities of our electoral system mean it’s never that straightforward, and to the extent that there is such a choice, a fair people will often accept a little bit less competitiveness in the name of helping others.

The missing piece, therefore, is awareness that this is a false choice.  A more competitive economy is one in which there is more opportunity and more churn in who is on top.  It’s one with higher prosperity, which means more money flowing around and a greater capacity for charity, too.

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If They’re Together, Who’s Left Out?

It probably means I’m one of those people who refuses to engage in constructive dialogue, but I’m skeptical of these Rhode Island Foundation events:

What do you get when you mix a bunch of Rhode Islanders who disagree about public issues with 47 gallons of marinara sauce?

“You find common ground and ways to civilly disagree and debate,” Neil D. Steinberg, the president and chief executive of the Rhode Island Foundation, said Thursday afternoon ahead of the foundation’s annual meeting. A significant portion of his remarks prepared for the meeting discussed the foundation’s recent Together RI initiative, in which nearly 1,300 people attended 20 dinners around the state from late March to early May.

There are two possibilities, here, that may depend entirely on the viewer’s perspective:  Did these events mingle people who disagree or darken the lines around what a certain segment of insiders thinks is acceptable?  It’s their forum; they set the tone; they choose the venue; they control the debate.  Most importantly, they decide what beliefs and behaviors count as “civil,” and they write the summary report after the fact.

This is the same organization, don’t forget, that promoted a slick and offensive video tarring Rhode Islanders as uncouth complainers who should just be quiet until the kids who mouth the RI Foundation’s preferred line have grown up and taken over.

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The Many Ripples of Upending the Culture

Not that long ago, this would have been a satisfactory explanation:

Carruthers said 98 percent of the spa’s clientele is female, and he employs no male staff. The spa has waxed the arms and backs of male clients, but has never hidden its inability to accommodate a Brazilian wax for a male.

“When we’ve been asked about a male Brazilian wax [which removes hair from the client’s genital area] in the past we tell them we’re not able to provide that service and they move on,” Carruthers told the Windsor Star. “It’s never been an issue.”

So what’s changed?  Well, as PJMedia’s Tyler O’Neil explains, in the view of some people, having male genitalia no longer makes one male.  Thus, a man who says that he’s a woman feels entitled to sue a waxing salon for $50,000 because its female Muslim employee will not play along with his view of reality.

One suspects that the money is not really the issue.  Our society has cultivated a toxic system of self-interest, activism, and moral euphoria.  For a more-local example, look to a sensationalizing article in GoLocalProv.  When a lesbian couple inquired about preschool at a nearby Christian school, the school sent them, among other things, the affiliated church’s statement of faith, which included the phrase, “the Bible, the word of God, clearly identifies homosexual practices as sin and abhorrent to God.”

The applicants sought publicity against the school, and the response led the organization to take security measures.  The person who incited that response disclaims responsibility:

“The fact that he said he contacted law enforcement? I can’t help with what the Internet reaction was. I can’t help who called or who did any of that. If people are that incited, they’re incited for a reason. I was simply trying to raise awareness,” said [Lisa] Hazard.

Not that long ago, those inclined toward alternative lifestyles encouraged an attitude of “live and let live.”  If a school had found itself under threat because somebody had discovered that the headmaster was homosexual, and if the person who had promoted that discovery had denied responsibility because “people are upset for a reason,” Hazard’s ilk would have cited it as evidence of intolerance.

So what’s changed?  The radicals feel they have the upper hand, so all that talk about tolerance and diversity is no longer convenient as they seek to force universal conformity to their worldview.

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Matt Brown, the Anti-Progressive?

Some comments from Democrat gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown strike a curious chord, especially prefaced with WPRI reporter Ted Nesi’s characterization that it represents “a pitch based on science”:

“I think we need to remember, we know now from DNA studies, recent DNA studies from all around the world, that we actually all started out together,” he said. “There were as few as 1,000 of us, human beings, struggling to survive on the African savannah. And we did survive, and we went north and we went around the world.”

