Whistleblower at Smith College Resigns Over Racism

Jodi Shaw made less in a year than the cost of tuition. She was offered a settlement, but turned it down. Here’s why.

“We all know that something morally grotesque is swallowing liberal America. Almost no one wants to risk talking about it out loud.

Every day I get phone calls from anxious Americans complaining about an ideology that wants to pull all of us into the past.

I get calls from parents telling me about the damaging things being taught in schools: so-called antiracist programs that urge children to obsess on the color of their skin.

I get calls from people working in corporate America forced to go to trainings in which they learn that they carry collective, race-based guilt — or benefit from collective, race-based virtue.

I get calls from young people just launching their careers telling me that they feel they have no choice but to profess fealty to this ideology in order to keep their jobs.

Almost no one who calls me is willing to go public. And I understand why. To go public with what’s happening is to risk their jobs and their reputations.

But the hour is very late. It calls for courage. And courage has come in the form of a woman named Jodi Shaw.

Jodi Shaw was, until this afternoon, a staffer at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She made $45,000 a year — less than the yearly tuition at the school.

She is a divorced mother of two children. She is a lifelong liberal and an alumna of the college. And she has had a front-row seat to the illiberal, neo-racist ideology masquerading as progress.

In October 2020, after Shaw felt that she had exhausted all her internal options, she posted a video on YouTube, blowing the whistle on, what she says, is an atmosphere of racial discrimination at the school.

“I ask that Smith College stop reducing my personhood to a racial category. Stop telling me what I must think and feel about myself,” she said. “Stop presuming to know who I am or what my culture is based upon my skin color. Stop asking me to project stereotypes and assumptions onto others based on their skin color.””

Watch the full video and read the full article/story HERE.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

Trump Slump: Waning Liberal Outrage is Killing ANTIFA

The “Trump bump” of liberal outrage that helped propel psychopaths and sadists to positions of cultural authority following the shock 2016 election result is in a free fall.

Yesterday, Buzzfeed-owned HuffPost announced that it would be laying off 47 in-house bloggers, a digital media massacre that may be a harbinger of wider industry trends.

One of those terminated, Luke O’Brien, made a name for himself over the years for using his press credentials to terrorize entire families, including getting them fired and inundated with death threats, over online political disagreements.

O’Brien’s behavior, enabled by former Editor-In-Chief Lydia Polgreen (who saw the writing on the wall and left HuffPost in March 2020), even led to a New York Times chastisement after he made the mistake of subjecting a wealthy Jewish family to his abusive practices. O’Brien openly and proudly flaunts his high status in Antifa circles, credentials typically earned by engaging in low-life behavior. His social media profiles are loaded with the amplification of violent left-wing extremists, which in the long term is bound to make him unhireable in more professional outlets.

The HuffPost staff is by no means the only casualty this week.

The Intercept, a once respected publication that brought us the Edward Snowden leaks, is in dire financial straits according to a recent email appealing to the public for funds. The online magazine lost its star and co-founder Glenn Greenwald to Substack in October 2020 due to the stifling nature of his editors and colleagues. The Intercept in recent years made a decision to depart from its traditional editorial line, which focused on criticizing and exposing government abuses, in order to chase shallow liberal identity politics and engage in generic Democratic Party partisanship. After the inauguration of Joe Biden, the wealthy donors they calibrated their message to attract suddenly stopped writing checks.

Also this week, Antifa doxer Jamie Peck appears to have been booted from Sam Seder’s Majority Report. Seder, who is Jewish, is an MSNBC liberal that in 2017 sought to integrate violent communists and anarchists like Peck into his network to help build a post-Charlottesville anti-white “resistance.” Now in the Biden-era, Seder has made a decision to dispose of the mentally unstable and drug-addled Peck and replace her with the younger and more docile “Young Turks” DNC loyalist, Emma Vigeland.

Many were surprised when transvestite “Antifa” celebrity Emily Gorcenski released a letter on Sunday announcing its retirement from militant anti-white activities. Gorcenski, who enjoyed 15 minutes of fame after Charlottesville, has seen its online engagement decline steadily over the years. According to its farewell statement, Gorcenski has suffered significant personal financial and mental strain and a low return on their time invested, ultimately coming to the realization that being a full time “Antifa” troll just isn’t worth it when all is said and done.

Aside from rich liberals getting bored with outrage clickbait, a number of other developments have put pressure on the Antifa/”SJW” industry. The popular patronage site Substack has allowed anti-woke leftist personalities that identity politics inquisitors thought they had canceled like Freddie DeBoer, Matt Taibbi, Michael Tracey and Glenn Greenwald to operate free of ideological commissars, billionaire donors and corporate sponsors.

