Category Archives for Pointers

Left vs. Right is a fake battle. I’ve been saying this for years.

This is from another author, but it goes far in making the case that the real battle is about being an individual.


Read about how totalitarian ideologies such as communism and Nazism have a lot in common. Both subordinate the individual to the state and both give the state power over the economy.

And both slaughter millions of people.

My buddy from grad school, Matt Kibbe, has a great video on this issue.

Needless to say, I agree with Matt’s characterization.

The battle is not right vs. left. It’s statism vs. individualism.

Let’s look at some writings on this issue.

We’ll start with an article by Bradley Birzer, published by Intellectual Takeout. He worries that totalitarianism on the left is making a comeback.

In 1936, you had three choices: National Socialism, international socialism, or dignity. In 2018, we find ourselves in similar circumstances… Why is this happening now…?  First, we scholars have failed to convince the public of just how wicked all forms of communism were and remain. …Almost all historians ignore the most salient fact of the 20th century: that governments murdered more than 200 million innocents, the largest massacre in the history of the world.

Terror reigned in the killing fields, the Holocaust camps, and the gulags. …Second, an entire generation has grown up never knowing such things as the Soviet gulags or even the Berlin Wall. …most younger defenders of communism buy into the oldest propaganda line of the Left—that real communism has never been tried.

He explains that fascism and socialism are two sides of the same coin.

That the National Socialists embraced socialism is factually accurate. …they did nationalize very vital industry in Germany, even if by outright intimidation rather than through the law. In his personal diaries, Joseph Goebbels wrote in late 1925: “It would be better for us to end our existence under Bolshevism than to endure slavery under capitalism.” Only a few months later, he continued, “I think it is terrible that we and the Communists are bashing in each other’s heads.”

Whatever the state of the rivalry between the two camps, Goebbels claimed, the two forces should ally and conquer. …The Italian fascists had even closer ties to the Marxists, with Mussolini having begun his career as a Marxist publicist and writer. A few Italian fascists even held positions in the Comintern.

Richard Mason makes similar points in a piece he wrote for the Foundation for Economic Education.

…how do we react to the hammer and sickle? I don’t have to write an article explaining the millions of deaths that occurred at the hands of communist regimes; like the Holocaust, the gulags of the Soviet Union and killing fields of Cambodia are widely known. Yet journalists in the UK openly and proudly advocate communism. Statues of Karl Marx are erected. …there is no justifiable way a fascist could argue ‘That wasn’t real Nazism.’ The same is not true for communism. …Since Karl Marx never implemented communism himself, the leaders of communist states always have that get-out-of-jail-free card.

Any shortcomings, tragedies, or crises a communist regime faces can always be blamed on a misapplication of Marx’s infallible roadmap… The communist ideology in its purest form might be separated from its implementations, but at what point does its awful track record discredit any attempts to advocate it? …The history of communism is as bloodstained as that of Nazism; much more so, actually. It’s time we treated it as such.

Amen. I’ve weighed in on that issue, and I strongly recommend what Jeff Jacoby wrote on the issue as well.

And Sheldon Richman expands on this theme.

…fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. The word derives from fasces, the Roman symbol of collectivism and power: a tied bundle of rods with a protruding ax… Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. …Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically.

He explains the vast gulf between capitalism and fascist economics.

…Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions. …Fascism is to be distinguished from interventionism, or the mixed economy. Interventionism seeks to guide the market process, not eliminate it, as fascism did. …Under fascism, the state, through official cartels, controlled all aspects of manufacturing, commerce, finance, and agriculture.

Planning boards set product lines, production levels, prices, wages, working conditions, and the size of firms. Licensing was ubiquitous; no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission. …“excess” incomes had to be surrendered as taxes or “loans.” …since government policy aimed at autarky, or national self-sufficiency, protectionism was necessary: imports were barred or strictly controlled…fascist governments also undertook massive public-works projects financed by steep taxes, borrowing, and fiat money creation.

These are not new observations. Here’s what Ludwig von Mises wrote on this topic back in the 1940s.

