Monday, October 22, 2007

President Bush's Address to the UN, Sept. 2007--Analysis and Critique

by Sara B.



On Tuesday September 25, 2007 the United States President, George W. Bush, addressed the United Nations General Assembly in an effort to motivate promotion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafted in 1948. The President called on every UN member to join in a mission of liberation from tyranny, hunger, disease, illiteracy and poverty. For these great purposes, pleads President Bush, should the great institution of the UN aim for. He continues on to urge the UN members to build a world "where people are free to speak, assemble, and worship as they wish; a world where children in every nation grow up healthy, get a decent education, and look to the future with hope". "America" he states, "will lead toward this vision where all are created equal, and free to pursue their dreams". Quite the compelling plea from one of America's most criticized presidents, accused of heading a military campaign blamed for the killing of tens of thousands of innocent lives, and defending controversial policies such as the use of capital punishment on America's own home front. So how can one assess this seemingly empathetic message? What lays beneath this impassioned speech to the world's head institution for defending human rights? In the paragraphs that follow, I will offer my comments and critique of this address relating to its use and understanding of civil-political, social-economic, and cultural development human rights.

Civil-political rights as defined by Gordon Lauren and David Hollenbach are considered "negative" rights, or those rights which are non-intervention. These rights include (but are not limited to) life, liberty, personal security, freedom from slavery, freedom from torture, recognition and equality under the law, freedom from arbitrary arrest or exile, right to vote, right to assembly, etc. Michael Ignatieff in his Tanner Lectures on Human Values (Princeton University April 4-7, 2000) makes note of the very individualistic nature of such rights. Consequently, then, they act as an effective remedy against tyranny and are a high appeal to those of non-Western origin. Claims to civil-political rights can be used by individuals against larger institutions such as the state or church. In this, human rights are basically morally universal, applicable regardless of culture or nation. Or as Jack Donnelly describes, " there is an international consensus on the system of human rights rooted in the UN DHR is relatively uncontroversial" (40). Donnelly would assert that internationally accepted human rights do not depend on any particular religious or philosophical doctrine, however, he does not believe they are compatible with all comprehensive doctrines (41).

It is in Donnelly's description of civil-political rights that I see president George Bush advocating in his address to the UN. When speaking of the situation in Burma, Belarus, Iran and North Korea he claims "basic freedoms of speech, assembly, and worship are severely restricted" . He continues stating that "terrorists" and "extremists" deny the truth stated in the UD that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights". In other parts of the world, AIDS and Malaria are serious health threats which those of more prosperous nations, such as the US, should alleviate. All people, from all parts of the globe, with their own respective religious and philosophical traditions, it would appear the President is saying, have a claim to such civil-political rights.

However, what the President says and what he does lack congruence. It is arguable that he cherry-picks the issues and rights which he can provide evidence for US goodwill and leadership. For example, all people should be free from the use of torture. Yet, frequent independent reports arise revealing torture used at America's Guantanamo Bay, violation of article number 5 of the UDHR. Presently, a cameraman from the Al-Jazeera news network, Al-Hajj, is being held prison at Guantanamo Bay for unknown reasons. Al-Hajj has never been charged with any crime, which is a clear violating of article 9 and 10 of the UDHR. Al-Hajj is currently starving himself in protest. Significant reports shed light on the excess force and indiscriminate killing tactics of American military forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Furthermore, America is one of the new "developed" nations which still employs capital punishment.

Furthermore, President Bush does not seem to believe democracy or the vision of human rights is compatible with those who espouse "terrorism" or "extremism". Such rhetoric conveniently, and self-servingly justifies the President's War Against Terror. Current statistics indicate the loss of over 100,000 Iraqi lives, comprised highly of innocent civilians since the United States led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Also in the Middle East, President Bush makes a mockery of democratic policies in the Occupied Palestinians Territories. When the people of Palestine democratically elected the Islamic political party Hamas in 2005, President George Bush called for a halt of all money flow into the territories from outside nations. This was a significant blow to an area of the world highly dependent on international aid. As a result, many public services were halted in the region, including trash pick-up, and public service workers, such as teachers, were left without pay for months to follow. Israeli military attacks continued on the Palestinians territories and even into Lebanon during the summer months of 2006, killing hundreds of innocent men, women and children. These acts of terror against civilians were carried out not only with Bush sponsored U.S support but also with U.S arms and weaponry. One may ask how actions such as this don't fall under the definition of state sponsored terrorism. George Bush's cry for democracy seems to fit with only those nations and political parties which agree to participate in American foreign policy. Apparently, President Bush does not seem to believe in civil-political rights for those who vehemently oppose his political doctrines.

