Too Poor to Eat Right?

Too Poor to Eat Right?

Liberals object to the suggestion that individuals should pay for their own health care and care for themselves through prudent diet and exercise. They say the poor can’t afford healthy food. They say vegetables cost too much. They say evil food corporations are guilty of promoting cheap, poisonous, addictive food. They say people are being abused, that people are helpless. They say city planners make it impossible to walk or jog for exercise by failing to force developers to devote land to trails. Liberals say more force is needed: force corporations, developers, taxpayers, and in the context of health “reform”, force doctors and hospitals and drug companies. Liberal programs entail excessive force.

Here’s a story contradicting their claim.

My friend Jean is 79. She’s responsible. She mows her own lawn. The doctor said, “You are pre-diabetic.” She followed his orders. She cut food portions and cut out starchy, sweet foods. She lost 40 pounds. She got a $15 garage sale exercise cycle and used it 45 minutes daily. She sleeps better and feels better. Her blood sugar is controlled.

Jean did this on very little income. She gets Social Security that might amount to $900 per month. It’s enough to afford eating a healthy diet and exercising.

Her secret is desire and will power. She is responsible. She will do all she can for her own health rather than casting the burden on others.

The poor can afford to be responsible in food choices and physical exertion. People in projects, on reservations, and on welfare can all afford these changes. They can be self-reliant. That’s a founding American principle.

Liberals are wrong.

While Reading the book, Wild Swans

What to think about while reading

Wild Swans

Ask:

  1. Could that happen here?
  2. What, in the way the United States is constituted, insures that Mao’s socialism debacle cannot happen here?
  3. What doctrinal similarities are the between current Progressives and Maoists and communists? Can you hear the refrains, though diluted?

It may be tempting to read Wild Swans and say, “How awful! Those poor people. How could anyone be as twisted as Mao? He must have been insane.”

Was Mao insane? Are there more people with Mao’s predilections? Are his predilections actually common?

Was this in a land far away, in a far distant past? These events took place while I was a juvenile, young man and newlywed. What mass horrors hid themselves!

This book should impart a warning. That warning is: Government power can and will run amok without hobbles such as we have in our Constitution. We disable our Constitution, such as giving more power from the states to the federal government, at our own peril.

Answering question #2 above: Brakes on government.

  • Federal power is limited to basic functions covered under the topics of : money, commerce, naturalization, weights and measures, post office, patents, courts below the supreme court, war, army, navy, insurrections
  • Fulfilling these functions, government runs into roadblocks everywhere:
  • House members have to face voters every two years, Senators every 6. Only 1/3 of Senators are up for election every two years.
  • The president can overturn, veto, laws.
  • Both chambers have to agree on a law.
  • States are independent. The bulk of law is decided in states. A round-up of “undesirables” cannot be done by federal police. They don’t have that authority.
  • The House starts money bills.
  • The Senate handles Supreme Court nominees and treaties.
  • All laws must comport with the Constitution.
  • Justices, once confirmed, are beyond political nonsense.
  • Many citizens own guns. This keeps local police and sheriff, controlled by state laws, from usurpations such as were experienced in China.
  • The federal government has only 3,000 marshals.

What must US citizens do to make sure the brakes hold?

Ask yourself “What would I have done? Would I have worshiped Mao and the Party?”

Would you keep your sanity? Your sense of worth and independence? How?

Managed vs. Free Economies

Managed Economies lead to:

Shortages and rationing

Bureaucracy

Control over individuals

Economic weakness

Skewed incentives

Personal discouragement

Separated families

National weakness

Subjugation

Monotony

Conformity

Uniform poverty

Free Economies lead to:

Innovation and invention

Plenty and bounteousness

Personal expression

National strength

Human flourishing

Productivity

Variety and eclecticism

Variable incomes, but generally higher than under managed economies

How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution, the book

How Progressives Rewrote the Constitution

By  Richard A. Epstein

Read July-August 2009

This book, though important, is not easy to read. Richard Epstein assumes his reader is versed in the foundations of classical liberalism, (private property, individualism, limited government, self-determination), which he espouses, and has an understanding of many Supreme Court cases. Fortunately, I have read  four other Epstein books, so his phraseology and his turf is familiar.

