Author: Daniel McDonald

October 5, 2010 Daniel McDonald

Perhaps one of the strangest positions taken by the liberal establishment in America is the support for various affirmative action programs.

Their mantra has traditionally been along the lines of ending discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion and sexual orientation; but when it comes to the promotion of individuals on this very basis, they see no contradiction. What difference does it make if someone is either promoted to, or denied a position on the basis of their race? In either case, the deciding factor is the color of their skin.

What advocates of affirmative action all too often fail to understand is that, by granting favoritism to one group of people, they are in turn, hurting another. For every beneficiary of affirmative action there are unseen victims passed over, not for lack of ability, but for lack of melanin.

In 2009, the city of New Haven, Conn. invalidated the test results of nineteen firefighters due to the fact that none of those who passed happened to be black. The firefighters decided to challenge the decision, which was taken up by the Supreme Court in the case of Ricci v. DeStefano. In a 5-4 decision, the side of good sense won the day with the majority opinion ruling that the city of New Haven violated title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

This levelheaded decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts who in a similar case a few years earlier argued, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” If only more people had such clarity of thought on what should be a simple issue.

But what are we to make of the other four members of the Supreme Court? Does not racial discrimination go against the American bedrock of equal protection under the law? It is this odd contradiction that forces one to come to the conclusion that ending arbitrary forms of discrimination was never the goal to begin with.

An egalitarian society, by any means possible, is their end in sight. Where conservatives generally adhere to the ideal of equality of opportunity, liberals justify all actions to achieve equal results, whether by the implementation of institutional racism or confiscation of private property. The ends always justify the means.

Interestingly enough, what is rarely ever asked of them is to actually justify the need for more affirmative action programs. They always assume that unequal results are due to institutional discrimination.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that the mere fact that certain groups achieve more in society is not itself enough evidence to come to the conclusion that there is some sort of inherent barrier.

For example, the percentage of black players in the National Basketball Association during the 2008-09 season was 82 percent, up from 80 percent the previous year. Would any rational person argue that there exists some sort of nationwide discrimination against non-black athletes, making them ill prepared for professional sports? Should we perhaps petition Congress to force the NBA to fulfill racial quotas in order to reflect American racial makeup as a whole?

Both questions are utterly ridiculous as far as professional sports go, yet the assumed discrimination argument is considered legitimate when used elsewhere.

In the academic realm, the average SAT math score among Asians and Pacific Islanders is an average of 32 points higher than their white peers. The liberal’s logic (or lack thereof) would have to conclude that whites are being discriminated against. Since this obviously can’t be the case, there must be additional factors unaccounted for. We can or cannot know for certain what these other factors are, but the burden of proof is on those who claim to know.

Whether in the area of college admissions or job promotions, discrimination on the basis of race is always wrong, in all cases. It was wrong before the achievements of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s and it is wrong today in the form of affirmative action.

All we can hope for in society is to remove every barrier possible and to let the chips fall where they may.

It’s about creating the optimal environment for the equality of opportunity, not the equality of results.

September 23, 2010 Daniel McDonald

Perhaps one of the most significant differences between conservatives and liberals is their stark divergence of views as it relates to the Constitution.

Where most conservatives seek to apply the original intent and meaning behind the words, liberals adhere to the idea that the Constitution in its original form is inadequate in meeting the demands of modern society and must consequently be open to a vastly more flexible interpretation.

One of the leading representatives of the more liberal view is Erwin Chemerinsky, the founding Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law. In a recent interview with Reason TV he made two statements that summed up his side rather well.

“I am always skeptical that we can know the original intent behind a Constitutional provision,” Chemerinsky said. “I am also skeptical that even if we knew, it should be binding on us today.”

The second statement is the most telling and best illustrates how despite all the evidence to the contrary, government officials can argue that something as ludicrous as mandating the purchase of health insurance is a power within the bounds of the federal government. Such a position has nothing to do with honestly interpreting the Constitution, but instead figuring out ways to make the words say what the reader wants them to say.

The better question to the advocates of the liberal view is not whether this or that policy is unconstitutional, but whether ultimately anything is unconstitutional.

When pressed on the limits of federal power, the Democratic Rep. Peter Stark from California answered, “The federal government can, yes, do most anything in this country.”

The answer to how authoritarians such as these have slithered their way around the Constitution comes from a complete perversion of the Commerce Clause, which states that, “(The Congress shall have Power) To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;”

Chemerinsky reads this clause as granting Congress the power to, “regulate all aspects of the economy.”

