The beauty of unintended consequences.

Rarely, an article is published that’s so insightful, true and consequential, that it’s worth reprinting entirely. The following appeared in FEE.ORG, the Foundation for Economic Education, called Cobra Consequences.

“It seems every human decision brings with it unintended consequences. Often, they are inconsequential, even funny. When Airbus, for example, wanted to make its planes quieter to improve the flying experience for travelers, it made its A380 so quiet that passengers could hear, with far too much clarity, what was happening in the plane’s bathrooms. Other times unintended consequences have far-reaching, dramatic effects.

“The US health care system is a case in point. It emerged in its present form in no small part because of two governmental decisions. First, wage and price controls during World War II caused employers to add health insurance as an employee benefit. Why? The law prohibited employers from raising wages, so to attract workers, they offered to provide health insurance. Then, in 1951, Congress declared that employer-provided health insurance benefits would not count as taxable income. This made it cheaper for employees to take raises in the form of increased tax-free insurance benefits rather than in the form of increased taxable wages. Consequently, not only do workers now receive health insurance through their employers (unlike, for example, their car and home insurance), but those insurance plans also tend to be more luxurious than what they would have been had Congress never given them special tax treatment. These two political decisions helped to create the health care system we now have, a system that nearly everyone agrees is broken.

“No one set out to create a broken system, no more than anyone ever set out to make bathroom noises more conspicuous on airplanes. These were unintended consequences. And you can see them everywhere when you know to look. Unintended consequences happen so often that economists call them “Cobra Problems,” after one of the most interesting examples. In colonial India, Delhi suffered a proliferation of cobras, which was a problem very clearly in need of a solution given the sorts of things that cobras bring, like death. To cut the number of cobras slithering through the city, the local government (British) placed a bounty on them. This seemed like a perfectly reasonable solution. The bounty was generous enough that many people took up cobra hunting, which led exactly to the desired outcome: The cobra population decreased. And that’s where things get interesting.”

I posed the question to friends, “what do you think happened next?” No one said, “the number of cobras increased.” But they did. How? Think of it this way: Someone offers you $50 for a dead cobra; people then start hunting cobras; cobras decline; since it costs $5 to raise a cobra from an egg, some entrepreneurial “snake charmers” begin cobra breeding farms; at a profit of $45/each, gradually…….You get the picture; if not, the cartoon should help you figure it out. I don’t know how much the bounty was nor the cost to raise a cobra, but the profit must have been considerable!

Continuing the FEE.ORG article: “These examples of unintended consequences aren’t aberrations. Unintended consequences arise every time an authority imposes its will on people. Seat belt and airbag laws make it less safe to be a pedestrian or cyclist by making it safer for drivers to be less cautious. Payday lending laws, intended to protect low-income borrowers from high lending rates, make it more expensive for low-income borrowers to borrow by forcing them into even more expensive alternatives.

“Requirements that corporations publicize how much they pay their CEOs in order to encourage stockholders to reduce CEO pay resulted in lesser-paid CEOs demanding more pay. Three-strikes laws, intended to reduce crime, increase police fatalities by giving two-time criminals a greater incentive to evade or even fight the police. The Americans With Disabilities Act gives employers an incentive to discriminate against the disabled by not hiring them in the first place so as to avoid potential ADA claims. Electrician licensing requirements can increase the incidence of injury due to faulty electrical work by reducing the supply of electricians, thereby encouraging homeowners to do their own electrical work.

“The same sort of thing happened in the late 1980s in Mexico City, which was at the time suffering from extreme air pollution caused by cars driven by its 18 million residents. The city government responded with Hoy No Circula, a law designed to reduce car pollution by removing 20 percent of the cars (determined by the last digits of license plates) from the roads every day during the winter when air pollution was at its worst. Oddly, though, removing those cars from the roads did not improve air quality in Mexico City. In fact, it made it worse.

“Come to find out, people’s needs do not change as a result of a simple government decree. The residents of Mexico City might well have wanted better air for their city, but they also needed to get to work and school. They reacted to the ban in ways the rule-makers neither intended nor foresaw. Some people carpooled or took public transportation, which was the actual intent of the law. Others, however, took taxis, and the average taxi at the time gave off more pollution than the average car. Another group of people ended up undermining the law’s intent more significantly. That group bought second cars, which of course came with different license plate numbers, and drove those cars on the one day a week they were prohibited from driving their regular cars. What kind of cars did they buy? The cheapest running vehicles they could find, vehicles that belched pollution into the city at a rate far higher than the cars they were not permitted to drive. The people released their cobras into the streets, except this time the cobras were cars.

