A Violation of the Rights of the Parent

“We can do this the easy way or the hard way.  But it’s got to get done.”  -- State Attorney Glenn Ivey of Prince George’s County, Maryland, on the vaccination of 2300 children whose parents object to the county’s policy of forced immunizations.


According to an article published by the Washington Post (Get Kids Vaccinated or Else, Parents Told), parents in Prince George’s County, Maryland, have been provided with an ultimatum by the state: let us inject your children or go to jail.  This is the message delivered by Maryland State Attorney Glenn Ivey and the Prince George’s County School Board in their quest to immunize 2,300 children whose parents have chosen not to submit to the paternalistic demands of the state.


As the school system's chief of student services Betty Despenza-Green puts it, "It hurts us when any child is out of school because he needs to be immunized, and so we felt we needed to be creative. We need those students immunized. We need them in schools."


It would appear as though the school system has quite a few needs, including the need to strip parents of their right to make decisions about their own children. 


But the overbearing comments would not end there, as school board chairman R. Owen Johnson Jr. would add "This is an educational crisis.  This is a public health and a children's rights issue."


Additionally, in a letter to the non-conforming parents, State Attorney Ivey noted that "unexcused absences by your child may subject you to a criminal charge."


What an astonishing trio of statements.  Green appears to imply that the Prince George’s School Board’s need to protect their system of compulsory education supersedes a parent’s right to rear their own children.


And Johnson’s statement, even more outrageously, asserts that it is not the job of the parent to make decisions for their child, but rather it is the job of the government.  This is an issue discussed by Murray Rothbard in his brilliant essay, Education: Free and Compulsory.


“It is obvious that the natural state of affairs is for the parents to have charge of the child.  The parents are the literal producers of the child, and the child is in the most intimate relationship to them that any people can be to one another.  The parents have ties of family affection to the child.  The parents are interested in the child as an individual, and are the most likely to be interested and familiar with his requirements and personality.  Finally, if one believes at all in a free society, where each one owns himself and his own products, it is obvious that his own child, one of his most precious products, also comes under his charge.


“The only logical alternative to parental “ownership” of the child is for the state to seize the infant from the parents and to rear it completely itself.  To any believer in freedom this must seem a monstrous step indeed.  In the first place, the rights of the parents are completely violated, their own loving product seized from them to be subjected to the will of strangers.  In the second place, the rights of the child are violated, for he grows up in subjection to the unloving hands of the State, with little regard for his individual personality."


What we have in the case of Prince George’s County is the latter.  The state has effectively told these parents that thier childen must go to school and they must be vaccinated or they will be subjected to the force of the state.  Essentially this means that any rights parents might enjoy regarding the rearing of their children are subject to the discretion of the state.  


The State, it would appear, now owns America's children. 

Ron Paul Demonstrates Unreliability of Political Polling

For those following the presidential campaign of Texas Congressman Ron Paul there is little questioning his status as a top-tier candidate.  Evidence supporting this conclusion is constantly growing, and after this past week’s events even the main stream media is beginning to recognize what Paul’s supporters have known for quite some time.


The historic week began for Paul this previous Monday, when the ten-term Congressman raised over $4.3 million in contributions in a single twenty-four hour period.  The donations, collected entirely through the campaign’s website, came from over 35,000 supporters, 17,000 of which donated to the campaign for the first time. 


This display of support would then be echoed six days later at a rally held at Philadelphia’s Independence Mall that drew over 5,000 supporters in a celebration centered on Veteran’s Day and the candidate known for his uncompromising support of Constitutional principles and the ideas of liberty upon which the country was founded.


And these two astonishing events are only the most recent accolades for Paul, who is commonly referred to as a long shot by popular media outlets.  His supporters have, for example, formed over 1,100 meetup groups throughout the country with over 61,000 volunteers.  Paul’s YouTube channel has over 36,000 subscribers, and his videos have generated an amazing 6 million views.  And Paul’s website, according to Alexa statistics, receives more hits than all of the other candidates for President combined – in both parties.


