HOW ADULTHOOD HAPPENS

This year’s commencement address is from David Brooks, writer for the N.Y. Times, and provides a roadmap for graduates.

“Every society has its rites of passage, marking the transition from youth to adulthood. Most of these rites of passage are ritualized and structured, with adult supervision and celebration. But the major rite of passage in our society is unritualized, unstructured and unnamed. Most of the people in the middle of it don’t even know it is going on. It happens between ages 22 and 30.

“The people who endure this rite of passage have often attended colleges where they were not taught how to work hard. As Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa write in their book Aspiring Adults Adrift, the average student at a four-year college studies alone just over one hour per day. That is roughly half as much students were compelled to study just a generation ago.

“Meanwhile, colleges have become socially rich, stocked with student centers, student organizations, expensive gyms, concerts and activities. As Arum’s and Roksa’s research demonstrates, academic life is of secondary or tertiary importance to most students. Social life comes first. Students experience college as a place to meet other people and learn to build relationships.

“When they leave campus, though, most of those social connections and structures are ripped away. Suddenly fresh alumni are cast out into a world almost without support organizations and compelled to hustle for themselves.

“These twenty-somethings live in a world of radical freedom, flux and insecurity. Surveys show they are very pessimistic about the state of the country, but amazingly optimistic about their own eventual destiny. According to the Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults, 86 percent agree with the statement, ‘I am confident that eventually I will get what I want out of life.’

“In the meantime, many spend the first few years out of college aspiring but adrift. They are largely unattached to religious institutions. Two-thirds report that they are not politically engaged. Half the students in Arum’s and Roksa’s recent study reported that they lacked clear goals or a sense of direction two years after graduation.

“Yet they are not sure they want to rush into adulthood. As Jeffrey Jensen Arnett and Elizabeth Fishel write in Getting to 30, ‘The value of youth has risen, and the desirability of adulthood has dropped accordingly. Today’s young people expect to reach adulthood eventually and they expect to enjoy their adult lives, but most are in no hurry to get there.’

“One way they cope is by moving back home. A third of the graduates in the Arum and Roksa sample were living at home, levels roughly double the share of grads living at home in the 1960s. Three-quarters of 18- to 25-year-olds who were not living at home received financial assistance from their parents. American parents provide an average of $38,000 in assistance to their young adult children.

“The first big ordeal is finding a job. Many young adults have not been give basic information about how to go about this. As my Times colleague April Lawson notes, they are often given the advice, ‘Follow your dream! The possibilities are limitless!’which is completely discordant with the grubby realities they face. They want meaningful work with social impact. They want to bring their whole selves to work, and ignore the distinctions between professional and intimate life that were in the heads of earlier generations. But meaningful work is scarce. Fifty-three percent of college graduates in the Arum and Roksa sample who were in the labor force were unemployed, underemployed or making less than $30,000 a year.

“As emerging adults move from job to job, relationship to relationship and city to city, they have to figure out which of their meanderings are productive exploration and which parts are just wastes of time. This question is very confusing from the inside, and it is certainly confusing for their parents.

“Yet here is the good news. By age 30, the vast majority are through it. The sheer hardness of the ‘Odyssey Years’ teaches people to hustle. The trials and errors of the decade carve contours onto their hearts, so they learn what they love and what they don’t. They develop their own internal criteria to make their own decisions. They fear what other people think less because they learn that other people are not thinking about them; they are busy thinking about themselves.

“Finally, they learn to say no. After a youth dazzled by possibilities and the fear of missing out, they discover that committing to the few thigs you love is a sort of liberation. They piece together their mosaic.

“One thing we can tell young grads and their parents is that this is normal. This phase is a thing. It’s not a sentence to a life of video games, loneliness and hangovers. It’s a rite of passage that makes people strong.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

THE BEST U.S. NATIONAL PARKS

Theodore Roosevelt, the president who essentially created the National Park System in the early 1900s said, “The ages have been at work on the national landscape and man can only marvel at it. What you can do is keep it for your children and your children’s children.”

The national park system comprises nearly 400 areas of special importance in the United States—a system that includes exceptional natural, historical, scientific, and recreational sites, including lakeshores, battlefields, monuments, canyons, and seashores. Here are the best of the system.

1. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California

The work of giant glaciers during the ice age, Yosemite National Park is a famous natural wonderland in the Sierra Nevada showcasing waterfalls, meadows, and forests of giant sequoia. Half Dome and El Capitan, rock formations towering above Yosemite Valley, are virtually American icons. Try to visit Yosemite Falls, the tallest in North America; hike to Mirror Lake; kayak along the Merced River; visit the giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove; and then relax at the Ahwahnee, the park’s grand old Arts and Crafts-style lodge.

2. HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, Hawaii

Eager to get close to an active volcano? Then this is the place for you. Located on the Big Island Kilauea and Mauna Loa are two of the most active volcanoes in the world. The first is more than 3,999 feet high and still growing. It abuts the second, a monster mountain that towers some 13,678 feet above the sea. The park stretches from sea level to Mauna Loa’s snowy summit.

3. GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona

Stand on the edge of this immense gorge—more than one mile deep and up to 18 miles wide—and you will experience nature’s grandeur. The Colorado River carved the chasm over millennia. Hiking, rafting, and viewing opportunities are outstanding. To rest your feet while you take in the grandeur, let a mule do all the work on a day trip or an overnight ride to Phantom Ranch.

4. GETTYSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK, Pennsylvania

Only cannon, stone walls, and countless monuments recall the horrors that unfolded on these bucolic fields on July 1, 1863. Here Union and Confederate soldiers fought the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Three days later, 51,000 men were dead, wounded, or missing. Take the 19-mile self-guided battlefield driving tour; you’ll pass McPherson Ridge, where the fighting began, and Little Round Top, strategic high ground. Don’t miss seeing Evergreen Cemetery, where President Abraham Lincoln gave his stirring Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. To further enrich your drive, use an audio tour, hire a Licensed Battlefield Guide to ride along with you, or take a bus ride that includes a guided tour. Start your visit at the Gettysburg Museum of the Civil War, with multimedia presentations, interactive exhibits, and the restored Cyclorama depicting Pickett’s Charge.

5. SEQUOIA & KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, California

While both of these parks have groves of giant sequoias, Sequoia—the southernmost of the two—is more accessible for casual visitors. To appreciate the rugged splendor, you should hike a trail; we recommend Congress, Big Baldy, Zumwalt Meadow, and the Moro Rock Trails. If you have time only to drive, then follow the Generals Highway for 17 miles from the Ash Mountain Entrance to the General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest sequoia. Named for a Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman, the tree is a towering 276-feet tall.

6. ALAGNAK WILD RIVER, Alaska

This pristine river begins within the Katmai National Park & Preserve at the head of the Aleutian Peninsula. From there, it rushes along for 67 miles past boreal forests and wet sedge tundra before joining the Pacific Ocean. Otters, moose, brown bears, and ospreys are just a few of the creatures that call this wilderness home.

7. SANTA FE NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, and Oklahoma

Between 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was the main link between St. Louis, the gateway to the West, and Santa Fe, one of the West’s most prosperous cities. Families in covered wagons, soldiers, and prospectors bound for glorious gold (they hoped) all took the trail. When the railroad came to Santa Fe in 1880, the trail became obsolete. About 15 percent of the original trail remains. Parts are on privately-owned land, but you can still carve a trip out of it and drive past the forts and sights those early pioneers passed. Fort Osage in Missouri is a must-see, as is the quaint Lake Chance Store in Council Grove, Kansas. Cyclists, hikers, and equestrians can follow the course of the trail for 19 miles in the Cimarron National Grassland in Kansas.

8. STATUE OF LIBERTY NATIONAL PARK, New York

The 151-foot-tall green woman who stands as a graceful sentinel of Upper New York Bay has become an international symbol of freedom. Given to the United States in 1886 as a gift from the people of France, Lady Liberty has been one of the first—and certainly the most welcoming—sights in the United States for millions of immigrants. Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi sculpted her, perhaps in the image of his mother, and Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) devised an iron frame for the enormous copper sheets.

Visitors take ferries from Battery Park to Liberty Island. From there, the best way to truly get a feel for this marvelous piece of art is to take the elevator to the top of the pedestal and then climb the 354 steps to the top of her crown.

If you had any family who came to the U.S. and entered through Ellis Island, this is a must-see educational and emotional experience.

9. BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY, North Carolina, Virginia

Showcasing the age-old beauty of the southern Appalachians, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the most visited unit within the National Park System. The 469-mile, two-lane road connects Shenandoah National Park in the north to Great Smokey Mountains National Park in the south. You’ll ride along the crest of the Blue Ridge, as well as other mountains, dipping into deep hollows then rising up above the valleys as high as 6,001 feet. Plenty of remnants left by the mountain people who once lived here exist along the way.

10. NEW ORLEANS JAZZ HISTORICAL PARK, Louisiana

When Congress passed legislation that created this park in 1994, the intention was “to preserve the origins, early history, development, and progression of jazz.” And what better place to do this than New Orleans, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, where the uniquely American art form was born.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, this young park is evolving more slowly than planned. According to the original plans, the park eventually will consist of four buildings in Louis Armstrong Memorial Park. Until all of those buildings are restored, the park’s headquarters is located in the famous French Quarter. In June 2011, Perseverance Hall in Louis Armstrong Park, which is home to concerts and exhibits, was reopened. The park also offers two self-guided jazz audio tours, the Jazz Walk of Fame in Algiers Point, and an 11-stop tour of jazz history sites around the city.

And there’s more—Utah is Special

Zion National Park, Southwestern Utah
A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park of scenic wonders is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to 2,640 feet deep. The hiking and sightseeing are spectacular. Follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at the massive sandstone cliffs of cream pink and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Southwestern Utah (not far from Zion)

Unbelievable, like nothing you’ve ever seen. It’s really not a canyon, but a collection of natural amphitheaters. The red, orange and white colors provide spectacular views. It covers 56,000 square miles.

Descending into the valley on horseback is a bit scary, but a glorious ride into another world.

Arches National Park, East Central Utah

Four miles north of Moab, discover a red-rocked landscape of contrasting colors land forms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.

It will amaze you!

1 Comment

Filed under Blog

CAPITALISM IS ALIVE, BUT NOT ENTIRELY WELL

Let me be clear—I firmly believe free market capitalism offers more opportunity than any other economic system ever tried. It is responsible for raising the standard of living for more people than every other system.

Having said that, there are more and more signs of holes in the fabric of capitalism that bode ill for our future.

In an interview on 60 Minutes, Roy Dalio, founder of Bridgewater, the biggest hedge fund involving 110 clients and $240 billion in assets, said, “The disparity in income and wealth is approaching a national emergency.”

You can’t be more capitalistic than Dalio. “The American dream is lost,” he said. “It’s very different than when I was growing up.”

Income Gap

Dalio expressed similar sentiments in an essay posted on LinkedIn. He pointed to statistics including that the bottom 60 percent of income-earners in the U.S. keep falling further behind the top 40 percent—and that the percentage of children who grew up to earn more than their parents has fallen to 50 percent today from 90 percent in 1970.

The income gap is about as high as ever, and the wealth gap is the highest since the late 1930s because the wealth of the top one percent of the population is more than that of the bottom 90 percent combined, Dalio said.

The Republican idea that cutting taxes on the rich promotes productivity “doesn’t make any sense to me at all.” The wealthy “must pay more,” Dalio said, “The important thing is to take those tax dollars and make them productive,” he added.

“Disparity in wealth, especially when accompanied by disparity in values, leads to increasing conflict and, in the government, that manifests itself in the form of populism of the eft and populism of the right and often leads to revolutions of one sort or another,” Dalio wrote.

Nobody can be a better beneficiary of capitalism, although I find it difficult to agree with 100% of what Dalio postures, but he has many valid points and much to consider.

The stats from a few years back are enlightening and things have gotten worse.

• Over 300 million people in America
• 140 million taxpayer returns
• 250,000 plus (about 17%) earn more than $1,000,000 a year
• The richest 1% earn more than 19% of the country’s total household income

Wages are generally stagnant. John Kennedy’s adage, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” simply is not quite as true anymore.

Disney CEO Bob Iger, in his most recent comp package, got paid over 1,400 times as much as the company’s median employee. He’s done a great job at the Kingdom. The stock has risen from $24 to $132 under his watch.

He’s obviously a very capable employee—but he has no skin in the game.

Not sure how Disney employees feel about that disparity. There are dozens of examples of this disparity and the consequences they raise.

There are a growing number of people like Dalio who feel there is a tax revolt coming and a serious problem of unrest.

