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Virginia is not for lovers!

October 15, 2019

Richmond, Virginia was the seat of the Confederate States of America. But, even before 1861, the economy of Virginia and the Southern States was based on the labor of slaves and good money was invested in their purchase.  Slave holders had an economic interest in defending their property!  Virginia had a tradition of strong  government and the Constitution of the Confederate States did not reflect the classical liberalism of Adam Smith and David Ricardo.

Even in mid-19th century Virginia believed in strong government.

For that reason, I am amused by promotion of the Commonwealth of Virginia today with the slogan “Virginia is for Lovers.”

The meaning of that phrase lies only in the imagination of the marketing firm retained to promote Virginia as a place where “lovers” should what?

Copulate?  One activity they cannot do is wager on thoroughbred horses at Colonial Downs.

Thirty years ago when I moved to Virginia, personal income taxes were low, relative to taxes in the District of Columbia.  That was when a tradition of limited government was dominant in the State.

In 2014, Virginia with a population of 8,132,000 million residents had 107,885 public employees. New York with a population of 19,660,000 million residents had 222,965 public employees.  Virginia’s population is 41% less than New York’s but has 82 public employees per 10,000 in population compared to 92 per resident as New York State.

Do the comparisons yourself, based on this list published by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2014 or this  independent analysis.

Public Employees by State:

AL Total 78,120

AK Total 25,068

AZ Total 65,846

AR Total 57,095

CA Total 333,083

CO Total 57,780

CT Total 53,662

DE Total 23,249

FL Total 159,008

GA Total 116,251

HI Total 52,434

ID Total 20,270

IL Total 102,078

IN Total 74,507

IA Total 40,053

KS Total 44,041

KY Total 74,615

LA Total 68,801

ME Total 18,602

MD Total 78,023

MA Total 88,601

MI Total 113,140

MN Total 68,042

MS Total 51,670

MO Total 78,298

MT Total 16,877

NE Total 26,733

NV Total 24,524

NH Total 14,694

NJ Total 130,261

NM Total 41,263

NY Total 222,965

NC Total 126,735

ND Total 15,747

OH Total 109,085

OK Total 88,527

OR Total 57,826

PA Total 140,760

RI Total 17,073

SC Total 70,754

SD Total 12,774

TN Total 70,425

TX Total 278,324

UT Total 46,059

VA Total 107,885

WA Total 99,079

WV Total 36,579

WI Total 58,052

WY Total 12,361

From Harry Byrd (1925) to George Allen (1994), Virginia’s Governors restrained the tendency to grow the administrative state and raise Virginia State taxes. From Jim Gilmore (1998) and forward, however, citizens of Virginia experienced increases in taxes to the degree that it is now clear, Virginia is not for lovers.

Virginia is for Americans who love government.

If you agree, and want to let your neighbors know that taxation in Virginia is becoming as bad as taxes in the big governments in DC and Maryland, then purchase a  bumper sticker from American Academy of Distance Learning by clicking here.  Each purchase conveys a tax deduction of $5.00 each.  Buy ten and claim a $50 tax deduction in 2020.

 

The Two Hundred Years War

October 15, 2019

From 1337 to 1453, France and England fought for control of France.  Though we think of England as “British,” William the Conqueror was from Normandy (thus the name “Norman Conquest”) and memories of ties to France of English kings were fresh.

A century in historical time defines what we call an “Era,” and the United States is well along the way in transformation of its original character as a democratic republic into an era of Empire.

If our current American Emperor, Donald Trump, can call Impeachment proceedings “Treason,” then we know that this Emperor has no intention of  leaving office. That, of course, is treasonous and the next fourteen months may form the future course of the American Empire for a hundred years.

If the worse case possible occurs, we will enter a period of civil war similar to that experienced by Spain. You can read about what that means in my essay titled “Prelude to Civil War.”

Long before the Spanish civil war (1936-1939), Spanish “Traditionalist” scholars warned that the  ideas of the French Revolution, carried to Spain when Napoleon invaded in 1808, were captivating Spain’s intellectual classes and dominating Spain’s universities.

The “Progressive” invasion of American higher education began in late 19th century and became dominant during the Great Depression when the Roosevelt Administration exponentially increased the powers of the federal government. Our Hundred Years War began in 1968 and what transpires between 2019 and 2068 may decide how much freedom the American Empire permits its “subjects.”

Our wealthy families have little to lose. Most are governed by second and third generation heirs who inherited their wealth. The “losers” will  be those Americans not born into great wealth, but with the desire to start new enterprises, finance them and grow to become the next generation of Apple, Amazon, Facebook or Netflix.