“But in the process, we found every possible way to divide ourselves against each other,” he continued. “We found race, we found religion, we found nationality, ethnicity, and politics. And so now we are divided, and that makes us powerless. … [W]e’re going to have to make sure that people recognize that now, because these problems are so big, that the only way to solve them is to find a way over these divides.”

So, is Brown saying that he’s against identity politics and all of the left-wing policies that dice humanity up into ever-smaller groups and pit us against each other?  Or (far from being “based on science”) is this just the typical “Imagine” pablum about which the reader or listener is encouraged not to think too hard?

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A Canary in Seattle

The city of Seattle is blazing trails in the assault on business and disincentive for job creation, and Seattle Times columnist Jon Talton is correct to warn of a reckoning:

One thing is clear. The tax will not be paid by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, or any other real or imagined toffs running the targeted companies. It will be “paid” by hiring fewer people here, making fewer investments, thus perhaps reducing overall taxes to the city. This is not sticking it to The Man.

One of the fascinating aspects of the jobs tax is how it reveals a tectonic shift in Seattle politics.

The slow-moving but generally pragmatic center-left that governed for years has collapsed.

Some of Talton’s lessons are either (it seems to me) either off base or specific to Seattle.  I’m suspicious, notably, of the blame that he puts on the GOP for becoming a “hard-right party” that exploded its leverage by booting its centrists.  One needn’t change the tilt of one’s head too much to see that as something more like a center-right party that didn’t move far enough to the left to keep progressive activists from attacking its donors and volunteers.

Consider Talton’s complaint that voters don’t have options; that can be a sign that people won’t run, given the charged atmosphere.  In short, this probably isn’t quite the distinct trend that he presents it as:

Meanwhile, a hard-left movement arose with the activist foot soldiers, infrastructure and energy to win municipal elections. It might represent a minority of voters, but given the withering away of the old order, it can win. Voters don’t have alternatives.

This lesson is probably increasingly universal across the country.  An activist infrastructure has been built up with funding from embedded interests (like labor unions), a supremely wealthy progressive elite, and siphoned taxpayer money from the Obama Administration.  At the local level, it targets any politician or grassroots organization that attempts to offer an alternative, and so the alternative doesn’t get a voice.

So… the city gets insane tax-and-spend policies that create obvious incentives against economic activity and for reliance on public subsidies.  A reckoning will come, indeed.

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Matt Brown’s Disastrous Platform

One can have little doubt that Matt Brown’s platform is right in line with the views of progressive Democrats.  One can also have little doubt that Matt Brown’s platform would be economically disastrous for Rhode Island:

On policy, Brown said he wants to reverse various recent state tax cuts, such as by raising the top income tax rate from 5.99% back to 9.9%, where it stood until 2010. He also said he would raise the top corporate rate from 7% back to 9%, but wants to create a graduated system that lets smaller companies pay a lower rate. He has not yet decided whether he wants to raise the estate tax, he said.

Brown pledged to increase funding for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for low-income residents that has grown to about a quarter of the state budget.

So, increase dependency on government and suppress the free market dynamism that pays for government programs.  Brown’s program would push Rhode Island into the accelerated spiral that Connecticut is experiencing and the flight of the productive class.

It seems unlikely that Brown will actually have a chance to push his program as governor, but his end point is that toward which progressives are incrementally moving the state.  We need to take his succinct statements as a warning.

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National Popular Vote and the End Game

Upon the entry of Connecticut into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Michael Walsh emphasizes the practical motivation and effect:

“Work-around”? Nullification is more like it. But this is typical of the fascist Left, offering a “solution” to a non-existent problem in order to improve their chances at permanent political domination. It frustrates them to no end that having conquered California, New York, and Illinois in order to bank 104 electoral votes before a presidential campaign has even begun (270 are needed to win), they discovered that transforming those states into Democrat ghettos meant that every popular-vote margin over 1 is wasted, since the overall national popular vote doesn’t matter.

As I argued when Rhode Island took this leap, it makes no sense for small states.  Rhode Island and Connecticut have more leverage under the electoral college than under a popular vote regime.  But the powers who be in these states trust that their political party will continue to dominate other, bigger states, so they’re willing to sell out their own voters in order to take leverage away from other small states that either aren’t as partisan or are partisan in the other direction.

