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Weekly Opeds 06

by Christopher Chantrill

Yet Another Report on the Education Crisis
It is nearly a quarter century now since the National Commission on Excellence in Education issued its somber warning about the nation’s education system: “A Nation at Risk.”

Luckily it was at that moment in 1983 that the US economy struggled out of the 1980-82

|  more  |  12/25/06

God Rest Ye Merry Bureaucrats
How does the old carol go?

God rest ye merry, bureaucrats,

At this time of good cheer we ought not to forget bureaucrats. This is the age of the bureaucrat, after all. We build vast temple complexes to honor bureaucracy at the center of every major city—office buildings. The French for office is

|  more  |  12/17/06

A March Through the Mind of America
The failure of the Republican Congress to reform education and Social Security shows that you cannot enact reform just because you have a majority in Congress. The voters saw that and properly decided that a can’t-do Congress needed to be retired.

We should learn from our current political elite, the progressive liberals. Their

|  more  |  12/11/06

What Did Senator-elect Jim Webb Mean?
What exactly did United States Senator-elect Jim Webb mean when he wrote in The Wall Street Journal that

the most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society’s steady drift toward a class-based

|  more  |  12/05/06

It's Not the Spending, Stupid
According to the exit polls at the November election the American people think that the Democrats are more likely than Republicans to limit government spending. Can this really be true?

But really we should be encouraged. The opinion polls are telling us that Democrats, at least when they are talking to the voters rather than among

|  more  |  11/26/06

Milton Friedman, American Hero
In the 1960s and 1970s the United States conducted a spirited argument about the bridge to the economic future. Should Americans continue to implement the New Deal with its cocktail of economic planning and elite political control, or should it return to the pre-Depression policy where the the political and the economic forces competed in rough

|  more  |  11/19/06

The Illusion of a "Neat-and-Tidy" World
The problem with government education, according to James Tooley in Reclaiming Education, is its addiction to “neat-and-tidy” solutions. The government experts and bureaucrats, not to mention the voters, all want things neatly tied down with comprehensive, mandatory national policies and procedures. Only the world doesn’t

|  more  |  11/12/06

The March of Educational Folly
This year the liberals have done a masterful job building a narrative about the Bush folly in Iraq. Maybe it will get them control of Congress on Tuesday.

It recalls Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly. Written in the aftermath of the Vietnam War it reminded us of the tragic importance down the ages of human folly similar in

|  more  |  11/05/06

We Support Our GOP Troops. Then What?
Those faint hearts who have already given up the 2006 mid-term election as lost have been rightly chastised. Our stalwart conservative talk-show hosts are rousing the troops to action, and until the election is over, the watchword is: This Day We Fight!

But there is no shame in admitting that the Republican Party is overextended and likely

|  more  |  10/29/06

Euro-Humanity Upon The Wane
People have needs. When your liberal friend tells you that, he imagines that he’s justified the whole panoply of liberal social programs. Stop being selfish and pay up.

But after a century of paying up, you get something like modern Europe. With all basic needs taken care of, the average Euro doesn’t get the point of life. So

|  more  |  10/22/06

The Synergy of Harry Reid
The people of Nevada have a problem. About 90 percent of the land in the state is owned by the federal government. This makes it difficult for them to develop land for homes, schools, offices, and strip malls, the infrastructure they need to support their families.

But they are not fools. They have elected to the United States Senate a

|  more  |  10/15/06

The Foley Flap and the Honor Wars
In the aftermath of the Foley resignation, conservatives have spent a lot of energy complaining about the very different outcome of the Eighties sex scandals. Representative Barney Frank skated after disclosure that his sexual partner had run a male prostitution ring out of his apartment. And Representative Gerry Studds was returned to

|  more  |  10/08/06

Dems 0 for 3 on Terror
Insofar as we know anything about Democratic Party ideas about the War on Terror, we know that they think that the war in Iraq diverts US attention from the real war on terror which is more of a law enforcement activity than anything else.