It is also important to evaluate President Bush's speech in regards to social-economic rights. Although the President does not make direct reference to issues of social security, work, work conditions, etc., he does make reference to Article 25 stating "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food and clothing and housing and medical care". President Bush attempts to provide evidence for how his country is upholding and promoting this clause of the Declaration. He mentions how America purchases the crops from African farmers, donates billions of dollars to help combat the AIDS epidemic and Malaria, and has donated textbooks and trained hundreds of thousands of teachers. America, he states, has "dramatically increased our own development assistance". This would include the signing of free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea, striving for the alleviation of weapons of mass destruction, and open market talks.

Superficially, President Bush seems to be contributing to the social-economic rights of people of various nations all over the world. He has stated a myriad of ways in which the U.S has "aided" the under developed nations of the world. However, no amount of monetary hand-outs or altruistic aid can right the systematic injustices and human right abuses the capitalistic system espoused by the U.S president. One must ask, what type of history are those American bought textbooks teaching to children of other nations, what kind of training are these "teachers" receiving and what are they teaching these children. Why is free-trade the way to go, and if it is why is there so much widespread poverty in North America following the signing of NAFTA? President Bush doesn't ask the question of what kind of working environments or economic conditions free-trade is fueling in various countries. Or, for that matter, if the President Bush is so adamant about peoples' right to adequate health care, a fair paying job, and sufficient living conditions, why is his own country plagued with so many people homeless, jobless, and without proper health care? What policies can the President point to domestically that resemble the values of the UNDHR? Again, the dichotomy between what President Bush says and does is evident and needn't be overlooked. Structural injustices will not be overcome with hand-outs and good-will offerings.

The final component to human rights being analyzed here is that of cultural development. Jack Donnelly would assert that cultural rights are those that protect a communal way of life, focusing on the individuals in cultural communities, ensuring they are protected from the state and the majority culture (219). Ishay would attest that they are a stepping stone to universal rights and a way by which to protect the rest of the world from Western domination (5). As a whole, cultural rights are a right to self-determination.

President Bush does not directly address the issue of cultural or development rights in his speech to the UN. In fact, many could read the Presidents speech as a candy-coated imperialist ploy. Only once does the president speak of protecting the desires, autonomy, or culture of the nations in current "need". He states that "ethic minorities are being persecuted". The President is right, ethic minorities are being persecuted, on American soil. Legislation promoted by President Bush, such as the Privacy Act, and Anti-Terrorist Act has allowed racial profiling, and resulted in other major offenses to those of Arab descent and Islamic allegiance. Minority groups have not been protected, but insulted and suspected. Further America has trained, America was distributed textbooks, countries are trading with America, America is the "promoter" of democracy, so the President claims. Where is the respect for the will of other countries? Why are only minority groups which uphold American foreign policy given protection? For example, President Bush offers support for the "brave citizens" of Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq who are making a "choice for democracy". What does that make the other citizens of those countries? It is clear that, once again, the President is drenched with hypocrisy, half-truth statements, and misrepresentation.

The conclusion is clear: President Bush's speech to the UN may make mention of civil-political, socio-economic, and cultural development rights, but the onus is on President Bush to justify his disparate record of foreign and domestic policy. Individuals of America and elsewhere must take President Bush's speeches with a grain of salt, bearing in mind his attempts to promote American-military sponsored "democracy" and arbitrary enactments of human rights. We must not let a few examples of American good-will to paint our view of the Bush administration or his presidency. Instead, we must examine the structural components that make up a system that leads the global economy today in light of the extreme poverty and utter disdain for human rights it seems to promote.

13 comments:

PeterS said...

President Bush's Address:

President Bush Addresses The United Nations General Assembly
The United Nations Headquarters

New York, New York


9:57 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for the opportunity to address the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Sixty years ago, representatives from 16 nations gathered to begin deliberations on a new international bill of rights. The document they produced is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- and it stands as a landmark achievement in the history of human liberty. It opens by recognizing "the inherent dignity" and the "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family" as "the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world." And as we gather for this 62nd General Assembly, the standards of the Declaration must guide our work in this world.