“But perhaps nothing illustrates the scope of the potential problems arising from unintended consequences better than Venezuela’s terrible game of whack-a-mole that began with the 1976 nationalization of its oil industry. The government’s intent was to keep oil profits in the country. And that’s how it went—for a while. But when the government takes over a once-private industry, the profit incentive to maintain physical capital is lost, and physical capital deteriorates. The deterioration plays out over a decade or so, and that’s what made it appear—at least for a while—that unlike everywhere else socialism had been tried, Venezuela’s socialism was working. But as the oil industry’s physical capital broke down, oil production fell. Coincidentally, it was around this time that oil prices fell also—a fact socialism’s supporters point to as the real culprit.

“That is without question incorrect given that no other oil-producing nation suffered what Venezuela was to suffer. As oil revenues and production plummeted, Venezuela’s government acted the way governments inevitably do when revenues disappear. It borrowed and taxed as much as it could, and then it started printing money. The printing led to the unintended consequence of inflation, then prices rose so high that people could no longer afford food. To respond to this unintended consequence, the government imposed price controls on food. But this created a new unintended consequence wherein farmers could no longer afford to grow food. And so the farmers stopped growing food. Finally, the government forced people to work on farms in order to assure food production. The ultimate unintended consequence of Venezuela’s nationalizing its oil industry was slavery.

“What it does mean is that lawmakers should be keenly aware that every human action has both intended and unintended consequences. Human beings react to every rule, regulation, and order governments impose, and their reactions result in outcomes that can be quite different than the outcomes lawmakers intended. So while there is a place for legislation, that place should be one defined by both great caution and tremendous humility. Sadly, these are character traits not often found in those who become legislators, which is why examples of the cobra problem are so easy to find.”

Someone should make sure that Bernie Sanderscampaign workers read this, because “democratic socialism” involves lots of central planning, which leads to unintended consequences, which creates a vicious circle, because people with the I know best mentality don’t learn from their mistakes, they double down on them, in the end repressing dissent. Any kind of collectivism has always led to dictatorship. If there ever was any “democratic socialism”, it either went to or back to capitalism (like the Scandinavian countries), or devolved into dictatorship (Cuba, Venezuela).

KIVA–Do a lot of good with very little of your $.

At Kiva.org, you can see how their microloan process works. I have been contributing $25/month for a long time to make “microloans” to entrepreneurs in impoverished countries. There are profiles of the businesses, entrepreneurs, their products and stories of success. Kiva emails frequent updates and makes the whole process painless.

A child, or a culprit?

Confess as a child, not a culprit

“Father, I have sinned.”
Luke 15:18

This meditation by Charles Spurgeon is one of the most compelling, and universally applicable: “It is quite certain that those whom Christ has washed in his precious blood need not make a confession of sin, as culprits or criminals, before God the Judge, for Christ has forever taken away all their sins in a legal sense, so that they no longer stand where they can be condemned, but are once for all accepted in the Beloved; but having become children, and offending as children, ought they not every day to go before their heavenly Father and confess their sin, and acknowledge their iniquity in that character? Nature teaches that it is the duty of erring children to make a confession to their earthly father, and the grace of God in the heart teaches us that we, as Christians, owe the same duty to our heavenly Father. We daily offend, and ought not to rest without daily pardon. For, supposing that my trespasses against my Father are not at once taken to him to be washed away by the cleansing power of the Lord Jesus, what will be the consequence? If I have not sought forgiveness and been washed from these offences against my Father, I shall feel at a distance from him; I shall doubt his love to me; I shall tremble at him; I shall be afraid to pray to him: I shall grow like the prodigal, who, although still a child, was yet far off from his father. But if, with a child’s sorrow at offending so gracious and loving a Parent, I go to him and tell him all, and rest not till I realize that I am forgiven, then I shall feel a holy love to my Father, and shall go through my Christian career, not only as saved, but as one enjoying present peace in God through Jesus Christ my Lord. There is a wide distinction between confessing sin as a culprit, and confessing sin as a child. The Father’s bosom is the place for penitent confessions. We have been cleansed once for all, but our feet still need to be washed from the defilement of our daily walk as children of God.”

