Heather Lynn Mac Donald (born 1956) is an American political commentator, essayist, attorney and journalist. She is described as a secular conservative. She has advocated positions on numerous subjects including victimization, philanthropy, immigration reform and crime prevention. She is a Thomas W. Smith Fellow of the Manhattan Institute.
In this clip, she talks about delusional university students who see a threat in anything even though they are the most privileged people. Until this victimhood complex stops, there can be no win for free speech.
Jonathan Haidt writes: Here is the fine-tuned liberal democracy hypothesis: as tribal primates, human beings are unsuited for life in large, diverse secular democracies, unless you get certain settings finely adjusted to make possible the development of stable political life. This seems to be what the Founding Fathers believed. Jefferson, Madison, and the rest of those eighteenth-century deists clearly did think that designing a constitution was like designing a giant clock, a clock that might run forever if they chose the right springs and gears.
Thankfully, our Founders were good psychologists. They knew that we are not angels; they knew that we are tribal creatures. As Madison wrote in Federalist 10: “the latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.” Our Founders were also good historians; they were well aware of Plato’s belief that democracy is the second worst form of government because it inevitably decays into tyranny. Madison wrote in Federalist 10 about pure or direct democracies, which he said are quickly consumed by the passions of the majority: “such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention . . . and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
So what did the Founders do? They built in safeguards against runaway factionalism, such as the division of powers among the three branches, and an elaborate series of checks and balances. But they also knew that they had to train future generations of clock mechanics. They were creating a new kind of republic, which would demand far more maturity from its citizens than was needed in nations ruled by a king or other Leviathan.
Here is the education expert E.D. Hirsch, on the founding of our nation:
The history of tribal and racial hatred is the history and prehistory of humankind. . . . The American experiment, which now seems so natural to us, is a thoroughly artificial device designed to counterbalance the natural impulses of group suspicions and hatreds. . . . This vast, artificial, trans-tribal construct is what our Founders aimed to achieve. And they understood that it can be achieved effectively only by intelligent schooling. (From The Making of Americans)
Thomas Jefferson wrote, in 1789, that “wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government;” he backed up that claim by founding the University of Virginia, about which he wrote, in 1820: “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error as long as reason is left free to combat it.”
So, how are we doing, as the inheritors of the clock? Are we maintaining it well? If Madison visited Washington, D.C. today, he’d find that our government is divided into two all-consuming factions, which cut right down the middle of each of the three branches, uniting the three red half-branches against the three blue half-branches, with no branch serving the original function as he had envisioned.
And how are we doing at training clock mechanics? What would Jefferson say if he were to take a tour of America’s most prestigious universities in 2017? What would he think about safe spaces, microaggressions, trigger warnings, bias response teams, and the climate of fearfulness, intimidation, and conflict that is now so prevalent on campus? But first, let’s ask: How did we mess things up so badly? Read the rest of this entry »
BIRDS & BEES: Married Science Teacher Hunter day, 22, Arrested for Doing the Secret Handshake with Teen Boy StudentPosted: November 17, 2017
A married teacher in Oklahoma was arrested Wednesday, accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage student.
Hunter Day, 22, a science teacher at Yukon High School, was arrested by the Canadian County Sheriff’s Department on complaints of second-degree rape, facilitating sexual contact with a minor and possession of child pornography, KWTV reported. She is reportedly married to the school’s football coach.
“I’m no longer surprised by the people who commit these crimes, because predators come from all walks of life.”
— Canadian County Sheriff Chris West
Authorities said they investigated the relationship after being notified by the boy’s parents and finding explicit photos and messages on his phone, the report said.
On the day of the arrest, the sheriff’s department said that Day and the teen had planned to meet at her house, KWTV reported. Deputies arrived at the residence and reportedly texted the teacher from the boy’s phone saying he’d arrived. Day responded to the message saying, “The doors [sic] unlocked as usual,” the report said.
When investigators entered the home, Day was sitting on the floor of her living room with candles lit and all of the lights off, authorities said. She was also reportedly wearing a Christmas cat T-shirt and workout shorts.