Achieving the promise of the Declaration requires confronting long-term threats; it also requires answering the immediate needs of today. The nations in this chamber have our differences, yet there are some areas where we can all agree. When innocent people are trapped in a life of murder and fear, the Declaration is not being upheld. When millions of children starve to death or perish from a mosquito bite, we're not doing our duty in the world. When whole societies are cut off from the prosperity of the global economy, we're all worse off. Changing these underlying conditions is what the Declaration calls the work of "larger freedom" -- and it must be the work of every nation in this assembly.

This great institution must work for great purposes -- to free people from tyranny and violence, hunger and disease, illiteracy and ignorance, and poverty and despair. Every member of the United Nations must join in this mission of liberation.

First, the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people from tyranny and violence. The first article of the Universal Declaration begins, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." The truth is denied by terrorists and extremists who kill the innocent with the aim of imposing their hateful vision on humanity. The followers of this violent ideology are a threat to civilized people everywhere. All civilized nations must work together to stop them -- by sharing intelligence about their networks, and choking their -- off their finances, and bringing to justice their operatives.

In the long run, the best way to defeat extremists is to defeat their dark ideology with a more hopeful vision -- the vision of liberty that founded this body. The United States salutes the nations that have recently taken strides toward liberty -- including Ukraine and Georgia and Kyrgyzstan and Mauritania and Liberia, Sierra Leone and Morocco. The Palestinian Territories have moderate leaders, mainstream leaders that are working to build free institutions that fight terror, and enforce the law, and respond to the needs of their people. The international community must support these leaders, so that we can advance the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.

Brave citizens in Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have made the choice for democracy -- yet the extremists have responded by targeting them for murder. This is not a show of strength -- it is evidence of fear. And the extremists are doing everything in their power to bring down these young democracies. The people of Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have asked for our help. And every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand with them.

Every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for the people suffering under dictatorship. In Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear. Basic freedoms of speech, assembly, and worship are severely restricted. Ethnic minorities are persecuted. Forced child labor, human trafficking, and rape are common. The regime is holding more than 1,000 political prisoners -- including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party was elected overwhelmingly by the Burmese people in 1990.

The ruling junta remains unyielding, yet the people's desire for freedom is unmistakable. This morning, I'm announcing a series of steps to help bring peaceful change to Burma. The United States will tighten economic sanctions on the leaders of the regime and their financial backers. We will impose an expanded visa ban on those responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights, as well as their family members. We'll continue to support the efforts of humanitarian groups working to alleviate suffering in Burma. And I urge the United Nations and all nations to use their diplomatic and economic leverage to help the Burmese people reclaim their freedom.

In Cuba, the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end. The Cuban people are ready for their freedom. And as that nation enters a period of transition, the United Nations must insist on free speech, free assembly, and ultimately, free and competitive elections.

In Zimbabwe, ordinary citizens suffer under a tyrannical regime. The government has cracked down on peaceful calls for reform, and forced millions to flee their homeland. The behavior of the Mugabe regime is an assault on its people -- and an affront to the principles of the Universal Declaration. The United Nations must insist on change in Harare -- and must insist for the freedom of the people of Zimbabwe.

In Sudan, innocent civilians are suffering repression -- and in the Darfur region, many are losing their lives to genocide. America has responded with tough sanctions against those responsible for the violence. We've provided more than $2 billion in humanitarian and peacekeeping aid. I look forward to attending a Security Council meeting that will focus on Darfur, chaired by the French President. I appreciate France's leadership in helping to stabilize Sudan's neighbors. And the United Nations must answer this challenge to conscience, and live up to its promise to promptly deploy peacekeeping forces to Darfur.

Second, the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people from hunger and disease. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food and clothing and housing and medical care." Around the world, the United Nations is carrying out noble efforts to live up to these words.

Feeding the hungry has long been a special calling for my nation. Today, more than half the world's food assistance comes from America. We send emergency food stocks to starving people from camps in Sudan to slums in -- around the world. I've proposed an innovative initiative to alleviate hunger under which America would purchase the crops of local farmers in Africa and elsewhere, rather than shipping in food from the developed world. This would help build up local agriculture and break the cycle of famine in the developing world -- and I urge our United States Congress to support this initiative.

Many in this hall are bringing the spirit of generosity to fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria. Five years ago, in Sub-Saharan Africa, an AIDS diagnosis was widely considered a death sentence, and fewer than 50,000 people infected with the virus were receiving treatment. The world responded by creating the Global Fund, which is working with governments and the private sector to fight the disease around the world. The United States decided to take these steps a little further by launching the $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Since 2003, this effort has helped bring cutting-edge medicines to more than a million people in sub-Sahara Africa. It's a good start. So earlier this year, I proposed to double our initial commitment to $30 billion. By coming together, the world can turn the tide against HIV/AIDS -- once and for all.