Simply, we believers should approach the mercy seat as children….not as culprits. We WILL sin again, and our Father WILL forgive again, BECAUSE nothing is hidden from Him: O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Psalm 139:1-6.

AND: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:11-13.

the Fabulous White People competition

courtesy of bigstock.

Ann Coulter, writing in Takimag.com: “these ‘racism’ orgies never have anything to do with black people. It’s part of the Fabulous White People competition, where black people are the chips. If anything, the urge to call other people ‘racist’ has only gotten stronger since then, so I’ll quote myself: ‘Sad people with meaningless lives [are] suddenly empowered to condemn other people. I beat you in blacks yesterday; I’m going to beat you in women today. This is what makes them feel superior to other people, especially other white people. It’s not about racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.; it’s just a self-actualization movement for people with emotional issues’.”

She takes no prisoners. The “racism orgies” she referred to are the proliferation of accusations of racism, and, I will add, often by people who don’t even try to define the word. Many can’t, but in a perfect simulation of totalitarianism, many race hustlers and grievance mongers levy the charge that asking for a definition of the accusation is itself racism. How handy, how convenient, and how intimidating it can be….except for people like me, who thrive on clarification, even at the cost of confrontation, conflict or unpopularity. Actually, perhaps I thrive on unpopularity itself…..with the right people. Who are the right people? Those who tell me, “don’t try to define racism, that proves you’re a racist.”

What’s really going on? I suggest you refer to my previous post, Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s….You see, racism isn’t the core issue, it’s just a big, sticky label over the mouth of those who question the orthodoxy of what I call radical equality, or it’s modern guise, equity. Proportional to their numbers, far more politically connected and wealthy white folks throw the racist label around at other white folk, than do black folk or people of color. I assert that they are coveting: the illusion of superior intellect; self congratulation for their sensitivity and wokeness; relief from their guilty feelings for having so much; approval from their peer group, which produces rewards both tangible (political office, tenure) and intangible (Ann Coulter’s self-actualization). When people of color accuse whites of racism, sometimes it’s true, but often it’s for prizes of the grievance sweepstakes. Equality used to mean equal opportunity to succeed; equity, equality of outcomes or proportion of body count (affirmative action), has become the new orthodoxy.

Most unquestioned orthodoxies, historically, have resulted in a different kind of body count—off to the gulag or lined up in front of the gun. Will the Fabulous White People Competition give us that here? Stay tuned, one hand on your wallet, the other on your gun.

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s……

Covet? What the heck does that mean? Why does that admonition begin the 10th Commandment? Speaking of which, don’t you just hate that word, commandment? It implies that someone has the power to compel you. We can’t have that in the year of our overlord—the ego—2020. Coveting = envying = I want what you have and if I can’t achieve it then my satisfaction comes from you losing it. Coveting is not driven by the desire for equality, but rather by the spirit of to bring others down to your own level; it’s not so much a desire for more as a desire for no one else to have more. Here are some great examples of metaphors for coveting as well as the satirizing of coveting.

First, the satire, since I love it. Kurt Vonnegut’s 1959 novel The Sirens of Titan dealt with coveting by portraying the Space Wanderer, a guy who left earth in search of adventure. When the Space Wanderer returns to Earth he finds a society in which handicaps are used to make all people equal, eradicating the supposedly ruinous effects of luck on human society. The narrator claims that now “the weakest and the meekest were bound to admit, at last, that the race of life was fair”. The strong are burdened with “handicaps” (consisting of “bags of lead shot” hung from various parts of the body) and the beautiful hide their advantageous appearance through “frumpish clothes, bad posture, chewing gum and a ghoulish use of cosmetics”. The citizens in The Sirens of Titan choose to wear these handicaps voluntarily as an act of faith towards the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, although it is suggested that not to do so would invite social condemnation. Mr. Vonnegut also wrote a short story in 1961, Harrison Bergeron, on the same equality theme, but in that story the illusion of equality was compelled by the law, and any attempts to remove the artificial handicaps required by law were punished severely. I find it interesting that there are also lots of metaphors for envy, or coerced equality: crab mentality, dumbing down, the law of Jante, Procrustes’ bed and tall poppy syndrome.