Interestingly enough, Americans wary of a strong central government during the time of ratification were reassured by James Madison, father of the Constitution that, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined”, which seems so utterly incompatible with the modern blank-check interpretation.

What Chemerinsky conveniently fails to understand, is that the purpose of the Commerce Clause was to prevent trade barriers between states so that one state could not impose a tariff on the goods of another state. The real fear at the time was that trade barriers would cause a rift between the states and, as history tells us, such trade restrictions were often one of the main causes of war. It was never intended to be limited merely by the imagination of legislators.

In an even more worrisome revelation, during the Obama appointee Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma gave her a hypothetical law to test her understanding of the Commerce Clause which stated, “Americans have to eat three vegetables and three fruits every day.”

Kagan’s response was, “It sounds like a dumb law.”

Coburn then pressed her more directly asking, “Do we have the power to tell people what to have to eat every day?”

Kagan hesitated and subsequently failed to answer the question.

If this continual and deliberate discarding of the Constitution continues, then we are effectively no longer a government of laws but of men, where the average citizen cannot simply read the law and seek to abide by it, but must rely on the whims of a judge who may be disinterested in interpreting the law as it stands, but rather, as he prefers it to be.

Such a system has the potential to be infinitely more oppressive than that of British rule. Did our founders spend blood and treasure fighting tyranny only so that their descendents would become slaves voluntarily?

The only option is to elect representatives who ask not whether a policy works, but first if it’s Constitutional and promise to appoint originalist judges who will interpret the Constitution as it was originally intended.

September 3, 2010 Daniel McDonald

A university is supposed to be a place in which the free and open exchange of ideas takes place, where people from all political persuasions can meet and discuss any topic without fear of retribution. And for the most part this is entirely true of UAA, which maintains a presence of a healthy and active…

August 26, 2010 Daniel McDonald

The debate over the construction of an Islamic center at ground zero is best summed up as shrill, dishonest and demagogic. You have the President on one side coming out in support of the mosque initially, and then back peddling the following week, claiming that his support was for the right to build it not the wisdom of doing so. As for the wisdom of building a mosque, he has chosen to withhold any judgment. Well, thank you Mr. President for saying absolutely nothing by clarifying what 99 percent of Americans already know and believe; we do not need a lecture on the first amendment.

The dispute was never over legal rights but whether it remains the good and proper course to take for the Cordoba Initiative group to build it in the chosen spot.

Behind him are the deluded hoards of leftist capitulators who foam at the mouth at the very idea of a chance to prove their sensitivity towards a minority group; never mind how far their views actually diverge from that group so long as that group retains its “minority status”. They have come out swinging claiming that anyone opposed to the plan is clearly an Islamophobic bigot of the worst order.

Their opponents on the right and a few on the left as well raise issue with the sensitivity of such a building. They are right in saying that here 3,000 Americans lost their lives and an evil ideology rooted in Islam is to blame. Conservative estimates put that particular strain of Islam at around 7 percent of all Muslims worldwide, but you’re talking about 80 million sympathizers; that is nothing to sneeze at.

Polls have been used such as the one put out recently by CNN showing that 68 percent oppose the plan, while 29 percent are in favor. However, mere popular majorities and appeals to “sensitivity” have never swayed me an inch.

The same cult of sensitivity so adamant with nipping opinion in the bud on college campuses has used the same happy-face fascistic tactics before. For conservatives it is best to put on the big-boy pants and stick to solid facts about the actual group behind the mosque rather than coming off as complete wimps crying about sensitivity.

The most important fact is that the imam behind the place Feisal Abdul Rauf is on record as saying shortly after 9/11 on 60 Minutes, “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” He added, “In the most direct sense, Osama Bin Laden is made in the USA.”

He has also refused to label the murderous totalitarian group Hamas as a terrorist organization. His partially blaming the United States for what happened on 9/11 should be enough to foment complete opposition to him and his group.

This common theme of “we are to blame for what happened” is so utterly tired and overused. Osama Bin Laden wants to create a worldwide Islamic caliphate where Sharia law stretches to every corner of the globe. There is no consolidation with these Islamic radicals and any hint of blaming their victims is the purest form of cowardice. If you favor freedom of speech like that practiced in Denmark with the caricature of Mohamed, they will not be happy with you. If you think women ought to have the right to breathe freely and have equal rights with men, then you better watch your back. Appeasement with Islamic groups and their ilk who committed the most grievous of acts on 9/11 is not an option and men like Feisal Abdul Rauf who insinuate we are to blame, deserve nothing but scorn and contempt and even more public outcry than they are receiving. As of now, the mosque is and ought to receive an emphatic “No” from the public; let us all hope it’s for the right reasons.