Malaria is another common killer. In some countries, malaria takes as many lives as HIV/AIDS -- the vast majority of them children under the age of five years old. Every one of these deaths is unnecessary, because the disease is preventable and treatable. The world knows what it takes to stop malaria -- bed nets and indoor spraying and medicine to treat the disease. Two years ago, America launched a $1.2 billion malaria initiative. Other nations and the private sector are making vital contributions, as well. I call on every member state to maintain its focus, find new ways to join this cause, and bring us closer to the day when malaria deaths are no more.

Third, the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people from the chains of illiteracy and ignorance. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to education." And when nations make the investments needed to educate their people, the whole world benefits. Better education unleashes the talent and potential of its citizens, and adds to the prosperity of all of us. Better education promotes better health and greater independence. Better education increases the strength of democracy, and weakens the appeal of violent ideologies. So the United States is joining with nations around the world to help them provide a better education for their people.

A good education starts with good teachers. In partnership with other nations, America has helped train more than 600,000 teachers and administrators. A good education requires good textbooks. So in partnership with other nations, America has distributed tens of millions of textbooks. A good education requires access to good schools. So in partnership with other nations, America is helping nations raise standards in their schools at home, and providing scholarships to help students come to schools in the United States. In all our education efforts, our nation is working to expand access for women and girls, so that the opportunity to get a decent education is open to all.

Finally, the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people from poverty and despair. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, [and] to just and favorable conditions of work." In the 21st century, this requires ensuring that people in poor countries have the same opportunity to benefit from the global economy that citizens of wealthy countries have.

The United Nations provides vital economic assistance designed to help developing nations grow their economies and reach their potential. The United States agrees with that position; we've dramatically increased our own development assistance -- and we're delivering that aid in innovative ways. We started the Millennium Challenge Account to reward nations that govern justly, fight corruption, invest in their people, and promote economic freedom. With this aid, we're reaching out to developing nations in partnership, not paternalism. And we're ensuring that our aid dollars reach those who need them -- and achieve results.

In the long run, the best way to lift people out of poverty is through trade and investment. A nation that is open and trading with the world will create economic rewards that far exceed anything they could get through foreign aid. During the 1990s, developing nations that significantly lowered tariffs saw their per capita income grow about three times faster than other developing countries. Open markets ignite growth, encourage investment, increase transparency, strengthen the rule of law, and help countries help themselves.

The international community now has an historic chance to open markets around the world by concluding a successful Doha Round of trade talks. A successful Doha outcome would mean real and substantial openings in agriculture, goods, and services -- and real and substantial reductions in trade-distorting subsidies. The world's largest trading nations, including major developing countries, have a special responsibility to make the tough political decisions to reduce trade barriers. America has the will and flexibility to make those necessary decisions. Our negotiators are demonstrating that spirit in Geneva. I urge other leaders to direct their negotiators to do the same. And I'm optimistic that we can reach a good Doha agreement -- and seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

In the meantime, America will continue to pursue agreements that open trade and investment wherever we can. We recently signed free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These agreements embody the values of open markets -- transparent and fair regulation, respect for private property, and resolving disputes under international law rules. These are good agreements, and they're now ready for a congressional vote, and I urge the Congress to approve them as soon as possible.

As America works with the United Nations to alleviate immediate needs, we're also coming together to address longer-term challenges. Together, we're preparing for pandemics that could cause death and suffering on a global scale. Together, we're working to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Together, we're confronting the challenges of energy security, and environmental quality, and climate change. I appreciate the discussions on climate change led by the Secretary General last night. I look forward to further discussions at the meeting of major economies in Washington later this week.

The goals I've outlined today cannot be achieved overnight -- and they cannot be achieved without reform in this vital institution. The United States is committed to a strong and vibrant United Nations. Yet the American people are disappointed by the failures of the Human Rights Council. This body has been silent on repression by regimes from Havana to Caracas to Pyongyang and Tehran -- while focusing its criticism excessively on Israel. To be credible on human rights in the world, the United Nations must reform its own Human Rights Council.

