Occupy the Mind with Economics

Video: Occupy Wall Street & Capitalism: A Professor’s Response

Karl Marx was an intellectual radical.  What that means is that he sought to get at the root cause of social ills with his analysis.  Despite my extreme disagreement with Marx on his diagnosis, I have always been attracted to intellectual radicalism.  Not the fashionable radical chic of rock stars, etc., but the nerdy radicalism of scholars and public intellectuals.  Not a radicalism evident where the cool-kids party while skipping school, but a radicalism born in the library and in reading dusty old books and studying long and hard to try and figure things out.  Think hard, read widely, think even harder, then attempt to write clearly — that is the intellectual radicalism that I find exciting.”

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Republican Debate Highlights on Foreign Policy and National Security

Its been long since the last time I heard a candidate from the GOP really defending the values of fiscal conservatism, respect for individual freedom and a non-interventionist foreign policy for the US in a debate. I have heard it in some Democrat candidates from past debates but never in a Republican debate.  Luckily, I was happy to hear Ron Paul doing so and getting my support and applauses.

Last night, November 23th 2011, CNN, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation sponsored a debate on foreign policy. I leave you now with an interesting summary and some notes done by CBS of the most relevant candidates:

  • WINNERS:

Ron Paul

This was the Texas lawmaker’s strongest debate, getting lots of airtime and challenging many of his rivals about U.S. foreign policy. His views are not in the mainstream of Republican orthodoxy, but he is consistent in his beliefs and not afraid to tell voters what he really thinks. His fundraising numbers could go up in the short-term, based on his debate performance Tuesday night, even if long-term it may be hard for him to broaden his support.

Newt Gingrich

Success begets success. Newt has done well in past debates and it has helped him in the polls. With his polling success, moderators gave him more airtime, which allowed the one-time afterthought and current front-runner to show off his debating skills. He took a risk by going against conservative Republican orthodoxy on immigration, and that could backfire, but overall Gingrich showed that he has been thinking about these issues for decades. And since it was a debate focused on foreign policy, no one asked him about his relationship with mortgage giant Freddie Mac and the $1.6 million he earned, which also helped the former House speaker.

Jon Huntsman

As the former ambassador to both China and Singapore, Tuesday’s national security debate was Jon Huntsman’s moment to shine. And for the most part, he succeeded: Huntsman, who touted throughout the debate his experience living abroad, presented clear policy positions on Pakistan and Afghanistan – at one point getting into a heated debate with Mitt Romney over the Afghan troop drawdown ¬- and even managed to bring the conversation back around to the American economy. Perhaps for the first time in the campaign, the former Utah governor was able to set himself apart from the rest of the GOP crowd.

Michele Bachmann

Despite having largely been written off as a major player in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Rep. Michele Bachmann delivered a strong performance in Tuesday’s debate, demonstrating her confidence discussing policy issues, and taking her competitors to task when they faltered. In a heated exchange with Rick Perry over providing aid to Pakistan, the Minnesota lawmaker blasted the Texas governor for what she described as his “highly naïve” take on the issue; later, she sparred with Newt Gingrich for his stance on immigration. Whether or not Bachmann’s performance was strong enough to get her back in the game remains to be seen – but she certainly earned more screen time than in recent debates.

Mitt Romney

Romney had one of his worst performances of the 11 debates so far, but he still managed to do fairly well. Romney is a front-runner for a reason: he has been running for president for five years and that practice has paid off for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney skillfully turned questions about foreign policy into answers about domestic issues where he was able to contrast his own positions with those of President Obama, cementing the idea that this race is going to come down to Romney and one other candidate.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum is still widely considered a long-shot candidate, but he earned his fair share of airtime in Tuesday’s debate. And while the former Pennsylvania senator may not have said much to change how America feels about him – he endorsed racial profiling Muslims and mistakenly referred to Africa as a country – he made his best effort to make his way back onto the public’s radar.

  • LOSERS

Herman Cain

Herman Cain did not have the standout moment he needed to prove to voters he has a command of foreign policy. After surging in the polls, Cain’s campaign has lost momentum in recent days, most notably after stumbling over a question regarding Libya. The only memorable moment from Cain in this debate came when he flubbed debate moderator Wolf Blitzer’s name, calling the CNN anchor “Blitz.”

Rick Perry

The Texas governor took some bold positions during this debate, but his policy stances were vigorously challenged by his colleagues. Perry almost seemed to immediately backtrack on the tough stance he took against foreign aid to Pakistan after Michele Bachmann called his position “naive.” Perry was also on the defense when other candidates — Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Ron Paul — said they disagreed with Perry’s assertion that the U.S. should consider a no-fly zone over Syria.