Crab mentality, also known as crabs in a bucket mentality, is a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither can you”. The metaphor is derived from a pattern of behavior noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket. While any one crab could easily escape, its efforts will be undermined by others, ensuring the group’s collective demise. Dumbing down is the deliberate oversimplification of intellectual content. The term “dumbing down” originated in 1933, as movie-business slang used by screenplay writers, meaning: “to revise so as to appeal to those of little education or intelligence”. Dumbing-down is the deliberate undermining of intellectual standards, thus trivializing meaningful information, culture, and academic standards, as in the case of popular culture. The Law of Jante is a code of conduct known in Nordic countries that characterizes not conforming, doing things out of the ordinary, or being overtly personally ambitious as unworthy and inappropriate. Used generally in colloquial speech in the Nordic countries as a sociological term to denote a social attitude of disapproval towards expressions of individuality and personal success, it emphasizes adherence to the collective. Procrustes’ bed: In the Greek myth, Procrustes was a son of Poseidon with a stronghold on Mount Korydallos at Erineus. There he had a bed, in which he invited every passer-by to spend the night. If they were too short for the bed, he used his smith’s hammer to stretch them to fit. If the guest proved too tall, Procrustes would amputate the excess length; nobody ever fitted the bed exactly, and all the “guests” died as a result of Procrustes’ efforts. The tall poppy syndrome describes aspects of a culture where people of high status are resented, attacked, cut down, strung up or criticized because they have been classified as superior to their peers. This metaphor refers to a tale whereby a prince asked his father how he should rule his kingdom. The father did not reply, rather he took his son out to a field of poppies, and had a servant ride through the field cutting every poppy to the same height. That last one describes collectivist philosophies like communism and socialism. The “killing fields” of Cambodia under the despotism of Pol Pot was the perfect example.

Wikipedia describes Pol Pot as one of the most secretive of national leaders. His bland face and unthreatening manner, his self-effacement, his rare and turgid public statements and his life in hiding — even during his years of absolute power — were some of his chief tactics in keeping his rivals off balance and his hold over his followers. There was little evident in Pol Pot’s background to suggest any personal drama. Since his childhood, the phrases used to describe him were uninspiring: polite, mediocre, soft-spoken, patient, even shy. Still, people who knew him described him as warm and reassuring, especially in small groups. His smiling face and quiet manner belied his brutality. He and his inner circle of revolutionaries adopted a Communism based on Maoism and Stalinism, then carried it to extremes: They and their Khmer Rouge movement tore apart Cambodia in an attempt to ”purify” the country’s agrarian society and turn people into revolutionary worker-peasants. Pol Pot conducted a rule of terror that led to the deaths of nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s seven million people, by the most widely accepted estimates, through execution, torture, starvation and disease. Beginning on the day in 1975 when his guerrilla army marched silently into the capital, Phnom Penh, Pol Pot emptied the cities, pulled families apart,abolished religion and closed schools. Everyone was ordered to work, even children. The Khmer Rouge outlawed money and closed all markets. Doctors were killed, as were most people with skills and education that threatened the regime.

That’s leveling folks, envy writ large in death and misery, the only means by which collectivism can be imposed on an otherwise free society. In 2020, it appears from surveys that most high school students and college undergrads in the United States, as well as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren think socialism is the way to go. I wonder if their indoctrination education has anything to do with their ignorance. Nah, can’t be……? Perhaps it’s time to teach the 10th Commandment in schools……except that commandment implies a superior being with the authority to compel. So the 10th, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s”, means nothing without the first Commandment, “I am the Lord thy God, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Least of all the god of equality (envy).

Economics as freedom.

