"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Capitalism After the Crisis

From Luigi Zingales writing for National Affairs.

The economic crisis of the past year, centered as it has been in the financial sector that lies at the heart of American capitalism, is bound to leave some lasting marks. Financial regulation, the role of large banks, and the relationships between the government and key players in the market will never be the same

Mr. Zingales goes on to discuss the difference between a pro-business and a pro-market approach to capitalism. America, for the most part, has favored pro-market capitalism vice pro-business capitalism despite lobbiest being pro-business. It is an important distinction as pro-business lobbiest tend to lobby for established businesses whereas pro-market forces tend to favor newly established businesses' ability to compete equally with established businesses.

Capitalism has long enjoyed exceptionally strong public support in the United States because America's form of capitalism has long been distinct from those found elsewhere in the world — particularly because of its uniquely open and free market system. Capitalism calls not only for freedom of enterprise, but for rules and policies that allow for freedom of entry, that facilitate access to financial resources for newcomers, and that maintain a level playing field among competitors. The United States has generally come closest to this ideal combination — which is no small feat, since economic pressures and incentives do not naturally point to such a balance of policies. While everyone benefits from a free and competitive market, no one in particular makes huge profits from keeping the system competitive and the playing field level. True capitalism lacks a strong lobby.

That assertion might appear strange in light of the billions of dollars firms spend lobbying Congress in America, but that is exactly the point. Most lobbying seeks to tilt the playing field in one direction or another, not to level it. Most lobbying is pro-business, in the sense that it promotes the interests of existing businesses, not pro-market in the sense of fostering truly free and open competition. Open competition forces established firms to prove their competence again and again; strong successful market players therefore often use their muscle to restrict such competition, and to strengthen their positions. As a result, serious tensions emerge between a pro-market agenda and a pro-business one, though American capitalism has always managed this tension far better than most.

Needless to say for somebody attempting to understand the current financial issues and what can and should be done about them, Mr. Zingales' article functions as an exceptional primer to understand the American form vice the European form of capitalism.

To read the complete article, click here.

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Sharia-Sanctioned Death Vs. Western Toleration

From the Wall Street Journal.

"I don't know if you know about honor killings? But this faith—you guys don't understand, Islam is very different than you guys think." So avows runaway apostate Rifqa Bary, the focus of a so-called dependency battle that is expanding into a national debate on the conflict between Islamic mores and American freedom.

The 17-year-old had been practicing Christianity in secret for four years when she fled her home in central Ohio in July, fearing for her life after her parents discovered her defection. The Sri Lankan Bary family has been in the U.S. since 2000.

Having been in Iraq for the last year, I have adopted many Iraqi customs to include giving kisses to males on their cheek as a greeting, putting my hand over my heart when saying hi, and shaking everybody's hand in a room upon entering. I believe it shows a sense of understanding and acceptance of a country's culture.

I have also witness Muslim cultural norms which are as foreign to me, a Christian, as night is to day. While in this country, I accept and practice many Iraqi cultural norms. It is their country. One's which are harmless, like putting a hand over the heart during a greeting, I practice to fit in. One's that are harmful, I do not condone Iraqis for practicing them, nor do I condemn them for practices which, in America, are outright illegal. It is their country. I explain my norms and seek to understand theirs and occassionally get in good debates about both country's norms and practices.

However, just as I do not condone nor condemn their cultural norms in their country, I would not expect Muslims to practice their cultural rituals in an Christian society which are clearly illegal. We cannot have two laws in a country, one for this religion and one for that religion. It would lead to anarchy.

They saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" goes both ways. I have accepted many cultural customs during my stint in Iraq which do not conflict with my Christian beliefs. I would expect Muslims to do the same in my Christian dominated country.

This article is insightful for that reason, but never gets to the heart of the question.

To read the complete article, click here.

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An oft-told tale of job survival

From Terry Savage writing for the Chicago Sun-Times.

In honor of this Labor Day holiday, here is a little fable. And like all fables, it comes with a moral at the end.

Once upon a time, in a beautiful city by a lake, there was a company that was in the business of building outboard engines for boats. It had prospered in this town for 70 years. The factory employed 850 workers, and the world headquarters building employed an equal number of people.

Ms. Savage tells the story like a fable. But it isn't. It is a true, current story. To see how it ends, click here.

But like a fable, it has a mean old wolf. Is the wolf the company, the workers, or the union?