The Marxians have resorted to polylogism because they could not refute by logical methods the theories developed by “bourgeois” economics, or the inferences drawn from these theories demonstrating the impracticability of socialism. As they could not rationally demonstrate the soundness of their own ideas or the unsoundness of their adversaries’ ideas, they have denounced the accepted logical methods. …The German nationalists had to face precisely the same problem as the Marxians.

They also could neither demonstrate the correctness of their own statements nor disprove the theories of economics and praxeology. Thus they took shelter under the roof of polylogism, prepared for them by the Marxians. Of course, they concocted their own brand of polylogism. …Neither Marxian nor Nazi polylogism ever went further than to declare that the logical structure of mind is different with various classes or races. …Polylogism is not a philosophy or an epistemological theory. It is an attitude of narrow-minded fanatics.

And those fanatics are motivated by hate. The Nazis hate people of different races and religions, while the Marxists hate people of different incomes and classes.

Given the various articles cited above, this meme from The Matrix is spot on.

Well, we now know what happens when someone learns about the common characteristics of statist ideologies. The Daily Caller has a report on a student who got very upset after learning that the National Socialist Workers Party was… yes, socialist.

Social justice warrior and history major Shelby Shoup was arrested for throwing chocolate milk at a fellow student and College Republican tabling at Florida State University while saying “Nazis weren’t socialists.” She has been charged with battery.

Since we’ve detoured into humor, this is a good opportunity to share this satire from the clever folks at the Babylon Bee.

At a press conference on Thursday, American Nazi Party leader Emmett Scoggins told reporters that his group is not trying to instate full-on Nazism, but a much better system called “democratic Nazism.” …Scoggins was questioned about the use of the word “democratic” and how democratic Nazism was any different from plain-old Nazism. “The main difference is we add the word ‘democratic’ on there because people like that word a lot more than just plain ‘Nazi,’” Scoggins said. …The conference ended with a long speech from Scoggins about…how “real” Nazism has never been tried.

I’ll close with my amateur attempt to classify various ideologies.

In the above video, Matt used a circle.

I’m wondering if a triangle makes more sense, with freedom at the top and totalitarianism at the bottom.

Here are a couple of additional observations on the triangle.

  • Back in 2017, I differentiated between liberal socialism and Marxist socialism. The same is true across the board. We could add a line right above authoritarian, collectivism, and socialism and assert that ideologies above the line are democratic and that ideologies below that line are dictatorial.
  • Given the difference between the technical definition of socialism (government ownership, central planning, price controls) and the everyday definition (lots of redistribution), I’m wondering whether I should use “welfare state” rather than “democratic socialism”? The end result isn’t pretty, regardless.
  • If we just focus on economic policy, I think my “statism spectrum” suffices.
  • If we just focus on the left, my Bernie-inspired classification system still holds up.

P.S. I like to think that there aren’t any civilized people willing to tolerate the Nazi ideology. But I do worry the same can’t be said about communism. The head of the European Commission recently helped celebrate Marx’s birthday, companies like Mercedes-Benz glorify racist murderers in their advertising (part of the Che death cult), and even symphonies use communist symbols.

How high does the death toll need to get before people realize that communism, like its sister ideology of Nazism, is despicably evil?

This article is republished with permission from International Liberty. 

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review. 

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

[412-public-news] Busy year so far. Yes, I am of the year-of-the rooster.

The month has been busy. Three updates below:
1. Catherine’s stories,
2. my new duties as executive director of a nonprofit, and
3. my presentation to California swim coaches.

#1) My wife’s fourth story was recently part of the national radio show,
Moth Radio Hour, and associated podcast. For a bit of humor, tune in. Tip:
the full recording of the show is worth the time as the second and third
stories are amazing too.