There is nothing stopping the 47 laid off HuffPost journalists or the staff at the Intercept from opening up their own Substacks, but the problem is ordinary people don’t feel their opinions and “reporting” on who made a racist joke when they were in middle school is worth anything.

Also contributing to their crisis is that energy is leaving the intellectually oppressive environments of Twitter — where “SJWs” and “Antifa” are given an artificial advantage by CEOs and NGOs — for alternative apps like Clubhouse and Telegram that, while imperfect, tolerate a wider range of ideas and debate.

Last but not least, the biggest pushback against the “Judeo-Left” is coming from other leftists themselve. Alexander Reid Ross and Shane Burley, two Jewish men who are some of the American Antifa movement’s most prominent ideologues, have been collaborating with the Zionist/neo-conservative Daily Beast to accuse socialists that are anti-war, anti-Israel or do not fear talking to people on the right of being National Bolsheviks and Third Positionists. Their article attacking various sensible figures such as Norman Finkelstein for writing for Unz.com or Jimmy Dore for going on Tucker Carlson was widely panned, while Burley is now routinely humiliated and mocked by his own side.

It is hard to see whether this is the end of the inquisition or if the “Antifa” gatekeepers have simply become obsolete. If Merrick Garland and Kristen Clarke are confirmed, the FBI and Department of Justice will have finished morphing into bonafide instruments of open, unconstitutional anti-white tyranny (a process that began under Trump).

Regardless of what comes next, innocent people on both the left and right who have had their lives destroyed by cruel and nasty sociopaths can enjoy a bit of schadenfreude.

Eric Striker, UNZ Review

Liberals–Incurably Irrational

Rep. Chris Stewart: “With the White House now suggesting they will turn the resources of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) inward to conduct domestic surveillance, they seek the power to covertly target and retaliate against political opponents, potentially silencing dissent.
Given the way Obama operatives created a Russian collusion conspiracy out of whole cloth to serve their political agenda, Americans should be more than just leery of the administration’s justifications for this expanded surveillance. They should be terrified.”

Like I said: It’s not an administration; it’s an occupation. It’s not a President; it’s a one-party dictatorship, with no possibility of losing at the polls. They are creating the tools to spy on Americans who do not support their edicts. And they will be rounding dissidents up, in time. Who will stop them? Two justices on the Supreme Court?

FL Gov. DeSantis warned conservatives that if they stand for the right things that they will “be attacked,” “smeared,” and “even canceled by the major organs of the political left. Now anyone can spout conservative rhetoric, we can sit around and have academic debates about conservative policy, but I’m not saying you don’t do any of that, but the question is, when the Klieg lights get hot, when the left comes after you, will you stay strong or will you fold?” DeSantis concluded. “When you do and you engage in the battles ahead, hold the line. Stand your ground, and don’t ever, ever back down.”

True, but leftists will not back down. NOT EVER. You’re dealing with irrational, totalitarian thugs. Everything DeSantis says is true, only it’s much worse. Leftists and Democrats are incurably irrational, hate-spewing, crude authoritarians. On top of it all, they seek to disarm you, force you to wear a face diaper forever, pay huge sums for gas and fuel, pay huge taxes only if you work or achieve, and force you to fund public schools and universities that (1) teach students to hate freedom and (2) brainwash your own children into hating YOU for loving freedom. There is nothing remotely tolerable about these horrible people — I mean all committed Democrats, your neighbors, your relatives, your supposed friends. They have literally voted away our rights and rigged the system in such a way that we are forced to choose between total submission–or civil war.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

America: An Appreciation

America, know there are countless people in the world who would gladly trade places with you.”

chose to be an American. What did you ever do, except for having been born?” —Ayn Rand

I was born under the flag of the People’s Republic of China, a country that remains under the absolute rule of the Chinese Communist Party to this day. I have very few memories of my early childhood in mainland China, save for a visit to the Forbidden City—a brief tourist stop when my family traveled to the American consulate in Beijing to apply for a visa.

While Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms eliminated the worst economic collectivization from the Mao era and gradually opened China to the outside world, political and social freedom were never fully embraced. Nevertheless, the limited opening allowed my family the opportunity to explore options for a better life. In 1993, under the kind sponsorship of an American physician, my mother left for a research position in the United States with less than $200 in her pockets. My father and I followed her a few months later, and, from the moment we landed on American soil, we put down our roots in our new adopted country.