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Barack Obama accused of making 'Depression' mistakes

From Edmund Conway writing for the Telegraph.

Barack Obama is committing the same mistakes made by policymakers during the Great Depression, according to a new study endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan.

This article provokes some interesting discussion points. It ends with a recommendation to let capitalism work and to keep politicians out of the mix. An iteresting idea which worked for most of this country's history.

The paper, which recommends that the US return to a more laissez-faire economic system rather than intervening further in activity, has been endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan, who said: "We have learned some things from comparable experiences of the 1930s' Great Depression, perhaps enough to reduce the severity of the current contraction. But we have made no progress toward putting limits on political leaders, who act out their natural proclivities without any basic understanding of what makes capitalism work."

One thing the article does not site is the affect of winning or losing a war has on a recession in a capitalistic society.

To read the complete article, click here.

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By the Book: How Democracies Perish

From the American Thinker.

Exaggerated self-criticism would be a harmless luxury of civilization if there were no enemy at the gate condemning democracy's very existence. But it becomes dangerous when it portrays its mortal enemy as always being in the right. Extravagant criticism is a good propaganda device in internal politics. But if it is repeated often enough, it is finally believed. And where will the citizens of democratic societies find reasons to resist the enemy outside if they are persuaded from childhood that their civilization is merely an accumulation of failures and a monstrous imposture?

- Jean Francois Revel, How Democracies Perish

Sounds like a good book to read, understand, and examine how political entities use exaggerated self-criticism and extravagant criticism to undermine a democracy from within. I have often seen both of these traits among Americans. In the last year, I have also seen it among Iraqis. It is an interesting premise worth reading, understanding, and debating.

To read the complete article, click here.

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Obama's Anger

From Ed Kaitz writing for the American Thinker.

While I had been fishing my new black friend had been working as a prison psychologist in Missouri, and he was pursuing a higher degree in psychology. He was interested in my story, and after about an hour getting to know each other I asked him point blank why these Vietnamese refugees, with no money, friends, or knowledge of the language could be, within a generation, so successful. I also asked him why it was so difficult to convince young black men to abandon the streets and take advantage of the same kinds of opportunities that the Vietnamese had recently embraced.

His answer, only a few words, not only floored me but became sort of a razor that has allowed me ever since to slice through all of the rhetoric regarding race relations that Democrats shovel our way during election season:

"We're owed and they aren't."

In short, he concluded, "they're hungry and we think we're owed. It's crushing us, and as long as we think we're owed we're going nowhere."

Mr Kaitz tells an interesting story in this article about different races in America. In his article, Mr Kaitz tells how blacks in America tend to feel they are owed something by the government and therefore are not prospering as well as Vietmanese immigrants. The story provides an interesting perspective.

For a full read, click here.

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USS Cole and Hizballah

From the Counterterrorism Blog.

On February 28, the USS Cole was deployed off the coast of Lebanon. Ostensibly, the presence of the warship is intended to demonstrate Washington's ongoing commitment to the democratically elected pro-West government vis-à-vis the Hizballah-led opposition and ally, Damascus. Hizballah and Syria are currently preventing presidential elections in Lebanon; the office has been vacant since November 2007....

Senior Hizballah officials have described the USS Cole as "a threat." In October 2007, Hizballah officials threatened that if US troops ventured onto Lebanese soil, they would be treated as “occupation forces” and attacked. UNIFIL has been attacked three times since its deployment in 2006.

Even more significant than it being any warship is the fact it is the USS Cole which was attacked by terrorists in a boat in a Yemeni port in October 2000. If that does not help in showing America's resolve to a democratically elected Lebanon, nothing will.

For a full read, click here.

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All quiet on Quebec war protest front, despite casualties, antiwar sentiment

From the Canadian Press via Yahoo.

Quebecers were expected to rise in protest against the war in Afghanistan when hometown soldiers from the local regiment began to fall on the fields of Kandahar.

Instead, the return of 11 flag-draped caskets since the Royal 22nd Regiment took the lead of the mission last summer has triggered little outcry from the province's political leaders, public personalities or ubiquitous street protesters.

The quiet response has left Raymond Legault, a member of antiwar umbrella group Collectif Echec a la guerre, reaching for explanations.

"I think when soldiers get killed, people are more sad than angry," said Legault, who helped organize small protests this fall that failed to spread very far.

Polls have suggested about 60 per cent of Quebecers are against Canada's mission in Afghanistan, a level of opposition that has remained constant for nearly five years.