July 29, 2010 Daniel McDonald

One of the common slogans during times of economic crises is “Buy American” and, for good measure, we ought to lobby government to slap a protective tariff or two onto foreign goods and products.

We are told it’s the patriotic thing to do; that by paying a higher price for American-made goods, we are strengthening the country by keeping jobs here and not sending them overseas.

Among all the economic fallacies that infest the public discourse, this may be the worst, as not only do the usual economic illiterates on the Left adhere to it, but a few on the Right as well.

The peculiar aspect of this phenomenon is that actual economists from nearly all schools of persuasion are in agreement on the benefits of free trade. I suspect those in power who cave into protectionism are either completely incompetent or are paying off their political allies. The latter is probably case.

Two such recent examples were the “Buy American” provisions in the utterly wasteful 2009 stimulus package, which mandated use of American manufactured steel on infrastructure projects. Later that same year, President Barack Obama imposed a 35 percent tariff on low-end, Chinese-made tires.

Now the argument for pushing such policies is that the American steel and tire industries need public subsidies in order to survive – and that may be the case – but at what cost?

It may be true that if the tariff were to be lifted, that the few whose livelihood depends on the health of the American steel industry will lose their jobs. However, like most of these fallacies, you must look further than what is in front of your nose.

With the availability of cheaper steel, there will be money left over to promote other industries, and create more wealth and jobs than could have ever been salvaged by saving an inefficient business.

With the existence of the tariff, perhaps less than one percent benefit, while ninety-nine percent of our fellow Americans suffer by increasing the cost of living.

Additionally, a theme that seems so common in shortsighted policies such as these is that they hurt exactly the people they aim to help, in particular, the poor.

It is not the rich who are directly affected by the tariff on the low-end Chinese tires, but the very poorest. Rather than having money left over to buy essentials, they are left to pay a steeper price, all because Obama felt the need to appease the United Steelworkers, which is the union that represents American tire workers.

The last and perhaps most dangerous aspect of protectionist policies is the potential for a tariff war or even a complete close off of trade.

During the early years of the Great Depression under President Hoover, the U.S. passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act using similar phony arguments about protecting American jobs so common today. The result was a tariff war and a disastrous rejection of American goods by key trading partners such as Canada, France and Britain, which illustrates perfectly how tariffs in the end are not only bad for consumers and nearly all producers, but can actually backfire on the very particular producers they seek to protect.

The next time you hear a politician using the phony populist appeals about protecting American jobs and keeping out all those scary foreign products, do them a favor and buy them a copy of Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” or perhaps Henry Hazlitt’s classic “Economics in One Lesson.”

Due to the current power of the state over economic affairs, as citizens, it is important we all become educated so that we may banish this sort of sophistry forever.

June 30, 2010 Daniel McDonald

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It has become clear in recent months that the model of ever growing spending, regulation and social welfare programs is unsustainable. The recent economic recession has only escalated this reality and brought it to the forefront. States such as California, with a mind-boggling 21.3 billion-dollar budget deficit, are on the verge of bankruptcy. Despite this…

May 28, 2010 Daniel McDonald

Among politicians, community agitators, environmentalists and clergymen, the term social justice seems to be making a comeback in popular discourse. But, for a term so commonly thrown around, the definition is more than slightly ambiguous.

Everyone naturally wants justice. So, when someone questions those who evoke social justice, they are usually snubbed and left without answers, or given looks as if they are in opposition to rainbows and puppies.

Upon further investigation, the most common meaning of social justice is economic redistribution of wealth. Unfortunately for the social justice advocates, egalitarians, true equality is impossible.

In order for their utopia to become a reality they would have to take their grievances up with nature, because there can never be true equality of skill, intellect and talent of all peoples.

The world would surely be a very dull place if every man and woman were equal in every way; no room for individuality, no room for the imagination, or artistic expression, just a grey mass of sameness. How boring!

Thankfully for those of us who don’t give any credence to this cult of the envious, there is really only one way for the social justice advocate to achieve their so-called justice, and that is, of course, wealth. They may not have the means to take away the skill and athleticism of Kobe Bryant, but they can surely take his money!

So, is economic equality a good thing? Is it really just? Perhaps economic equality may be a desirable outcome, but the methods of achieving it are vitally important.

If economic equality was somehow achieved through the voluntary labor and toil of every individual then it would be both good and just. However, as stated before, every individual is unique and will therefore produce, create and achieve unequally.

Thus, in a free society there will be different outcomes for the simple reason that people are different. Not only because we possess different natural abilities, but also our ambitions differ. Some people are willing to work harder than others to achieve more economic prosperity.