All of this support, however, does not seem to translate to success in the national telephone polls so commonly cited in discussions of campaign success.  And while Paul has been climbing in these polls, he still stands around 5 or 6%, placing him fifth behind candidates more frequently touted by the media.


But these figures might have more to do with the way polls are taken than the actual amount of supporters Paul has amassed throughout the country.  The polls, for example, generally exclude cellular telephone numbers, discounting the young and the generally affluent segments of the population.


The polls also tend to focus solely on people who have voted in previous party primaries, which would exclude moderates who don’t affiliate themselves with a particular party, as well as those who haven’t voted in the past or tend to vote independent.


There is no questioning at this point that Ron Paul is a candidate with a legitimate chance of securing the Republican Party nomination, regardless of his relatively low polling figures.  To understand this one simply needs to look beyond these figures to find the strongest example of grassroots support ever demonstrated in US politics. 


And for those unwilling to see the signs behind the polls, there may be a big surprise awaiting them when the early primary states begin to release data representing a Ron Paul popularity already visible to those willing to look.

Did Ben Bernanke really just say that?

While addressing the House Financial Services Committee recently Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said something quite astonishing.  Responding to an absolute drilling from Representative Ron Paul, Bernanke claimed that the devaluation of the dollar will not affect the purchasing power of the dollar assuming the dollar is being spent in domestic markets.  To quote the Chairman:


“If somebody has their wealth in dollars, and they’re going to buy their consumer goods in dollars, and it’s a typical American, than the decline in the dollar, the only effect it has on their buying power is it makes imported goods more expensive.”


Let’s analyze this comment for a moment.  First, this seems to dismiss the fact that a substantial percentage of consumer goods are indeed imports.  The devaluation of the dollar will necessarily increase the cost of those items to end-user consumers, which will assuredly have an impact on all rungs of society.


But what of the domestically produced items that Mr. Bernanke claims will not become more expensive in real terms?  Indeed, assuming these products compete with foreign produced goods, they absolutely will increase in price.  And to come to this conclusion, one needs only access a few very basic economic assumptions.


Consider first, as an example, the case of China and the repetitive devaluation of the Chinese yuan as a means of increasing export sales.  The policy artificially reduces the value of the Chinese currency as a method of ensuring reduced prices for Chinese goods abroad.  China uses this policy to prop up their labor market and reduce unemployment in their massive work force.  Unfortunately, the policy creates an inverse effect for foreign imports, as the yuan has a reduced value on the global market.


The next and very easy step in logic, then, is that domestic suppliers are afforded an advantage in competition, as they are not subjected to the detrimental exchange rates imposed on the foreign producers.  Let us now return to the present situation in the United States.


As has been noted, the devaluation of the dollar, much like with the yuan, will produce a situation wherein domestic suppliers now have an economic advantage against foreign suppliers.  Is it likely, then, that those domestic suppliers will simply maintain their prices and reap a nominal increase in sales?  Clearly, as even a very limited understanding of supply curves suggests, this will not be the outcome.  Instead, on an aggregate level, the supply curve will shift to the left, resulting in an overall increase in prices on the market.


Ultimately, then, we can see a subsidization effect taking place.  But where do the subsidization dollars come from?  The answer is from the holder of the American Dollar through the indirect tax that is inflation.  Let me restate this in other terms.  Every inflationary move utilized by the Federal Reserve equates in to an indirect tax on American citizens through a devaluing of the legally stipulated domestic currency. 


How, then, can Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, possibly claim that the expansionary policies utilized by the Fed to prop up the economy will not have a meaningful effect on the average American?  Well, he’s either lying through his teeth, or he fails to grasp some quite basic economic assumptions.  Frankly, I’m not sure which would be worse.


 You can watch a video of the exchange between Congressman Paul and Chairman Bernanke here.


To end our dependency on foreign petroleum we must subsidize it!

Former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and retired Army Gen. John Abizaid recently revealed his opinion that the US military won’t be able to come home from Iraq for another 25-50 years, citing oil as a primary reason for continued occupation (link).