Walsh has it correct when he writes:

… the idea of independent and, dare I say “diverse,” states is repugnant to totalitarians. As they go about rewriting the history of the United States, one of the things they’re trying to expunge is the idea that thirteen separate colonies came together in order to form a more perfect union. The nation they envision — and which they’re on their way to realizing — is one ruled from Washington, with the states acting as administrative satrapies.

We can project farther into the future, too.  We’ve already had plenty of indication that, once Washington, D.C., is reliably fixed in the hands of an executive to their liking (one who will use the power of government to hurt their enemies and skirt the Constitutional order to subvert that troublesome legislature), they’ll turn to shifting power to a global elite.  Their goal is a planet that has no place to go where you can live as if their philosophy might be wrong.

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Conscientious Versus Issue-Conscious

I wouldn’t claim that I help this curve much, but it certainly has the ring of truth:

Do our behaviors really reflect our beliefs? New research suggests that, when it comes to climate change, the answer is no. And that goes for both skeptics and believers.

Participants in a year-long study who doubted the scientific consensus on the issue “opposed policy solutions,” but at the same time, they “were most likely to report engaging in individual-level, pro-environmental behaviors,” writes a research team led by University of Michigan psychologist Michael Hall.

Conversely, those who expressed the greatest belief in, and concern about, the warming environment “were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions.”

This applies to other issues, like charity.  Big-government types who want to use tax dollars to solve every problem sometimes behave as if that’s their contribution, so they don’t have to use any of their own money additionally.

The central consideration, here, is probably that concern about an issue is a different thing from agreement with a certain approach to solving the problem (especially in the balance of other issues), and “conservatives” tend to be more comfortable with this distinction. The lesson of the above findings may not be that self-identified environmentalists are more likely to be hypocrites, but that people who are willing to take individual action are more likely to see that as a solution.

I do think, though, that there’s something to the idea of “moral licensing”:

Previous research has found doing something altruistic—even buying organic foods—gives us license to engage in selfish activity. We’ve “earned” points in our own mind. So if you’ve pledged some money to Greenpeace, you feel entitled to enjoying the convenience of a plastic bag.

(Via Eric Worrall.)

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Good for the Rhode Island Womxns (to an Extent)

A sincere kudos to the Rhode Island Womxn’s Initiative, which originated as the Rhode Island branch of the National Women’s March for refusing to go along with the partisan mandate to ignore the bigotry of Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan.  The local group has principles, at least.

Of course, those principles come with a bit of the new left-wing craziness, as seen in the group’s name.  Womxn?  When did “x” become a vowel?  How does one pronounce that — “womzin”?

A more serious matter — fascinating, really — is how the concept of “an inclusive movement” winds up being so non-inclusive.  Most obviously, one of the two largest groups in the country, heterosexual white men, is clearly excluded, at least to the extent that we don’t repudiate our own identity as such.

But this new X dynamic also excludes women qua women to the extent that it denies the legitimacy of their having their own voice absent “trans women and all people who don’t identify as strictly male or female.”  That is, the group includes everybody up to, but excluding, those who identify as strictly male (although presumably those who are biologically women would get a pass on that, oddly), and it won’t recognize the unique identity of those who are biologically female and identify as such.

If one were to set out to construct a society in which nobody feels secure and settled except those who hold political power, and therefore feel untouchable, one could not do better than to concoct this ideology.

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A Quick Thought on the Politics of Choice

Progressive Democrat Representative Aaron Regunberg, currently running for the six-figure do-nothing gig of lieutenant governor of Rhode Island, has taken the opportunity of a Planned Parenthood endorsement to remind potential donors that his grandmother was an executive director for that abortion provider in the days before Roe v. Wade:

Her name was Bunny Regunberg. But “Bunny” was a bit of a misnomer. Grandma Bunny was not friendly and fluffy, she was a fighter. And she had to be, as executive director of her local Planned Parenthood in the years before Roe v. Wade.

My grandmother’s work stressed the importance of empowering people to make choices for themselves. Grandma Bunny passed away in 2016, but she left me with a deeply held commitment to stand up and fight for reproductive justice for all.