Dalio is certainly not alone. At the Milliken Institute’s Global Conference, his comments were echoed by Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase and Alan Schwartz of Guggenheim Partners (dodgers).

What are the consequences of this widening disparity?

For individual workers—more depression, more obesity, more stress-related issues.

For society as a whole—more polarization and more shifts to populist leaders and causes. The Democrats are moving more left to borrow socialist program and the Republicans are trying to live with Trump whose agenda is not always the same as the party.

Quite possible—unrest in the streets, a tax revolution and general discomfort with the status quo.

What can be done?

A. For the wealthy—higher personal and estate taxes. The doubling of the estate tax exemption to over $11 million in last year’s tax cut was the wrong direction.
B. Steps need to be taken to energize the wealthy to spend more money on important projects like Langone in NYU med school tuition or Dalio on education in Connecticut before they pass on.
C. Redefine the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) for everyone over $500,000/year and all corporations.
D. 60 Fortune 500 companies paid no federal income taxes on $79 billion in corporate income last year. Amazon said it’s effective tax rate was below zero. It got a $10.5 billion rebate.
E. Shareholders approve management comp plans when disparity ranges widen over 500 to 750 times median workers pay.
F. Investment (Wall St.) banks should be operated as partnerships (not corporations) as they were before 1993.
G. Commercial and investment banks should be separated and capital requirements should be at least 15-to-1.

For the economically disadvantaged

1. Provide better education—more school choice—mandatory school uniforms—counter the influence of teachers’ unions
2. Do more to discourage out-of-wedlock births
3. The advocacy of open borders will put more pressure on the poor. Establish quotas for migrant workers
4. Make English the official language of the U.S. and all government documents in English.

Five years ago when I first considered and wrote about the disparity gap in wealth and income, I tended to believe that market forces would help improve the disparity problem as the overall economy expanded.

Well it hasn’t happened

Five years ago our national debt was $17 trillion. Today it’s $22 trillion. This only exacerbates the problem because we have to pay interest on the debt, which leaves less available money to govern.

The consequences of following the lead suggested by the disparity advocates of continually increasing the safety net, more spending by the government of money we have to borrow, expanding unionization and raising the debt ceiling offers no easy or acceptable path that will produce any positive results.

Contrary to the disparity advocates, this country has now and will continue to offer unlimited opportunities for those who prepare through at least a high school education, want to seek out opportunity, and are willing to work hard enough to make it happen.

Average CEO compensation reported for the 500 biggest US companies in 2012 was $10.5 million (Forbes Executive Compensation Report), which works out to almost $6,000 per hour. Private industry worker salary and benefits averaged $31.16 per hour in September 2013 while workers in state and local governments averaged $42.51 per hour (the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The question de jour by many, noted liberal economists, is whether this is FAIR or good for America?…the insinuation being that CEO’s are unfairly paid too much.

The disparity advocates warn that there are serious consequences to this gap that include an invitation to social unrest, as well as a deepening rut into which the poor will be entrenched. It will foment resentment, failing morale, disincentive, unrest and maybe revolution.

1 Comment

Filed under Blog

REDUCING OR FORGIVING MEDICAL SCHOOL TUITION

Last month, New York University announced that tuition will now be free to all students, regardless of financial need.

Here’s what you need to know—and what to do next.

Free Tuition

NYU Med students can say goodbye to $55,018 in annual tuition.

That’s the amount NYU will be covering for incoming and returning students, the latter of whom will have their student loans and tuition payments refunded.

Like other professions, student loans have a significant impact on the medical profession. NYU wants to change that for its medical students.

According to Make Lemonade, there are more than 44 million student loan borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion. The average medical school student loan debt is about $190,000.

Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot and chair of NYU Langone Health’s board of trustees, and his wife, Elaine, donated $100 million to help fund tuition for NYU medical students. NYU says it needs $600 million to fund the entire program.

“Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our trustees, alumni, and friends, our hope—and expectation—is that by making medical school accessible to a broader range of applicants, we will be a catalyst for transforming medical education nationwide,” Langone said.

If You’re Considering a Career in Medicine

This is amazing news!

If you’re pre-med or considering a career in medicine—and the cost of medical school keeps you up at night—then you should consider applying to NYU for medical school.