Last night I watched 911-Lonestar, about a fire/rescue crew operating in Austin, Tx., led by a transplanted Fire Dept. of New York captain, suffering from lung cancer as a result of his heroics during the collapse of the Twin Towers. Every week, 911 calls are conveyed to this FD Austin house, and one of them provided a superb lesson in basic economics. A breeder of prize bulls had sold his most prized bull to a distributor, whose business was extracting, storing and selling the “issue” (sperm) of the bulls. The breeder wanted to raise another prize bull, so he went to the distributor with $10,000, expecting to buy a single “tube” (apparently enough to inseminate a brood cow), based on previous prices. However, the distributor had raised the price to $15,000 due to the demand for this particular issue. In their argument over price, the distributor asked, “if all my other buyers are willing to pay $15,000, why would I sell the same amount of the same substance for $10,000? There’s only so much of the stuff for all the buyers that want it. I run a business, not a charity.” This is the simplest example of the dynamics of supply and demand, since the substance in question has a known and limited supply (one canister only), and only one potential use, and more buyers than supply.

The breeder/buyer begged, then threatened, but still he was rebuffed, so he decided to steal the entire canister by setting a fire and sneaking in while the distributor and his employees were busy with the fire. Of course, the fire rapidly got out of control and the breeder/thief had to be rescued. I recently read an article on fee.org which explained how the free market mechanisms of price, supply and demand help allocate resources efficiently. My example above was perhaps too simple, mainly because of how limited the uses and supply were. Here is what the article says about it: “The key question when analyzing the efficacy of economic systems is how they deal with the issue of scarcity. All economic goods are, by definition, scarce. By this, economists mean that resources such as raw materials, capital goods, and labor have many alternative possible uses but can only fulfill a very finite number of ends. For instance, a single steel beam can be used in a skyscraper or a bridge, but not both. How scarce resources are arranged and for what purpose will largely determine the living standards of society. If producers utilize the resources in a manner that satisfies the most urgent needs of society, human flourishing will follow. If resources are instead squandered on less urgent needs, poverty and squalor will result. The values of inputs used to create finished products are derived from the demand for the finished product for which they are used. And because scarce economic goods have alternative uses, manufacturers of various finished products are in competition with each other for these inputs.

Take the example of wood—a nonspecific good that can be used for many different purposes—and just two potential finished products: housing and books. How are manufacturers to determine which combination of these two options will best satisfy society’s demand for shelter and reading? Only prices that emerge from the voluntary exchange of privately-owned resources can tell us where nonspecific, scarce goods are most urgently needed. Many different bidders for wood will cause price movements that convey vital information about the relative scarcity of wood and the relative value of the alternative final goods for which the wood could potentially be used. Without prices, scarce resources like wood could be employed in such a way as to leave more urgent needs unsatisfied. For instance, the market would be flooded with books, while many would-be home buyers remain without shelter.

Speaking of homes, when I bought my home in Spokane, Washington in December, 2015, I had to bid more than the asking price, because there were two other buyers who wanted it. I didn’t want to risk losing it, so I offered $3,000 over asking price; the other buyers made lower offers, so I got the house. During the three years I lived in the home, Seattle home prices shot way up, resulting in a significant migration of Seattle residents to Spokane. What do you guess happened to home prices in Spokane? I decided to sell in March of 2019, three years and three months after buying it. I wanted to list above the appraisal, but my realtor suggested that we list with a price slightly less than we thought we could get. My house was a 4 bedroom two bath house, with detached two car garage. The neighbor across the street listed at the same time, asking more than we were asking for one bedroom and one bath less, and no garage. We got 11 offers the same day we listed, and chose the second best rather than the first. Why? The second best was putting 50% down, the best 5% down. We ended up getting $51,000 over what we paid, a selling price of $227,000. Yes, Spokane is still a bargain housing market. Once again, this is a great lesson in how economics works. The definition of market price is: What a buyer is willing to pay a seller for a commodity in the absence of coercion.

Central planning by a government involves coercion at every level. The government has no profit/loss calculation. Its bidding power comes from its coercive advantage to collect taxes by force. Because government does not rely on selling products to willing consumers, there is no check on how high it will be willing to bid. Consequently, government’s arrangement of resources cannot reflect the most urgent needs of society. In a system run by the government, inputs do not derive their value from consumer demand on the finished product in which the input will be utilized, but rather, value is derived by political calculations. In such cases, the economy proceeds down a path chosen by the political class instead of one chosen by the voluntary choices of the individuals in society. The process of entrepreneurs taking risks to fulfill a future need that perhaps only they can envision becomes overwhelmed by the narrow, backward-looking resource allocation of a central planning board. With so much power focused in the hands of the small ruling elite that results from central planning, more will look to curry favor with government officials for economic advantage rather than create value for consumers.