“Empowering people to make choices for themselves.”  One wonders how far support for such empowerment goes for Regunberg.  Choices about the schools that their children attend?  Choices about how their money should be spent?  Choices about work conditions and compensation?  The list of choices that progressives like Regunberg seek to remove from people’s range of freedom goes on and on.

Apart from self-destructive “choices” that tend to put people under the loving wing of government, progressives’ devotion to “choice” seems to be limited to this “reproductive justice,” which is the farthest thing from justice for the unborn children whom it kills.

In most areas, progressives understand that “choice” and “justice” can be in conflict.  I’m inclined to disagree with them about the circumstances in which that’s the case, but it would explode their rhetoric about abortion if they were forced to admit the trade-offs.

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Turn Left Where the ACLU Used to Be

At least for my entire lifetime, there has been a tension to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  The general sense in the ’90s that it leaned a little left transitioned in the ’00s to a period during which libertarian or even conservative supporters of the group could say things like, “But they’re still good on [this] and [that].”  Now, aided by the wave of available donations for anti-Trump activism, the organization has made a decision, as Scott Greenfield suggests:

This is no civil liberties program, prepared to stand up for constitutional rights no matter whose are at risk. This is a progressive political group, riding the legacy coattails of a group that may still be called the ACLU but has made the active decision to change its mission from the defense of civil liberties for all to promoting a distinct political ideology for its adherents. And it’s gotten fat and rich as a result. …

There are still state organizations, old-time members and staff, who have a certain lust for constitutional rights. When they can support them, stand up for them, without offending their groundlings and piggy banks, they will likely do so. But they will not defend the Constitution if it conflicts with the popular whims of progressive change.

Glenn Reynolds adds that the Trump Era is something of a “Great Revealing, where once-revered institutions turn out to be cheap, partisan shams.”  That may be a little harsh, if only because even shams have to do enough to keep people believing the hype if they want to be perpetual players.  What appears to be happening with the ACLU is that the rewards of letting its freak flag fly have swept away that long-term view and allowed the progressive organization to more overtly be itself.

There is still a need for organizations that promise to defend civil liberties across the board, so perhaps we’ll see right-leaning organizations take up some of the more-leftish causes in order to gain the market of the center.  Meanwhile, the ACLU will be just another far-left activist group, and someday, the tide of the Pubescence will recede, and the various flavors of activism will have to compete with each other for dwindling funds.

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Some Interesting Correlations with High Taxes

Investor’s Business Daily found striking correlations between tax burden, presidential vote, population loss/gain, and government fiscal condition.  In general, high-tax states tended to vote for the Democrat in the last election, tend to be losing domestic population to other states, and tend not to be in great fiscal condition.  As IBD suggests:

One way to look at all this is to conclude that poorly managed states are trying to force taxpayers to cover for their mistakes. But, taxpayers won’t stand for it. Which strongly suggests that high-tax states need to set a new course, toward lower taxes and less spending, if they want to stop their population losses.

Of course, that’s a big “if.”  As long as they can keep the scheme going, population is only incidental… never mind that our governments are supposedly instituted to represent the people who actually live in an area.  That isn’t any longer true in a fundamental sense.

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Being Able to Meet Your Son

The short documentary, I Lived on Parker Avenueis very moving.  As a CNA article by Maggie Maslak explains, it’s about a meeting between David Scottons — who was seconds away from being aborted, but was instead put up for adoption — with his birth parents.

“I hope those who watch will see what the adoption option can do. Without the adoption option, I would not be here today…my parents would not have the gift of their only child; nor would my grandparents have the gift of their only grandchild. That’s what adoption does. It can save lives and build families,” he said.

Moving forward, David plans on “always keeping in touch” with his birth parents, saying, “I am looking forward to seeing my biological sister and half-sister grow up as well.”

Pro-abortion advocates will likely call the film emotionally exploitative and self-serving for the young pro-life advocate at its center, but the subject is inherently emotional.  To warn of exploitation would be to forbid pro-lifers from telling the compelling, true stories that support their views.

