Wednesday, December 31, 2014

PROTEST-metro-ss-slide-1DLN-jumbo

By Nancy Thorner – 

Racial tension in America has exploded. Whoever would have thought that people would march arm in arm down streets chanting: “What do you want? Dead cops. When do we want it? Now!” They got exactly what they asked for when a black man assassinated two unsuspecting police officers while they sat in their patrol car, declaring the murders an act of revenge.

After the assassination of two patrol officers on a Brooklyn street on Saturday, December 20, wary NYPD cops are now letting minor crimes side. They are writing almost no summons and making arrests only when they must. Naturally concerned about their safety, law enforcement officers want to go home to their wives and kids after their shifts end.

The issue of race has become a primary focus in this nation. The catalyst for the protests that erupted across this nation last month followed a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, in a St. Louis suburb. Following on the heels of the Michael Brown decision, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the choke hold death of Eric Garner, another unarmed black.

In the aftermath of these two incidents, protests grew in intensity along with demands to increase scrutiny of police tactics.  President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and so-called civil rights leader, Al Sharpton, were largely responsible for the escalation of the tension.

When President Obama was asked a few days ago in an NPR interview whether the nation is more racially divided than it was six years ago, he responded:  “No, I actually think in its day-to-day interactions it’s less racially divided.”  Obama seems to be living in an alternative world as he wants to see it, one that is divorced from reality.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once marched with a positive message of peace.  His leadership resulted in accomplishments that eventually led to this nation electing its first black president. Ironically, under President Obama’s leadership, racial tensions have increased with riots, chaos and hatred. Absent is a strong black leader with the heart and spirit of Dr. King to unite us.

The individual facts of the Brown and Garner incidents do not matter to those who turn out to protest. Instead, it is the occurrences themselves that reinforce what the protesters believe to be true. This truth is based on perception, which often becomes reality. Presently the African-American community (more than 40 million) perceives itself as the targeted victim of white police brutality and that the entire white-dominated and controlled justice system is fixed against them making it clear that blacks will never get justice.  If this is true, how is it possible that Barack Obama was elected twice with the support of millions of white voters and that the head of the federal justice system, Eric Holder, is an African American?  And what about the Homeland Security Secretary who is an African-American?  African-Americans are serving in Congress.  They have also been elected as big city Mayors, members of City Councils, members of State legislatures, admirals, generals, university professors, journalists, TV anchors, CEO’s, famous artists, movie stars, athletes, senior police officials, etc.

Despite having made significant strides over the decades,it is disheartening that the perception of millions of African-Americans dates back to the old practices prevalent during the dark days of legally sanctioned segregation, with all the lynchings, Ku Klux Klan violence, and open intimidation against Blacks. Not to be dismissed is that police have been known to use excessive force. When killings of Black Americans by police officers have not been justifiable, police officers should be held accountable for their actions just like everybody else. It’s a stretch of the imagination, however, to conclude that isolated instances of while police misconduct should lead to the widely shared perception that white police brutality is systemic and that more than 40 million black Americans are now targets of excessive use of force that includes deliberate killings.

With the election of President Obama in 2008, even those who were not happy campers hoped that the election of the first black president would go a long way in helping to heal the country’s racial divide that still existed.  But this wasn’t to be. Belong long the political weapon of skin color was used against those who disagreed with President Obama’s agenda.

Such race baiting has led to harming this nation’s culture. No longer must a reasonable level of scrutiny be met in order for a divisive racial narrative to be put forth and bolstered by the media. This has resulted in the inability of the many Americans to view accusations of racism responsibly and objectively when they really do occur.

This is not a racist country. According to a recent Bloomberg Politics poll, a majority of Americans, 53%, believe that race relations have worsened under America’s first black president.  It is a small group of individuals who are invested in driving a narrative that whites are against blacks. This minority is likewise using poor blacks in urban areas to serve the interest of black leaders, such as shake down artist Al Sharpton. Sharpton has latched onto the tragedies and pushed the theme that any scenario that results in a black person being killed by a white person is murder attributed to racism. For Sharpton it’s open season for killing black men. The killings of Brown and Garner by white cops are being touted by Sharpton as the norm, instead of the isolated instances that they are.   Facts and statistics never stand in the way of Sharpton’s oratory.

Saner heads do recognize that the deaths are tragedies and that institutional racism is not to blame. Tragically this is not so, especially among young people. They have been taught through academia and the media that America is still a fundamentally bigoted country. Given this false narrative, it becomes virtually impossible for society to have an open, mature discussion about race.

Black American Jason Riley, Editorial Board member of the Wall Street Journal, had this to say in this excerpt from his book, “Please Stop Helping Us”, in regard to what the left won’t tell you about black crime:

The shooting is not because of drug or gun laws. The problem is primarily cultural — self-destructive behaviors and attitudes all too common among the black underclass.  The problem is black criminal behavior, which is one manifestation of a black pathology that ultimately stems from the breakdown of the black family. Liberals want to talk about what others should do for blacks instead of what blacks should do for themselves.  But if we don’t acknowledge the cultural barriers to black progress, how can we address them?  How can you even begin to fix something that almost no one wants to talk about honestly?

It is not an easy road to hoe for individuals like Jason Riley who advocate that people in black communities look in the mirror at themselves, even suggesting that there might be a reason why blacks are often racially profiled.

It is not an easy road to hoe for individuals like Jason Riley who advocate that people in black communities look in the mirror at themselves, even suggesting that there might be a reason why blacks are often racially profiled. Former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani noted that people should also be talking about the problem of black-on-black crime.  Although Giuliani did place some responsibility on the police department to train their officers better and make their police departments more diversified, he further noted, “But I think just as much, if not more, responsibility is on the black community to reduce the reason why the police officers are assigned in such large numbers to the black community.”  When Giuliani assigned police officers with Commissioner Bratton and Commissioner Safir, he do so based on statistics and not based on race. Said Giuliani: “If I had put all my police officers on Park Avenue, and none in Harlem, thousands and thousands more blacks would have been killed during the eight years I was mayor.”Some facts:  On the eve of the 2010 Census there were 40 million black Americans, the nation’s second largest minority group in the first decade of the 21st century.  The Hispanic minority population ranked first.  In 2010 Cook County, Illinois had the largest black population of any county (1.4 million) in this nation.

Black genocide is happening in America, but not by white cops.  Although the black population of this nation stands at 13%, one-half of all murders are committed by blacks.These three factors contribute to black genocide in America:

1.  Black on black murder – over 90% of young black men are killed by other young black men.

2. The absence of fathers in black households – over 70% of black babies are born to a single parent.  Prior to 1960 and the War on Poverty the percent was reversed – at least 70% were born to two parent households.  It is not surprising that one of the leading indicators of poverty is single motherhood

3.  Abortion – black mothers are five times more likely to abort their babies than white mothers.  A recent report stated more black babies were aborted than born in New York City.

Not to be forgotten is the creation of the Welfare State (President Johnson’s War on Poverty Program in the 60’s) and failed Democratic policies which failed to reduce the rate of poverty among blacks.

When will we be able to engage in civil discussion about racial divisiveness in this nation? Unfortunately civil discussion will remains impossible to conduct until the Left admits it has a problem, that of black-on-black crime.  There is not an epidemic of white cops killing young blacks men. In inner city black ghetto neighborhoods, it is cops who prevent these areas from becoming the wild, wild, west.