Pay-to-play politics—and outright bribery—will become the norm. And even if the halls of Congress become filled with angels exempt from the temptation of corruption, the fact still remains central planners would be powerless to orchestrate a well-functioning economy. The problem is not that people will be insufficiently motivated to do the right things but, more fundamentally, that they will not know what the right things to do are, even if they passionately wanted to do them.

“Hate speech” laws brand differing opinions as haters.

Arguing in favor of Elizabeth Warren’s promised curbs on speech, congressional Punjabi (and affirmative-action asterisk law professor) Ro Khanna tweeted, “Falsity has never been part of our 1st Amendment tradition.” In fact, that’s 100% ass backwards; John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson* agreed that the “misuse” of speech is an inevitable and tolerable aspect of our First Amendment rights. Last week, Warren announced a “plan of action” to curb “digital disinformation.” The plan features “civil and criminal penalties” for “knowingly disseminating” content that “has the explicit purpose of undermining the basic right to vote.” Any speech that might “depress voter turnout” would be criminalized. Warren’s plan follows months of pontificating by mainstream journalists in the service of criminalizing political speech. “Why America Needs a Hate Speech Law” was the title of an October WaPo piece by Richard Stengel.

Richard Stengel, a former editor of Time, is the author of “Information Wars” and was the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs from 2013 to 2016 (Obama years), writing in the Washington Post, October 29, 2019: Since World War II, many nations have passed laws to curb the incitement of racial and religious hatred. These laws started out as protections against the kinds of anti-Semitic bigotry that gave rise to the Holocaust. We call them hate speech laws, but there’s no agreed-upon definition of what hate speech actually is. In general, hate speech is speech that attacks and insults people on the basis of race, religion, ethnic origin and sexual orientation. I think it’s time to consider these statutes. The modern standard of dangerous speech comes from Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) and holds that speech that directly incites “imminent lawless action” or is likely to do so can be restricted. (My note: That court case upheld Ohio’s Criminal Syndicalism Act, which punishes persons who “advocate or teach the duty, necessity, or propriety” of violence “as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform”; or who publish or circulate or display any book or paper containing such advocacy; or who “justify” the commission of violent acts “with intent to exemplify, spread or advocate the propriety of the doctrines of criminal syndicalism”; or who “voluntarily assemble” with a group formed “to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism.”) Khanna continues: All speech is not equal. And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I’m all for protecting “thought that we hate,” but not speech that incites hate. It undermines the very values of a fair marketplace of ideas that the First Amendment is designed to protect.

All current attempts to stifle speech in the name of protecting feelings, and all current scare campaigns about how unregulated speech inevitably leads to bad and destructive outcomes, owe their existence to the acceptance by Western whites of a set of “special circumstances” whereby traditional notions of “fight speech with more speech” and “let truth and falsehood battle it out” and “sticks and stones may break my bones but words’ll never hurt me” don’t apply to really horrific tyranny, torture and murder, like Holocaust history and Holocaust survivors.

But the end result of speech criminalization is that Rational voices go silent, because rational people—capable as they are of weighing actions and consequences—do the math and realize that it’s more prudent to pull back and shut up, when speaking freely might cost them their livelihood or freedom. What happened with Holocaust history is already beginning to happen with topics like male/female biology and IQ inheritability. Anyone with anything to lose will think twice before challenging the left’s orthodoxy on those topics. That’s what speech penalties do; they scare away exactly the people with the intellectual capacity to best make the case that the penalizers don’t want made. And once a field is abandoned to crackpots who spout nonsense, the public becomes even more welcoming of speech proscriptions, due to the general loathsomeness of those being silenced. Right now in the West, we’re scared to death of speech. The fact that a presidential candidate for a major U.S. political party could run on a platform of curbing speech in order to “save democracy” shows just how bad things are.

Will there ever again be U.S. Presidents like J. Adams, Jefferson or Madison? I am not optimistic. *”If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” Thomas Jefferson. “Our First Amendment freedoms give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.” John Adams. “For the people to rule wisely, they must be free to think and speak without fear of reprisal.” James Madison.