The question to the egalitarian that must be asked is, who is owed the wealth that is created more than the person who works for it?

It goes back to Aesop’s fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper,in which the ants work all summer collecting food in order to prepare for the winter, while the grasshopper was idle and lazy. By the time winter had come along, the ants were prepared and the grasshopper went hungry.

The egalitarian would have to argue that the grasshopper is owed an equal proportion of corn he never even worked for. Now the ants may share with the grasshopper out of charity but they certainly do not owe him anything. If they were forced to give, then that would be called something other than charity, what used to be called theft. Therefore the only fair share that one can claim is what they themselves earn.

That brings us to the alternative method of reassessing this muddled concept. Some believe it’s high time to change the meaning of the term into something that actually resembles justice.

Bernard Chapin, a conservative author and columnist, has recently seen fit to advocate for the definition of “an individual keeping what they earn.” What a novel idea! What could be more just than that?

More ideally though, the term would be better off with discontinued use, seeing as how vague it is in its current form. Though it is fairly obvious to see why it would be more popular than advocating the more accurate policy of income redistribution.

The left wing loves to hide behind intuitively benevolent terms to mask their true positions, which are in the end ugly, oppressive and anything other than just.

April 13, 2010 Daniel McDonald

After months of heated debate, President Barack Obama signed the controversial health care legislation, H.R. 3590 and H.R. 4872 into law on March 30. The vast majority of the discussion focused on the quality of care and economic implications. Although obvious questions arise as to how a new government entitlement will do anything but increase the deficit, there remains a more fundamental issue with the bill and the concepts behind it.

We were told that health care was a “right” and that there was a “moral imperative” to guarantee that right to every citizen. Even many of those opposed to the bill ceded the point that the ideas behind it were both good and noble. I contend that not only is access to health care not a right, but to use force to provide it through taxation and coercion is immoral.

The American concept of rights as our founders understood them were rights of action, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The misunderstanding arises when needs are confused with rights. Everyone has a need of food, clothing and shelter, but not a right to force others to provide these needs. Rather, it is the right of every individual to pursue and obtain these necessities as long as they are not impeding on the ability of others to do so. The so-called right to health care is as legitimate as a right to a hotdog.

Additionally, in order to guarantee this right there are two options. The first is to force medical practitioners to provide care without compensation – in short turn doctors into slaves. But of course those on the left cannot have this seeing as they are so indescribably compassionate and care so much about the well being of doctors and their families. Instead the second option is taken, which is to use taxation to pay the costs. Therefore in order to guarantee this right to health care, it is necessary to use force. No longer is there simply a right to provide one’s self with food and shelter, but it is the job of one’s neighbor to guarantee that right, or else.

That is not to say that universal healthcare for all is not a desirable outcome, only that the methods of achieving it through force are wrong. Giving to charities in order to help the poor is commendable and should be encouraged, but there is an enormous difference between a free person giving away their own money and the government “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

If those on the left are as compassionate as they so often declare themselves to be, why not provide for the poor themselves instead of resorting to government coercion? They claim it’s the fat-cat capitalists who are selfish, hoarding their millions and exploiting the common worker. Of course none of the modern liberals are greedy. In fact they care so much that they are willing to provide for the poor with other people’s money; truly admirable.

Health care guaranteed by the government, like food and housing, are not rights, but as the great classical liberal Alexis de Tocqueville classified them, “rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle.” In order to guarantee this “moral imperative,” it is necessary to trample over true and legitimate rights the founders of this nation fought and died to protect.

March 31, 2010 Daniel McDonald

On Feb. 22, Students for Social Equality approached the UAA College Republicans with a request to co-host what they described as a “non-partisan” film titled The War on Democracy.

The invitation was offered without any real discussion of the content, but judging from their name alone there was already grounds for being skeptical of their motives. Anyone claiming to be in favor of social equality should immediately raise suspicion from those in favor of limited government. Their ultimate goal is first and foremost egalitarianism.

In contrast, most members of the College Republicans, being students of Milton Friedman, accept his observation that “a society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

Once we were able to gather some information on the documentary and its directors Christopher Martin and John Pilger (two men after Noam Chomsky’s own heart), the decision not to assist them became obvious. Apparently there is nothing partisan about being in favor of Marxist theory. That is not to say that many of us were not interested in hearing other point of views, and a few decided to do just that.

The purpose of the film was to focus on the negative realities of U.S. interventionist policy in Latin America. The filmmakers did a relatively decent job of presenting the history of the several American-backed coups while painting the pre-existing regimes in a positive light.