Some have also called for reform to the structure of the Security Council, including an expansion of its membership. The United States is open to this prospect. We believe that Japan is well-qualified for permanent membership on the Security Council, and that other nations should be considered, as well. The United States will listen to all good ideas, and we will support changes to the Security Council as part of broader U.N. reform. And in all we do, I call on member states to work for an institution that adheres to strict ethical standards, and lives up to the high principles of the Universal Declaration.

With the commitment and courage of this chamber, we can build a world where people are free to speak, assemble, and worship as they wish; a world where children in every nation grow up healthy, get a decent education, and look to the future with hope; a world where opportunity crosses every border. America will lead toward this vision where all are created equal, and free to pursue their dreams. This is the founding conviction of my country. It is the promise that established this body. And with our determination, it can be the future of our world.

Thank you, and God bless. (Applause.)

END 10:18 A.M. EDT

Essential Documents are vital primary sources underpinning the foreign policy debate.

Andrew T. said...

Military non-interventionism is the only Constitutional foreign policy.

Obviously I don't agree with Sara's socialistic views -- except for a few basic services like defense, impartial adjudication of law, and indiscriminant police and fire forces, the private market can provide services more effectively and humanely than any bureaucracy functioning on an unbalanced budget and citizen theft (read: income tax). NAFTA (and CAFTA) is an extremely convoluted federal nightmare, NOT genuine free trade.

Support the American Freedom Agenda Act (H.R. 3838): www.capwiz.com/jbs/issues/alert/?alertid=10449681

Tandi said...

Is this a political blog now?

I was very interested in Mr. Ahmadinejad’s speech that day at the UN. I taped it. Scary. Invoking the Mahdi as he did. Clever as a fox, that man. Beware of him--he takes his religion very seriously.

I have not been paying much attention to American politics and policies as I am pretty much bewildered and disillusioned by it all. I consider myself more of a citizen of the Kingdom of God and the Commonwealth of Israel.

However, since I must do my best to be a good citizen of the country I live in, I will put forth my political preference for the upcoming election....at least my preliminary preference subject to further analysis. That would be Mike Huckabee.

I assume Sara will be voting for Hillary. And Andrew for Ron Paul. How about you, Peter? And Dan?

Here is a news item about my candidate:

Mike Huckabee is "Clear Winner" of Republican Presidential Debate

October 21, 2007

Orlando, FL - Former Arkansas Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee scored big points tonight during the first-in-Florida Republican Presidential debate in Orlando - proving that he is the "Ronald Reagan conservative" the party is looking for.

Invoking the spirit of Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, Huckabee rejected the idea of attacking his fellow Republicans in the debate. "I'm not interested in fighting these guys - I want to fight for the American people," Huckabee said.

"For the first time in nine debates, I'll be more than happy to sit back and let them fight and shed each other's blood, while I run for president," he said.

"There are some real issues out there we need to be fighting for. One of them is the sanctity of human life - it's one of the core issues of our humanity and our civilization. When our founding fathers put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence, they said we have certain inalienable rights given us by our creator - and among these, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - one of them being life - and I still believe that."

When asked about health care, Huckabee's signature issue - he said he would allow individuals to control their health care and the focus would be on prevention. "We don't have a health care system in this country, we have health care maze," Huckabee said. "We don't have a health care crisis - we have a health crisis."

"When 80 percent of the two trillion dollars we spend on health care goes to chronic diseases, if we don't focus on prevention, we'll never catch up." Huckabee said.

"The best way to deal with health care is not to turn it over to the government or entirely to the private sector, but to turn it over to the individual. I trust me more than I trust health care companies or the government," Huckabee said.

"I just want to remind you of something, when all the old hippies find out they get free drugs, wait to see what that costs us," Huckabee joked.

Huckabee also asserted that the G.O.P. needs to do a better job of reaching out to minorities. "We need to make sure that the G.O.P. is the most inclusive party because our message touches more people and helps more people climb up the next rung."

Huckabee said one subject that is "not funny" is the prospect of Hillary Clinton becoming President of the United States. Under that scenario, he said, "Taxes go up, health care becomes the domain of the government, spending goes up, and our military loses its morale. I'm not sure we will have the courage and the will and the resolve to fight the greatest threat this country has faced: Islamo-facism. We've got an enemy that wants to kill every last one of us. We cannot be soft, we must be strong."

"We also must also stop the Law of the Sea Treaty because it gives away our sovereignty," he said.

Huckabee also addressed the issue of the violence on the Turkish border. "As President, I would do two things: First, I would dispatch the Secretary of State to the area to convince Turkey not to go into Iraq, and second, I would have our military train and equip the Kurds to fight the PKK," he said.