To quote the general: “I'm not saying this is a war for oil, but I am saying that oil fuels an awful lot of geopolitical moves that political powers may have there, and it is absolutely essential that we in the United States of America figure out how, in the long run, to lessen our dependency on foreign energy.

To me, this reasoning would suggest that our current military action in the Middle East is precisely based on oil, and at its very core is a mercantilist approach to global policy.  But regardless, isn’t the war itself an indirect subsidy favoring the continued use of foreign petroleum?  Won’t one of the outcomes of the war be continued access to foreign petroleum supplies at reduced expense?  If this is the case one can clearly see that some variety of subsidization has occured. 

The very easy jump in logic, then, is that the war itself is preventing the proscribed reduction in our dependency on foreign energy by 1.) artificially reducing the price of foreign petroleum, consequently decreasing the potential of new energy solutions to be competitive, thus decreasing the economic incentive to innovate and 2.) by taking potential investment dollars away from the entrepreneurial pool that will ultimately reveal said innovations.

Consider the possibility that the trillion or so dollars that have already been spent on the war have worked to decrease the price of oil by X percent, leaving us with a current price of Y dollars/barrel with Z equaling the price/barrel without the subsidization effect of the war.  To get the current price of oil, then, we would use the following equation:


Thus, any alternative solution available where, ceteris paribus, the cost comes out to be greater than Y but less than Z would be economically unviable solely because of the subsidization effect of the war.   In this scenario the war clearly works against a reduction in foreign petroleum dependency.

Ultimately it all comes down to the old economist’s assertion that the world will never run out of oil.  Why?  Because as supply dwindles and demand remains constant or increases, the price will become more and more prohibitive and the market will inevitablly find a less expensive, more viable solution.

It’s too bad that once again the US government has failed to understand even the most basic of economic assumptions.
Neoconservative Propaganda

Has propaganda ever been used so blatantly as it’s being used now by neoconservatives in their advocacy of US intervention in the Middle East?  Here’s a sampling from a recent email conversation I had:

The fight against the Middle Eastern terrorists is in fact a fight against Islamofascists!  Now, an educated person understands that a fascist is one who advocates subordination of the individual to the state.  People who advocate violence against the US based on strict interpretations of the Qur’an, then, would not be fascists.  By definition they might be fanatics or fundamentalists (or freedom fighters if you go back far enough in the CIA’s paperwork).  But the terms fanatic and fundamentalist conger images of small sects of individuals, and that just won’t suffice.  The term fascist on the other hand stirs up memories of WWII and Nazi Germany.  Much more powerful rhetoric, indeed.  

But haven’t you heard, this is a world war!  Thank you Mr. Podhoretz.  Without your analytical acumen the world would have completely missed the fact that we are indeed involved in World War IV.  Yes, there’s only one theatre.  And yes, there’s really only one legitimate aggressor.  And yes the great enemy actually isn't a government.  But if the Cold War was actually WWIII, how could this not be regarded as WWIV?  Wait, the cold war was WWIII?  That doesn’t make sense either…  And this Podhoretz guy is advising the Giuliani campaign on Foreign policy issues?  Yikes.

Fine, but without preemptive strikes our nation is at risk!  Well, these countries have no navies and no air forces, but I will admit that it’s possible that some time in the future they might be able to produce some variety of nuclear payload… And I’ll further admit that there’s some chance that if they do actually produce a nuclear device that they might be able to develop the ballistic capabilities of delivering onto US soil.  I guess that’s kind of a risk…  Sort of.


Whew… Would I be propagandizing if I mentioned Joseph Goebbels at this point?  But really, how do these guys come up with this stuff?  I have to imagine that this variety of pablum contributed to the results of a recent Zogby poll, which stated that 52% of likely voters "would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon.”  Good thing these polls are so worthless, and that Americans are smart enough to see through this propaganda, or we might be looking at another $2.4 trillion lesson in futility.


Vote Ron Paul


Honorable mentions in the neoconservative propaganda category:


  • To advocate withdraw is to desire defeat.
  • To disagree with Middle East intervention is to disagree with US involvement in WWII.
  • Advocating withdraw is a betrayal to the troops.
  • Not believing in the Iraq war is a liberal position.