But if it is a law enforcement activity then the usual civil-liberties issues apply: search warrants,

|  more  |  10/06/06

Thug Week: The Pity of It All
You could tell the point at which Thug Week at the United Nations got a bit out of hand. It was when Democratic leaders took a look at the overnight polls and declared that politics ends at the waters edge.

But what did they expect? After six years non-stop trashing of the president, they are surprised that a couple of street bullies

|  more  |  09/25/06

The Pope Battles Against Dhimmitude
We have all enjoyed tut-tutting about the Muslim cultural practice of dhimmitude, the notion that under Islam the infidel is a second-class citizen and must defer to the faithful at all times. No eating and drinking in front of the faithful during Ramadan, for example.

But it is clear from the events of the last week that

|  more  |  09/18/06

Clinton Spin: To Make You Forget They Are Democrats
The flap over ABC’s mini-series “The Path to 9/11” is a beautiful thing to behold. It reminds us of the glory years of the Clinton Spin Ballet, Balanchine-like in its exquisite choreography. The principals, Clinton and Clinton, dance a sorrowful adagio about the truth, loyally backed by by second-string soloists like Albright

|  more  |  09/11/06

The Travails of Labor and Education
Over two hundred years ago, in The Wealth of Nations (now available on Google Book Search), Adam Smith applauded the general increase in prosperity in eighteenth century England.

|  more  |  09/04/06

It's Not The Dependency Ratio, Stupid
Back in the late 1940s, The New Yorker wants us to know, Richard Gosser, president of a United Auto Workers local in Toledo, Ohio, wanted to set up a union pension plan for the workers. Ten cents an hour was all it would cost to give the workers a decent retirement, writes Malcolm Gladwell in

|  more  |  08/27/06

What Gas-Guzzling Dinosaur?
The car guys don’t appreciate New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman setting up as an expert on the auto industry. He allowed as how he thought Toyota should take over the

|  more  |  08/23/06

Storm Signals Mean Political Change Ahead
The good thing about 8/10 is that it was an inconvenience. When the terror plot was foiled in London on August 10, 2006 many flights were canceled. Tens of thousands stood in line to submit to new security procedures. People missed flights. Baggage got left behind. But the show went on, and the great complex air transportation system that

|  more  |  08/15/06

Smell the Whiff of Panic?
Smell the whiff of panic? Iraq has/may/will soon collapse into civil war! Israel may not be able to fully dismantle Hezbollah! Like Falstaff before battle we whine to Prince Hal that we “would ’twere bed-time, Hal, and all well.”

It’s as if Europe never had its tribal politics and terrorist warfare, with roving

|  more  |  08/06/06

Today Seattle Is Conducting Unity Meetings
How could it happen? In Seattle, of all places, a city of moderation and diversity? On Friday, July 28, a man barged into the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. It is alleged that, armed with two handguns, Naveed Afzal Haq, 30, killed one woman and wounded five others.

And so the War on Terror comes to liberal Seattle,

|  more  |  07/30/06

Wal-Mart Wins a Battle; The War Continues
On July 19 a federal court judge struck down Maryland’s “Wal-Mart Law.” That’s the law cooked up by the nation’s labor unions to force Wal-Mart to pay 8 percent of payroll into employee health benefits or be taxed for the difference.

In recent years labor unions have

|  more  |  07/23/06

It's a War, Stupid
The cycle of violence folks are out again. They are worried about the escalation of violence in the Middle East, that is to say, the current skirmish in the ongoing war between the people of Israel and the Iran-backed forces like Hisbollah and Hamas that want to eliminate the insulting outpost of western culture at the east end of the

|  more  |  07/17/06

Who Are You Calling Dysfunctional?
How would you define a dysfunctional family? Probably, like Wikipedia, you would say “a family in which conflict, misbehaviour and even abuse on the part of individual members of the family occur continually, leading other members to accommodate such actions.” You would

|  more  |  07/09/06

Liberals and Babies and Trust Cues
Nicholas Wade’s new book Before the Dawn is a fascinating review of recent science in human prehistory. Genetic analysis of human remains can now tell us a lot about how humans spread across the world, starting about 50,000 years ago. But one aspect of the book is a bit puzzling. Every chapter has an epigraph from Charles