Once, there was the Old Court. Its protection of individualism and its insistence on open competition held through about 1930. Then the New Court, dominated by Progressive thought, chipped away at these things.

What does he mean by competition? Competition between businesses, primarily. He deals with the use of the Commerce Clause to gradually cede authority over trade to the federal government. This resulted in less competition, a loss to consumers, a gain to federal power, a loss for states’ authority. He covers the gradual changes over the course of several cases. Labor unions and agriculture were considered special cases and got immunity from competition, to the harm of founding principles.

As I read, I think, how could I re-phrase this so that someone unfamiliar with Epstein’s ideas, and unfamiliar with court cases, could understand it? His ideas are important enough to communicate with a larger audience. Freedom ought to be understandable. High schoolers need to understand how the Constitution originally restrained the federal power and how things changed. Now, the President exercises a prerogative of firing the CEO of General Motors,  Congress feels able to lend money to, and thus control executive compensation at, private corporations, and executive branch regulations pick winners and losers, a function the marketplace used to perform. The Old Court wouldn’t allow those things.

He deals with common carriers, the takings clause of the 5th Amendment, the National Labor Relations Board and Act, land-use regulation, levels of judicial scrutiny, the risks of state coercion, competition as preferable to monopoly, the causes of the Great Depression being the Smoot-Hawley tariffs and the rapid deflation of the currency, living wage legslation, why firms resist unionization so fiercely, contracts normally resulting in mutual gain, etc.

He says of the Progressive position, that it gives, “liberty a narrow construction, chiefly limited to bodily integrity, and the police power a broad one, covering all ambitious social schemes.” He criticizes this position.

In Filburn, the farmer became subject to Congress’ power, and was criminal, under the Commerce Clause for feeding grain he produced to his own cows. How’s that for regulating “commerce with foreign nations and among the several states”?

Wild Swans, the book

Wild Swans

By Jung Chang

Read July-August 2009

This book was immediately engaging. It alternated between descriptions of beauty and human striving, and family relationships on the one hand, and the deadening, unhappy and terrifying aspects of socialist life under Mao on the other. It is a warning to any who cares to hear. Current slogans about achieving a government-designed utopia should sound familiar to readers. I say there are two warnings:

  1. Utopian plans harm people. Socialism promises utopia.
  2. The U.S. Constitution, with its brakes on government power, is a sterling bulwark against the tyranny of zealous government. Our central government is meant to be weak, only strong enough accomplish its limited purposes. We erode these limitations at a grave peril.

I relate to the author. She is one year older than me. The tides of injustice, poverty, fear, and death, (60 million deaths), that she witnessed occurred while I was starring in high school musicals, going to youth camps, working in restaurants, studying religion, dating, serving a mission in England, and enjoying the security and love of family life.

When Glenn Beck said on the radio yesterday that tyranny cannot happen here, because Americans have individual liberty deep in our marrow, I don’t believe him. I think that human behavior is identical from society to society, and that government, unleashed, could introduce all the atrocities the Chinese, Russians, Cambodians or Vietnamese did. All in the name of benevolence, of course.

I enjoyed seeing how the brainwashing happened and how the author gradually lifted its pall from her mind. Mao was bad, she finally learned. Even her father, the loyal Communist official, finally learned that the party was evil, after he suffered for years at its hands and witnessed the suffering his idealism caused his family. These transformations were carefully illustrated by Jung.

What a horrible price they paid for their experiment! The starvation, the executions, the imprisonment, the families torn asunder, the crude denunciations, the personal vendettas, the starvation of the inquiring, expressing human spirit, the famine of artistic expression, the demolishing of cultural artifacts, (“temples smashed, statues toppled, and old towns wrecked. Little evidence remained of China’s ancient civilization.”), the lack of books, the deadening of human relationships, the fear to talk, to think; what incalculable oppression!