Like the countless waves of other immigrants who came before us, my family and I arrived as strangers in a new land, found freedom and opportunity, gradually assimilated into our adopted country, and eventually worked ourselves into the upper middle class. In a time when vast swaths of the population are losing faith if not outright rejecting American founding principles, history, and institutions, I wish to provide a counternarrative for my fellow citizens and international allies who still believe in the fundamental goodness of this country and its people. Let my family history and personal experiences living in America be that story.

As long as I can remember, I despised those who sought to dominate and coerce others, whether they be the playground bully, a frenzied mob, or a tyrannical government.

My childhood growing up in Ohio was relatively carefree (as long as I met the demanding academic standards set by my parents), and I learned as much as I could about American life. Star Wars: A New Hope was the first movie I can remember watching in English. It left me completely mesmerized with ideals of heroism, adventure, and epic battles between good and evil. As a total bookworm, I made the local library my second home and frequently maxed out the limit of books a kid’s library card could check out. Although I read widely across genres, I especially enjoyed reading about the accomplishments of great individuals. Whether they were mythical heroes of ancient Greece and Rome, the American Founding Fathers, brilliant scientists, trailblazing entrepreneurs, intrepid explorers, or our modern astronauts, I was awestruck by those who left their mark in history. If there was one common theme I learned from my reading, it is that anything is possible for free peoples with free minds and the courage to use their freedom.

There was never a single political awakening moment for me. A nerd at heart, I saw myself in the spirit of freethinking scientists like Richard Feynman, Charles Darwin, and Carl Sagan, all of whom pushed the boundaries of human knowledge, refuted superstition, displaced ignorance, and carried the beacon of the Enlightenment. Long before I ever learned the intricacies of the First Amendment, I treasured the values of free speechopen debate, and unfettered inquiry. (Becoming exposed to South Park in elementary school probably helped. My culturally-ignorant immigrant parents remained blissfully unaware.) I grew up in a world where all ideas—good, bad, and ugly—were freely available (my friends quickly introduced me to those ideas the adults wanted to censor or hide) and where everything was shared nonstop. It was an eye-opening experience for this young Chinese-American boy.

As long as I can remember, I despised those who sought to dominate and coerce others, whether they be the playground bully, a frenzied mob, or a tyrannical government. I knew from the examples of my early heroes that these were the enemies they fought. Even if I had never read a single page of F. A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, and gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for free market economics and conservativelibertarian philosophy, as I did later in life, nothing could have stopped me from becoming a civil libertarian in the mold of Christopher Hitchens, Ira Glasser, and the old-guard ACLU.

As I grew up, my parents gradually revealed more details of their former destitute life in Maoist China, which made me grateful that I never had any experience remotely comparable here in the United States. For my parents—after starting life anew in a foreign country, establishing themselves as respected medical professionals, working their way into the upper middle-class, becoming naturalized citizens, and raising two healthy, successful children (my sister and me)—the American Dream was real as it can be.

My story is an extension of theirs. Many children of first-generation immigrants struggle with reconciling parallel lives in two worlds: the traditions and values from their ancestral homelands versus the liberal culture of America. It was not always easy, but I would like to think I have found the balance over the years. I accepted that my Chinese heritage and upbringing is a fundamental part of who I am, but I also fully embraced my identity as a full-blooded American and the limitless opportunities of this country.

This background, I believe, has provided me a unique perspective on the American political scene.

Although I hesitate to embrace political labels, I consider myself a classical liberal or libertarian and, above all, an individualist. Throughout my life, I never felt that I truly belonged to a single social clique, tribe, or political party. In the words of Rudyard Kipling, “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you’ll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

Kipling was right. Being one’s own man is a very difficult path to walk, but I am proud to say that I have kept my intellectual independence and integrity and still found acceptance and success in my professional and personal life. And this was only possible in the United States of America.

But this kind of freethinking and independence is being threatened by a new form of collectivism represented by social justice ideologyintersectionalityidentity politicscritical theory, and postmodernism. Many excellent commentaries have already identified the roots and core beliefs of these ideologies and movements. Their central tenets can be summarized as follows:

  • There is no “you” as an individual. Your identity is constructed by race, gender, and class.
  • You exist only as part of a collective group. These groups are in zero-sum conflict with each other.
  • There is no objective truth, only subjective interpretations and narratives. “Truth” is only a cover that allows dominant groups to exercise power over others.
  • Scientific knowledge and even science itself is a social construct.

In sum, this new collectivism rejects the foundational principles of the Enlightenment. It is not surprising, then, that most social justice activists are hostile towards free speech, due process, and the very concept of individual rights—exemplified in our current “cancel culture.”