Since the tuition-free program is available to all students, it could save you over $200,000 over the course of four years of medical school.

Ezekiel Emanuel, Oncologist, is vice provost and professor at University of Pennsylvania. He has an interesting take on a program to alleviate the tuition costs of all medical schools.

His proposal is that al medical students sign for loans on their tuition costs. After graduation, those students who choose to follow the traditionally lower earning specialties like primary care and/or go to practice where the needs are the greatest to fill the predictable shortage of 30,000 doctors by 2030.

These students would be entitled to graduated forgiveness of their loan.

The students who go into the highest paid end of the profession, like orthopedics, surgery and/or other specialties would be responsible for the loan repayments.

That kind of proposal may well fit other professions where shortages are developing. The new socialist candidates want to turn everything over to the government to fund and rule. That will lead to fiscal bankruptcy and ineffective bureaucracy.

There’s plenty of money in private industry to do the job.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

GENERATION Z: WHO?

They’re the most diverse generation in American history, and they’re celebrating their untraditional views on gender and identity.

Dan Levin of the N.Y. Times interviewed dozens of them and here’s how they describe themselves.

Melissa Auh Krukar is the daughter of a South Korean immigrant father and a Hispanic mother, but she refuses to check “Hispanic” or “Asian” on government forms.

“I try to mark ‘unspecified’ or ‘other’ as a form of resistance,” said Melisa, 23, a preschool teacher in Albuquerque. “I don’t want to be in a box.”

Erik Franze, 20, is a white man, but rather than leave it at that, he includes his preferred pronouns, “he/him/his,” on his email signature to respectfully acknowledge the different gender identities of his peers.

And Shanaya Stephenson, 23, is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana, but she intentionally describes herself as a “pansexual black womxn.”

“I don’t see womanhood as a foil to maleness,” she said.

All three are members of what demographers are calling Generation Z: the postmillennial group of Americans for whom words like “intersectionality” feel as natural as applying filters to photos of Instagram.

Born after 1995, they’re the most diverse generation ever, according to United States census data. One in four is Hispanic, and 6 percent are Asian, according to studies led by the Pew Research Center. Fourteen percent are African-American.

And that racial and ethnic diversity is expected to increase over time, with the United States becoming majority nonwhite in less than a decade, according to Census Bureau projections.

Along with that historic diversity, members of Generation Z also possess untraditional views about identity.

Dan Levin asked members of Generation Z to describe, in their own words, their gender and race, as well as what made them different from their friends. Thousands replied with answers similar to those of Melissa, Erik and Shanaya.

“It’s a generational thing,” said Melissa, the preschool teacher. “We have the tools and language to understand identity in ways our parents never really thought about.”

More than 68 million Americans belong to Generation Z, according to 2017 survey data from the Census Bureau, a share larger than the millennials’ and second only to that of the baby boomers. Taking the pulse of any generation is complicated, but especially one of this size.

Generation Z came of age just as the Black Lives Matter movement was cresting, and they are far more comfortable with shifting views of identity than older generations have been.

More than one-third of Generation Z said they knew someone who preferred to be addressed using gender-neutral pronouns, a recent study by the Pew Research Center found, compared with 12 percent of baby boomers.

“Identity is something that can change, like politics, said Elias Tzoc-Pacheco, 17, a high school senior in Ohio who was born in Guatemala. “That’s a belief shared by a lot of my generation.”

Last summer, Elias began identifying as bisexual. He told his family and friends, but he does not like using the term “come out” to describe the experience, because he and his friends use myriad sexual identities to describe themselves already, he said.

Elias said he defies other expectations as well. He goes to church every day, leans conservative on the issue of abortion and supports unions, he said. He has campaigned for both Democrats and Republicans.

His bipartisan political activism, he said, was a natural outcome of growing up in a world where identity can be as varied as a musical playlist.

This is also the generation for whom tech devices, apps and social media have been common throughout their lives. A Pew study last year found that nearly half of all Americans aged 13 to 17 said they were online “almost constantly,” and more than 90 percent used social media.

Wyatt Hale, a high school junior in Bremerton, Wash., has few friends “in real life,” he said, but plenty around the world—Virginia, Norway, Italy—whom he frequently texts and talks to online.

Their friendship started out on YouTube. “I could tell you everything about them,” he said, “but not what they look like in day-to-day life.”