The question of whether David Scottons is serving his own interests as an activists gets to a curios rhetorical device that we see often from the left.  On one hand, as we’ve seen with recent school shootings, nobody is presumed to have authority to speak on an issue unless they’ve been personally affected by something.  On the other hand, somebody on the right who advances his or her message through a compelling personal story is presented as trying to cash in.  The common theme, obviously, is that one is never presumed to be advocating in good faith for culturally or politically conservative issues.

Give I Lived on Parker Avenue a viewing.  Then do what you can to find and support similarly compelling productions.  On abortion as on a great many issues, we’re so clearly in the right that the only way we lose the battle of ideas is to back down when we’re attacked unfairly and illogically.

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Some Obvious Observations About Population Growth

Sadly, the modern age sometimes requires us to restate blindingly obvious things, as Glenn Stanton does for The Federalist:

It’s a terribly stubborn demographic truism: Somewhere close to 100 percent of babies never born will never become customers of your business. This is true of the more than 55 million American babies who never made it past the womb since abortion was legalized in 1973. It’s true of the untold millions who were never conceived because a potential mom and dad thought they had better things to do.

Of course, there is an inestimable, inherent worth and dignity to every human life, but we cannot ignore the social significance at play here as well. These invaluable lives-never-realized are a whole lot of missing customers. Not good for business. Not good. Nor will they be paying into social security or pensions to provide your part when that time comes either. …

Many countries have been noting this with tremendous concern for more than a decade. Rather than the apocalyptic “population bomb” which was supposed to wipe out countries and lead to the starvation of millions, the exact opposite has happened. Governments across the world are working hard, and often with desperate creativity, to boost the number of new home-grown citizens in their nations.

Understanding the economic value of people, a society shouldn’t do things like make the public bill for raising children so high the public turns away from it, or use the law to deny unique status to the types of relationships that create children, or perpetuate public policy that drives productive people away.

Unfortunately — in part, but not only, because of that old “population bomb” rhetoric — a strain of belief runs through our civilization that there are simply too many people already.  That belief implicitly implicitly relates to a great many of the issues that vex our public dialogue.  People are bad and racist, so we need to impose restrictions on their free association and speech.  People are a blight on the planet, so they’re causing catastrophic climate change.  People are selfish and ignorant, so we require central planning to take decisions out of their hands.

With such beliefs, the obvious thing probably seems to not have children.

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If There’s a Divisiveness Agenda… It’s Working

I’m inclined to agree with the Boston Herald’s general interpretation of the collusion investigation, but it does make me think how utterly separate the two conceptions of reality are in the United States:

Democrats planted the Russian collusion nonsense, which mobilized intelligence services and activated the Watergate-­level press coverage. The new administration never had a chance to get off the ground. Weeks and months went by and no collusion was found, but some lives were ruined for lying to the FBI in the process. As the special counsel petered out on the matter, the spectacle of porn star Stormy Daniels and her oily attorney on CNN served as a flare to catch the eye of investigators, and the football was lateraled by Mueller to the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, who has just begun a fresh hunt.

And we’re off to the races, with the media trying to make vapor into a solid.

How do we come back from a place in which half the country thinks this is plainly true and the other half thinks it’s delusional and offers up its own “plainly true” interpretation, which the first side thinks is delusional?

In all reality, this is probably nothing all that new, but the problem we face is that we’ve allowed government to become so intrinsic to life that our differences on these things matter.  Not that long ago, Americans could have wildly divergent understandings of reality and still live their lives and even cooperate in everything else.  That’s becoming less possible.

To some extent, yes, this has to do with the Internet, the visibility of people’s opinions, and the immediacy of global communications, but on net, the technology is a positive development.  What we need is a social system that can accommodate this technological evolution, and forcing us to resolve our problems in government at high levels of centralization isn’t likely to prove a productive component of that system.

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Prescription for Nations: Avoid Communism (and Progressivism)

Here’s an interesting — if not at all surprising — finding, pointed out by Alain Tolhurst in the New York Post:

In the first undertaking of its kind, they analyzed the fortunes of 44 countries across Europe and Asia and looked at geography, religion, systems of government and a more intangible quality called “deep cultural ancestry.”