"We don't have to put our military in harm's way but we also need Turkey to realize that there is nothing to be gained by crossing that border and creating another hostile situation," he said.

Andrew T. said...

Tandi,

Mike Huckabee did not win that debate. Ron Paul did. As in, he both gave the most compelling answers, AND he got the most votes in the post-debate text-in session. By a landslide.

Mike Huckabee is NOT a "Reagan conservative". I do not believe that Ronald Reagan would have supported a Constitutional amendment on gay marriage (marriage, 100 years ago, was only a private religious institution and totally unassociated with the state), since he was an actual federalist. Furthermore, Reagan was no cold warrior. There is a tremendous difference between him saying "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" and actually sending our marines over there with about a half a trillion federal dollars to tear down that wall. Mike Huckabee has voted for welfare programs and an unbalanced budget, and is very supportive of an open-borders policy.

Congressman Dr. Paul has always voted and fiercely lobbied to protect the sanctity of human life from force and fraud, whether it is a developing fetal infant, an American citizen, or an innocent Middle Eastern family getting cluster-bombed by a U.S. air fighter. Again, as an actual small-government federalist, the function of enforcement is with the states.

He is an experienced OG/BYN medical doctor in a family with a medical legacy, who delivered over 4000 infants over his career. When he addresses medical topics, he has every clear and experience-laden idea what it is he is talking about.

And while the Huckster throws around that nearly-useless "Islamo-fascism" tagline, Ron Paul dedicates to policies that will bring this nation an impenetrable national defense -- non-interventionism with foreign nations, a well-regulated militia, a well-maintained naval and air-missile defense, and purely voluntary service. There is no greater boon to our military morale than by getting our servicemen out of all budget-draining and perpetual conflicts not based on our defense, like the current unconstitutionally-declared conflict in Iraq.

Any Republican can throw around a few tired rote lines about lowering taxes and cutting a little bit of waste here and there (and not even follow through). Heck, Reagan tripled the federal budget. Ron Paul's decades of study in free-market literature allow him to recommend policies that are not even in the same galaxy as those of his competitors -- a return to the gold standard, the phasing out of the departments of education and defense and homeland security, the dismemberment of all unnecessary federal spending, abolishing the federal reserve, and the end of the income tax.

Support the chief adherent of Constitutional freedom serving in our nation's Congress.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

Sara is not a fan of Hillary. I know that. I think that she is undecided on who to support though I know that she would like to see a Nader in office. I do not think that he is running for 2008.

Me? I am not Republican. I am far more a Democrat than a Republican. My political views are spearheaded by my economic concerns. I have a growing animosity toward capitalism and capitalists. Our government is democratic but our economy is controlled by capitalists. Capitalists represent less than 1% of our society. They are individuals who generate enough profit from possessed capital to make an independent living from their capital. I advocate Schweickart's "economic democracy"--economy controlled not by the elite capitalists by democratically controlled by the people. Radical idea?--no more radical than economic governance.

Capitalism is producing even greater inequities and societal injustices than were experienced in decades past. It is not self correcting as the controlling forces are pursuant of the bottom line betterment of the few while cultivating increased injustices and economic disparities. Capitalism is not a sustainable system. Revolution is needed.

Political blog? No, but politics enter the pictures relative to global issues and concerns for the Middle East. The targeting of the World Trade Towers was intentional. I will not justify terrorism, but I acknowledge the history that imperialistic capitalistic ventures have raped the Middle East of previous cultural richness and economic prosperities.

Andrew T. said...

Peter,

Wow, when did you become such a commie? Call me "bourgeoisie" all you want; I take it as a compliment. Hey, we're living under post-modernism so it's all "relative" anyway, right? Not that I don't have to hear enough of it in my sociology class.

Our government is not a democracy, and has never been a democracy. It is a representative republic.

Everyone in this society is a "capitalist". Children on the playground trading jelly beans for quarters are practicing free-market principals and acting in shared interests. When you accept a paycheck or any other form of compensation from your workplace, you accept capital from the group of people that you have voluntarily worked to assist; you are practicing non-coercive capitalism. When you walk into the store and purchase food with your capital, you are adhering to free-market principals -- sans taxing, federal interest rates, printed-note money and the IRS that is.

