Napoleonic Christmas

It’s Christmas Week!  And what a glorious week it is.  It’s been raining persistently in South Carolina since Sunday morning, but I’m enjoying the coziness of the hygge—warm coffee and lazy reading.

PragerU had a little video up this morning from historian Andrew Roberts about Napoleon.  It’s an interesting take on the not-so-short French emperor—an apologia, really (for those that prefer reading—as I often do—to watching videos, here is a PDF transcript).

Roberts argues that Napoleon was not the necessary precursor to Hitler, et. al.; rather, Napoloen was “sui generis“—a man unto himself.  While I believe the ideas of the French Revolution did unleash the totalitarian forces of Hitlerism, Stalinism, Maoism, and all the rest—a murderous, bloody Pandora’s Box—I’ve never considered Napoleon among their ranks.

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Conservative Divestment

Conservative readers are likely familiar with the odious BDS Movement—the movement to “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” Israel because of its alleged “crimes” against legions of peace-loving Palestinian Arabs (oy vey).  Participants in this movement are encouraged to pull their money out of Israeli companies (or companies that do business with Israel), and to refuse to buy Israeli products, thereby pressuring Israel to be even more tolerant (it’s quite ludicrous—I’d wager an Arab Muslim in the Middle East would enjoy greater liberty to exercise his religion in Israel than anywhere else in the region).

Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA has a video for Prager University called “DivestU” in which he argues for another kind of divestment:  denying American colleges and universities donations.

It’s a fairly commonsensical idea:  conservatives are well aware of the corrupting influence of Cultural Marxism on university faculty, and the persistent indoctrination of vulnerable young people at a particularly impressionable moment in their lives.  We’ve all known the friend or relative who came back after a semester of college convinced “xyr” knows everything about the world, possessing a sneering, elitist attitude against everything good and decent (“hugs are an oppressive form of non-consensual affection!  Smash the Patriarchy!”).  Why keep feeding the beast?

It makes sense that we pay tuition—for better or worse (and mostly for the worst), we need that catskin to land a job—but Kirk points out that Americans are voluntarily donating money to colleges, institutions already bloated with federal loan dollars.

Kirk cites that American colleges and universities received $44 billion in donations in 2017.  Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day for 15 February 2019 notes that in 2018, colleges and universities received $46.73 billion, a whopping $1.4 billion of which went to Harvard University.  Harvard already has an endowment of over $37 billion (the benefit of being an institution for nearly 400 years:  compounding interest has lots of time to work its magic).

Indeed, Rasmussen writes that “while there are more than 4,000 colleges in the United States, 28% of that money went to just 20 schools. Those 20 universities serve 1.6% of the total student population.”  Those schools are not conservative bastions like Hillsdale College, but often the epicenter of Ivy League elitism and disdain for traditional values.

As Kirk points out in his video, even if you donate money to a specific school within a college—say, the medical school—money is fungible.  You might think you’re helping train future doctors, but you could easily be funding gender reassignment surgery (read: butchery and mutilation), or an Assistant Vice Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Homeopathic Cultural Healing.  Bah!

Education is a mess in the United States.  Pouring more money into institutions that are anathema to our values and hostile to our way of life is insane and masochistic.

As such, I’d encourage you to avoid donating to colleges and universities.  Put that money to use in better ways, like retirement savings.

#MAGAWeek2018 – Limited Government

For the last day of MAGA Week 2018, I’m dedicating this post not to any specific historic individual, but instead to a facet of political (conservative) philosophy:  limited government.

It’s easy to take limited government for granted, or even to fail to recognize it:  it doesn’t seem to occur organically, although modern-day economic libertarians will claim as such (never mind that this ignores most of the last 6000 years of recorded history).  Limited government is rooted in self-government, which did flourish once given a chance, but it certainly required the fertile soil of 550 years of English political history.

Limited government is not quite the same as small government.  A government can be “small” in terms of its expenditures, but still not “limited”—imagine a lean, efficiently-run dictatorship in a very small country.

Limited government, on the other hand, suggests a “smallness” of scale, but also carefully delineates the scope of the government’s purview.  The “checks and balances” and “separation of powers” of the Constitution are key ingredients, not just between the different branches of the federal government, but between the federal and State governments as well.

The whole point of our system—beautifully laid out by the Framers, but particularly James Madison—is to defuse and counterbalance power, and to submit all authority to rule of law.  The Constitution, then, is the limiting of what government can do.  Everything else is left to the people.

Unfortunately, our nation has given up our old attitude—“ask forgiveness, not permission”—for “assume you’re not allowed to do something without getting it sanctioned by some authority first.”  That’s a shocking change from the Framers’ attitude, and to our century of “salutary neglect” prior to 1763.

Recall that Americans didn’t declare independence in 1776 because taxes were too high, but that they were being taxed without their consent—without representation in Parliament.  The whole theory was that government ruled with the consent of the governed, a notion dating back to the feudal privileges of the barons at the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215.

Similarly, the Boston Tea Party was a response to the monopolization of tea entering the colonies—a corporatist scheme cooked up by the British government to bail out the failing, government-subsidized British East India Company.  The colonists rightly reasoned that, should the importation of tea be monopolized, any product could be subject to monopolization—potentially destroying the colonial economy under the thumb of an exploitative British government.

Americans believed—correctly—that their rights as Englishmen were being trampled, and that the British government was overstepping its bounds.  In essence, Parliament and King George III failed to apply the traditional limits of English government to their colonial possessions in British North America.

As such, our Framers put together a written Constitution (unlike Britain’s unwritten constitution, which can essentially be changed at the majoritarian whim of Parliament; thus, people arrested in Britain for posting controversial topics on Facebook—and the persecution of Tommy Robinson), one that clearly delineates the roles of the three branches of government.  The Bill of Rights prudently added the Tenth Amendment, which devolves power down to the States and the people.

As for why limited government is great, I will close with this recommendation:  watch the video below from Prager University.  Adam Corolla lays out the best case for limited government I’ve ever heard.

Enjoy—and thanks for making America great again!