Jefferson: The Civil must always be in complete control of The Military

Lady Justice Takes the Bus
Image by djking via Flickr

The ideas of the Founding Father‘s were an inspiration across the breath of Europe and Latin America. Even now, more than 200 years later, the words of the great Thomas Jefferson should and must be remembered now that the new governments we elected continuously impulse the centralization of agricultural, commercial and industrial production.

“But the true barriers [bulwarks] of our liberty in this country are our State governments . . . Agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise . . . standing armies in time of peace should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”  Jefferson, Thomas. Annual Message to Congress (1801)

As important, Thomas Jefferson’s message to the new Citizens of the United States was that it was fundamental to the survival of a Republican country that The Civil must always be in complete control of The Military. Jefferson had made this warning as an answer to the Constitution that Virginians had written. Nowadays, however, the message goes to the citizenry that fails to recognize that the role of an army in time of peace should be avoided and kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

These are some of Jefferson’s messages that helped the United States build a stable government based on Republicanism. In the cases in which The Military and their allies may sometimes control the executive power they must constantly be remembered that it is the strict following of The Constitution their most important obligation. This is the only tool in which The Civil will complete The Military; failing to do so will only secure autocratic governments in which The Civil loses their rights just as history has shown.

Libyan Strongman Muammar Gaddafi Falls

Free Libya - Saturday Is Always A Day Of Prote...
Image by infomatique via Flickr

Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.

This right, however, is conditional. Just as the suppression of crimes does not give a policeman the right to engage in criminal activities, so the invasion and destruction of a dictratorship does not give the invader the right to establish another variant of a slave society in the conquered country.” Ayn RandThe Virtue of Selfishness, 104

Gaddafi came into power as an assassin and terrorist. He started out murdering, continued murdering and had been going out murdering until today.  His death is no panacea but it is surely a victory for the Libyan people and their 2011 Revolution.

Starting in February 15th, 2011 a series of peaceful protests asked for change in the country and they were met with military force by the Gaddafi regime.  Thousands were hurt and killed. Gaddafi proclaimed his despotic discourse that same night and said that the only way he was going to leave Libya was going to be in a cuffing.  Indeed, that’s how he will leave the history of the country.

The fight for Libyans has not finished; loyalists around the Algerian and Nigerian borders are still present and the opposition continues.

I celebrate the capture of this dictator and our attention needs to be focused now in the continues shipping of supplies of medicine, fuel and food were for Libya’s urban centres.  As the philosopher Ayn Rand mentioned in the quote with which I begun this post; it is necessary as well, that we keep a close attention to the outcome of this Libyan revolution in order to avoid that another variant of a slave society in the conquered country with national or international control.

Making a Moral Revolution. From 1773 to 2011.

The protests of the groups named 99% seem to continue igniting fury all over the world since they occupied Wall Street at Liberty Square in Manhattan’s financial district. By now, they claim at OccupywallSt.org that the protests are being held in more than 1500 cities around the world (virtual map). In all those cities the protests have taken different shapes and discourses. They seem to cry for different things. Their leaders emphasize their own agendas and it has been hard for me to identify a common single demand.

Curiously, most of these protesters most surely do not recall that on a day like today more than 200 years ago a public meeting similar to theirs was first organized.  It was in October 16, 1773 that the First public meeting of protest against the Tea Act took place in Philadelphia.  These protesters demanded from their rulers (The British Parliament) a respect of their rights to property and individual rights.  They asked for the Parliament to respect their right to elect their own Representatives and to be taxed by those representatives only.

Three years later, after their demands were not listened by the British government the United States Declaration of Independence was signed by the representatives of thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain. It was the first Declaration ever written in history that considered as its core that all men had unalienable Rights and that among these rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Since then, these rights were slowly forgotten and captured by government. Slowly, the sons and daughters of these revolutionary protesters forgot the reasons that created such a wonderful Declaration.  Now, the protests of the Occupy movements face a similar contradiction.  As The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights argued in their article What the Tea Party Movement Must Stand For, it is necessary for them to organize against one single claim: They should demand for a Moral Revolution in which their government returns to them their rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It is until now Ayn Rand the only philosopher who has provided a moral defense for these revolutionaries.  As she wrote in Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal,

“The world crisis of today is a moral crisis–and nothing less than a moral revolution can resolve it: a moral revolution to sanction and complete the political achievement of the American Revolution. . . . [YOU] must fight for capitalism, not as a “practical’ issue, not as an economic issue, but, with the most righteous pride, as a moral issue. That is what capitalism deserves, and nothing less will save it.”