I highly recommend the book. It is so much more accessible than, for example, The Black Book of Communism. Jung reaches an audience that is not only male. Men are more likely to delve into matters expressed as political, governing matters. Because Jung begins with her grandmother’s foot-binding and her travails as a concubine, women are led into the book. Then they learn, through the eyes of three generations of women, how socialism kills.

The book has sold 10 million copies. I only hope that readers do not put down the book saying, “How awful! I’m sure glad that could never happen here.” They need to see the doctrinal lineage of socialism to present calls for more government control. China’s awful past could happen here.

Some of the most poignant memories of the book:

People eating their own children and having to live with their anguish forever more.

People expiring for lack of nutrition, falling down dead.

People committing suicide as the only exit from the intolerable choices between family member safety and their own skin. Then family members of those who committed suicide were put down and considered suspect, demoted, or had their rations cut. “One day one of my friends told us that her parents, both distinguished actors, had just committed suicide, unable to stand the denunciations.”

Food rations. One half pound of meat per week. 3.2 ounces of oil per month. “Six months passed without a single bar of soap.”

Feigning madness was not even a way to avoid the authorities.

Her father’s dedication to principle of non-favoritism, non-corruption. He slighted his family for these exalted ideals, something he rued later. In the end it was for naught, anyway. He was denounced, and imprisoned, the life spirit was wrung from him. He experienced “intolerable mental and physical pressure, with years of brutal beatings followed by hard physical labor under atrocious conditions.” He said, “It was for a fair society that I joined the Communists. I’ve tried my best through the years. But what good has it done for the people? Don’t believe in the Communist party anymore.”

Her thirst for books. How few books there were. No light to read by, even when she smuggled books. People had to read the propaganda newspaper and read Mao’s Little Red Book. For many, there was nothing else. Schools used them as the only curriculum. Mao said, “The more books you read, the more stupid you become.”

The camp her mother was sent to had “no machines, no electricity, not even any work animals. All they had to eat was rice and boiled cabbage.”

Fearing to think a subversive, critical thought, for fear that it might come out in a statement.

Her time in labor and re-education with the peasants.

The nationalization of her grandfather’s medicine shop.

Her worship of Mao. The trip she took to see him.

Tens of millions of married couples only entitled to twelve days a year together.

“In almost every family, one or members had died as a result of the Cultural Revolution.”

Personal files and background checks, checks to see if there were any undesirable capitalists, or landowners in your family tree, or if any family members had ever expressed anything but full devotion to the government

When she got a copy, she memorized the Declaration of Independence.

She had to report her thoughts to the college supervisor regularly.

They had to recite, “We will stand forever by the side of the oppressed and exploited masses in the third world in their struggle against the American imperialists and the Soviet revisionists.” (Current justifications for racial quotas, poverty programs, living wage legislation, and national health care are based on Marxist language of overcoming oppression of certain classes. Always watch for class grievances, class struggle, and oppression in the political discourse.)

“I had always been told, and had believed, that I was living in a paradise on earth, socialist China, whereas the capitalist world was hell.” Later on, the state staged a

“Our Socialist Motherland Is Paradise” mini-campaign. Jung asked herself, “If this is paradise, what then is hell?”

I examine my soul for traces of desire to exercise compulsion. I can see such traces. Read D&C 121. I held something like Maoist ideals in younger years. Plant squash, not flowers. Be practical, not frivolous (bourgeois.) Wealth-holders are bad. Excesses of wealth are bad. Wealth and style and conspicuous consumption are bad. Why do people need to make millions? “If I were rich, I would give away money by bucketfuls.” These sentiments are treated by Isabel Paterson in her essay, The Humanitarian and the Guillotine. People will exercise dominion over others given the chance. Good laws and constitutions restrain these impulses.

Get this book. Read it. I plan on sending copies to friends and family.