Yes, black lives do matter, but have the lives of young blacks living in Chicago and many other inner cities really matter to politicians?  And what about the lives of law enforcement officers who put their lives in danger day in and day out.  Do they not matter?

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

John-stossel31

By Nancy Thorner – 

The Heritage Foundation Luncheon on Friday, December 12 spear headed Jim DeMint, President of The Heritage Foundation, as Master of Ceremonies. Prior to the luncheon a panel discussion had taken place during which time DeMint and Michael Needham, Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Action for America, discussed “A Bold Agenda for a Better America, Taking on the 114th Congress.” See Part 1 for write up.

John Stossel, Fox Business Network Host and Commentator, gave the keynote luncheon address. Prior to Stossel’s remarks, Governor-elect Rauner offered some special remarks of his own. Introduced by Illinois native Steven Moore, Rauner was described by Moore as not a criminal, as  knowing economics, as not being owned by any one, and believing that Chicago could be a great city and the next Hong Kong if he succeeds.

Bruce Rauner spoke about restoring the American dream for Illinoisans.  Said Rauner: “It’s not how much we spend, but how and why we are spending the money we do.”  Rauner intends to take on the core elements of the spending process to eliminate waste and fraud.  In speaking about his agenda, Rauner expressed high aspirations. Rauner’s agenda items include: 1) Ethics reform; 2) substantial tax reform; and 3) school choice.  Noted by Rauner was that for years Illinoisans had elected individuals based on promises, only to discover later on that many had turned out to be unprincipled and even corrupt   For success to happen Rauner needs a big team effort.  An invitation was extended to attend Rauner’s inauguration in Springfield on January 12, 2015.

President Jim DiMInt introduced John Stossel.   DeMint, in explaining why John Stossel had been chosen to speak at The Chicago Heritage Foundation event, noted: Stossel is despised by Democrats who are suspicious of free market and capitalism, and not particularly popular with conservatives because he believes in personal freedom, but as an advocate of the Free Market System, Stossel is in step with The Heritage Foundation.  Having started his career in viewing the marketplace as a cruel place where you need intervention by government and lawyers to protect people, after watching regulators work Stossel came to the realization that the free market provides the protectors of the consumer.

Agile and looking younger than his chronological age of 67, John Stossel bounded onto the stage, and positioning himself behind the podium, he quipped, unapologetic for being a Libertarian:  “Born and raised in Illinois, I escaped Illinois, but you didn’t.”  Born in Chicago Heights, Illinois, Stossel is a graduate of New Trier High School.  Although a stutterer early in life, Stossel over time conquered this speech problem which could have derailed his career.

John Stossel spoke of being trained as a liberal consumer reporter.  Believing rules were needed because life was complex, Stossel whole heartedly endorsed regulations, only to watch them fail.   As to the The Department of Consumer Affairs, Stossel spoke about licensing requirement for repair shops.  Licensing, however, didn’t protect customers.  30 years later repair shops, despite being licensed, were still fooling consumers and not giving consumers what they were promised to expect.

Stossel believes in invisible spontaneous order to help people organize their lives. Simply put, spontaneous order is what happens when you leave people alone, when entrepreneurs see the desires of people and then provide for them.  Admittedly, many Americans believe central planning works best.  To illustrate why competition works (free market) much better than government, and how it is better and more productive than relying on a handful of elites in some distant bureaucracy, Stossel spoke of communist-era automobile disasters. The East German Trabant, with its sputtering two-stroke engine and resinated paper-mache bodywork, barely deserved the devotion lavished on it by that country’s frustrated car-lovers, yet it was the best car a planned economy could produce and mediocre at best!  Consider also the Yugo built in Soviet-bloc Yugoslavia, which earned the reputation of being the worst car in history.

And what about OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association), the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation.  OSHA would make people safe.  Trumpeted was how fatalities had dropped since the beginning of OSHA?  “Not so,” said Stossel.  Free people will make the adjustments needed when an accident happens, treating accidents as free market problems without government interference.

Consider also the “War of Poverty.”  Poverty was decreasing even before the War on Poverty began.  The programs established to decrease poverty only encouraged and taught people to be dependent and remain in poverty.  And what about wars fought in other countries to protect this nation?  In prior generations government would shrink after wars ended, but not anymore.

Stossel, in looking back over the years and the many issues he confronted as a consumer reporter, expressed embarrassment that it took him 15 years before he really woke up to the fact that almost everything government attempts to do makes it worse.  As Stossel tells it:  His work as a correspondent for 20/20 and a consumer reporter for “Good Morning America” stems back to 1981. Stossel was named co-anchor of 20/20 in May of 2003, where eight to 10 million people watched his program weekly.  Stossel’s discovery ofReason while co-anchoring 20/20 — a libertarian monthly print magazine covering politics, culture, and ideas — was cited by Stossel as the impetus that channeled his movement toward embracing Libertarian beliefs.  In October of 2009 Stossel left his long-time employment at ABC News to join the Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel.  He presently hosts a weekly news show on Fox Business and regularly provides analysis on various Fox News programs, including a weekly appearance on The O’Reilly Factor.  Additionally, Stossel writes a Fox News Blog, “John Stossel’s Take,” and has been a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist since February of 2011.  His article appear in online publications such as Newsmax, Reason, and Townhall. To Stossel’s credit, he has received 19 Emmy Awards and has been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club.

John Stossel, as a believer in the free market system, is reaching out to high school and college students through his DVDs.  His new Economics DVD, published this year, “The Power of Markets vs the failure of Regulation,” uses segments from recent shows to compare and contrast resource allocation based on market decisions with the actual effects of allocation caused by government regulation of the market. His first DVD, published in 2011 is titled “Making Economics Come Alive” with John Stossel.  Both of the Economics DVDs are designed for high school and college students and sell for $19.95. Both can be ordered for a special price of $29.95.

In working with high school students, Stossel asks this question:  There are 7 billion people in the world. 2 billion of them live on a buck or two a day.  Why do we do well and others live in poverty?  Responses from students:  1) Because we are a democracy, 2) Because we have lots of resources, and 3) Because of over population.

Stossel then inquires students to think about India noting, “While India is overpopulated, so is New Jersey. What about Hong Kong?  It isn’t a democracy, and it has no natural resources, yet in 50 years it went from the third worst city to the first in the world.  Why?  Because Hong Kong honors a rule of law that dictates not to kill or steal from each other.  Hong Kong also has economic freedom.  It is free people left alone that made Hong Kong rich.”

In Hong Kong it’s possible to open a business in only one day. In India it would take a year to do so.  Stossel then related about trying to open a lemonade stand in NYC.  He gave up after 60 days.  There is a teachable moral:  If and when fewer people are unable to open businesses because of imposed restrictions and rules, more people will remain poor.

In closing, Stossel indicated there were two ways to do business:  by force or voluntary.  But for business to flourish both parties must win. It is economic freedom that brings prosperity.

Big government makes us poor and makes us less (we become smaller). On a positive note Stossel added this thought: “Despite all the controls, this nation has continued to proper and grow despite government restrictions.”

The Question and Answer session offered several comments worth noting .

  • How can big government be trusted when government can’t even count votes correctly?
  • Stossel’s defined the EPA as standing for ENOUGH PROTECTION ALREADY.
  • The first thing Stossel would like to see Rauner do is for Rauner to embarrass the stranglehold control of unions.