Full show: https://themoth.org/radio-hour/live-from-portsmouth

Just Catherine’s story: https://themoth.org/stories/shopping-in-china/

Link to all of Catherine’s online stories: https://themoth.org/storytellers/catherine-palmer

#2) I’ve got a new advocate role with a budding nonprofit to go along with
my local swim coaching with Pittsburgh Public Schools, the
Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, The Pittsburgh Project and The Ellis
School. I’m now the executive director of SKWIM USA.

New Executive Director of SKWIM USA, a 501(c)(3)

#3) My presentation with (slides, audio, and links to videos) to last
week’s Pacific Swim Coaches Clinic about game-play, water polo, SKWIM and
our approach in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, is now documented and shared at

Thinking again about aquatic game play — Presentation at NorCal’s Pacific Swim Coaches Clinic

Planning for summer is in full swing. If you think my efforts with
sportsmanship, teamwork, aquatic safety and aquatic fun can help you and
yours, email or come to the Saturday Swim School at Oliver High School on
the city’s Northside. We can visit there and better sustain these
wave-making activities. http://swim.cloh.org/saturdays/

108 South 12th Street in the historic South Side

Funny, true, 2nd-hand story about South Side pride N’at, in the wake of the “discussion” on the other thread about 15203:

Our home’s former owner who we never met was a small business man, Mr. Gursky. He lived here and ran his shoe repair shop here for decades. He and his wife raised two children on this spot on 12th Street. One kid became a doctor. He fixed the shoes and boots of countless of people throughout his long life. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, nor any of the family.

After we moving in, for years, people would knock on our door and try to give us their shoes. Nope. This isn’t a shoe repair shop these days. Often, the stories would start to flow.

One guy recounted how he once brought a pair of shoes into the shop and to his former neighbor, Mr. Gursky. This customer had lived in the South Side for years. They chatted. The guy allowed how he moved to Brentwood, (perhaps Baldwin?) as Mr. Gursky, the shop owner, hadn’t seen him around the South Side in recent months.

As the conversation winds down, the tattered shoes come out of a bag and onto the counter / work bench for repair. Mr. Gursky picks them up, walks outside onto the sidewalk, tosses them down in disgust and says, “You move away. You’re too good for us now. You take your shoes to Brentwood! Let them fix em.”

Mr. Gursky, living what some have called ‘the immigrant’s dream’ with home / business under the same roof, was not having anything to do with those shoes from the ex-South Sider who moved to Brentwood. Hard. Crusty. Iron willed.

What inspires? A list of projects with impact from a Teach Mozilla crew.

Great list of organizations and projects that are doing wonderful work in tech today.

In the future, I think CLOH.org can get into these conversations with our efforts for Creating Literate Olympians Here.

*http://mzl.la/inspiration <http://mzl.la/inspiration>*
These are projects and organizations that inspire us right now, as
generated by you in Tuesday’s Mozilla Learning community call
<http://mzl.la/call>.

The links are a great way to step back and think big about the impact we
want to have with our own leadership and advocacy work.

We also got some great feedback on our draft Impact statements and
milestones, which the working groups will refine and update in time for the
next call on Sep 8.

More on that soon — but in the mean time… have a look. And please add to
the list.

–Matt

*Mozilla Learning calls:* http://mzl.la/call
*Notes from the last one: *https://etherpad.mozilla.org/aug25
*Video recording: *
https://air.mozilla.org/mozilla-learning-community-call-aug-25/

Who inspires you?

– *Free Code Camp <http://www.freecodecamp.com/> *— learn to code by
helping non-profit organizations *(Amira)*
– *18F* <https://18f.gsa.gov/> — kicking ass when it comes to bringing
open source to government *(Kaitlin)*
– *The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies
<http://www.ineesite.org/en/>* — cool network and community of practice
for 15,000 people teaching in refugee camps and other emergency settings
around the world *(Surman)*
– *The Engine Room* <https://www.theengineroom.org/>— small and scrappy,
but doing amazing work with teaching open tools for social change
*(Michelle)*
– *GDS <https://gds.blog.gov.uk/>* — because they somehow manage to work
like MoFo, even though they are part of Government *(Adam)*
– *Keyboardio <http://www.keyboard.io>* — open source mechanical
keyboard with a wonderful backlight, shipped with a screwdriver so that you
can tinker around and reprogram. * (Shreyas
<https://twitter.com/dun3buggi3>)*