There is a difference between “cancel culture” and honest criticism. Jonathan Rauch prepared a thoughtful guide distinguishing the two. The latter is about finding truth, moral persuasion, and, most importantly, an attitude of good faith. The former is distinguished by punitiveness and the goal to “make the errant suffer”:

“Canceling…seeks to organize and manipulate the social or media environment in order to isolate, deplatform or intimidate ideological opponents. It is about shaping the information battlefield, not seeking truth; and its intent—or at least its predictable outcome—is to coerce conformity and reduce the scope for forms of criticism that are not sanctioned by the prevailing consensus of some local majority.”

As early as 2015, when I first encountered social justice ideology for the first time, I was unnerved by its authoritarian undertones. Knowing the history of modern China and my family’s experiences, it was not the first time I saw the dangers and potential for tyranny when self-righteous egalitarian activists tear down institutions and run roughshod over individuals in the name of the greater good. More often than not, they proved themselves to be nothing more than humanitarians with guillotines. I cannot help but suspect people who cloak their lust for power and domination using the same rhetoric and rationales.

And I am not alone in this. As social justice ideology and its offshoots continue their long march into schools, universities (even STEM fields), corporations, professional societies, and now mainstream American life, I cannot help but notice that people who push back against groupthink and mob rule tend to be first-generation immigrants from former or current communist countries who are familiar with the collectivist tactics and propaganda from their native homelands.

Mobs invaded private neighborhoods and demanded home owners take down their American flags.

While most of this summer’s racial justice protests were peaceful, there were notable cases where activists went too far. Mobs invaded private neighborhoods and demanded home owners take down their American flags. In another high-profile incident, mobs surrounded innocent restaurant patrons and tried to force them to raise their hands in solidarity. However, what disturbed me the most were the ritual self-flagellations. Appalling videos showed white people kneeling to black organizers, confessing to racism, begging for forgiveness, and, in some cases, even washing  their feet. Similar behavior was observed in Democratic politicians—despite their actual records—who profess to be sympathetic to racial justice.

Knowing the sorry tales from my own family history, these degrading acts were eerily reminiscent of the struggle sessions from China’s Cultural Revolution. During that decade of nonstop chaos, ideologically-possessed mobs would surround victims and then verbally and physically abuse them (if not killing them outright) until they completely broke down and confessed to imaginary crimes.

These acts to coerce free human beings—to make them believe, say, and do things against their sincere conscience—crossed the line for me. Whether they take place in the United States, China, or any other country, these exercises of raw political power on the unwilling are flat-out wrong, no matter the cause or pretext.

Take it from a first-generation immigrant from a current communist regime: Forcing people to live a lie is a hallmark of tyranny. As a public service to our fellow citizens, immigrants like me have no choice but to speak out when we see the parallels. Free Americans and any self-respecting human being should resist participating in the Great Lie.  

Let me be clear: I am not blind or deaf to injustice, which existed historically and continues to exist in this country. There are deep, serious flaws with the American criminal justice system. For far too long, African Americans and other minorities have been denied the full freedoms and privileges that most white Americans enjoy and take for granted. Clark Neily at the Cato Institute had nothing but the harshest words for our present reality:

The United States’ criminal justice system is fundamentally rotten, but the effects of its dysfunction are not felt equally by all Americans. Instead, it is the marginalized and politically disenfranchised who bear the brunt of that injustice, including particularly communities of color. Although both the root causes and the significance of racial disparities in our criminal justice system are debatable, the existence of those disparities is not. And when people perceive—correctly in my judgment—that some lives are counted by the system as less sacred than others, they are going to be angry about it. And they damn well should be.

The killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and too many other black Americans were heinous crimes. I supported (as did the vast majority of Americans across ethnic groups and the political spectrum) the initial protests for accountability and justice.

In the case of George Floyd’s killing, all four officers responsible were quickly fired and charged. Public outcry made an impact and the world witnessed in America that no one was above the law. Under the American political system, We the People are the true sovereigns and can ultimately force the government to deliver accountability and respect and to expand our rights, or dissolve outright. Our track record of success is undeniable.

In a real authoritarian country, none of that would have happened. In ChinaRussiaIranSaudi ArabiaVenezuelaCuba, and other tyrannical regimes, agents of the state routinely murder, torture, rape, imprison, and violate human rights with impunity on a mass scale, and there is absolutely no recourse.

That is why comparing America’s ills to any of these is grotesque and factually wrong. For all its flaws, the United States remains a beacon of freedom and hope to the world’s oppressed peoples.

It does not stand for racism and bigotry. And this adopted son of liberty will not give it up to those who do.

We can empathize with those who suffer without being bullied into accepting the sins of others. We can stand against injustice without forsaking independent thinking and personal dignity. We can include historically-marginalized perspectives into curriculums without throwing out the best of Western canon. We can have a nuanced look into our past without being ashamed of our history.