Stossel has written three books.  His most recent book, “No, They Can’t:  Why Government Fails – But individuals Succeed”, was published on April 10, 2012.  Read here a review of the book. The book can be purchased at Amazon.com.   Stossel’s first book, “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media”, published in 2005, is an autobiography that documents Stossel’s career and philosophical transition from liberalism to libertarianism.

DeMint’s closing remarks looked ahead to 2016.  Of importance: 1) to preserve those things we know work, 2) to recognize the importance of informed and engaged citizens, 3) to look back at programs that lifted people out of poverty, and 4) to create an environment so people with wrong ideas will do the right things

Part 1: DeMint proposes a bold agenda for a better America – Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2014/12/thorner-heritages-jim-demint-proposes-a-bold-agenda-for-a-better-america.html#more  –   | Permalink

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 2.13.56 PM
Heartland Institute’s panel featuring Marsha Familaro Enright, Tim Slkar & Kristin Lombard

By Nancy Thorner – 

Many readers most likely remember having classes in geography and civics when in middle (junior) or high school. Under Common Core these formerly stand-alone subjects are combined under the umbrella of Social Studies, if they are taught at all.

The new “framework” for the teaching of AP history, studied by thousands of America’s top-performing high-school students, emphasizes oppressors and exploiters while scant attention is given to liberators and pioneers. Such slanted teaching is certain to produce a new generation of left-leaning citizens.

As Mona Charen states in her recent article, Termites at work on American history:

“The Framework blatantly ignores such pivotal historic figures as Roger Williams and Benjamin Franklin and such key developments as the emergence of New England town meetings and the Virginia House of Burgesses as cradles of democracy.”

Times have changed.  Unless children are taught the fundamentals of American history and government, preserving what made America great and special means little them.

A 2012 survey of college graduates commissioned by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni found that only 37 percent knew the terms of U.S. representatives and senators. Only 58 percent knew that the document establishing separation of powers is the U.S. Constitution; 25 percent chose the Articles of Confederation, and 7 percent thought it was the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.  Less than half knew that the American general at Yorktown was George Washington — 48 percent.

It is the hope of the author that the general concerns about Common Core as  expressed below by the fine panels of Common Core experts — Marsha Familaro Enright, Tim Slekar and Kristen Lombard – -who appeared at The Heartland Institute event in Palatine, IL on Thursday, December 11, will spur you on to take positive action in your local school system.

 Salient Points Noted: Question and Answer Session

  • It is evident that Common Core standards are not world class bench mark standards or even high standards. Standards lead to mass standardization of schools and take away the ability of teachers to be creative.
  • There are no world class standards to bench mark against Common Core standards.  Just who decides what the standards are or what standards are appropriate for children?
  • Common Core is a cooperative agreement between large corporations and big government in which tax dollars are taken and directed to a small group of individuals who will control the country.
  • Instead of students, corporations and government have become the customers for education, which is geared to foster homogenization, not choice.
  • Common Core won’t solve the performance issue of failing schools, even though it was the purpose of Common Core to remedy the achievement gap. The best performing students in this nation, however, do measure up to those countries with the highest education achievement standards like Finland.
  • Although the constitutional or legal right for the federal government to take over education has been questioned, we can’t sue our way out of Common Core. Needed is a mass resistance revolt.  Citizens must stand up and become engaged.
  • Common Core was introduced into states through “No Child Left Behind waivers” and “Race to the “money.  The former acting as bribes, states signed up for Common Core in 2010, sight unseen.
  • A Hippocratic Oath seems to be needed for teachers not to harm kids. There is a movement afoot to end corporate education reform.  This site is the best resource as to how to opt out.  Available here is an activist handbook.
  • Common Core is not seeking excellence. Its purpose was noted as indoctrination for social development training to turn out workers of the future.  Masses of children are being brainwashed to evolve into disposable workers (cogs) to fill jobs as adults, so compliant they won’t put their heads up to object.
  • Common Core is much like a Trojan horse with its program aimed at indoctrinating children with Communist dogma. Children comprise a captive audience to absorb propaganda.
  • Common Core is undermining parental rights and turning parents and teachers against each other.  When children are told parents shouldn’t help with their homework, it allows children to think less of their parents other than the biologically birthing of them.
  • Extensive data is being collected from children starting in kindergarten through the 12th grade. Just registering a child to attend school gives permission to have data mining done. All states opting into Common Core agreed to substantially expand their State Longitudinal Data Services program which allows schools to collect and store student data. In exchange for this enhanced data collection, states received federal grants from Race to the Top, essentially a cash prize for schools that do things the Department of Education wants them to do under the blanket terms “innovation,” “reform,” and “excellence.”  FEPBA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) was written to respect privacy, but it has been gutted. Under FERPA parents do have the right to access the data. The Department of Education, however, has acted unilaterally to allow other government agencies—or even third parties such as companies that make education products—access to student data without any parental notification requirement.  When people hear about this invasion of student privacy, opposition to the practice is almost unanimous.  For those students who are home schooled, FERPA does not protect their data privacy.
  • Parents are asleep in Illinois. PARCC tests (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) will be given in April-May and May-June.  Upwards of 70% of students will fail, as arbitrary out scores have been set to make parents and the pubic believe more standards are required to achieve better results. Students can opt out of test/ Talk first with the classroom teacher, then the principal, and finally the superintendent for the final say on opting out.

Editor Kristin Lombard hopes her book will be the clarion call to counter those advancing the false claim of Common Core by accomplishing what supporters fear most: 1) talk to and begin to understand one another, 2) find ways to partner with each other in rejecting factory-style education, and 3) work together to find alternative solutions.

Panelist members,Tim Slkar and Marsha Familaro Enright, each contributed an essay: Naysaying, Empty Discourse, and Talking to Your Neighbor and Liberating Education, respectively.

 Resources to understand and help combat Common Core

The Heartland Institute is very interested in pairing up with others who are fighting Common Core.  Recommended to view was this youtube presentation about Common Core, “Building the Machine – The Common Core Documentary.” It is a powerful commentary about Common Core, a must to view and share with others.  Here is a review of the movie, which explains the problems with the Common Core State Standards that are causing a huge upheaval at all levels of education.  This 40-minute movie has been produced by Home School Legal Defense Association, an organization that has been warning about the dangers of nationalized educational standards for years.

There is also an organization in Illinois whose purpose is to stop Common Core, “Stop Common Core Illinois.” Much information can be gleamed from this website.

A new booklet, “Common Core: A Bad Choice for America, has just been published by The Heartland Institute by Heartland’s expert on Common Core, Joy Pullman.

Another recent publication by Heartland is the booklet, “Replacing Common Core with Proven Standards of Excellence” by David V. Anderson, Ph.D of Asora Education Enterprises.  Both booklets are excellent and can be ordered by contacting The Heartland Institute at 312/377/4000.

Teacher rebellion is taking place across the country.  In the Osceola School District in Florida 20, teacher have either resigned or decided to retire in November of this year.  A member of the teachers’ union cites standardized testing as the reason teachers are quitting.  Teachers are required to do more and more in their classrooms in less time.  As a result the quality of education children are receiving is not as it should be.

The debate about Common Core is over who gets to decide what’s good for children, parents or the government. Anyone who is concerned about educational freedom and parental rights needs to be aware of what is happening and do all within their power to resist this encroachment on our freedom.

http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2014/12/thorner-common-core-slanted-to-produce-new-generation-of-left-leaning-citizens-part-2.html#more

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 2.13.56 PM
Heartland Institute’s panel featuring Marsha Familaro Enright, Tim Slkar & Kristin Lombard

By Nancy Thorner – 

Many readers most likely remember having classes in geography and civics when in middle (junior) or high school. Under Common Core these formerly stand-alone subjects are combined under the umbrella of Social Studies, if they are taught at all.