Writing in the journal Royal Society Open Science, they matched these factors against where they ranked on the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures per-capita income, life expectancy at birth and the number of years its citizens spend in education.

Most of the issues they looked at appeared to have little or no effect on the disparities between the countries, except for Islamic countries scoring a little worse on education.

Instead, the single strongest predictor for a country’s health, and the second-strongest for its wealth, turned out to be whether its rulers had embraced communism.

To this, Glenn Reynolds adds:  “Communism destroys social trust — communist governments do this by design — and that does longterm damage.”

Just so, observing progressive-backed legislation at the state level in Rhode Island, one notices a recurring theme of division.  Tenants should assume the worst of their landlords.  Employees should assume the worst their employers.  Families should assume the worst of anybody who has any influence on their children.  These aren’t people interacting with their neighbors toward complementary or shared goals; they’re factions attempting to get the better of other factions.

This division allows the progressives to present themselves (via government) as the people’s representation against their oppressors.  The message is that we need central planners because we cannot possibly trust each other to get along without them.

Add to that the requirement that everything must be political.  Every tweet and transaction should be a statement of the right political philosophy.

This cannot possibly be healthy for a society.

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Benighted in the Enlightenment

Taking recent celebration of the Enlightenment as a cue, Yoram Hazony lays out some of the flaws and consequences from an overly zealous promotion of reason as a guide and source of meaning:

For Kant, reason is universal, infallible and a priori—meaning independent of experience. As far as reason is concerned, there is one eternally valid, unassailably correct answer to every question in science, morality and politics. Man is rational only to the extent that he recognizes this and spends his time trying to arrive at that one correct answer.

This astonishing arrogance is based on a powerful idea: that mathematics can produce universal truths by beginning with self-evident premises—or, as Rene Descartes had put it, “clear and distinct ideas”—and then proceeding by means of infallible deductions to what Kant called “apodictic certainty.” Since this method worked in mathematics, Descartes had insisted, it could be applied to all other disciplines. The idea was subsequently taken up and refined by Thomas Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau as well as Kant.

In the popular imagination, the Enlightenment was a sort of stage in intellectual evolution.  To the contrary, Hazony suggests that the driving theories of the Enlightenment weren’t so much unknown prior to that era, but repeatedly rejected because of the obvious dangers.  The breakdown of the family, the lonely solipsism of the modern age, the devastation of secular ideologies over the past couple centuries — these and more grew out of the essentially mystical notion that individuals could tap into some fount of reason.  Gone is the wisdom of the ages and any cultural mechanism for learning and remembering truths that the average Joe or Jane would not bother or be able to conceive after some time with hand on chin.

The “aim” of Enlightenment figures “was to create their own system of universal, certain truths, and in that pursuit they were as rigid as the most dogmatic medievals.”  Like other areas from which human beings strive to derive meaning — such as government and capitalism — reason is really just a tool.  Meaning must come from elsewhere… and will, for better or worse.

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Will We Wake When Treated by Woke Doctors?

This, from a Weekly Standard article by Devorah Goldman, is terrifying:

In 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges revised the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) for the first time in nearly 25 years, stretching the full exam-day experience from around five hours to eight or more. The test drew attention at the time for its sheer length; less widely noted was the explicitly ideological bent of the new exam.

The AAMC occupies a curious place in the world of medicine. It forms one-half of the only government-approved accrediting entity for U.S. medical schools, and it is solely in charge of administering both the MCAT and the national standardized medical school application. Unlike the American Medical Association, which represents physician groups without exercising much direct control over doctors, the AAMC has immediate and significant authority over its constituent medical schools and academic health centers. And in recent years, it has used this leverage to fundamentally alter the way medical schools assess applicants. …

In that address and others, [Dr. Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the AAMC,] described the AAMC’s “Holistic Review Project,” which the organization launched in 2007 with the goal of “redefining what makes a good doctor.” The project’s objectives included revising the MCAT and a wide range of other reforms. A series of new guidelines (some of which have yet to be implemented) called on medical school admissions teams to place less emphasis on applicants’ grades, changed the requirements for letters of recommendation, and altered the standardized application by requesting a great deal more information about students’ upbringing and life experiences. The AAMC is also planning to add “situational judgment tests”—carefully crafted interviews in which applicants will be presented with a variety of hypothetical scenarios involving ethical conflicts—to the current admissions requirements. Along with the new MCAT, these changes are part of Kirch’s plan to shift the focus of medical-school admissions toward a “new excellence,” a standard based less on test scores and more on “the attitudes, values, and experiences” of applicants.