|  more  |  07/02/06

Speak Progressive, But Win Conservative Reform
Whether we like it or not, “we live in a progressive world,” writes Jonah Goldberg in National Review. He means that when conservatives go into the public square they must use the language of progressivism. In debates on public

|  more  |  06/27/06

The Democrats' Drive-by Politics for 2006
What a surprise. The Democrats’ New Direction for America (pdf), their blueprint for capturing control of Congress this Fall turns out not to be the call to arms, the

|  more  |  06/18/06

Is It Bush We Are Testing to Destruction?
The good thing about the reelection of President Bush in 2004, according to Matthew Parris this week in the London Times, is that it gave a chance for the neoconservative project to be tested to destruction. He refers to a

|  more  |  06/11/06

A Case of the Economic Shivers
The financial markets gave a convulsive shiver a month ago when the Fed raised its Fed Funds rate to 5 percent and allowed as how it might well pause in its monthly quarter-point increase action. Oh no you don’t, came the unmistakable response, as global stocks, the dollar, US government bonds, oil, and gold all tanked.

That means that

|  more  |  06/04/06

First You Need An Army
One thing the situation in Iraq is demonstrating rather clearly. If you don’t have an army, you don’t have a country. Fortunately, the United States has always had an army, right from the start when George Washington first set siege to the British in Boston in 1775. On Memorial Day that is something to be thankful about.


|  more  |  05/28/06

Hollywood Doesn't Get It
Why is it unthinkable to imagine mobs of Catholics, carefully taunted into a fine rage, rushing out and burning a couple of multiplexes in defiance of a Hollywood that just doesn’t get it?

After all, Hollywood just put out a movie that denies the divinity of Christ, and you can’t get more blasphemous than that.

Hey, it’s

|  more  |  05/21/06

"You Must Suggest an Alternative"
It’s all very well to complain about the problems of the welfare state. But what are you going to do about it? That is what author and journalist James Bartholomew confronted on May 10 when he presented a copy of his book The Welfare State We’re

|  more  |  05/14/06

Why Should Freud Matter?
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sigmund Freud, the Wall Street Journal on Friday hauled out Harold Bloom to explain to us all “Why Freud Matters.”

Bloom told us that Freud was not so much a scientist but a “moral essayist” like Montaigne. He advised that “Freud maps our minds by mapping his

|  more  |  05/07/06

Democrats Look for a Big Idea
E.J.Dionne recently reported that Democrats are fed up with waiting for their politicians to come up with new ideas. Someone has to “end conservative dominance of the political debate” and Michael Tomasky in The American

|  more  |  05/07/06

Gaseous Politics and Shame
There’s a difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The Democrats are completely shameless, but the Republicans are only mostly shameless.

So the pandering to angry American gas guzzlers over the past week committed by shameless Republican officeholders was at least mitigated by the disgust of the conservative

|  more  |  04/30/06

3 Dollar Gas. An Opportunity
Some observers think that President Bush’s dismal job approval rating is not about the mess in Iraq. It is not about the shocking corruption of the Republican Congress. It is not even about President Bush’s failure to prevent Hurricane Katrina. It reflects Americans’ rage at $3.00 per gallon gasoline.

How can you pursue

|  more  |  04/23/06

In Old Europe The Real Problem is Fear
This week everyone is tut-tutting about the French and the Italians. Again. The privileged youth of France refused to take a baby step away from their current guarantee of lifetime employment towards the cruel world of employment-at-will. So the government of Prime Minister and poet Dominique de Villepin did the poetical thing. It

|  more  |  04/16/06

$10,000 Checks Won't End the Plague of Truculence
How about this British family from hell? Their 14 year old daughter Leighanne recently got arrested for drinking and driving--and it was her second offense. How did the precocious Leighanne respond to her sentencing, as reported by the

|  more  |  04/10/06

Eco-Sacrifice is Closer Than You Think
We westerners have been properly horrified in recent weeks as the Afghani courts have prosecuted the Christian convert Abdul Rahman and imams of the religion of peace have called for the apostate’s death.