The new “framework” for the teaching of AP history, studied by thousands of America’s top-performing high-school students, emphasizes oppressors and exploiters while scant attention is given to liberators and pioneers. Such slanted teaching is certain to produce a new generation of left-leaning citizens.

As Mona Charen states in her recent article, Termites at work on American history:

“The Framework blatantly ignores such pivotal historic figures as Roger Williams and Benjamin Franklin and such key developments as the emergence of New England town meetings and the Virginia House of Burgesses as cradles of democracy.”

Times have changed.  Unless children are taught the fundamentals of American history and government, preserving what made America great and special means little them.

A 2012 survey of college graduates commissioned by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni found that only 37 percent knew the terms of U.S. representatives and senators. Only 58 percent knew that the document establishing separation of powers is the U.S. Constitution; 25 percent chose the Articles of Confederation, and 7 percent thought it was the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.  Less than half knew that the American general at Yorktown was George Washington — 48 percent.

It is the hope of the author that the general concerns about Common Core as  expressed below by the fine panels of Common Core experts — Marsha Familaro Enright, Tim Slekar and Kristen Lombard – -who appeared at The Heartland Institute event in Palatine, IL on Thursday, December 11, will spur you on to take positive action in your local school system.

 Salient Points Noted: Question and Answer Session

  • It is evident that Common Core standards are not world class bench mark standards or even high standards. Standards lead to mass standardization of schools and take away the ability of teachers to be creative.
  • There are no world class standards to bench mark against Common Core standards.  Just who decides what the standards are or what standards are appropriate for children?
  • Common Core is a cooperative agreement between large corporations and big government in which tax dollars are taken and directed to a small group of individuals who will control the country.
  • Instead of students, corporations and government have become the customers for education, which is geared to foster homogenization, not choice.
  • Common Core won’t solve the performance issue of failing schools, even though it was the purpose of Common Core to remedy the achievement gap. The best performing students in this nation, however, do measure up to those countries with the highest education achievement standards like Finland.
  • Although the constitutional or legal right for the federal government to take over education has been questioned, we can’t sue our way out of Common Core. Needed is a mass resistance revolt.  Citizens must stand up and become engaged.
  • Common Core was introduced into states through “No Child Left Behind waivers” and “Race to the “money.  The former acting as bribes, states signed up for Common Core in 2010, sight unseen.
  • A Hippocratic Oath seems to be needed for teachers not to harm kids. There is a movement afoot to end corporate education reform.  This site is the best resource as to how to opt out.  Available here is an activist handbook.
  • Common Core is not seeking excellence. Its purpose was noted as indoctrination for social development training to turn out workers of the future.  Masses of children are being brainwashed to evolve into disposable workers (cogs) to fill jobs as adults, so compliant they won’t put their heads up to object.
  • Common Core is much like a Trojan horse with its program aimed at indoctrinating children with Communist dogma. Children comprise a captive audience to absorb propaganda.
  • Common Core is undermining parental rights and turning parents and teachers against each other.  When children are told parents shouldn’t help with their homework, it allows children to think less of their parents other than the biologically birthing of them.
  • Extensive data is being collected from children starting in kindergarten through the 12th grade. Just registering a child to attend school gives permission to have data mining done. All states opting into Common Core agreed to substantially expand their State Longitudinal Data Services program which allows schools to collect and store student data. In exchange for this enhanced data collection, states received federal grants from Race to the Top, essentially a cash prize for schools that do things the Department of Education wants them to do under the blanket terms “innovation,” “reform,” and “excellence.”  FEPBA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) was written to respect privacy, but it has been gutted. Under FERPA parents do have the right to access the data. The Department of Education, however, has acted unilaterally to allow other government agencies—or even third parties such as companies that make education products—access to student data without any parental notification requirement.  When people hear about this invasion of student privacy, opposition to the practice is almost unanimous.  For those students who are home schooled, FERPA does not protect their data privacy.
  • Parents are asleep in Illinois. PARCC tests (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) will be given in April-May and May-June.  Upwards of 70% of students will fail, as arbitrary out scores have been set to make parents and the pubic believe more standards are required to achieve better results. Students can opt out of test/ Talk first with the classroom teacher, then the principal, and finally the superintendent for the final say on opting out.

Editor Kristin Lombard hopes her book will be the clarion call to counter those advancing the false claim of Common Core by accomplishing what supporters fear most: 1) talk to and begin to understand one another, 2) find ways to partner with each other in rejecting factory-style education, and 3) work together to find alternative solutions.

Panelist members,Tim Slkar and Marsha Familaro Enright, each contributed an essay: Naysaying, Empty Discourse, and Talking to Your Neighbor and Liberating Education, respectively.

 Resources to understand and help combat Common Core

The Heartland Institute is very interested in pairing up with others who are fighting Common Core.  Recommended to view was this youtube presentation about Common Core, “Building the Machine – The Common Core Documentary.” It is a powerful commentary about Common Core, a must to view and share with others.  Here is a review of the movie, which explains the problems with the Common Core State Standards that are causing a huge upheaval at all levels of education.  This 40-minute movie has been produced by Home School Legal Defense Association, an organization that has been warning about the dangers of nationalized educational standards for years.

There is also an organization in Illinois whose purpose is to stop Common Core, “Stop Common Core Illinois.” Much information can be gleamed from this website.

A new booklet, “Common Core: A Bad Choice for America, has just been published by The Heartland Institute by Heartland’s expert on Common Core, Joy Pullman.

Another recent publication by Heartland is the booklet, “Replacing Common Core with Proven Standards of Excellence” by David V. Anderson, Ph.D of Asora Education Enterprises.  Both booklets are excellent and can be ordered by contacting The Heartland Institute at 312/377/4000.

Teacher rebellion is taking place across the country.  In the Osceola School District in Florida 20, teacher have either resigned or decided to retire in November of this year.  A member of the teachers’ union cites standardized testing as the reason teachers are quitting.  Teachers are required to do more and more in their classrooms in less time.  As a result the quality of education children are receiving is not as it should be.

The debate about Common Core is over who gets to decide what’s good for children, parents or the government. Anyone who is concerned about educational freedom and parental rights needs to be aware of what is happening and do all within their power to resist this encroachment on our freedom.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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(L to R)   Joe Bast, Marsha Familaro Enright, Tim Slekar, Kristen Lombard

By Nancy Thorner – 

Teachers, school board members, moms, legislators, and concerned citizens attended an event hosted by The Heartland Institute on Thursday, December 11 at The Cotillion in Palatine, IL, to hear about Common Core State Standards. All had in common a desire to learn more about Common Core, not liking what they were hearing and observing in their local school systems. Heartland Institute’s president and CEO Joe Bast introduced the distinguished panel of Kristen Lombard, Tim Slekar, and Marsha Familaro Enright.

Kristin Lombard is editor and author of “Common Ground on Common Core.”Kirsten Lombard holds a Ph.D. in Historic Environmental Design: Interior and Landscape from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2009) and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (1988). As a grass roots activist, Kristin couldn’t get a single vote passed by Wisconsin legislators to address Common Core.  Kristin finally realized that she would need critical mass for this to happen.  Hearing about Tim Slekar, as the newly appointed Dean at Edgewood College of Education, Kristin arranged to meet Tim. As a liberal, Tim was very anti Common Core. Their personalities clicked immediately, proving that it is possible to identify with the left when common ground is established through verbal exchange.