Contrary to the claims of the 1619 Project and other revisionists, the United States was founded in 1776 on individual liberty and unalienable rights, not slavery. The American flag stands for the proposition “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It does not stand for racism and bigotry. And this adopted son of liberty will not give it up to those who do.

The fundamental principles of America—embodied in the Declaration of Independence and secured in the Constitution—belong to everyone. The promise and limitless potential of this country also belong to everyone. We will always struggle to live up to our highest ideals as long as flawed human beings continue to exist.

Americans will continue to have heated debates on the continued relevance of those principles, where we fall short, and just about every other issue one can imagine.

But to me, actions speak louder than words. When immigrants risk everything to come to the United States, they do so under the sincere belief that its ideals and promises are real. For my family and me, the American Dream is real. And I know many others share (and will share) this sentiment.

The American Dream will endure as long as we keep alive its fundamental principles and resist the current climate of entitlement, victimhood, and collectivism.

If I could offer some advice to future immigrants and to my fellow American citizens: Remember the country owes you nothing but a chance to be free. Use that freedom wisely.

No matter how frustrated or aggrieved you may be with your current life in America, know there are countless people in the world who would gladly trade places with you.

Take advantage of the myriad opportunities that are part of America’s core social fabric and run with them. Do not capitulate to bitterness and pessimism when you encounter setbacks and failure. This country offers unlimited chances to reinvent yourself.

Speak out against injustice. But do not succumb to hate and envy. Regardless of their intentions, do not let anyone exercise arbitrary power. And remember: Despite all the attempts to pigeonhole people into identity groups, in the end, there are only individual human beings.

Do not be afraid to be an individualist.

The world you desire can be won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is yours.

Aaron Tao, The Atlas Society

Opponents of Liberty Remain Misguided Sore Winners

The 2020 presidential election has been the most divisive in many people’s living memory. Not only has there been the anger and fury over whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden should occupy the White House come January 20, 2021, there have been concerns and controversy about whether democracy itself is under attack in America.It is the competitive market economy that offers the “inclusiveness” and “diversity” that “Progressives” insist they want.
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One indication of people’s concerns about this latest presidential election was the number of those who believed that the outcome was of serious national concern. For instance, for more than 20 years, the Pew Research Center has asked prospective voters whether “it really mattered” who was going to win in an upcoming presidential election. Back in 2000, 50 percent of such prospective voters said the outcome of that year’s presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore “mattered,” while 47 percent said that things would be pretty much the same, regardless of who won.

Presidential Election Outcomes Increasingly Matter to Voters

In the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections, Pew Research tells us, the differences on voters’ views of the possible outcomes were greater, with those considering the result “mattering” being in the 60s percentage range and those who thought it would all be the same were mostly in the 30s percentage range. In the 2016 presidential race, those considering that the outcome mattered increased to 74 percent, and those saying it did not really matter falling to 22 percent. But in the 2020 contest for the White House, Pew Research says that 83 percent of the voters said the result would matter, while only 16 percent replied that it would be all the same.

While the Florida “hanging chads” of 2000 and the Supreme Court’s decision to find in favor of George W. Bush over Al Gore made the legitimacy of the election’s outcome suspect for many Democrats, nothing compares to 2016 and 2020. For the last four years, a good part of the anger and disregard for Donald Trump as president has been due to not only his personality and policies, but the fact that many of those in the Democratic Party and on “the left” in general were sure that “the Russians” had interfered and somehow rigged the outcome for Trump’s victory. Otherwise, how could you explain “him” winning?

Were there really that many “deplorables” in America? Besides, Hillary Clinton won 3 million more of the popular votes than Trump in 2016, so if not for that “undemocratic” Electoral College, the “real winner” would have been in the White House. There can be little doubt that if the November 3, 2020 presidential election outcome had been, again, a Trump victory due to the Electoral College in the face of a popular vote majority for Biden, there would have been many violent and destructive demonstrations and riots across the United States.

As it is, Biden received 81.2 million votes, with Trump getting 74.2 million votes, or a bit more than 52 percent of the popular vote to Trump’s almost 48 percent; both were historically the highest numbers for any Democrat or Republican running for the presidency. And in the Electoral College, Biden won 306 to 232. Now, of course, the shoe is on the other foot, with Trump and many Republicans insisting that “voter fraud,” especially with so many write-in ballots and believed “irregularities” in this season of the coronavirus, has illegitimately given Joe Biden the White House.

