“No Energy Exhaustion” by Petr Beckmann – Imprimis, January 1975

January 18, 2008

A series of short posts summarizing my thoughts as I work my way through the archives of the Imprimis newsletter from Hillsdale college.

Author

  • Petr Beckmann, born in 1924, died in 1993.
  • Challenged Einsteins’ theory of relativity and advocation of nuclear power.
  • This presentation was delivered in 1974, five years before Three Mile Island.

Overview

  • One of the present malaises of society is a strong anti-scientific, anti-technological trend coming from outside and inside the scientific community which results in a blatant disregard of the facts.
  • The book ‘The Limits of Growth‘ is cited as an example of this disregard.
  • There is no lack of energy (even clean energy), but access to that energy is blocked by restrictions on the free market by govt. and public opinion (driven by propagandizing)
  • Beckmann discusses the power OPEC has to set oil prices and five solutions to the problem. The first four are dismissed (tough talk and military action among them) in favor of opening up access to existing U.S. energy resources.

Is ‘No Energy Exhaustion‘ worth reading?

Probably not. It was interesting that use of military force was at mentioned as one of the possibilities in dealing with OPEC, although it was dismissed. I had to ask myself what would the U.S. response be if Saudi Arabia refused to sell us oil? I believe use of the military is the undeniable answer. It is foolish to separate our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with the fact that our country needs a stable supply of oil.

I have a friend who is very much an expert on “green” energy and he has mentioned a number of times to me (with some regret) that nuclear power offers our country the greatest chance of freeing itself from our dependence on oil.

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“The Crisis in International Economic Relations” by Hans F. Sennholz – Imprimis, March 1973

December 1, 2007

A series of short posts summarizing my thoughts as I work my way through the archives of the Imprimis newsletter from Hillsdale college.

In the March 1973 issue of Imprimis Dr. Sennholz (Wikipedia) asserts that the United States is on a path towards self-destruction. He provides three particular sets of political and economic thought that are the primary reasons for this.

1. “the continuous growth of socialist and, in particular, Marxian economic thought has led to a renewed attack on private property and the profit motive”

2. Economic nationalism.

3. “the rise of governmental planning and control has given birth to an age of world-wide inflation that threatens to disrupt the international monetary system”

Dr. Sennholz died in June of 2007 but some of his recent writings can be found here. The same site contains a page with some quotes (worth a peek) from Sennholz. This one is from his book ‘The Politics of Unemployment’.

“While governments and unions are forever raising labor costs and causing unemployment, business is forever adjusting to prevent the unemployment. When the federal government raises its Social Security exactions and state governments boost unemployment compensation taxes, which may significantly raise labor costs, business is straining to prevent the unemployment through cost adjustments. It may seek to offset the mandated costs with other cost reduction. In particular, it may reduce fringe benefits, delay inflation adjustments, elicit greater effort on the part of workers, and otherwise use labor more productively. Whenever and wherever business is successful in offsetting the boost in labor costs, it succeeds in preventing threatening unemployment. If laws, regulations, and work rules prohibit the necessary cost adjustment, business has no choice but to discharge loss-inflicting workers. If it is unable to remove the employment obstacles erected by government or union, it is forced to dismiss the labor that fails to surmount the obstacles.”

The most rewarding benefit of reading these old articles has been the joy of discovering men like Dr. Sennholz. I am most frustrated to discover the message that many of these men trumpeted thirty years ago is still falling on deaf ears.

This obituary by Gary North is also worth reading. Sennholz is a man of from the Austrian school of economics which is something I have just begun to learn about. If you would like to learn more then I suggest heading over to the Mises Institute. There is an enormous wealth of material there.


“Towards a Theology of Politics” by Rousas J. Rushdoony- Imprimis, February 1973

November 16, 2007

A series of short posts summarizing my thoughts as I work my way through the archives of the Imprimis newsletter from Hillsdale college.

Rousas Rushdoony was a leading proponent of a Christian theological view called Theonomy. He is very well known and either loved or decried within conservative Christian circles. I was surprised to see that he spoke at Hillsdale in 1973 which is the same year he published his best known work “The Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. I“.

Here is a link to a page with more videos of Rushdoony, (disclaimer, I don’t know anything about the site I found them on).

The central thesis of the article is demonstrate the unavoidable religious nature of the state. When the state rules apart from God it is in conflict with God. Rushdoony provides a brief history of the Roman ruled landscape leading up to birth and ministry of Jesus and then goes on to examine the radical claims of the disciples which would have been in direct opposition to Rome’s own claims.

In not too many years, a disciple of Jesus Christ was to declare, in a challenge to the religious and civil leaders of Judea, and to all authorities: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Warfare between Christ and Caesar was thus inescapable: here were two rival gods claiming the same jurisdiction over man. It was not a struggle between church and state but between two kingdoms each claiming ultimate and divine powers, Rome and the Kingdom of God.

In Genesis man is commanded by God to exercise dominion and subdue creation. Sinful men, apt to twist the words of God, instead attempt to centralize power and control in the state. The state then exercises dominion and subdues creation by enslaving men by enacting thousands of laws and regulations apart from any higher authority. Rushdoony makes the point that when the state claims jurisdiction beyond the realms ordained by God, it is sin.

The Bible gives us numerous examples of what constitutes signal evil on the part of the state. Drafting youth for non-military services to the state and taxing beyond the head tax to as much as 10% (a tithe) of a man’s wealth or income is cited as evil (I Sam. 8). For the state to claim a priestly role, and ‘ the control of religion, is evil (II Chron. 26: 16-21). Expropriation of property by the state is a very serious transgression (I Kings 21). Debasing the coinage is charged against Judah as part of God’s indictment (“Thy silver is become dross,” Isa. I:22). Much, much more could be cited. 10 Suffice it to say that the state is at every point under law, God’s law.