Around the same time Kristin became acquainted with Tim Slekar (August of 2013), an idea for a book began to blossom. It would be a book with a collection of essays about Common Core. Lombard’s first book published under Resounding Books, founded by Ms. Lombard in early 2013, was in November of this year, Common Ground on Common Core, a must read. The book serves as a non-partisan exposé of the multiple problems posed by the controversial education reform initiative.  It was edited specifically by Kristin Lombard to be a tool that individuals of whatever political stripe could use to educate themselves and others on this important topic.

Each of the 18 contributor essays in the book sheds lights on a different crucial aspect of the controversial reform package that encompasses Common Core. The authors hold widely varied political and ideological viewpoints, yet they stand firmly united against the Common Core.  Standards expert Sandra Stotsky and prominent mathematician R. James Milgram are among the book’s authors.  Both served on the national Common Core validation committee but refused to sign off on the standards.  Former U.S. Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul contributed to the foreword.

As both editor-in-chief and treasurer, Kirsten worked to secure each of the essays royalty-free, so a percentage of profits from the sale of the book could be directed toward state and local activism projects designed to fight Common Core.  Ms. Lombard has recently devoted herself full time to Resounding Books, its publishing projects, and its activism initiatives. Hear Kirsten talk about “Common Ground on Common Core” on  We The People Radio . To download the showclick here to visit the show’s page to stream the audio.

Tim Slekar, a liberal and Dean of Education at Edgewood College in Wisconsin

Liberal in his ideology, Tim Slekar has been dean of Edgewood College in Wisconsin since August, 2013.  Slekar has been blogging about the dangers of corporate-backed education reform for years at atthechalkface.com. He is also the cohost of the online chalkface weekly radio show on Sundays at 5 p.m., as well as the founder of United Opt Out, a group that encourages parents and teachers to refuse to participate in high-stakes standardized tests.

Tim Slekar was initially a 2nd grade classroom teacher.  20 years ago he could feel what was happening and knew that he couldn’t remain a classroom teacher.  He subsequently returned to college to elevate his teaching credentials to continue earning a living in the educational field. According to Slekar, there are those in the reform movement who are giving money to entities that do not really represent reform.  Mentioned were Governor Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Both say they are against Common Core, but unless Walker and Jindal remove the mandatory assessments they are not really against Common Core.  Mr. Slekar spoke of mathematics as being developmentally inappropriate in many aspects.  Regarding language arts, classic literature is being replaced with informational texts.

Slekar believes that tests take more and more time away from real learning.  According to Slekar the problem isn’t the tests .The problem is the high-stakes nature of the tests. Kids may not get much out of the tests, but their scores determine whether their schools are labeled “failing”, which determines the funding received by schools. Slekar pointed out a trio of foundations — the Walton Family Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Broad Foundation — who are pushing tests that produce data to prove public schools are failing.  Parents and teachers are absolutely right to suspect that these tests don’t serve kids well and are instead designed to make schools fail.  Failure, in turn, would  give credence to increasing standards as a way to improve student performance. Slekar encourages students to opt out of the tests. Although this strategy may seem risky to parents and teachers who worry about their schools receiving a failing grade, Slaker dismisses the strategy as short-term thinking, firmly believing that the drive to label all public schools as failing must be stopped.

Slekar likewise believes there is no achievement gap.  It is poverty and the lack of opportunity that are the major drivers of educational disparities. Poor kids need to get more of everything that rich kids get, that includes more music, more art, and rich literature.

Marsha Familaro Enright, Psychotherapist, President of Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute, and President/Founder of Council Oak Montessori School

With an M.A. in Psychology from the New School for Social Research, and as a Psychotherapist since 1976 still practicing part-time in Chicago, IL, Marsha Familaro Enright co-founded the Council Oak Montessori School of which she is the president and administrator.  Additionally, Ms. Enright is currently the president of the Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute and leads the development of the College of the United States and its wholly independent scholarship fund. Enright also writes for The New Individualist, a journal of opinion dedicated to reason, individualism and freedom.  Other accomplishments of Marsha Familaro Enright can be found at this site.

To Marsha Familaro Enright, the education of the human child is of profound importance to anyone dedicated to achieving “the best within us.”  It is especially important to those who have, or wish to have, children of their own, and to those who are or wish to become teachers. Enright is concerned about a child’s nature and needs; how they are different from those of an adult; and how to best foster the child’s development so as to help him maximize his potential for productivity and happiness in life. The emphasis on human nature, needs, and values is in keeping with the The New Intellectual Forum in Chicago, IL, founded by Marsha Familaro Enrightco in 1987.

Attributed to Aristotle:  “All men, by nature, desire to know.”  In other words, very little will stop the young child from exploring the world and trying to learn.  Ms Enright views Aristotle’s words as the state of mind education should strive to achieve in order to create a vibrant, free society. Prior to the era of mass education, children were home- schooled.  Even so, the American populace was fairly literate for the times.  But having lived with tax-supported, government-provided education as a major supporter for 200 year, many people cannot imagine how most children could be educated otherwise.  For Ms. Enright, the free market system is the answer.

Ms. Enright  believes there is no way to give everyone equal advantages no matter how much money is spent.  Why?  Because human beings are individuals with hugely varying talents, abilities, and interests.  Enright advocates that parents and students be treated more like customers of a service business, with private schools competing to do the best job possible for each child..  Not only would schools be run more efficiently with little or no bureaucracy, but they would be responsive to their customers:  parents and teachers. Schools could be of every shape, size, and location, tailored to fit each school’s outlook and purposes.  With an emphasis on individualization, many students would be interested in non-academic areas such as crafts, trades, the arts, and business.. Unlike with Common Core, there would be no generated push for everyone to attend college, which has  resulted in an increase of unnecessary degrees and punishing debt for college graduates.

Part 2 will present disturbing facts about Common Core that not only call for, but which demand immediate action by parents and concerned Americans.  Noted is how upwards of 70% of students will fail the PARCC tests (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) when administered here in IL in April-May of 2015, as arbitrary out test scores have been set as a ploy to convince parents and the pubic that even more standards are called for to raise student achievement.  To help combat Common Core in your school system, resources will be provided as ammunition to fight Common Core with other like-minded citizens and friends.

On a side note, before the panel commenced President and CEO of The Heartland Institute Joseph Bast, revealed publicly for the first time introductory remarks that The Heartland Institute would be moving its office from Chicago to Arlington Heights in its desire to become part of the Northwest suburbs. Following the surprising announcement, Bast briefly described the evolution of The Heartland Institute. When founded in Chicago in 1984, its focus was mostly on IL. But Heartland’s input on policy had limited success. Illinois just wasn’t ready for reform. It was in 1995 that Heartland became a national organization. Heartland currently communicates with every national and state elected official in the U.S., and thousands of civic and business leaders, by sending out three of its monthly public policy newspapers. These newspapers contain small, informative articles that are not easy to read.  A recent survey indicated that 50% of legislators read Heartland’s “School Reform News.”  Subscribe here for your copy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thorner: Rauner joins Illinois Policy Institute Christmas party

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Gov.-Elect Rauner mingled with Illinois Policy Institute “Gifts of the Free Market” guests

By Nancy Thorner – 

Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner celebrated a “No Cronies Christmas” with the Illinois Policy Institute at its annual “Gifts of the Free Market” party in the Library of its Chicago headquarters Wednesday. The group’s CEO John Tillman and Vice President Kristina Rasmussen, along with the 300 members and friends gathered to celebrate Christmas cheer, enjoy incredible company, and applaud the fantastic gifts of the free market system, the greatest force for good in the human sphere.

