Pushing American History in the Wrong Way: The NEH

By Justin Williams

With Barack Obama’s new appointment of former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach to chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), new attention is being brought onto a program called We the People. This program is funded with the purpose for furthering the study of civics and bringing Americans together through their history.

And, perhaps not surprisingly, for Obama’s fiscal budget for 2010, it is the only NEH program that is receiving a cut.

We the People won widespread laud for doing a television documentary on the life and writings of Thomas Paine who said “Government even in its best state, is but a necessary evil, in its worst state, an intolerable one”—which may explain at least in part why the Obama Administration has cut this and increased all other NEH programs.

As with most government proposals, under the fairytale-sounding narrative, there is a paragraph that tells exactly why the Obama NEH intends to expand its own select menu of programming. And just like all the other latest proposals of the Obama administration, once you begin to scratch the surface, all the deep dark matter shows.

The NEH claims that its programs will “Strengthen humanities teaching and learning in the nation’s schools and colleges.” Under that sweet-sounding tripe, it reads that they will fund “outreach programs of Humanities Initiatives for Faculty at Historically Black, Hispanic Serving, and Tribal colleges and universities.”

And there you have it: the Obama administration believes that it can bring Americans closer together by funding only colleges and universities that historically have had only minority students. Obama has chosen to increase this while reducing a program, We the People, which “support(s) enrichment workshops for K-12 school teachers at important historical and cultural sites around the nation.” So much for “cultural sites” where the “wrong” cultures may have lived.

The NEH also believes that it could “Preserve and increase access to cultural and intellectual resources essential for the American people” by supporting programs that “preserve and provide access” to “information relating to the estimated 3,000 of the world’s 6,000-7,000 current spoken languages that are on the verge of extinction.”

In other words, the program in We the People that worked at preserving “U.S. newspapers from 1836 to 1922” was not apt at doing this. And neither apparently did providing “free sets of classic works of literature” to libraries.

Americans for Limited Government has always been a supporter of rolling back government and, of course, the budget increases for the NEH continue to add more and more to the already deep hole of U.S. national debt. But the move by the Obama administration to shift policies away from these that seem to achieve goals that bring Americans together to those that seem to discriminately fund small groups is not only wrongful; it’s shameful.

And then, of course, there is the overt attack on Thomas Paine. It begs the question, why is it that the Obama administration is not showing signs of slowing down government spending on various issues (i.e. bailouts, “stimuli,” health care, etc.) but the one program cut in the NEH is the one that supported freedom fighters—and not so coincidently—treasured “that government which governs least.”

One would have hoped that the Obama Administration after inheriting a trillion-dollar deficit would have pursued a limited government budget, in order to prevent the U.S. from going deeper and deeper in debt. No matter what the cost.

Instead, the policies seem to be more of a ploy to divide the country and skew American history. All the while, of course, Obama creates new voting blocs for the Democratic Party—while making certain that those victimized by such reckless, ruthless political chicanery remain are nary once reminded that, indeed, “These are times that try men’s souls.”

Justin Williams is a Contributing Editor of ALG News Bureau.

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Charlotte Tea Party Speech by John Lewis (April 20, 2009)

The article(speech) of the day comes from Capitalism Magazine:

This is a slightly revised version by Dr. Lewis for printed publication. Permission is given to read this in full, wherever defenders of liberty may gather.

It is high time for a tea party in America! But to do this right, we need to understand what it means. So I want to think back for a moment to what happened over 200 years ago, at the time of the original Boston Tea Party. The Founders of this nation brought forth a radical idea. It was truly radical, practiced nowhere before this time. This idea was the Rights of Man.The Founders saw each of us as endowed with certain inalienable rights, rights that may not be separated from our nature as autonomous beings.

These inalienable rights are: · The Right to Life–the right to live your own life, to choose your own goals, and to preserve your own independent existence. · The Right to Liberty, which is the right to act to achieve your goals, without coercion by other men. · The Right to the Pursuit of Happiness, to act to achieve your own success, your own prosperity, and your own happiness, for your own sake. · And the Right to Property—the right to gain, keep, and enjoy, the material products of your efforts.