Democracy is not a humane system. It is the tyranny of the majority. It is mob rule. It is two wolves and one lamb deciding what they're going to have for dinner (conversely, liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the authority of that vote). Only "democracy" in the form of elected representatives escapes the ability to violate personal rights. Only a free market of ideas is compatible with individual rights.

Inequality is something that can even be celebrated. In a system that respects an individual's right to life, liberty, property, and his own tradition, persons with more effective ideas and values will meet success. None have them legally trespassed. Free-markets are exponentially sustainable, and even with pseudo-socialist measures, big spending, and a counterfeit dollar, the standard of living continues to rise profoundly; socialism is utterly failed, dead, buried, starved and massacred 100 million people and all I got was this free tee-shirt.

Jimmy Carter's and Bill Clinton's interventionism was imperialistic (as is the current neocon plan), but certainly not free-market economics in line with the Constitution. In fact, the fundamental nature of federal interventionism and NAFTA is diametrically inimical to those concepts. Of course, in the labor-theory Marxian la-la land of yesteryear, "capitalism" is simply code-speak for "bad stuff".

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

I am defining a capitalism as one that lives independently off of possessed captial. With this definition, less than 1% of our society falls into the capitalist category.

Capital will always exist. Inequalities will always exist; however, the extremes of inequality generated by unfair distribution of capital are unjustifiable. Not only do they lead to socially unjust structures, but they also lead to environmentally unsound and unstaintable attainments.

I am not opposed to the ownership of capital or personal property. I am, though, opposed to the non-democratic control of the ecnomy by the self-serving capitalists.

The quality of living in the United States alone drops lower and lower. In order to attain to the quality of living of our parents, we have to acheive much more than just a bachelor's degree--we must have a minimum of a masters' degree. Likewise, we cannot live on just forty man hours per household--rather something akin to 100 man hours a week are needed per household. How is the quality of living improving? The capitalist might claim improvements....but the plebian must sacrifice more and more to attain to a semblance of the acheivements of yesteryear.

Capitalism hence generates further inequalities. It thrives on inequalities such as foreign cheap, swet-shop labor on the one hand and a consumption-minded psychology on the other.

I agree with you regarding the representative and constitutional nature of our government. That is, I agree that our government is not direct democracy. I advocate the existence of free markets. However, I am opposed to the individualistic gain of the capitalist vis-a-vis the greater good that could be acheived in a succesor system.

Free markets should continue; however, the earnings need not be vested in the capitalist: they should be vested back into the employee and the community. This is economic democracy, aka "mob rule."

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

Not a good definition of capitalism. A capitalist is one who owns property (capital) and exchanges it with others freely. That's virtually every adult. Your own body is your property, too.

Seriously, count your capitalist blessings: www.lewrockwell.com/north/north304.html

People who insinuate that, in even a single aspect, the quality of life and the comfort of living is of less quality than it was a generation ago, are either blindly ignorant or out of their minds. The only point you are making is that getting ahead in today's world requires more education and more skill -- umm...well du-uh. For most American families, the child going to college and being able to pay it off and succeeding is a forgone conclusion!; count THAT capitalist blessing. America's poor have a higher standard of living than a middle-class family in the 1970's.

The small amount of genuine poverty that still exists in our society is not due to a shortage of social democracy. It comes from a paper dollar, the hiring of illegal migrants, reserve interest rates, taxes galore, national faux "free trade" agreements, even imminent domain. Remove these bureaucratic deadweights and poverty disappears completely. Inequality remains, the product of variable levels of success in a free society.

There can be no successor system to a free market unless it involves either government confiscation of that capital, or the most fundamental change in human interests, orientations, and rational instincts. The former proposal is authoritarian, the latter naive and impossible.

On sustainability related to the environment, trust me, it is in lock. Every logging company is jumping aboard for sustainable cutting practices because they have been proven as a superior way to manage the company's land and a genuine investment in the future. The federal government actually pollutes more than all chemical and oil companies put together, but not a single bureaucrat can be charged for land damage because of sovereign immunity. Educated people will continue to make increasingly more rational uses of their finite land and resources into the future. As people become more acutely learned in the ways that their activities might affect the larger environmental picture, they will most certainly adapt their practices accordingly.

Here's a "radical" proposal: abolish the income tax. Replace it with nothing.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

You said,

"The quality of living in the United States alone drops lower and lower. In order to attain to the quality of living of our parents, we have to achieve much more than just a bachelor's degree--we must have a minimum of a masters' degree. Likewise, we cannot live on just forty man hours per household--rather something akin to 100 man hours a week are needed per household. How is the quality of living improving? The capitalist might claim improvements....but the plebian must sacrifice more and more to attain to a semblance of the achievements of yesteryear."