To wrap up 2014, the group noted three victories achieved in Illinois: the defeat of three tax-hike proposals, stopping a state-funded ObamaCare exchange, and helping thousands of Illinoisans opt out of union membership.

Governor-elect Bruce Rauner made a guest appearance. Although the Illinois Policy Institute cannot support political candidates, CEO John Tillman, in introducing Bruce Rauner, noted that he had known Rauner since 2008.  Governor-elect Rauner deemed it an honor to be in attendance, offering special thanks to the staff of the Illinois Policy Institute for its leadership in promoting freedom and American principles. Rauner further noted how fortunate Illinois was to be home to an organization such as the Illinois Policy Institute where citizens can get engaged in making a difference.Rauner indicated that he saw being governor more than just a job.  He was here to work for the people of Illinois, humbled and honored to have the opportunity to do so.  Illinois has always been his home, having been born and raised in IL.  For Bruce Rauner, any self-sacrifice was well worth what it might entail, given his desire to bring about a New Day In Illinois come January 12, 2015.  Rauner indicated that he would give his all to restoring Illinois.  Referring to Illinois as the worst run state in this nation,  Bruce Rauner spoke of fighting for limited government, lower taxes, jobs, pension reform and choice in education.  When Bruce Rauner announced to his wife and children that he was running for governor, his youngest daughter expressed this concern, “Please don’t run for governor.  I don’t want you to go to jail.”

After winning his bid for governor in November, Rauner looked at every budget in every department, and found that things were a lot worse than he had originally thought them to be. It was then that governor-elect Rauner requested citizen help and investment to turn around state government.  Presently Rauner is looking for talented individuals — 500 in the next 60 days — who will be true pubic servants.  They must display talent, integrity, and principle and the willingness to treat Illinoisans with respect.  Rauner’s final remarks, “I will run the government from Springfield.”  Unlike Governor Quinn, Rauner will reside in the “The Governor’s Mansion” located in Springfield.  Rauner stayed to shake hands and pose for photos after his comments.

Acknowledgments were extended by CEO John Tillman to Institute’s heroes from 2014.  They included individuals, donors, and activists who took extraordinary steps to make Illinois a freer place to live and work.

Given the still fresh news of Judy Topinka’s unexpected death earlier in the day, within the room everyone was talking about who would replace her as comptroller.

Complimentary food and drinks were provided. Vocalist Lisa Sroka and Tony Jurich on keyboard performed Christmas carols and music of the season early in the evening, which likewise contributed to the festive mood experienced by those who participated in the 2014 Gifts of the Free Market Christmas party hosted by the Illinois Policy Institute.

 

Photos by Mark Weyermuller

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Friday, December 05, 2014

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Former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers taught until 2010  at the University of Chicago

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil – 

What has happened to universities and colleges, school that once identified themselves as sanctuaries for free speech, tolerance, and diversity? Why did they abandon that excellent goal as an open market place for thought and ideas, to become instead institutions of indoctrination to a specific political viewpoint?

It is an understatement to say that there is a lack of political diversity within our nation’s schools of higher learning, when every survey indicates self-proclaimed liberal professors significantly dominate our colleges and universities. Democrat Neil Gross, a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia, investigated this issue and agreed that Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 4 to 1 among professors; by at least 6 to 1 at elite universities; and by still higher ratios in departments of the humanities and social sciences.

Those facts alone should be troublesome at several levels. It is an indication that hiring practices could be favoring a specific mindset, possibly for the purpose of achieving a specific desired result. Professors have enormous power over their students, which enables them to persuade vulnerable students to accept their political and social opinions. The important question is whether professors actually take advantage of their position of power to do so?

They absolutely do take advantage, according to the testimony of college students and a study on the subject by David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin who recently investigated the issue.  By scrutinizing course catalogs, reading lists, professors’ biographies, scholar records, and most of all testimonies of students and faculty, they found violations of academic standards and systematic indoctrination, some of which could be considered not just liberal, but liberal to the degree of being classified as politically radical.

Those of us who did not experience college classrooms as indoctrination centers wonder how and/or why this liberal dominance was allowed to take place?  The fact professors are given great latitude in what and how they teach, makes the inequality troubling.   Professors are not required to create a fair and balanced classroom of ideas, nor is there evidence of repercussions when proof of obvious indoctrination has occurred. Professors not only have tenure, but deans, presidents, and faculty are often sympathetic, if not in lock-step, with the professors’ liberal views and agenda. attention is paid to how a one-sided indoctrination is harming students’ scope of knowledge, understanding, and success when they leave classrooms for the real world. Imagine that you are a freshman at college, eager to learn and devoted to making top grades, when your beloved professor begins to lecture on a hot, divisive political topic. You discover that your professor is taking a position that is very much opposed to your personal beliefs.  The way the lecture proceeds, you become acutely aware he is consistently labeling those who hold your belief and viewpoint in contempt, by using a variety of negative adjectives. To make matters worse, everyone in the classroom is laughing and seems to be in total agreement with the professor.

Without any fear of losing their positions or being disciplined in any way, liberal professors are unconcerned about complaints or negative consequences. Whether they behave bullishly to scare some students into silence, or have persuasive personalities that quietly and systematically convince students their parent’s principles, philosophies, and values are incorrect, the result is the same: students are leaving with only one viewpoint on issues and thus are unprepared to listen or debate opposing opinions with an open mind.

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, at a commencement address at Harvard in May, sharply criticized liberal students, professors, and administrators across the country for their pattern of silencing the voices of those with whom they disagreed, accusing them of “censorship” and a modern-day form of McCarthyism. Bloomberg’s legitimate concern may have stemmed from the fact that 96% of the Harvard faculty and employees donated to Obama’s reelection campaign.  Certainly that large donation figure would seem to add proof to Bloomberg’s assertions.

Bias in education deserves more exposure

In what should have been a shocker, Emily Esfahani Smith, in a special to The Washington Times on Wednesday, August 1, 2012, wrote about a peer-reviewed study of political diversity in the field of social psychology.  Liberal professors admitted they would discriminate against conservatives in hiring and advancement.  According to Smith, the anti-conservative bias is real and pronounced.  It is not a respectable position to hold in universities where Republicans are maligned and publicly degraded if they listen to Rush Limbaugh or are Fox News enthusiasts. These certainly are explosive facts the public deserves to know, but few media sources expose.

The excerpts noted below are from the article Liberal Bias in Education: Campus, Classroom and College.  It offers more evidence of what is being taught in our classrooms of higher learning and additional proof that American citizens deserve to know the facts.

Bias in academia more often than not is liberal bias. Many professors and students admit to possessing liberal ideologies or Democratic voting tendencies. It is natural and right for liberal students and professors to freely express their liberal philosophies, but is it right for liberal professors to continually advance their ideas in the classroom while squelching all other opinions?  Certainly, the answer to that must be absolutely No.

Universities are the breeding grounds for a variety of ideas and thought processes. Students who attend American colleges and universities should be able to gain a well-rounded view of their country, its founding principles, and ideas – from all points on the political spectrum – that continue to shape and mold our future. Unfortunately, today’s colleges have drifted away from these ideals and become bastions of liberal thought and activism.