The position that the U.S. ought to topple unfavorable regimes via the CIA is not one I am going to defend. There are plenty of problems with this film’s presentation without having to take up that issue.

The first comes from the title itself, this odd concept that democracy is somehow synonymous with good. It was pointed out numerous times that the leaders of certain countries fallen victim to interventionism were democratically elected, as if that mattered. Democracy can be just as tyrannical as any other form of government if there are not laws in place protecting basic rights, with emphasis on property in this case. The tyranny of the majority, an idea popularized by John Stuart Mill, should come to mind.

The best illustration of this can be found with the one and only Presidente “it smells of sulfur” Chávez. The film depicts this thug as a valiant leader fighting against American imperialism, while providing his people with the benevolent fruits of socialism. Disregard his takeover of private property, drastic regulation of media and removal of presidential term limits.

Since Chávez’s ascension to power, Venezuelan economic policies have been an utter failure. For example, in 2003 he implemented price controls on food aimed at protecting the poor, with the predictable result of shortages. His policies attempting to help the needy did just the opposite, but like all good socialists, one must not judge a policy by its results but rather by its intentions.

The other magnanimous hero of the oppressed classes praised by the filmmakers is Fidel Castro. The list of his crimes and failed policies are too numerous to mention, but are best displayed by the fact that many Cubans have navigated the dangerous waters of the Caribbean to seek refuge from his ruling in Miami.

This film is utterly irresponsible in its sugarcoated portrayal of tyrannical regimes that stifle the creativity and dignity of the individual.

As Winston Churchill correctly put it, “socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy.”
Mr. Chávez and his 21-century socialist movement will repeat the mistakes of their predecessors. They certainly do not need encouragement of misguided filmmakers, who ironically owe their success to the system they aim to destroy.

February 27, 2010 Daniel McDonald

The freedom of speech is on trial at this moment in a Dutch court. Geert Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom and a man well known for his outspoken resistance to the Islamification of the Netherlands, is facing a possible two years in prison.

He has a history of making controversial statements on Islam and even went as far as releasing a short film in 2008 titled Fitna, documenting violence and hatred by Muslims around the world.

A sizeable minority has seen fit to prosecute him for “inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs.”

He has compared the Qur’an to Mein Kampf and accused the religion as being diametrically opposed to enlightenment principles valued in Western democracies.

The court however is not concerned with whether those accusations are true and that raises a very serious and disturbing problem. Under so-called “anti-hate” speech law, Wilders is not on trial for spreading falsehoods about Islam, but rather hurting the feelings of its adherents. Even if what he is warning against happens to be true, that can be of no aid in his defense.

The Dutch have abandoned truth in favor of sensitivity and allowed a small group of theocrats to hijack their courts in order to silence the opposition. Isn’t it amusing how Wilders accuses Islam as being fascist and its followers retaliate exactly how a fascist group would be expected to?

We also need to rid ourselves of this false question of “Hate speech or Free speech?”

There is no such dilemma. Much of the media separates these terms as being somehow independent. However, if you accept that a society ought to uphold free speech, then hate speech must accompany it.

If someone claims they support free speech rights and at the same time anti-hate speech legislation, then they are both hypocritical and dishonest. What they mean by “free” is only what they are willing to tolerate. They use speech laws as a tool to end public discourse and criminalize the thoughts of their opponents.

What needs to be understood is that free speech is utterly meaningless, unless it means the freedom to speak on controversial subjects, especially religion.

Another obvious problem that arises from these hate speech laws is who will be bestowed with the privilege of defining what is considered to be hateful? Can any person really be trusted with the power of deciding what his neighbor is permitted to say?

The arbitrary nature of these speech laws is all too obvious. Additionally, by virtue of putting a law in place that states you cannot insult this group, but fails to mention another group, you end up with some being “more equal” than others. Every year you will have another victim pleading their case to be added to the list of those protected.

This political show trial is scheduled to continue until October of this year. Whether you agree with Geert Wilders is not the issue at stake; what is at stake is freedom. And we here in America need to stand with the people of Europe behind Wilders and refuse to bow to the whims of the offended.

There should not be any arbiters of tolerable speech, especially if they are totalitarian thugs stuck in a seventh-century mindset. People who condone death by stoning for blasphemy, adultery and homosexuality, and throw acid in the faces of unveiled women or treat them as chattel have absolutely no place in Western society.

We cannot allow that sort of backward ideology to gain a foothold in any legal system and should resist it wherever it currently festers.

The Dutch people need to free themselves from the shackles of multiculturalism and send these enemies of freedom back to the theocracies they seem so fond of.