Rushdoony has much more to say in the article and it is well worth reading. Let me end with thus poignant quote.

In the modern world, we have the messianic fervor of election campaigns, in which the candidates pre-sent themselves as heroes whose election will mark the advent of a new world. The religious fervor of partisans is the mark of a political theology. Modern man’s religious hope is in politics, and the result is the politics of Babel and the growing confusion or confounding of man’s hopes, and his enslavement. In effect, modern man, with his political faith, says to the state, “Hail, Caesar! We who are about to die salute you!


“Your Brother’s Keeper: From Genesis to Galbraith” by F.A. Harper – Imprimis, January 1973

November 14, 2007

A series of short posts summarizing my thoughts as I work my way through the archives of the Imprimis newsletter from Hillsdale college.

Dr. Harper’s article examines our obligation to be charitable from Genesis to Galbraith. If you can get past poor use of Biblical texts you will find some helpful thoughts regarding charity. Here are a few of the points he makes.

  • We can only give what has been produced. Therefore production is the source of all giving.
  • If the producer gives $1 directly to the recipient, the recipient receives $1. In order for the federal government to give the same dollar they must first obtain $3 from sources of production.
  • Who defines what charity is? Is charity giving a man a meal or teaching a man to fish?
  • The best method to reduce poverty is to increase production. This is most easily achieved by allowing companies to reinvest resources back into production instead of confiscating it and giving only a third of it to the benefactor.
  • The one who produces should be the one to direct its fate.
  • Who defines the ‘needy’? Is a necessity ‘something you have to have, or you die’?

If you wondering who Galbraith is read here.


Imprimis 1972 – Debrief

November 7, 2007

I am a bit surprised to see that many of the issues of 1972 are the issues of today. I think the best article in terms of getting me to think was “The World’s Most Important Man”. The most interesting article with broad appeal is likely the section on Sesame Street in “Reflections”. To 1973 and beyond!


“There Is No Urban Crisis” by M. Stanton Evans – Imprimis, December 1972

November 7, 2007

A series of short posts summarizing my thoughts as I work my way through the archives of the Imprimis newsletter from Hillsdale college.

As the title states, Evans takes on the idea that our cities are in the midst of an urban crisis. Evans believes that rather than being in a state of crisis the cities are just a dramatic example of the result of identifiable governmental policy errors. Evans goes on to list a number of these policies and a few possible remedies. I found this particular article very difficult to read so I won’t bother to summarize much more. The most interesting part of the article was the section below discussing the forced implementation of Medicaid.

Three years ago we were told by the federal government that unless we instituted a Medicaid program we would lose some eight million dollars in federal welfare funds. In order to save this eight million in “free” money, our Legislature enacted a minimal program that would supposedly cost only $300,000 or so a year. But once Medicaid was on the books, the federal government came back with still more demands, guidelines, and standards that we had to adopt. This year the program that was going to save us eight million dollars is costing $45 million in state money alone, and in the next biennium, as currently projected, is supposed to go to $107 million a year. We have lost both our autonomy and our money.

Free money is never free.


“Urban Crime: Its Causes and Control” by William A. Stanmeyer – Imprimis, November 1972

November 2, 2007

A series of short posts summarizing my thoughts as I work my way through the archives of the Imprimis newsletter from Hillsdale college.

Stanmeyer begins with a description of a brutal and senseless crime. He then documents some of the heinous inefficiencies and injustices of a justice system that has been swayed in favor of the accused to the point of absurdity by the Supreme Court. Stanmeyer remarks about the radical changes that were occurring in the 60’s.

“During the ten year period, 1960 to 1970, our population increased by 13%, but serious crimes increased by 148%. This was also the period when the greatest prosperity in the world’s history was accompanied by the greatest waves of shoplifting, drug abuse, and delinquency in the most prosperous areas, the suburbs — a fact that shatters the simplistic notion that poverty “causes” crime. It was a period when pundits made the phrase, “the Puritan Ethic,” a term of opprobrium, and “intellectuals” extolled the virtues of young people who “do their own thing,” whatever the harm to other citizens or to a Rule of Law. And it was a time that courts throughout the land, particularly the U.S. Supreme Court, embarked on a relentless pursuit of constitutional abstractions, whatever the cost in terms of outraged common sense or the suffering victims of crime.”

Stanmeyer believes we have wandered from our legal forebear (the British legal system) and lost common sense flexibility which it was characterized by. He proposes ten reforms which would return the common sense to our system. I cite three below which I would like to see enacted.

  1. Permit all voluntary statements.
  2. Allow non-unanimous juries.
  3. Liberalize the exclusionary rule (the article cites great examples of this)

Here is another great quote from the article.

“Many factors generate crime. That ‘inner morality’ necessary to resist the temptation to rape, rob, or kill weakens in an environment of broken homes, systemic poverty, ethical relativism, religious decline. Poverty ’causes’ crime in general in the same way that pornography causes sex crimes and television violence causes violence by children: it is a predispositive condition. The ‘underlying causes’ of crime are spiritual as often as economic, psychological as often as material. If we could strengthen family life, raise the living standard, instill character values, and convert the citizenry to a religious outlook we would doubtless lower the crime rate. But these improvements take years. And experience shows that in these areas government action is singularly ineffective.”

It is hard to believe there are still people who research the causes of crime. Stanmeyer acknowledges his detractors.

“Some readers will find this essay distressing. They will allege that these recommendations make it easier to violate the rights of the innocent. My answer is that they make it much, much easier to convict the guilty and thereby protect the rights of the innocent.”

This is the sixth Imprimis article I have read. I am struck most that the issues and many of the solutions have not changed much since 1972. Another 400+ to go.