Consider Professor Smith, a professor at the University of North Carolina and a supporter of traditional marriage, whose conservative opinions make him an outcast in the academic community.  An online commenter not only called for the professor to resign, but went so far as to claim Smith was “the biggest embarrassment to higher education in America”.   Professor Smith responded to that criticism by describing the antics of liberal professors, official campus groups, and then invited campus speakers at other North Carolina institutes of higher learning, as noted below, so objective people could determine and judge what constitutes legitimate cause for embarrassment:

  • In the early spring semester of 2013, a women’s studies professor and a psychology professor at Western Carolina University co-sponsored a panel on bondage and S&M. The purpose of the panel was to teach college students how to inflict pain on themselves and others for sexual pleasure.
  • At UNC Chapel Hill, there is a feminist professor who believes that women can lead happy lives without men. That’s nothing new. But what is different is that she thinks women can form life-long domestic partnerships with dogs and that those relationships will actually be fulfilling enough to replace marital relationships with men.
  • A feminist administrator at UNC-Wilmington sponsored a pro-abortion event. During the event they sold tee shirts saying “I had an abortion” to students who … well, had abortions. Students were encouraged to boast about the fact that they had killed their own unborn infants.

If this is happening in North Carolina, what is happening throughout the university system in states like California, New York, Washington state, Illinois, etc., which are funded by tax paying citizens?  We know rape has become a major issue on college campuses throughout America.  An investigation indicated the number of reported sexual assaults on college campuses has increased by 50 percent over the last decade.  Liberals argue the increase is not linked to provocative classes in which students are given heavy doses of sexual information, such as details of how to best perform intimate sex acts.  Conservatives believe that casual approach to sensitive personal issues has created a general decline in morality, the proof of which is evidenced in the increased rate of rape.

Consider how many colleges, especially Ivy League schools, begin their school year with thousands of students experiencing what they call “Sex Week”.   That week includes everything from students going nude around the college campus to school sponsored sex classes that teach exceedingly personal sexual information.  Discussing sexual acts and behavior during college “Sex Week” may not be responsible for the rapes, but the increase does coincide with the blatant, permissive campus sexual atmosphere.   Do we really want our young adults to treat sex with the same casual behavior as they do deciding what to have for breakfast?  Sexual intimacy was once something so sacred, we encouraged our young people to reserve and share it with only one special person.  Today, colleges appear to have no respect for those standards or viewpoint, and thus neither do its students.

What has changed on the campuses that might encourage the extraordinary increase in rape? Administrators claim there is no significant increase, but that rape is just being more widely reported.   Really?  How would administrators ever know that if rapes went unreported?  Conservatives claim the initiating of a liberal sexual culture on college campuses is the one factor that coincides with the rape increase.  The subject deserves a bi-partisan investigation to determine if “Sex Week” is a factor.  Most college administrators believe drinking and drugs are a factor, largely seen at fraternity parties.  Some colleges have now banned fraternities from their campuses, which might help determine if excessive drinking has been a factor.   Unfortunately, the good students, those who are quite responsible and who do not even drink, end up being punished by the restrictions too.  It has been pointed out that there have always been frat parties and drinking, so why is rape suddenly happening?

There is a growing outcry from the public for colleges and universities that accept federal funding to prove there is no bias in their hiring practices.  Parents are demanding their children should be guaranteed a safe environment, not one that leaves coeds in fear of being raped.  The challenge is to convince our college administrators that the trend which ushered in significant increases in liberal professors, a monopoly of liberal classes, plus highly charged events, such as “Sex Week”, may not be benefiting the students, but instead harming them.

Schools are not meant to entertain, they are to challenge students, and thus create responsible citizens prepared for their future.  That is best accomplished when students are given all sides of issues without any bias, and thus allowed to be critical thinkers who act and think responsibly not just in college, but in their careers, marriage, and parenting skills throughout their lives.

Part Two will explore why are colleges and universities are dominated by Liberals.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thorner: Wrong Kind of Government Breeds Cronyism

Crony Capitalism

By Nancy Thorner – 

Americans’ rights and prosperity are being threatened by cronyism, Ayn Rand Institute’s Steven Simpson said last week during a symposium hosted by Heartland Institute in Chicago.

“The issue is that government has too much power and has strayed far beyond its proper purpose of protecting rights,” Simpson declared.

Simpson’s definition of “cronyism” differs from the explanations typically offered by Democrats, Republicans and independents.

 Special Interests and CronyismAfter stating how appropriate it was to be in Chicago so soon after the elections, Simpson said those on the Right, the Left and Libertarians all complain about cronyism in much the same way.

  • Cronyism is to gain money and influence.
  • Cronyism involves business and government colluding to redirect favors to others.
  • The economy itself is crony capitalism.

Ralph Nader’s latest book, “Unstoppable”, sets forth the concept that corporations equal cronyism.  As such Nader wants to abandon the corporate state.

Simpson doesn’t give much credence to the conventional view that special interest are influencing our political system and skewing it at the expense of many.  True, money is spent to finance political causes — $3.9 billion in the recent November elections — but what is the problem with politicians being financed?  Is this corruption?

A bigger problem is why so many individuals want to influence the political system, at which point Simpson defined special interest groups as:  “A group of people voluntarily accountable with one another to influence the political process.”   Followed by:  “What is wrong with that?”

 Big Business and Cronyism

As to the belief that cronyism involves business and government colluding to redirect favors to other, this likewise must be evaluated.  Issues arise because of the way people perceive cronyism from different political angles or points of view.  But even individuals on the opposite side of the political spectrum seem to see big business as a bull Tim Carney of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in his book, “The Big Ripoff”, advances how big businesses work with statist politicians to diminish the prosperity and freedom of consumers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs.

On the Left, Nick Cristoff of the New York Times in an Opinion piece, “Crony Capitalism Comes Home,” argues to take crony out of capitalism.

Just maybe something is wrong with our political system that requires people to band together and businesses to collude with government to influence political outcome?  Are bad people involved?  Might we have a political system that doesn’t allow people to operate freely?

What happens when people think that bad people are influencing a good system?  Just what is the take away or the result?  The natural outcome is that there is an attempt to restrain the bad people with term limits, etc.  Consider the IRS scandal which happened because it was decided that Tea Party groups had too much influence with politics. Consider also the attempt recently to restraint political speech on Facebook and the Internet. The threats from Washington to stifle freedom, entrepreneurship and creativity online have never been greater. Washington politicians want the money, and they want more and more control over our speech.

 Cronyism, a Packaged Deal

Simpson spoke of cronyism as a packaged deal, where “Big is Bad” and “Influence is Bad”.  However, the difference between big government and big business is that big government does too much, that having the experts it knows best, while business grows big by satisfying its customers.

While special interest group can’t force government to accede to their wishes, government has the power to force people to do what it wants them to do.  Government controls through the force or laws of regulations.  If government influences what we are able to do, it is only natural that individuals want to influence government.  Consider Comcast and the issue of “net neutrality”.   Comcast wants to be able to charge people special rates and doesn’t want government to control their own property.  The government, however, wants to decide what “net neutrality” looks like and what Comcast may charge.  The result:  Comcast lobbies government.  Bigger guys can naturally influence government more!

Through lobbying, businesses try to influence what shouldn’t exist in the first place, which kills innovation. Government with its power to tax also has the ability to destroy. Individuals and interest groups give money to help candidates win who reflect their interests, such as “Vote for me and I’ll raise taxes on the rich” or “Vote for me and I’ll favor labor over business.”   Individuals accordingly use the power of government for protection or to benefit themselves.