I agree with your observations, Yet it is part of the plan by the powers that be. Women’s lib was pushed in my generation...and now women have the glorious freedom to exhaust themselves trying to balance career and family while “wearing the pants of the family” and contributing to marital discord. Meanwhile, the husband cannot find a good paying job to support his family without working 70 plus hours a week as you say. The kids become day care brats and society falls apart.

But as long as there is beer, sports, and HDTV, the plebians protest not...and the new world order marches on.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

Yes, as long as there is beer, hdtv, etc...

We benefit the capitalist by being consumers. Consumerism is our contribution to the capitalists. Without consumption profits wain.

Other countries with more socialist models have conferred leisure at the expense of consumption. I prefer leisure over consumption.

Without the resource of the second party working in the household the growth of capitalistic economies would have been far slower than what we have experienced in the last fifty years. We have pulled on the "unresourced" resource: the domestic partner. However, I do think that women's lib has benefited society in other areas.

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

Yes, I would not want to go back to the stiff and starchy 50’s where a woman’s place was exclusively in the home, living a life of stifling conformity. I am happier cleaning a horse barn than tidying up the kitchen or cooking. I would have liked to become a race horse jockey, but women could not do that in my day. Now they can...and do....and break every bone in their body just like the men. : )

I agree with you about consumerism as well. I do my part. I avoid stores and malls like the plague (because I hate shopping). But I don’t think Socialism is the answer.

I look forward to civilization in the Millennial Kingdom. Things will be as they should be. People will long enjoy the work of their hands in leisurely fashion. Sounds like society will go at a slower pace, with horses for transportation. God’s laws will be the law of the Land and Yeshua will rule from Jerusalem. It won’t be long now.

Meanwhile, it would be nice if we could develop functional, like-minded communities of sharing...like the kibbutz...or commune. It is an elusive dream.

The kibbutz (Hebrew word for “communal settlement”) is a unique rural community; a society dedicated to mutual aid and social justice; a socioeconomic system based on the principle of joint ownership of property, equality and cooperation of production, consumption and education; the fulfillment of the idea “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”; a home for those who have chosen it. (Jewish Virtual Library)

When we were camping, I noticed that people had reserved adjoining sites and got together at regular intervals. The children could ride their bikes and play safely. It was like a communal neighborhood. And it was do-able. Just an inexpensive used travel trailer or older motorhome, or a tent, and “the American dream” was happening...at least part time. Dads would set up the camper and go off to work and come back on the weekend (we went on a Thursday and observed this). Living in harmony with nature, leaving the rat race behind, is very conducive to physical and mental rejuvenation and health.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

"We benefit the capitalist by being consumers. Consumerism is our contribution to the capitalists. Without consumption profits wain."

Who is "the capitalist"? A really successful person who provides in a timely manner products that many people consider useful?

"Other countries with more socialist models have conferred leisure at the expense of consumption. I prefer leisure over consumption."

And what countries are those? In purely technological terms (disregarding the egalitarianized hellholes that eastern European countries have become), does a uniquely socialist country enjoy a higher standard? Not that having most of the fruits of my labor stolen from me is a very appealing prospect. And in the case of Cuba (and China once upon a time), getting sent off to a sugar plantation for "re-education" isn't my idea of leisure.

"Without the resource of the second party working in the household the growth of capitalistic economies would have been far slower than what we have experienced in the last fifty years. We have pulled on the "unresourced" resource: the domestic partner. However, I do think that women's lib has benefited society in other areas."

The feminist movement of the 19th century did very well to establish what it set out to do: equify thinking women to men before the functions of civil law, and reaffirm the status of a woman as a sovereign individual. It was unlike the 20th century and modern feminist movement, which comprises of Marxists unfettered by any proper hierarchy of things.

You did do well to highlight the effectiveness of the nuclear family. Liberals realize that all of the research data clearly favors strong family bonds, so they instead base their support for "alternative lifestyles" on the possibility that some rare exception might somehow feel offended by the whole setup of things.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Maureen,

I can't say that I agree with you on all subjects (certainly not theology; try giving genuine, logically-taught Torah a shot before rejecting it!), I surely appreciate what you have to bring to these discussions. You have a genuine concern for the primer meanings of things, and I appreciate that in anyone. Stay that way!

Andrew