Unless I’m mistaken I don’t see anything here about a right to happiness. I see a right to the pursuit of happiness: the right to take the actions needed to attain one’s own happiness. Nor do I see any rights to things at all—no rights to food, clothing, healthcare or diapers. There is only a right to act to achieve those things. This is called freedom. These rights to act—the rights to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness—are founded on a certain view of man. Each of us is an individual, autonomous, moral being, with the right to choose his own values and capable of directing his own life. Look at the person next to you, and look in the mirror—do you see the individual sovereign human being, existing for his own sake, with the right to live, to love, and to act?

This idea—the Founders’ idea of the individual Rights of Man—led to a radical view of government. Government was not to be inherited by the force of an entrenched aristocracy as in Europe, imposed by the divine right of kings through generations of oppression, or enforced by the force of a club. Government in America was to be designed and instituted by thinking men, for a single purpose: to protect and defend the Rights of Man. This is what the American Declaration of Independence says: “To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” Thinking men, armed with the idea of rights, created a government limited to the protection of individual rights. (more…)

Civil War/Friendship Economics

Slate Magazine published an interesting article on the Civil War and how it helps Economists measure the effect of friendship. Here is what they find:

“They find that men serving in companies with tight social connections—like shared birthplace and occupation—were more likely to stand and fight than those in less tight-knit companies, where desertion rates were up to four times higher. The bonds of friendship also mattered for Union soldiers who ended up in Confederate POW camps: Soldiers imprisoned with others of similar backgrounds were much more likely to survive to see the war’s end.

When economists look at friendship and social networks, what they see is people trading favors—you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. A friendship’s value is determined by the benefits of favors you receive weighed against the cost of the favors you’ll need to do in return. A friendship built on cold economic foundations can be sustained only as long as the gains of the long-term trading of favors exceed the benefit of taking one last back scratch before putting an end to the relationship (though news travels fast, so retaliation from others in your social circle may help to keep you from taking advantage of others).”

Thought this was interesting. It sheds light more for Economists to study social relations and networks.

The rest is here.


Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Old Missile Sites, New Entrepreneurial Sites

Since the end of the Cold War the United States has begun in joint with Russia in reducing it’s nuclear arms. With these recent developments there is much phyiscal capital that the government has that can now be sold off like nuclear sites. The idea is that originally the government would use massive spending to bid away certain materials away from the private sector. Had the cement and materials not gone to the missile sites, they would have went to something else private and been a lot cheaper. It is always not a complete loss and that capital can be used later. This was not the most efficient way of doing this but it is better than letting them sit there and rot. So here is the article from The USA Today:

Today, Paaverud is the director of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Next summer, he will oversee the opening to the public of the former Oscar Zero missile silo and launch facility near Cooperstown, N.D.

The museum, set to open next July, is one of several new uses being found for missile sites, ranging from homes and businesses to recreation and tourist attractions. There is increasing interest in these sites, as Americans who came of age during the Cold War want to learn more about the history of the era, Paaverud and others say.


• The National UFO Reporting Center plans to move from the Seattle area to a former missile base between Davenport and Harrington in eastern Washington state. Director Peter Davenport says he bought the site in 2006 and is cleaning it up.

•Near Abilene, Texas, divers can explore a water-filled silo known as Valhalla during tours given by Family Scuba Center. The 130-foot-deep water seeped in through 4-foot-thick concrete walls over several years, the company’s website says.

• About 60 miles west of Grand Forks, N.D., David Morken is trying to sell property once used as the India-Zero missile complex. It is listed at $40,000. Morken, a 52-year-old farmer, says he hopes it might offer opportunities as a hunting lodge or bed-and-breakfast.

• Bruce Townsley’s home near Abilene is a former Atlas F site. The former social worker says he paid $99,000 for it in 1997. “It seemed like a cool idea — nothing more complicated than that,” Townsley says.”

My personal favorite is the water filled silo that you can scuba dive in. This is the true entrepreneurial spirit and proves once again that people can make something out of anything.

The rest is here.