Sorry, but I’m much more concerned with whether my doctor knows how my body functions and how to fix it when things go wrong than what his or her attitude and values might be.  Basically, if he or she values my business and my health, I’m good with whatever else he or she might believe.

As progressivism seeks to turn everything in our society to the single goal of political ends, it will seek not only to ensure that progressive doctors and other professionals are available to those who value them, but that no other options exist.

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A Progressive Plan to Give Workers Rights They Already Have

A couple of weeks ago, I expressed support for the notion of employees’ becoming owners of their workplaces, suggesting that the best way forward was to remove government barriers to their doing so.  As WPRI’s Ted Nesi notes on Twitter, progressive Democrat Representative Aaron Regunberg of Providence has a hearing today on his legislation to, as Nesi puts it with reference to Benny’s, give employees “the right to buy the retailer and turn it into a worker-owned co-op, rather than let it shut down.”

Reading the bill, however, I can’t see that it really does much of anything.  When employers are about to take an action that requires them to notify the federal government about a substantial layoff, the state Department of Labor and Training (DLT) would remind the employees that buying their workplace is an option.

The employees would then take a vote on whether to buy the company.  If the vote succeeds, then any employees who are interested would form an entity in order to buy it.  If the vote fails… well… I guess any employees who are interested in buying the company would do exactly the same thing.  In either case, the employer can decline to sell.  In other words, the bill does nothing but give a politician another talking point about supporting “working Rhode Islanders.”

Of course, because it is so ineffectual, one suspects that this legislation would be the foundation for an incremental change that activists think wouldn’t have chance if pushed into law all at once.  In a few years, progressives might argue that too many owners are unwilling to sell for the price that employees are able to pay and remove their ability to say “no thanks.”  Or maybe a state bank would come along, and these sorts of buy-outs would explicitly be given preferential treatment for loans.

Considering the origin of the bill, the safest bet for Rhode Island would be for the General Assembly simply to let it fade away.  In the meantime, we should reinforce a simple truth that progressives seem to want people to forget:  We already have inalienable rights that come from a higher place than the State House, and we don’t need government to step in and claim to be creating them for us, as if from nothing.

After all, if government can grant a group the right to buy a company, it can remove another group’s right to do the same.

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Toward Colleges That Are More than Indoctrination Hubs

Recent events at Providence College came to mind when I read this paragraph from a Rod Dreher post:

By the way, it’s not simply a matter of ideologically capturing areas of scholarship. The SJWs are now marching through student affairs offices. Patricia Daugherty writes at The Federalist about the annual convention of ACPA, the American College Personnel Association: College Student Educators International. This is the professional organization for campus administrators who oversee student life. She recently retired from a long career in the field, and says she always looked forward to going to this convention. Times. Have. Changed.

During recent controversy at (Roman Catholic) Providence College, involving an RA who came under attack for putting up a bulletin board promoting the Catholic teachings on marriage, hostility to the Church’s teachings found succor with Vice President for Student Affairs Kristine Cyr Goodwin.  The student affairs administrator clearly leaned toward the side of criticizing the RA and supporting those who’d reacted aggressively toward him.  At an event endorsing alternative lifestyles, she initiated a “we’re queer, we’re here” chant, as audible on a recording reviewed by The Current.

Thus, the overall impression of the controversy was of some professors and representatives of the Church (including the bishop) taking the RA’s side, administrators taking the other side, and the college president attempting to find the middle ground.  Objectively, in this situation, the administrators are radicalizing the school, which most students probably do not attend in order to be radicalized.

As that dynamic becomes increasingly pervasive, it changes the nature of higher education.  Colleges should be more than simply white collar trade schools, but they should also be more than hubs for the indoctrination of young adults.

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