Generation Zeers compared to Millennials:

• Don’t know a world without the internet
• Entrepreneurial, making money online
• Also, more practical with their money
• Socially conscious
• More stressed out
• See through the clutter of adv claims
• Are the most diverse and accepting generation yet

Our generation didn’t even have an alphabet letter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

THE EVOLVEMENT OF LIBERTARIANISM TO THE CENTER

The following is taken from an article by David Boaz, E.V.P. of the Cato Institute, the country’s leading libertarian organization, followed by some comments by your humble blogger.

David said, “When I graduated from college in 1975, my first job was as the first employee of Young America’s Foundation. Forty years later, I had the honor of being invited back to speak at the foundation’s Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California.

“I told them, ‘I feel like I’m back home in a place I’ve never been,’ because my earliest political involvements involved YAF and Ronald Reagan. I met Reagan when he came to Vanderbilt just after leaving the governorship, and I worked for his nomination at the 1976 Republican convention in Kansas City. Later, when he spoke at YAF’s national convention, and I was editor of YAF’s magazine, New Guard, he shook my hand and told me, ‘I always read your magazine.’

“But not long after that I decided that I was a libertarian, not a conservative, and I went off to make a career in the nascent libertarian movement. In the years since I’ve thought a lot about libertarianism, conservatism, modern liberalism, as well as other alternatives.

“Liberalism arose in the 17th and 18th centuries. In those days it was associated with John Locke, Adam Smith, the American Founders, and John Stuart Mill, among others. Encyclopedia Britannica defines liberalism as a political doctrine focused on ‘protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual.’ But in the late 19th century, and especially in the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt, ‘liberalism’ came to mean activist government with high taxes, transfer programs, and economic regulations, along with a slowly growing commitment to civil rights and civil liberties.

“The conservative movement began to take shape in the 1950s in response to that new form of liberalism. Conservatism, as defined by William F. Buckley, Jr., Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan, offered a program of free markets, traditional values, and a strong national defense.

“And where did libertarians fit in? Libertarianism is the philosophy of freedom, both personal and economic. Libertarianism is the idea that you should be free to live your life as you choose so long as you respect the equal rights of others.

“Obviously, there’s some overlap there with liberals on free speech and personal freedom issues, and with conservatives on free market and limited government. And those wee the opposing factions from the 1960s until about 2015.

“And then along came Donald Trump.

“Trump didn’t really campaign on ‘free markets, traditional values, and a strong national defense.’ Instead, he focused his campaign on opposition to our relatively open trade and immigration policies, with heavy reference to Mexicans, Muslims, and Chinese. He also made some typical Republicans promises about tax cuts, deregulation, and judges, but the theme and tone of his campaign were very different from Reagan’s.

“I’m a libertarian, but I have always believed that the best aspect of American conservatism is its commitment to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Ronald Reagan spoke for that brand of conservatism. And that’s the conservatism that seems hard to find in today’s Washington and in today’s Republican Party.

“Both philosophically and politically, we need to develop a defense of liberty, equality under the law, and constitutionalism.

“Libertarians are well positioned to do that. We stand where we always have for individual rights, free markets, limited government, and peace.

“Maybe there’s room for a new political grouping, what we might call the libertarian center: people who are fiscally conservative and socially tolerant, who appreciate the benefits of capitalism, as well as the benefits of openness and diversity.

“Reagan is often remembered as a hardline conservative. But in many ways he was closer to this libertarian center than you might think. He opposed the anti-gay Briggs Initiative; welcomed immigrants; campaigned against draft registration (though he later flipped on that); and withdrew troops from the Middle East when intervention came at too high a cost in American lives.

“And Reagan used to say ‘the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.’

“These are challenging times. But as long as enough Americans retain their commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then Ronald Reagan’s last words to America will remain true:

“’I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.’

“I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”

I think I fit perfectly in David Boaz’s new grouping of the Libertarian Center and I believe the achilles heal of the Republican Party has always been their reluctance to accept in whole or in part moderate positions on social issues.

The Democrats are racing to the unaffordable socialist left, the Libertarians are moving to the center, and the Republicans are standing around in a circle wondering what to do with Trump.