The teacher confessed to sending the boy illicit “bra and panty” photos and said he’d also sent her photos of his genitals, KWTV reported. Read the rest of this entry »
These were the myths in which the Kennedy assassination came to be embalmed. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they are still widely believed, and not only by members of a credulous public. The claim that JFK was a victim of hatred and bigotry or a martyr in the crusade for civil rights is now a basic element in the liberal interpretation of the post-war era.
James Piereson writes: It has now been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was cut down on the streets of Dallas by rifle shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, a self-described Marxist, recent defector to the Soviet Union, and ardent admirer of Fidel Castro. The evidence condemning Oswald was overwhelming: the bullets that killed President Kennedy were fired from his rifle, the rifle was found on the sixth floor of the warehouse where he worked and where he was seen moments before the shooting, witnesses on the street saw a man firing shots from a sixth floor window in that building and immediately summoned police to provide a description of the assassin. Forty-five minutes later a policeman stopped Oswald on foot in another section of the city to question him about the shooting. As the policeman stepped from his squad car, Oswald pulled out a pistol and pumped four shots into him before fleeing to a nearby movie theater where he was captured (still carrying the pistol with which he had killed the policeman). Two days later Oswald was himself assassinated while in police custody by a nightclub owner distraught over Kennedy’s death.
Despite the evidence, few Americans today believe that Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy or that, if he did, he acted alone. A recent poll found that 75% of American adults believe that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy of some kind, usually of a right-wing variety. This is not surprising because most of the popular books published on the assassination since the mid-1960s have elaborated one or another conspiracy theory. Right-wing businessmen, disgruntled generals, CIA operatives, and Mafia bosses are the typical villains in these scenarios. Before long the Kennedy assassination came to be encrusted in layers of myth, illusion, and disinformation strong enough to deflect every attempt to understand it from a rational point of view. And this enduring national illusion and confusion has had unfortunate consequences.
Creating the Myth
In the days and weeks following the assassination the idea took hold that a climate of hate in Dallas and across the nation established the conditions for President Kennedy’s murder. Racial bigots, the Ku Klux Klan, followers of the John Birch Society, fundamentalist ministers, anti-Communist zealots, and conservatives of all kinds had sowed hatred and division in national life. These battalions of the American Right had been responsible for manifold acts of violence across the South against Negroes and civil rights workers in the years leading up to the assassination, and they must have been behind the attack on President Kennedy. It followed that President Kennedy was a martyr, like Abraham Lincoln, to the great causes of civil rights and racial justice. Liberal writers had warned throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s about the undercurrent of bigotry and intolerance that ran through American culture and the political dangers arising from the “radical Right.” Now it appeared that their warnings had come to fruition in the murder of a president.
This explanation for the assassination did not drop out of thin air but was circulated immediately after the event by influential leaders, journalists, and journalistic outlets, including Mrs. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Democratic leaders in Congress, James Reston and the editorial page of the New York Times, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., columnist Drew Pearson, and any number of other liberal spokesmen. The New York Times through its editorial page and columnists insisted that a climate of hate brought down President Kennedy, even as the paper’s news reporters documented the evidence against Oswald and his Communist connections. Reston, the paper’s chief political correspondent, published a front-page column on November 23 under the title, “Why America Weeps: Kennedy Victim of Violent Streak He Sought to Curb in the Nation.” In the course of the column he observed that, “from the beginning to the end of his Administration, he [JFK] was trying to damp down the violence of the extremists on the Right.” Reston returned to this theme in subsequent columns, pointing the finger at hatred and a spirit of lawlessness in the land as the ultimate causes of the presidential assassination.
Following this line of thought, Chief Justice Warren, soon to head the official commission that investigated the assassination, declared: “A great and good President has suffered martyrdom as a result of the hatred and bitterness that has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots.” Pat Brown, governor of California, and Charles Taft, mayor of Cincinnati, organized a series of candlelight vigils across the nation “to pledge the end of intolerance and to affirm that such a tragedy shall not happen in America again.” The Reverend Adam Clayton Powell (also a congressman) issued a statement shortly after the assassination: “President Kennedy is a martyr of freedom and human rights and a victim of injustice as promulgated by Barnett and Wallace,” here referring to the segregationist governors of Mississippi and Alabama. Less than a week after the assassination, Pearson published one of his syndicated columns under the title, “Kennedy Victim of Hate Drive.” Many took this a step further to declare that all Americans were complicit in Kennedy’s death because they had tolerated hatred and bigotry in their midst. As a popular song, “Sympathy for the Devil,” by the Rolling Stones put it a few years later: “I shouted out: who killed the Kennedys? When after all it was you and me.” This became the near universal response to the assassination: a strain of bigotry and hatred in American culture was responsible for Kennedy’s murder.
For his part, President Johnson saw that his job as national leader in that time of crisis was to supply some meaning to his predecessor’s sudden death. “John Kennedy had died,” he said later, “[b]ut his cause was not really clear…. I had to take the dead man’s program and turn it into a martyr’s cause.” In his first speech before the Congress on November 27, Johnson proclaimed that “no memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long.” The civil rights bill, which Kennedy belatedly proposed in mid-1963, was approved in 1964 with bipartisan majorities in the Congress. On the international front, Johnson feared a dangerous escalation of tensions with the Soviet Union and another McCarthy-style “witch-hunt” against radicals should the American public conclude that a Communist was responsible for the assassination. From his point of view, it was better to circumvent that danger by deflecting blame for the assassination from Communism to some other unpopular target. Read the rest of this entry »
Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School Philip Hamburger discusses the rise of the administrative state and what, if anything, can be done to reduce its power.
“The administrative state is the leading threat to civil liberties of our era,” says Philip Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and author of the recent books, Is Administrative Law Unlawful? (2015) and The Administrative Threat (2017).
“We have a system of government in which our laws are made by the folks that we elect, and these laws are enforced by judges and juries in the courts, but we have within that an administrative state, a state that acts really by mere command and not through law.” Hamburger argues that by reducing the role of elected officials to set policy, the administrative state, which has grown rapidly since World War II, disempowers blacks, women, and other minorities who have only recently gained full voting rights and political power.
Before he left the Trump administration, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon famously vowed to “deconstruct” the administrative state—the collection of bureaucrats, agencies, and unelected rule-making bodies who decrees and diktats govern more and more of our lives. And many of the president’s picks at places such as the FCC, the FDA, the EPA, and the Department of Education seem to be doing just that: cutting regulations and policies that come not directly from Congress but from administrators who decide, say, that the FCC has the ability to regulate the internet as a public utility, and that so-called net neutrality is a good idea. Read the rest of this entry »
Are some cultures better than others? Or are all cultures and their values equal? Bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza, who was born in India and moved to America, explains.
BERKELEY, CA—UC Berkeley’s recently installed “opposing worldview” alarm system began blaring right on schedule Thursday afternoon, as conservative author and speaker Ben Shapiro arrived on campus to deliver a speech titled “Say No to Campus Thuggery.”
As the noted author and news personality breached the campus perimeter, the piercing sirens began echoing across the campus, accompanied by an automated message telling students to “This is not a test. Please stay in your dormitories. We are currently in an active conservative situation. This is not a test.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Red York Times: First in Fake News.
Michelle Malkin writes: Newsflash from The New York Times: Women may have starved under socialist regimes, but their orgasms were out of this world!
That’s the creepy gist of one of the Grey Lady’s recent essays this summer hailing the “Red Century.” The paper’s ongoing series explores “the history and legacy of Communism, 100 years after the Russian Revolution.” When its essayists aren’t busy championing the great sex that oppressed women enjoyed in miserable Eastern Bloc countries, they’re extolling Lenin’s fantabulous conservationist programs and pimping “Communism for Kids” propaganda.
Since this is back-to-school season, it’s the perfect time to teach your children about faux journalism at the Fishwrap of Record. As the publication’s pretentious own new slogan asserts, “The truth is more important than ever.”
While the Times hyperventilates about the dangers of President Trump’s “art of fabrication” and “Russian collusion,” this is the same organization whose famed correspondent in Russia, Walter Duranty, won a Pulitzer Prize for spreading fake news denying Joseph Stalin‘s Ukrainian genocide.
An estimated 10 million men, women and children starved in the Stalin-engineered silent massacre between 1932-1933, also known as the Holodomor. Stalin had implemented his “Five Year Plan” of agricultural collectivization — confiscating land and livestock, evicting farmers, and imposing impossible grain production quotas. At the peak of the famine, about 30,000 Ukrainian citizens a day were dying. Untold numbers resorted to cannibalism. Read the rest of this entry »
The state of the Fourth Estate—and who can save it.
Brittany Karford Rogers writes: If hashtags had been a thing, these would have been some #FakeNews whoppers.
The 32 BC Mark Antony takedown: it began with a fake-news campaign masterminded by Octavian, complete with Tweet-like proclamations on ancient coins.
The Simon of Trent humdinger: in 1475 a prince-bishop in Italy set off a story that local Jews murdered missing 2-year-old Simon—and used his blood for rituals. Fifteen Jews burned at the stake.
The Benjamin Franklin special edition: he concocted an entire 1782 newspaper, peddling a fake story about Native Americans scalping 700 men, women, children, and infants.
In short, fake news is old news.
For all the handwringing over fake news today, BYU journalism professor Joel J. Campbell’s (BA ’87) response is more “meh.” It’s another punch for a profession that’s been in the ring for the better part of a decade. Trust in news media is at an all-time low. Revenue models are upended. Reporters are exhausted. Readers are fragmented. And that’s just a short list of jabs.
Looming larger in Campbell’s eyes are analytics-driven newsrooms and disenfranchised readers, who, flooded with content, are living in information silos or, worse, opting out altogether.
So how does one make sense of the crowded, increasingly polarized news landscape? And what’s left of journalism as we knew it?
BYU faculty and alumni practitioners—their collective résumés spanning Fox News, C-SPAN, CNN, the Atlantic, and more—have some ideas.
Before you throw your hands up, consider the forces at play, take heart in journalists’ earnest self-searching, and look in the mirror—because the finger pointing goes all the way around.
It’s worth asking, “Is journalism still doing its job?” But as our panel of experts chimes, there’s an equally important question: “Do the citizens of this country have the will to save it?”
A Happy Accident
Journalism has a lofty goal—one epitomized by the career of R. John Hughes.
The emeritus BYU professor won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for his coverage of an attempted communist coup and its bloody aftermath in Indonesia. Over his career as a writer for and then editor of the Christian Science Monitor, he covered revolutions and interviewed world leaders.
“Journalism was almost like a religion to me, to get the story, and get it right, to help evince change,” Hughes says. “It’s a kind of love affair for most journalists, shining light in dark corners.”
Journalists call themselves the watchdogs, the truth seekers. The press is dubbed the Fourth Estate after all, the final check on all three branches of government. Democracy requires informed citizens; the press make up the informants. “Democracy Dies in Darkness” goes the new Washington Post tagline.
That’s the why of modern journalism.
The how—being objective, non-partisan—“is rather a new phenomenon in the history of news,” says Campbell.
It has always depended on who’s paying.
Wealthy traders and merchants underwrote the first news in the Americas, and it was all route intel. In the colonial period political parties footed the bill for most papers—party organs that were far more partisan and acrimonious than what we cry foul at today. It wasn’t until the penny-press era—the 1830s on—that a new funding model developed: scale up the circulation, then sell readers’ attention to advertisers. That advertising revenue could bring the cost of the paper down to something many could afford.
Writing to a mass audience, publishers began to recognize there was a market for real, honest news that could cross political divides and speak with a relatively neutral voice. This paved the way for professional journalism standards. And for most of the 20th century, it made newsrooms the information power brokers.
Then the internet smashed the model.
“For the last decade, we have seen a steady erosion of the advertising economy for newspapers,” says Campbell. That’s the nice way of saying it. Revenue streams have been gutted.
Department stores and auto malls, the go-to advertisers, cut back on ads, facing their own disruptions: e-commerce competition and recession. Craigslist happened to the classifieds. And reader eyeballs, once concentrated among a few media outlets, are now diverted to Facebook, YouTube, and that thing you just Googled—and the bulk of advertising has followed them.
As they say in the industry, the digital transition traded print dollars for digital dimes and, in turn, digital dimes for mobile pennies.
One thing is certain: it’s a fascinating time to study the news. Alum Seth C. Lewis (BA ’02) holds the Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media at the University of Oregon and is a leading scholar on the digital transformation of journalism.
“We’ve gone from media monopoly to media disruption and ubiquity,” says Lewis. And in ubiquity, no one gets a sizable piece of the economic pie.
Lewis suggests that maybe the last century of advertising-based news subsidy—which fostered these objective, non-partisan notions—“was just a happy accident. Maybe instead we’re returning to other forms of funding and thinking about the news.”
Beijing has been increasingly clamping down on use of VPNs in recent weeks. This has prompted concerns among various groups that it will stifle academic research and international trade.
For decades, conservatives have been complaining about bias in the media, but that wasn’t quantified until now. CNN’s fake news does more than get them ratings — its libel undermines the very nature of our democratic republic. In this Firewall, Bill Whittle lambasts the mainstream media for its toxic politicizing of the news and exposes the influence of media bias on elections.
Former slave and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, gives a scathing address about the true meaning of Independence Day to the negro.
Jemar Tisby writes: No other phrase in the founding documents of the United States stings an African American as much as this one: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.”
The Declaration of Independence was not a declaration for all but for some. “All men” did not include people of African descent. “Unalienable rights” were stripped from those who were taken from their homeland and forced into lifelong servitude. And “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” could not be pursued at the end of a chain.
The former slave and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, gave a speech on July 5, 1852 in Rochester, NY commemorating the day of independence for the United States. Cognizant of the contradictions embedded into the foundation of the United States, Douglass expounded for his audience the significance of “independence” day for black people. In it, he loses no respect for the founders of the nation calling them “statesmen, patriots, and heroes.” But he does not fail to point out the hypocrisy of declaring freedom from Britain’s control while subjugating an entire race of people.
Below are some excerpts from Douglass’ speech. His words remind us that for some Americans, independence ends with an asterisk.
Read the full text of the speech here.
“I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.”
“This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony.”
“My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July!” Read the rest of this entry »
John F. Kennedy lowered taxes, opposed abortion, supported gun rights, and believed in a strong military. And he was a proud Democrat. But would he be one today? Author and talk show host Larry Elder explains.
Sociologist Frank Furedi on how to bring liberalism back to campus.
Nick Gillespie & Mark McDaniel: “For the first time, a growing number of young people actually think freedom isn’t a big deal,” says sociologist Frank Furedi, who’s an emeritus professor at the University of Kent and author of the new book, What Happened to the University: a sociological exploration of its infantilisation.
The university was once a place where students valued free speech and risk taking, but today “a very illiberal ethos has become institutionalized,” says Furedi. “In many respects, it’s easier to speak about controversial subjects outside the university…It’s a historic role reversal.” Read the rest of this entry »
Lauren Krisai, John Pfaff, and Ken White discuss the power of prosecutors in the criminal justice system, how prosecutors have served as barriers to meaningful criminal justice reform, and whether an influx of forward-looking district attorneys could change the status quo.
“There is no evidence that an individual DA in his office is any more punitive today than he was in 1974,” explains John Pfaff, author of Locked in: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform. “We just have 30,000 of them instead of 17,000 even though the crime rate is roughly the same as it was in 1974. They’ve got to do something. They can’t just play minesweeper all day and keep their jobs.”
On May 25th, 2017, at Reason’s Washington, D.C. office, Reason hosted a panel discussion with Pfaff and Ken White, former assistant United States attorney and co-founder of the blog Popehat. Moderated by Lauren Krisai, director of Criminal Justice Reform at the Reason Foundation, the discussion touched on the power of prosecutors in the criminal justice system, how prosecutors have served as barriers to meaningful criminal justice reform, and whether an influx of forward-looking district attorneys could change the status quo. Read the rest of this entry »
Results of a standardized measure of reasoning ability show many students fail to improve over four years—even at some flagship schools, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of nonpublic results.
Douglas Belkin writes: Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.
At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. (See full results.)
Some of the biggest gains occur at smaller colleges where students are less accomplished at arrival but soak up a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum.
For prospective students and their parents looking to pick a college, it is almost impossible to figure out which schools help students learn critical thinking, because full results of the standardized test, called the College Learning Assessment Plus, or CLA+, are seldom disclosed to the public. This is true, too, of similar tests.
Some academic experts, education researchers and employers say the Journal’s findings are a sign of the failure of America’s higher-education system to arm graduates with analytical reasoning and problem-solving skills needed to thrive in a fast-changing, increasingly global job market. Read the rest of this entry »
There is a funny thing that happens, when you find out that everything you have ever known is a lie.
I’ve watched friends go through this when they found out they were adopted, or that their parents really weren’t their parents (well, okay, usually the father) or that their parents weren’t the people they thought they were (by which I mean, say, discovering that one of their parents had a criminal record, or even that their parents had never actually got married.)
I’ve never had a revelation of that magnitude, or that personal. I’ve had a lot of small ones over the times, as I discovered that things like teachers’ interpretation of history were not “true.” They were usually just someone’s interpretation, filtered through what was fashionable at the time: and given the time I was in school, that was usually Marxism.
Of when I started correlating things in my…
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Did you know that the Democratic Party defended slavery, started the Civil War, founded the KKK, and fought against every major civil rights act in U.S. history? Watch as Carol Swain, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, shares the inconvenient history of the Democratic Party.
Middle school teacher and married mother-of-three, 47, ‘kills herself in front of cops’ one day after she was accused of having sex with a student.
Snejana Farberov reports: A middle school teacher and married mother-of-three was found dead inside her home from a suspected suicide Tuesday, one day after she was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a former student.
Gretchen Krohnfeldt, 47, was pronounced dead in her Arvada home at around 1pm. There was no immediate word on her cause and manner of death.
CBS Denver reported, citing unnamed police sources, that the eighth-grade social studies teacher at Drake Middle School took her own life as police officers were approaching her home to interview her about the alleged affair.
The suspected suicide was reportedly witnessed by at least one law enforcement official.
On Monday, Krohnfeldt was placed on administrative leave after a resource officer at Drake Middle School received a tip that the veteran educator had a tryst with a former student, who was now in high school.
According to a statement put out by the Arvada Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the initial report was made by a Drake staffer.
The local CBS station reported that the school employee claimed to have seen Krohnfeldt engage in unspecified inappropriate behavior with the male student months prior, but the staffer only came forward about it this week. Read the rest of this entry »
Today is the 116th anniversary of the birth of F. A. Hayek, one of the greatest scholars of the 20th century.
David Boaz writes: Back in 2010, as the tea party movement was on the verge of delivering an electoral rebuke to President Obama’s big-government policies, the New York Times derided the movement for reviving “long-dormant ideas [found in] once-obscure texts by dead writers.” They meant Hayek especially. But a more astute journalist might not have regarded Hayek as obscure.
Who was Hayek? He was an economist born and educated in Vienna. After the Nazi conquest of Austria, he became a British citizen and taught there and at the University of Chicago for most of his career. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974. President Ronald Reagan called him one of the two or three people who had most influenced him, and so did some of the dissidents behind the Iron Curtain. President George H. W. Bush awarded him the Medal of Freedom. Margaret Thatcher banged his great book “The Constitution of Liberty” on the table at Conservative Party headquarters and declared “This is what we believe.” Milton Friedman described him as “the most important social thinker of the 20th century.”
But respect for Hayek extended far beyond libertarians and conservatives. Lawrence H. Summers, former president of Harvard and a top economic adviser to Presidents Clinton and Obama, called him the author of “the single most important thing to learn from an economics course today” — that markets mostly work without plans or direction. He is the hero of “The Commanding Heights,” the book and PBS series on the battle of economic ideas in the 20th century. His most popular book, “The Road to Serfdom,” has never gone out of print and saw its sales explode during the financial crisis and Wall Street bailouts. John Cassidy wrote in the New Yorker that “on the biggest issue of all, the vitality of capitalism, he was vindicated to such an extent that it is hardly an exaggeration to refer to the 20th century as the Hayek century.”
In much of his work Hayek explored how society can best make use of “the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess.” Read the rest of this entry »