It is interesting to see these numbers. Sixty percent are against Canada's mission, yet there are no protests calling for an end of the mission. We see the same thing in America.

As often, I ask, Why?

In calling my Mom over the holidays to wish her a Merry Christmas, I was taken aback that she too thought it was time to bring our Soldiers home. Her explanations took three tones:

1. So many wounded.

2. Lack of progress

3. We have given them their freedom and all they do is continue to kill.

I addressed each of these issues with her.

1. We have less killed and wounded in seven years than we had on any given day of major battles in WWII. I thought this would have some effect since as a young girl she has vivid memories of WWI, but nothing at all. It just led to the second issue, the lack of progress.

2. I told her there had been substantial progress. Since she does not have a computer, she may just be getting her "lack of progress" from the MSM. I comforted her by stating we are doing to Lord work in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are bringing democracy to people who have not experienced it in their lifetime. She grudgingly accepted that and then went on to number three.

3. Iraqis and Afghanis will never accept freedom.. I told her, freedom is something you do not accept, nor is it something which can be given, it is something which is earned. Iraqis are now earning their freedom. They are doing nothing different than a young United States did in the late 1700s. When she asked what did I mean, I unfortunately had to refer her to "Washington's Gift" which she will never see since she is woefully technologically unsavvy, and she will never see this article that I shared with you all on Christmas Eve.

The reason I am sharing this story is it explains the "Why" earlier. Good, decent, God fearing people know what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq is right, but they cannot explain why or understand the complexities of the wars, so they choose to not support it, but will definitely not protest against it.

There is a Christmas story at the birth of this country that very few Americans know. It involves a single act by George Washington -- his refusal to take absolute power -- that affirms our own deepest beliefs about self-government, and still has profound meaning in today's world. To appreciate its significance, however, we must revisit a dark period at the end of America's eight-year struggle for independence.

The story begins with Gen. Washington's arrival in Annapolis, Md., on Dec. 19, 1783. The country was finally at peace -- just a few weeks earlier the last British army on American soil had sailed out of New York harbor. But the previous eight months had been a time of terrible turmoil and anguish for Gen. Washington, outwardly always so composed. His army had been discharged and sent home, unpaid, by a bankrupt Congress -- without a victory parade or even a statement of thanks for their years of sacrifices and sufferings.

Instead, not a few congressmen and their allies in the press had waged a vitriolic smear campaign against the soldiers -- especially the officers, because they supposedly demanded too much money for back pay and pensions. Washington had done his utmost to persuade Congress to pay them, yet failed, in this failure losing the admiration of many of the younger officers. Some sneeringly called him "The Great Illustrissimo" -- a mocking reference to his world-wide fame. When he said farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York early in December, he had wept at the sight of anger and resentment on many faces.

Even Congress, at the birth of our nation, which is supposed to understand complex situations, failed to understand the significance of what had just occurred in the newly found (and formed)United States of Americq eight years after a very long war had started. Today, most Americans (and Canadians) do not understand "The Long War". They are still enjoying economic livelihood and freedom. They are still enjoying the fruits of many dead Soldiers without knowing what these Soldiers have really done for them, be it 1783 or 2008. I personally, believe that most Soldiers also do not understand what their sacrifices bring until they are much older, wiser, and separated from the actions they underwent.

It is simple however. Freedom is something one would not accept, interestingly enough. It is also something that cannot be given. It is something that must be earned by the brave. We gave Afganis their freedom in 2001. We gave Iraqis their freedom in 2003. Neither of these cultures accepted their freedom. In fact, they shunned this gift much like Congress did in 1783. Iraqis have began to accept their freedom now that they are earning their freedom. Afghanis are just beginning to understand this great gift since they are now earning it. Pakistanis will decide their course on 18 February 2008, but will have to battle Al Qaeda to earn their freedom.

Finally, there is another facet of gaining freedom which must be overcome. Rulers have to understand freedom (to step down) to allow a democracy to flourish, despite them. Washington understood this fact. Maliki is beginning to understand this fact. I am certain Musharraf now understands this fact.

Our Soldiers who are dying and being wounded on the on the battlefield of Iraq and Afghanistan are doing nothing less pious than our first President did at 1200, 23 December 1783.

To understand why we are doing to Lord's work in Iraq and Afghanistan, click here to understand the the full extent of not only Washington's gift upon America, but the Continental Army's gift to America and the military's gift to subsequent nations more than 200 years later.

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