 Growth of Government

What kind of government do we have?  To most people the response would be “a democracy.”  In 2008 Obama proclaimed he had received a mandate from the people to radically change this nation.  According to President Obama, what the majority wants, the majority gets!   Does government really exist so what the majority wants the majority gets?  Doing something for the public good means that one group of people will be sacrificed for another.

Our system of democracy calls for the establishment of interest groups to influence politics.  If we believe that interest groups are corrupt, then our democracy is also corrupt.  What we now have is a sort of de facto democracy when government has more control than “We the People.”  When government becomes our enemy, people have no choice but to try to influence it and then decide what government must keep its hands off.

The concept of government by our Founding Fathers was a limited one to protect individual rights. The growth of government is not an accident. Through the years government has been created that has a monopoly on power.  The downfall of such a government is that government can’t force people to be productive.

Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians are guilty of misunderstanding government power and the use of force in our lives.  Big business is seen as operating like pirates (as bad people), yet it is government regulations that control what businesses do.  Government, because of its power, actually legalizes crime through its power to control and tax.  Businesses then try to defend themselves to receive some sort of break or concession to reduce government power.

The history of taxation was presented as a wonderful example of cronyism. Taxes can remain high with set tax rates if all sorts of exemptions (loopholes) are provided to give little bits of crumbs of freedom to string along taxpayers.

Mobsters, knowing they are corrupt, are slightly more honest than government which is clothed in moral authority.  People who seek power over our lives don’t want clear laws.  Accordingly, unclear laws lead to cronyism when the meaning of the law is interpreted by different people in different ways.  Some of the confusion that exists today lies in the unclear ways some of the provisions of the Constitution were originally written, specifically:  commerce and taxing power.  According to Steve Simpson, these two powers are responsible for the tremendous growth that has taken place in government.

Non-delegation Doctrine Abused

Attributing to government control is the disregard for the doctrine of non-delegation — that one branch of government must not authorize another entity to exercise the power or function which it is constitutionally authorized to exercise itself.  It is explicit or implicit in all written constitutions that impose a strict structural separation of powers.  Only rarely has the Supreme Court invalidated laws as violations of the non-delegation doctrine. Exemplifying the Court’s legal reasoning on this matter, it ruled in the 1998 case Clinton v. City of New York that the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, which authorized the President to selectively void portions of appropriation bills, was a violation of the Presentment Clause, which sets forth the formalities governing the passage of legislation.  With Dodd-Frank, Congress abdicated its responsibility to set clear rules of the road. The legislation is complicated and contains substantial ambiguities, many of which will not be resolved until regulations are adopted, and even then, many questions are likely to persist that will require consultation with the staffs of the various agencies involved.

Simpson believes the entire regulatory system is unconstitutional. Even so, business groups are bracing for an onslaught of regulations.  With many unfinished policy goals and the midterm elections now in the past, the Obama administration is determined to complete a host of President Obama’s unfinished Businesses and interest group therefore act in self-defense against government and behave morally when fundamental power comes from government. The sugar industry was cited as the beneficiary of cronyism for many years.

 A Solution?  

Steve Simpson was at a loss to come up with a clear solution to counter the system of government that is in place, for It is the type of government we have. Businesses must defend their right to influence government for the right reasons.  Simpson spoke about the Koch brothers being vilified by Democrats as rich businessmen who fund Republicans.

It stands to reason that more government brings more cronyism, but how to untangle the mess that we have created?  Young people must be educated about the consequences of cronyism and how regulations stifle innovation.

About the ARI (Ryn Rand Institute), it is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Irvine, CA.  It works to introduce young people to Ayn Rand’s novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience. The Institute is named for novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand (1905 – 1982), who is best known for her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.  

The ARI on Tour event spotlighting Steve Simpson on Nov. 11 was the third of ten scheduled ARI on Tour events that will take place in Chicago during 2014 -2015.  The first event was held in September, with the final tour event scheduled for June, 2015.  December’s event will feature Onkar Ghate. His topic: Religion vs. Freedom.

In promoting its mantra of a free society, the monthly ARI on tour events are likewise presented at venues in Irvine, CA; New York, New York; and Palo Alto and San Francisco, CA.  Steve Simpson is just one of many experts at ARI who advocate ideas and principles that will place this nation on the road to a free society through engaging Americans across the country to help change the direction of this nation and its culture.  Tour information can be found here.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

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By Nancy Thorner – 

On November 20 President Obama acted with unprecedented executive powers to grant legal status and new protections to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants. Obama arrogantly ignored the contents of a letter dated the day before – issued following a Justice Department investigation — that he lacked the authority to act via an executive order regarding illegal immigrants.

Obama sold his executive overreach by claiming that his executive amnesty was not “amnesty” but actually “accountability” for illegal immigrants. Obama’s argument was that because Congress hasn’t passed legislation giving amnesty to illegal immigrants, he has no choice but to ram it through on his own. Granted to at least four million currently illegal immigrants are work permits, Social Security numbers and protection from deportation.

This flouting of the law and of the Constitution, which designates three branches of government to act as checks and balances, will only encourage yet another wave of illegal immigration, worsening rather than doing anything to address the problem. President Obama has procedural discretion, but his expansive action exceeds his authority in ways that none of his predecessors ever envisioned.

Then too, how does Obama explain that twenty two time prior to his executive amnesty he publicly stated that it would be unconstitutionally impossible to do so, for as he said in one instance, “I’m president.  I’m not king.”

It was while speaking in Chicago to promote his executive amnesty that President Obama admitted that the action he took was to change the law.  It was in response to a confrontation with hecklers protesting the deportation of families.

While it might seem the compassionate thing to do to offer legal status in America to millions of illegal immigrants, what about the millions of people already in this nation mired in dire poverty?  According to a Rasmussen poll of Nov. 24, 62% of Americans oppose Obama’s plan to give millions of illegal immigrants a temporary amnesty.

Regarding fairness, what about the millions of people who have immigrated here legally as well as those who have been waiting in the queue for years to be admitted? 1.4 immigrants are admitted legally every year.  Doesn’t fairness demand that amnesty should not be given to those who have jumped illegally ahead of them in line?

Regarding the net cost — which is total benefits minus total benefits paid in – the cost of the Obama’s amnesty recipients is estimated to be around $2 trillion over the course of their lifetime. Three dollars of benefits are received for every dollar they put in. This would not be a problem if we had plenty of money, but with our national debt approaching $18 trillion, paying it back at a rate of $1 billion per day would take nearly 50 years! 

But by far the most important reason to object to Obama’s executive order with its far reaching implications is because Obama’s move has set up a historic shift in power towards the office of the executive. Throughout history unchecked power has led to the rise of tyrants and despots.

Although the House Appropriations Committee said Thursday, Nov. 20, that it would be impossible to defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration through a government spending bill, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) told Breitbart that a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service contends that Rep. Hal Rogers, Rep. Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is incorrect in his assumption. The CRS indicated that Congress can deny funds to the immigration enforcement agency despite the fact that it operates primarily on revenues collected through the imposition of fees.

The American people are not stupid.  Speaker John Boehner’s and company must be told in no uncertain terms to use the Constitutional power of the purse granted to the House to stop Obama’s dictatorial amnesty decree when returning to work after their Thanksgiving break.