Joseph Stiglitz is a Sore Winner Who Distrusts Talk of Liberty

But in spite of Joe Biden’s clear win over Trump in both the popular vote and the Electoral College, some “Progressives” remain sore and poor winners. A perfect example is economist and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, who is a professor at Columbia University. In a recent opinion piece on “A Chance to Repair the Cracks in Our Democracy,” in The New York Times (December 8, 2020), Stiglitz insists that it is not enough that Donald Trump refuses to accept his defeat and gracefully accept Biden as his successor. It is that others in the Republican Party declare that in terms of political values, “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.”

The latter quote was taken by Stiglitz from a tweet written by Utah Senator Mike Lee, while he was watching the vice-presidential debate in October between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. Senator Lee also tweeted, “Government is the official use of coercive force – nothing more and nothing less. The Constitution protects us by limiting the use of government force.”

This shocks Professor Stiglitz to no end. The idea that something is of greater political value other than “democracy” itself convinces him that the foundations of America are being threatened. Said Stiglitz: “If people like Senator Lee have their way, and we turn our backs on democracy, then our lives and our conception of the United States as a bastion of popular representation and respect for human rights will change forever.”

If democracy is not politically an end in itself, not the defining institutional characteristic of a free society, then in Stiglitz’s view there is in the air “the sour odor of Hitler’s Brown Shirts.” In addition, in his eyes, the failure of achieving the social and economic policy goals that he desires, due to resistance and opposition in the congressional process, means “transforming a virtuous system of checks and balances into one of gridlock and confrontation.”

In other words, “the system” is a failure if he does not get his policy way. Why? Because the use of “gridlock” by those who hold policy views differing from his implies an unwillingness to “confront head on, our intertwined racial, ethnic and economic inequalities.” Stiglitz insists that a majority of Americans “have expressed their belief in universal access to health care, better access to education, higher minimum wages, tighter gun controls and so on.” To oppose the implementation and imposition of such policies on everyone in the country demonstrates a willingness to resort to a variety of “anti-democratic policies.”

Stiglitz’s Peculiar Views on “Court Packing”

Among these anti-democratic policies, Stiglitz states, is the Republicans “packing the Supreme Court.” This is the height of chutzpah on his part. The three appointments to the Supreme Court during Trump’s presidency have all followed the Constitutional and congressional rules and procedures for nomination and Senatorial approval. As a citizen and a voter, I have not always agreed with past nominations and appointments to the Supreme Court, though, undoubtedly for ideological and political reasons different from Stiglitz’s dislikes.

But I’ve never considered it a nefarious, deceitful maneuver of “packing” the Court with those holding views different than my own about individual rights, private property, and Constitutional restraint. I have feared for court decisions they might make, but unless you want to jettison the Constitutional procedures, the person in the White House and the majority party in the Senate pretty much determine who gets nominated and appointed to the Supreme Court. Those are the rules of the game, for better or worse.

On the other hand, whose preferred presidential candidate in this year’s election cycle refused to directly answer whether or not as president he would attempt to “pack” the Supreme Court with additional justices over and beyond the traditional nine, if Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate as a justice to the Court? That the voters really did not have the right to know, and he would only decide after finding out whether or not he had won the White House. Now we are waiting to know Biden’s view on this until after the runoff elections in Georgia for two seats that will determine which party holds a majority in the Senate in January 2021.

Press Freedom and State’s Rights Have Been Alive and Well

Another absurdity in Professor Stiglitz’s article is his assertion that the last four years has supposedly “made us aware of just how exquisitely fragile our institutions – such as those ensuring equality, political freedom, a quality Civil Service, a free and active press and the rule of law – are.” If the last four years have demonstrated anything, it is just how strong and effective our political institutions remain in the face of a president who has been disagreed with and hated by so many in the country.

True to the spirit and letter of the American federalist system, attempts by the government in Washington, D.C. to impose policies and practices on state and local governments that they have found unacceptable and politically unpalatable have been opposed, resisted, and defeated by the actions of state governments and through court cases brought to limit or prevent federal government overreach.

Indeed, Democrats and “Progressives” who have long sneered at and pooh-poohed talk of “state’s rights” for decades suddenly rediscovered their value and use. In fact, the arguments made in defense of state-level autonomy from Washington sometimes have almost sounded like the words of that “unmentionable” 19th century state’s rights advocate, John C. Calhoun! Why, in one major “blue state,” some even spoke of the possibility of secession from the Union with Trump in the White House. Of course, that was a Democrat Party position for many in the South in 1860 and 1861, as I recall.

Also, Professor Stiglitz must live in some alternate universe when he suggests that the Trump presidency has threatened the freedom and independence of the press and social media. Trump had huffed and puffed at the press, calling them names, accusing them of “fake news,” rudely ridiculed particular reporters at presidential press conferences, and told them to stay out of his business of “running the country.” Under the secure protection of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the press has responded to his personality and his policies with criticism, contempt, and “fact checking” to challenge him on almost everything – without one reporter arrested and imprisoned or one news outlet shut down by federal agents. (See my article, “Presidential Hubris: ‘Let Me Run the Country,’” and, “The U.S. Revives the Personal State,” and “The Imperial Presidency Embodies Political and Economic Hubris”.)

The Constitution Has Well Served Trump’s Opposition

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were instituted by those much-maligned Founding Fathers precisely to assure the checks and balances and restraints on the national government’s power when a president is as unpopular as Trump has been in various social and political quarters, so as to preserve the autonomy of the state and local governments and their citizens from what they may consider arbitrary and “authoritarian” policies from “above.”

In other words, the American system has worked, separate from whether someone is “for” or “against” much of what Donald Trump has attempted to implement during his four-year term in office. If the Republican Party retains majority control of the Senate after the Georgia runoff elections in early January, “the system” will again work in limiting a new president of the United States from imposing a blanket set of policies that others in the country may not fully agree with or want.

Praising “Democracy” as Long as It’s Policies You Desire

But what is most disturbing in Joseph Stiglitz’s piece is not only the disregard but clear contempt for those who even speak of individual liberty, private property, economic freedom and constitutionally restrained government. How dare there be any barriers to “the majority” from having its way with social and economic policy! “They” want socialized health care, “they” want government fully funded higher education, “they” want a $15 an hour minimum wage, “they” want redistribution of income and wealth for purposes of a certain conception of economic “equality” and “justice.” And, damn it, to deny the majority what it wants is the end to “democracy” in America, and the arrival of Nazi stormtroopers down Pennsylvania Avenue.

What if the majority wanted to shut down The New York Times and The Washington Post? What if the majority wanted to reinstate Jim Crow laws? What if the majority wanted to impose a mandatory course curriculum on Professor Stiglitz’s economics classes at Columbia University that he would be required to teach?

Why cannot the majority have their way on these matters as much as those that Professor Stiglitz would like to see imposed on a dissenting minority, presuming that a majority of voters actually want these things – if they have been more fully informed of all the costs and trade-offs and unintended consequences that may be forthcoming from their implementation? It would be “the will of the people.” Right? Would it not threaten “America” if it were not allowed?

The fact is, a majority can be just as tyrannical as a minority possessing political power and authority within a country. Numbers do not make something right or wrong, in itself. And Professor Stiglitz knows this because he would be no doubt – and rightly – shocked and opposed to any majority (or its elected political representatives) attempting to impose bans on newspapers, enforce mandatory segregation, or command a professor in a classroom about how and what he was to teach.

American Principle of Individual Liberty and Self-Ownership

So what and how shall it be decided what a political majority may do to a minority and what it may not? Possibly Professor Stiglitz would reply that a benchmark might be “social justice,” especially since he particularly refers in his article to overcoming racial, ethnic and economic inequalities. But there is more than one meaning and understanding to “equality” and more than one reason why individuals may experience unequal outcomes in various aspects of life.

In the American political tradition, the most fundamental notion of equality refers to “equality before the law.” That is, each and every person is seen as possessing the same individual rights to life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, with privileges and favors for none, including those holding political office and their agents and representatives. For the Founding Fathers, the presumption was that every individual possesses such “rights” by their nature as a human being, regardless of time and place and circumstance.

The American founding principles include and are inseparable from the idea of property rights. Why? Because the most fundamental property right is in your own person. If Professor Stiglitz were to start rolling his eyes when confronted with such an idea, then I would ask him whether or not a woman has a right to control her own body, including being safe and protected against rape, and allowed to make her own decision as to whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. On what political-philosophical premise may not a majority prevent her from having an abortion, if not that most fundamental one that she “owns” herself, holds a “property right” in herself?

Does a woman not have a right to say “No” to a sexual advance that is unwanted by her, that any sexual intimacy may only be morally and legally allowed when it is between two consenting adults? That is, on the basis of freedom of association and voluntary, mutual agreement? This means that even if a majority of men in a social setting voted to have sex with her, she cannot be forced or compelled to accept the “democratic” decision.

If the principle is true in this type of situation, then I would argue that it holds in all other social and political settings and circumstances. Each of us has a right to determine our own goals and purposes, select the means available to us that we consider to be most efficacious and likely to bring about the desired result, with any and all human interactions with others to further our peaceful and personal purposes occurring only on the basis of voluntary agreement and mutual consent concerning the terms of association and trade.

Follow through with this idea – I would say this ideal – of human liberty and there are no political justifications for the type of “social justice” goals concerning government-supplied health care, government-funded higher education, government-imposed legal minimum wages, or government-coerced redistributions of wealth. Why? Because none of them can be done without an unjustifiable government “taking” of that which may be the honestly and peacefully earned financial and physical property acquired through the gains from trade in a free marketplace.

The only issue of “justice” in this matter is whether or not the larger or lesser earned income and accumulated wealth a person has, has been acquired through peaceful voluntary trade and exchange, or through force and fraud in dealings with others, including through the political processes of interventionist and welfare statist policies. (See my article, “Don’t Confuse Free Markets with the Interventionist State”.)

A Classical Liberal vs. an Unlimited Democracy

But what of “democracy?” Democracy is a political mechanism or method for determining how individuals will be chosen to hold political offices for specified periods of time. As the old phrase says, it replaces bullets with the ballot box. But while the democratic procedure determines how and for how long a person will be elected into political office – rather than shooting his way into power – it does not tell us, per se, what that government is to do, regardless of who is holding a political position.

That is defined implicitly or explicitly through the political principles underlying an unwritten or written constitution under which a government and a society operates. The constitutional order that Joseph Stiglitz rejects is the classical liberal one upon which the American political order was founded. Its grounding is in liberty, that word that he seems to be contemptuous of, believing that it means unfairness and injustice. Why? Because it does not guarantee social and economic outcomes that he prefers to the ones that emerge from the voluntary interactions and associations both within and outside of the free, competitive marketplace.

“Democracy” is the magic word that is used to represent all that he would like to do in social engineering society in the shapes and relationships that he prefers and considers good and right. Suppose that this last presidential election had gone the other way. Suppose that Trump had received the 81.2 million votes and Biden had won the 74.2 million votes, instead. And the Electoral College had gone for Trump, as well. Would Professor Stiglitz be shouting “Hosanna,” the will of the people had spoken, and all is right with the world? That the majority of Americans were on the “right side of history?”

Somehow, I just don’t think so. He probably would be insisting that this showed how poisoned the American people had been by four years of Trump, that the “reactionary,” racist and sexist forces had duped a majority of voters. It would show just how “sick” the country really is. In reality Donald Trump is a product of the interventionist-welfare state that has long replaced a truly liberal market system in the United States. He is one version of the “activist” government order that Professor Stiglitz wants more of, to overcome what he sees as the ills of society. (See my article, “Donald Trump is the Corrupt Creation of America’s Bankrupt Politics”.)

The Liberal Market Order Offers Inclusiveness and Diversity

What is also missing from Joseph Stiglitz’s worldview is the understanding that it is the liberal free market order – however imperfectly and incompletely existing – that has raised humanity up from poverty over the last two hundred years, that has offered multitudes of hundreds of millions, now billions, of people in the world opportunities and standards of living unimaginable in the pre-capitalist world of political privilege, position, and status; that has done far more to create an appreciation, desire, and a reality of human rights, respect, and dignity than any socialist or interventionist arrangement could ever imagine and has ever done. (See my article, “The Rise of Capitalism and the Dignity of Labor”.)

It is the competitive market economy that offers the “inclusiveness” and “diversity” that “Progressives” insist they want, precisely because of the market’s “democratic pluralism” of offerings and opportunities through multitudes of demands and desires satisfied simultaneously and continuously, rather than the coerced “winner takes all” outcomes of increasingly unrestrained political democracy that requires and imposes primarily one set of social and economic policy preferences on everyone based on the outcomes of elections. (See my articles, “Clarity on Diversity and Pluralism” and “The Market Democracy vs. Democratic Socialism”.)

Be assured that when the interventionist-welfare state policies are intensified and made more intrusive into the social and economic fabric of American society, and when, over time, it brings about more corruption, privilege, stagnation, and social hostility, the Joseph Stiglitz’s of the world likely will not admit that the cause has been the political paternalism and social engineering for which they so much never stop yearning.

No. They will, once again, insist that it is all due to the free market capitalist system that their own policies will have continued to undermine, subvert, and, indeed, to have eliminated at the end of the day. The last thing that they can admit is that they are the anti-freedom and real anti-democratic forces that will leave America far worse. (See my book, For a New Liberalism [2019])

This article was originally published at The American Institute for Economic Research.


This post was written by: Richard M. Ebeling

Dr. Richard M. Ebeling is the BB&T Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel. He was formerly professor of Economics at Northwood University, president of The Foundation for Economic Education (2003–2008), was the Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics at Hillsdale College (1988–2003) in Hillsdale, Michigan, and served as vice president of academic affairs for The Future of Freedom Foundation (1989–2003).