– *Born Accessible
<http://benetech.org/our-programs/literacy/born-accessible/>* — thinking
about web content as “born accessible.”*(Emma)*
– *WikiSpeed <http://wikispeed.org/>* — a non-profit that’s building
open source, energy-efficient cars in 17 countries,  with no org chart or
management structure *(@OpenMatt)*
– *NESTA* <http://www.nesta.org.uk/> — engaged in some interesting
thought leadership that relates well to our work *(Sam)*

– *Ocean Cleanup
<http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/great-pacific-garbage-patch-researchers-devastated-by-sight-1.3201111>
*— addressing “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” with business /
philanthropy / sponsorship / science / data / youth vision all coming
together to stem it *(Rebecca)*
– *Conservation International*
<http://www.conservation.org/Pages/default.aspx>— I’m digging their
current campaign: “Nature doesn’t need people, people need nature”
*(Paul)*
– *Mercy for Animals <http://www.mercyforanimals.org/>* — they take a
big, often controversial topic and make it approachable — and they have a
massive, engaged volunteer force *(Lindsey)*
– *Truth and Reconciliation Commission Canada
<http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=3> **(Simona)*
– *Generation Squeeze <http://www.gensqueeze.ca/>* — taking on the
impossible task of advocating for worklife balance, childcare and
affordable housing on a living wage *(ErikaD)*

– *NYT documentary of bieber + skrillex + diplo
<http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/25/arts/music/justin-bieber-diplo-skrillex-make-a-hit-song.html>*
–  Love the focus on storytelling and combo of graphics / animation.
*(Cassie)*
– *model view culture* <https://modelviewculture.com/>— cranky and
continuous analytic deconstructions of intersections between technology,
inclusion, diversity with anger and no apologies and a paper journal that
arrives on a regular basis. *(@leahatplay)*
– *Colors <http://www.colorsmagazine.com/>* magazine — open contribution
*(Jordan)*
– *the Unilever rapper campaign
<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/01/world/asia/indian-rapper-calls-out-unilever-to-a-nicki-minaj-beat.html>*
— because it was a long-stale pollution problem that was revitalized with
creativity *(Andrea)*

– *Hollaback*
<https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB4QFjAAahUKEwj97YzFz8nHAhXJGD4KHUxWBKo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ihollaback.org%2F&ei=hTLfVb2XFcmx-AHMrJHQCg&usg=AFQjCNGyaNNkC16a20E-FG2Ixrp8XhZ4Tg>—
uses online tools to work with young people and confront street harassment
*(Sara)*
– *Craigslist <http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites>* — because their
success is based on the assumption that most people are good. *(David)*
– *Dark Mountain
<http://dark-mountain.net/about/the-dark-mountain-project/>* — thinking
through how WebLit does / does not survive in the anthropocene. *(Chad)*
– *NPR* <http://www.npr.org/> – They strike a successful balance between
mass appeal and education. *(Simon)*

takeaways?

The above examples are…

1. *Crisp*. Our group was able to communicate the story for each of
these projects — in their own words, off the top of their head, in a single
sentence. That means the mission is telegraphic, simple and sticky.
2. *Viral*. Each of these organizations has succeeded in creating an
influential, mini-evangelist to spread their story *for* them: you!
3. *Edgy*.  Many of these examples have a bit of punk rock or social
justice grit. They’re not wearing a bow tie.
4. *Diverse.* There’s a broad range of stuff here, not just the usual
tech / ed tech suspects. This is a party you’d want to be at.
5. *Real*. There’s no jargon or planning language in any of the
descriptions people provided — the language is authentic and human, because
no one’s trying too hard. It’s just natural and unscripted.

*Can we get to this same level of natural, edgy crispness for MoFo and our
core strategies?* Would others put *us* on a list like this? Food for
thought.

>