The party establishments will fight these shifts and changes, but they are happening and, like it or not, they will lead to a new era of governance.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

THE BITE OF ANTI-SEMITISM

Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands of Europe’s Jews are standing at the edge of a dangerous precipice:

  • In France…tens of thousands of Jewish citizens have fled the country for Israel due to increasing anti-Jewish violence. One young mother told a reporter, “I’m scared of the future for my baby here.”
  • In the UK…anti-Semitic attacks are at record levels according to a report by Community Security Trust released this year, with 2017 witnessing a 34% rise in violent assaults against Jewish people. Meanwhile, the country’s Labour Party is rife with anti-Semitism.
  • In Germany…newly released statistics show that anti-Semitic hate crimes jumped by more than 10%, and that one-fifth of those took place in Berlin alone!
  • In Norway…a new report found that one-third of Jewish high school students in Oslo are harassed verbally or physically at least twice a month.

Indeed, a recent poll found that 38% of European Jews are considering leaving out of fear for their future. And another EU survey shows that 89% of European Jews believe anti-Semitism has worsened in the last five years and that a full 85% believe anti-Semitism is the main problem in their country.

Not long ago, a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden, was firebombed on a Friday evening. At the same time in Malmo, Sweden, demonstrators chanted, “We have declared an intifada from Malmo. We want our freedom back. And we will shoot the Jews.”

But the battle continues, beyond Scandinavia. In the United Kingdom, anti-Semitism has been injected into the mainstream of British society largely because Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party and potential future Prime Minister, has allowed anti-Semitism to fester in his party and even publicly praised Islamist preacher Raed Salah as “a voice that must be heard.”

You may not have heard of Salah, but he has repeated the murderous blood libel that Jews use gentile blood for religious purposes. And Corbyn has a history of coddling terrorists that distresses millions of people, far beyond the Jewish community. It has grown so bad that UK Jews have defined Corbyn as “an existential threat.”

And while the Labour Party itself has adopted the definition of anti-Semitism drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the party’s version includes a caveat calling criticism of Israel “free speech.” Center Director and representative at the UN, Mark Weitzman, played a key role in drafting and promoting the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, and he warns that Labour’s proposed clause could easily be abused by bigots seeking to camouflage their anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center recently helped secure a historic breakthrough when thirty-one European nations adopted a new definition of anti-Semitism. Now he is calling upon the UN to immediately appoint a Special Representative on anti-Semitism to investigate and act on increasing manifestations of anti-Jewish hate.

In an exciting new development, a declaration on fighting anti-Semitism was adopted by the 28-nation Council of the European Union. This Declaration could be a significant step in committing the EU to both fighting anti-Semitism and providing for the security of Europe’s Jews.

The U.S. Is Not Immune

According to Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “Anti-Semitism is on the rise in America.”

When 11 were killed in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in modern U.S. history at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue last October, many Americans saw it as a shocking one-of-a-kind incident. The ADL saw it as part of a larger trend.

In 2017, anti-Semitic incidents jumped 57% over the previous year. Hate crimes against Jews grew 37% in the same period, according to a separate FBI analysis.

Greenblatt said, “In 2017, the ADL counted 1986 anti-Semitic incidents, the biggest jump we’ve ever seen.”

There are several reasons for this, I think.

We’re living in a charged political environment. Things are polarized in ways we haven’t seen in recent memory. When leaders at the highest levels use incredibly intemperate language and repeat the rhetoric of extremists, we shouldn’t be surprised when young people—let alone others—imitate what they see.

“Extremists feel emboldened by this,” Greenblatt continued. “We know this because we’re tracking what they say on social media and in chat rooms.”

New statistics by the New York Police Department confirm that the number of hate crimes targeting Jews—in a city with the world’s largest Jewish population—was more than double the total of hate crimes targeting all other communities combined!

The truth is that FBI statistics confirm over and over again each year that American Jews are by far the largest target for religious-based hate crimes, despite comprising just 2% of the population.

Anti-Jewish hate is on the rise in the U.S., and here, history’s oldest hatred is fueled by a new generation of tech-savvy bigots. There are new slogans promoting old hatreds—you surely recall the cries of “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” heard at the so-called alt-right, Nazi-like, torchlight march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A key component in the existence and rise in anti-Semitism is the Israel-Palestine conflict. In the interest of time and space, we’ll discuss that in a future blog.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog