Archive for May, 2005

“A worthwhile charity”

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/27/2005

Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund.

The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization that was founded in October 2003 as a means of providing College Grants and Financial Assistance to surviving children and spouses of our U.S. military service members who have lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Our financial assistance program assists disabled service member families as well.

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“A great blog”

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/27/2005

Consider stopping by A Constrained Vision, one of the better blogs out there.

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“How bad can it get?”

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/27/2005

A U.S. court orders an illegal alien from Mexico to work full time in America. You can’t make this stuff up.

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“Deep Blue”

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/27/2005

The must-see movie of the summer.

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“Dana Milbank”

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/27/2005

Hugh Hewitt interviews Dana Milbank of the Washington Post. Quotable:

I wrote a story in October of 2002, that said you know, look. It doesn’t make a lot of sense that the president is running around saying that Iraq has unmanned aerial vehicles that can attack the United States of America. I think we listed maybe fifteen or twenty other statements that just…I didn’t have access to any classified information. I said just on their face, or with the publicly available information, this appears not to be true. And they went nuts, and said, you know, I had some agenda ..

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“Novak’s Hayek Lecture”

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/27/2005

Michael Novak gives the first annual Hayek Lecture for the Manhattan Institute — a report from the NY Sun. Quotable:

Mr. Novak said the emergence of liberty as the main interpretive thread of human history coincided with the history of Judaism and Christianity. “Perhaps it doesn’t have to be that way, but that is how it has historically happened” because in the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the main action is God’s free offer of his friendship, which men and women are free to accept or reject. Mr. Novak quoted Jefferson: “The God who have us life, gave us liberty at the same time.”

After the events of September 11, 2001, Mr. Novak said, the question arose of whether Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is compatible with liberty. In particular, he asked, is Islam compatible with democracy? Mr. Novak said there are six or seven reasons to believe the answer is no, and another six or seven to believe the answer is yes ..

Also worth a look, Michael Novak “A Letter to France” published in Le Monde last fall.

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“Dictators for life no more”

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/27/2005

THE CASE for judicial term limits.

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Thomas Sowell: The McCain mutiny

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/27/2005

THOMAS SOWELL on the McCain mutiny. Quotable:

“In politics, the question about decent people is whether they are sufficiently on guard against people who are not decent.”

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“Hayek & the rise of ‘conservatism'”

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/27/2005

JAMES PIERESON explains how “conservatism” became a governing philosophy. Quotable:

In the period running from the end of World War II down to the present, conservative philanthropy has gone through at least two distinct phases, and is now entering a third. Surprising as it may seem, both earlier phases were defined by ideas rather than by narrow business or corporate interests.

The first phase, which began in the mid-1940s and ran well into the ’70s, was guided more by an interest in classical liberalism and libertarianism than in conservatism as it has been understood more recently. The main donors were the Volker Fund, the Relm and Earhart foundations, the Liberty Fund, and business leaders like Jasper Crane of DuPont, Henry Weaver of General Motors, B.E. Hutchinson of Chrysler and the British entrepreneur Anthony Fisher. (The Earhart Foundation and the Liberty Fund live on today.) These donors had only modest sums at their disposal, giving altogether around $3 million a year, as compared with the $300 million that the Ford Foundation alone allocated annually in the mid-1960s.

There were, to be sure, important differences among these donors. The Volker Fund was generally libertarian in its approach, while the Earhart Foundation bridged the divide between classical liberalism, with its emphasis on liberty, and modern conservatism, with its emphasis on tradition and order. But the interests of all of them were, by design, intellectual and theoretical.

The seminal influence on these funders was F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom,” published in London in 1944 and in the U.S. the following year. This slender volume, an articulate call to battle against socialism, turned its author, then an obscure professor at the London School of Economics, into an enduring hero among conservatives and classical liberals on both sides of the Atlantic. No other writer at the time had made the case against collectivist ideas and policies with such audacity and clarity. For this reason alone, “The Road to Serfdom” quickly became a reference point for those with misgivings about the expanding welfare state.

Named in many surveys as one of the most influential books of the 20th century, “The Road to Serfdom” caused something of a sensation when first published, provoking reviews and comment from such leading figures as John Maynard Keynes and George Orwell, and scathing rebukes and rebuttals from scores of lesser lights. A condensed version, brought out in 1945 by Reader’s Digest, reached over two million of the magazine’s subscribers and aroused enough interest to bring Hayek to the U.S. for a national lecture tour.

“The Road to Serfdom” advanced two broad themes, one negative and the other positive. The first was that socialism leads almost inevitably to tyranny and the loss of liberty in all of its forms. The second was that the antidote to socialism is to be found in the revival of classical liberalism as articulated by British-Enlightenment thinkers like Adam Smith, David Hume and Edmund Burke. The book was in some ways highly pessimistic, for socialism was advancing everywhere and appeared irresistible. (As if to confirm Hayek’s analysis, England’s 1945 parliamentary election saw the Labour Party winning on a platform that called explicitly for the nationalization of British industry, and the victorious party proceeded to make good on its promise.) At the same time, Hayek saw a way out through the revival of a tradition of thought that was in the process of being lost.

As for present-day conservatism, in Hayek’s view it suffered from a fatal weakness. Because it relied on tradition rather than principle, it could slow down or resist but never fundamentally alter the direction in which events were moving. That is why he took pains to emphasize that he himself was not a conservative at all, but rather a liberal in the Whig tradition. (A later essay of his was titled, simply, “Why I Am Not a Conservative.”) This, as it happened, was one feature of Hayek’s thinking that appealed in particular to Americans.

The American polity, as Hayek understood, was originally built on the principle of liberty, and its political tradition was greatly influenced by the Whig ideals of limited government and the rule of law. As a consequence, defenders of the American tradition were themselves frequently “liberals” in the European sense. For Americans concerned about the expansion of government, the alternative to socialism and the welfare state was not conservatism but individualism.

Another enduring contribution of “The Road to Serfdom,” perhaps more influential in the long run than Hayek’s critique of socialism, was its emphasis on the importance of ideas in the growth of political movements. Challenging the assumptions of the historical school of thought, Hayek insisted that socialism and statism were products not of economic forces beyond anyone’s control but of erroneous and destructive ideas. The Whig principles that had influenced continental thought during the 18th and 19th centuries had been displaced by German thinkers from Hegel and Marx down to Sombart and Mannheim, whose collectivist doctrines had captured the imagination of intellectuals. In another essay, “The Intellectuals and Socialism” (1949), Hayek mapped out a broad, long-term strategy for combating this challenge.

Practical men of business, Hayek wrote, were at a decided disadvantage in the war of ideas because of their deep distrust of theoretical speculation and their “tendency to orthodoxy.” Businessmen, moreover, did not understand the link between ideas and political movements, and therefore did not see the need to mount a sustained intellectual defense of their own interests. He urged his followers to learn from the success of socialism, which had originated as a construction of theorists and philosophers and only later emerged as a political movement fielding candidates for office and appealing to voters.

“What we lack,” Hayek wrote, “is a liberal Utopia, a program which seems neither a defense of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism . . . which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible.” The positive content of such a program was necessarily vague, but it was plain that Hayek envisioned a movement operating at the level of principles and theory and aloof from electoral and legislative agendas or the immediate controversies of political life. He proposed, in other words, a true war of ideas, one that might appeal to the best and most adventuresome minds of the age but that might take a generation or more to bear fruit.

Hayek’s platform–theoretical, abstract and utopian–might seem an odd basis on which to build a philanthropic program. There was no pretense here of promoting piecemeal reforms, of helping a party or a candidate, of passing a piece of legislation, or, indeed, of producing immediate consequences of any kind. Yet the philanthropists I have mentioned responded to his call.

Hayek’s writings had a more or less direct impact in Britain, where Anthony Fisher (with Hayek’s encouragement) established the Institute for Economic Affairs in London in 1955. Directed by the economist Ralph Harris, the IEA was the original free-market think tank, publishing books and pamphlets that documented the inefficiencies of socialism and state-run enterprises. True to Hayek’s prediction, it would spend more than two decades advancing these ideas and gradually winning converts until a sympathetic friend, Margaret Thatcher, was elected prime minister and began to implement reforms that were much influenced by its work.

In 1947, the Volker Fund sent a group of Americans to Switzerland for the organizing meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, founded by Hayek to promote the free market in economics and the broad ideals of classical liberalism. In conformity with Hayek’s vision, Mont Pelerin functioned as an exclusively scholarly enterprise, avoiding political debate in favor of in-depth theorizing about the foundations of a free society. A short time later, Volker underwrote Hayek’s appointment as professor of moral science–Adam Smith’s title at the University of Edinburgh–in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, and also provided funds for New York University to hire Ludwig von Mises, Hayek’s Austrian mentor and friend.

In addition to these appointments, Volker and other donors lent assistance to the “Chicago School” of economics, led by Milton Friedman and George Stigler, and to the University of Virginia’s school of political economy, led by James Buchanan — all three of whom would later win the Nobel Prize in economics. They supported hundreds, perhaps thousands, of graduate students, mostly in economics but also in allied fields like government and history; many later became prominent scholars in their own right. And they subsidized a few institutions, generally libertarian in outlook, including the Foundation for Economic Education, the Institute for Human Studies and the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, which helped circulate market-oriented ideas to professors, students and even businessmen.

It is difficult to recall today how radical the ideas of a Friedman or a Hayek appeared in the 1950s and ’60s, when the future seemed already to point in the direction of central planning, socialism and the welfare state. In this phase of things, the role of philanthropy was largely to maintain the vitality of a remnant of thought until it could be brought forth again as an alternative to doctrines that had failed. That the movement did not find its way into the wider world of policy and public debate was in part, as we have seen, deliberate: Aiming for influence beyond the daily headlines, Hayek and his followers eschewed a strategy that might have enabled them to reach a broader audience. But, working as they were against the intellectual grain of the time, they also had little success in breaking into the world of the universities–and without gaining a foothold in the academy, there was little hope of converting the next generation of scholars. By the mid-1970s, Hayek himself had been dismissed as an extremist, even a reactionary, and the influence of the classical liberals was at a low ebb ..

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“People without decency”

Posted by PrestoPundit on 05/26/2005

Hugh Hewitt on the sort of people who populate the U.S. Senate. Quotable:

Senate members and staff long ago abandoned basic human decency when they decided to cover ideological opposition with attacks on character ..

Now we see the Democrats routinely sliming excellent public servants, some of whom get confirmed after their ordeals, and others of whom are just chewed up .. The MSM voices demanding “moderation” and a “return to civility,” have got to track the collapse of the confirmation process which got started under Reagan and ask how rancor can be expected to ebb as the political body count keeps going higher and higher ..

Does Hugh believe the MSM Democrats are any more decent than the Senate Democrats? Don’t bet on it. Too many of these people are cut from the same cloth.

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