“Philistine hypocrisy,” writes Spengler in Asia

|  more  |  04/02/06

Competence vs. Manliness
So now the Democrats’ theme is “dangerous incompetence.” This is the soaring vision they offer the American people, as the nation records the 53rd month of growth since the end of the last recession in November 2001, as the S&P 500 is up 60 percent to 1300 from 800 at the start of 2003, as home ownership is reaching new highs, as

|  more  |  03/26/06

This Spring Do It for the Children
It is the first week of spring, the season of rebirth. But in Europe people can’t be bothered. The average number of children per woman in Spain is 1.15, in Germany 1.15, and in the United Kingdom 1.60, according to the Economist Pocket World in Figures for 2004. Why is that? Is it because of taxes? Is it because of inadequate

|  more  |  03/19/06

Is Senator Schumer With Us or Against Us?
So, the Dubai port deal is off. The firestorm is over. What began, according to Newsday, at “the moment Chuck Schumer fielded a call from an Associated Press reporter asking New York’s senior senator to

|  more  |  03/12/06

Don't Repeal the 22nd Amendment
We are at that stage in the political cycle when the supporters of the president, like Pejman Yousefzadeh, or even critics-with-a-book-out like Bruce Bartlett, start mourning that the 22nd Amendment—the

|  more  |  03/05/06

Dems Want Wal-Mart to Tithe on Healthcare
Look at Wal-Mart. It has revolutionized retailing with relentless cost reduction and process improvement. It helps keep the United States at No. 1 in wealth and productivity. When it opens a store in ordinary America, about 4,000 people usually apply for the 400 jobs.

But when Wal-Mart opens a store in underprivileged America, then the

|  more  |  02/26/06

The Cultural Colonialism of the Left
It’s all very well for Europeans to reduce the Cartoon Wars to a matter of the freedom of speech, writes Martin Jacques in Britain’s lefty Guardian. But what about respect? “Respect for others, especially in an increasingly interdependent world, is a

|  more  |  02/19/06

Torino: Europe's Last Hurrah?
On Friday night in Torino Luciano Pavarotti, close to the last gasp of his career, sang the last gasp of grand opera, Puccini’s glorious “Nessun Dorma.” You have to wonder: Will this Winter Olympics prove to be the last gasp of Europe, the big blowout before the Islamic hordes engulf it?

It seems impossible to believe that the

|  more  |  02/12/06

Who Was Betty Friedan?
The 1963 bestseller The Feminine Mystique is credited with starting the Second Wave of feminism that transformed the relations between men and women in the second half of the twentieth century. On Saturday February 4, her 85th birthday, its author Betty Friedan died of congestive heart failure. Writes

|  more  |  02/05/06

Thank You Mr. President
As you deliver your State of the Union speech this week, Mr. President, and enter the sixth year of your presidency there is something I want to say. It is “Thank you, Mr. President.”

You have achieved three important things in the last five years, Mr. President, and that’s as good as it gets.

First of all, you have

|  more  |  01/29/06

Minimum Wage Hits $9.50 in Santa Fe
This month, in the liberal bastion of Santa Fe, New Mexico, they are raising the minimum wage in the city to $9.50 per hour. The measure applies to all businesses with 25 or more employees.

The driving force behind this decision was Acorn, the “national community organization,” as Jon Gertner describes it in The New York Times

|  more  |  01/22/06

Strictly Ballroom At Senate Dance Hall
One morning in the latter part of the 1980s, Senator Ted Kennedy rampaged onto the floor of the United States Senate. On that morning Kennedy said:

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would have to sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police... midnight raids,

|  more  |  01/15/06

Supreme Court Hearings: Law vs. Rights
Here we go again, as the Senate prepares to advise and consent upon the nomination of Samuel A. Alito for a seat on the United States Supreme Court. Four months ago John Roberts testified to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee about his understanding of the role of the judge.

|  more  |  01/08/06

Americans and Literacy
The federal government just released its decennial literacy survey, “A First Look at the Literacy of America’s Adults in the 21st Century,” (pdf) and the results are not good. About 13 percent of adult Americans are “below basic” in literacy and the results for

|  more  |  01/01/06



Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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