Most will assess how much financing is needed and not even try to start new companies.  And those risk takers who try, will find themselves limited by local, state and federal laws and regulations.  During the next 50 years efforts of deregulation and lowering of taxes must be the focus of whatever political Party survives the demise of the GOP.  Frankly, our future looks so bleak that we may begin to think of ourselves in a Two Hundred Years War.

Career “Officers” and the “Deep State”

October 11, 2019

The concept “Deep State” is derided as a conspiracy “theory,” but there is a very large administrative “state” that administers the powers of government agencies. Employment in government agencies attracts college graduates imbued with favorable views of the powers of government (to do good) and to enjoy the benefits of career “service.”

If you are a political appointee, as I was, in a Republican administered government and are committed to reducing the power of government, you will circumvent the career officers by seeking to make political appointments to key offices in your Department. I did that and that action raised eyebrows.

Career “officers” have the advantage when confronted by an astute political appointee. They have contacts in major media organizations and are prepared to use them to alert the reading public that barbarians have entered their sacred precincts and are engaged in violating a fundamental protocol of success in government service: To get along, go along.

During my service in the Bureau of Education at USICA in what is now the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, I placed political appointees at the head of every Bureau under my control. Career “officers” were astonished and then angered at the audacity of that action. When I left, one heard a collective sigh of relief.

Today major media is expressing horror at removal of a career ambassador for Ukraine and I must laugh at the “chill” going through the deep state as if faces a real barbarian, President Donald Trump.

American Higher Education Loves Money

October 8, 2019

The business model for American higher education is costly. And the reason may be traced to a requirement of “regional accreditation” that courses be offered from classrooms.

A regionally accredited institution must maintain a physical campus and that drives up tuition cost to about $900 per course on the low end.

One education entrepreneur figured out that he could base an online enterprise on the back of an existing regionally accredited university and sell degree programs via the Internet.

Here is the tuition cost that university, Southern New Hampshire University, charges for courses in its online graduate degree programs:

Online Graduate Programs Per Course* Per Credit Hour*
Degree/Certificates $1,881 $627

Most colleges and universities are transparent about tuition cost, but not Southern New Hampshire University.  After entering “Tuition Cost” at this institution’s website, I had to wade through a list of individual degree programs.

Why is that?

Because American higher education loves money.

At $1,881 per course, the state university system in New Hampshire is charging the same tuition for online courses as they would for a course that required attendance in a classroom.

That is nuts!  A solely online course with a personal educator to grade assignments need cost no more than $350 per course, not $1,881.

You can read about this scam at today’s edition of InsideHigherEd.com or read about how to reform the high cost education at “Education Reform.”

History of Betrayal

October 7, 2019

A Trump Administration decision to remove American protection from the Kurds has a long history.

1975 BACKGROUND TO BETRAYAL

By Daniel Schorr, April 7, 1991, Washington Post

The Pike report:

President Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, visiting Tehran on May 31, 1972, on their way home from a Moscow summit, were asked by the shah to arm and finance an insurrection of the Iraqi Kurds as a favor to the Iranian ruler, “who had cooperated with U.S. intelligence agencies and who had come to feel menaced by his neighbor.”

The covert-action project was put together within weeks by the White House and the CIA (headed by Richard Helms, who, a year later, would be observing the operation from the other end as ambassador to Tehran). Kissinger decided to keep Secretary of State William P. Rogers and the entire State Department in the dark. Treasury Secretary John Connally, who was assuming an important role in the Nixon re-election campaign, was sent on a secret mission to Tehran to inform the shah that the project had been approved.

It carried a $16-million price tag and called for supplying the Kurds mainly with Soviet weapons provided by Israel, which was a partner in the enterprise. The shah could easily have financed the operation himself, but the Kurds, not trusting him, insisted that the United States be the “guarantor.” Mustafa Barzani was quoted as saying that he “trusted no other major power,” and that, if his cause succeeded, he was ready for Kurdistan to “become the 51st state.”

Barzani expressed great admiration for Kissinger (who in 1973 asumed the additional position of secretary of state). Barzani sent Kissinger three rugs and, when he married Nancy Maginnes, a gold and pearl necklace as a wedding gift. Kissinger wrote in a memo to his assistant, Brent Scowcroft, that the gifts should be kept secret because the relationship with the Kurds was “extremely sensitive.”

For three years the Kurds fought the Iraqi forces, sustaining thousands of casualties. Through the CIA, the U.S. government discouraged the Kurds from negotiating a measure of autonomy with the Iraqi central government but also restrained them from undertaking an all-out offensive. The policy was, says the Pike report, “that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally’s neighboring country.” AWhite House memo from Kissinger to CIA Director William E. Colby in October 1973 said that Nixon “concurs in your judgment” that “we do not repeat NOT consider it advisable” that the Kurds should “undertake the offensive military action” which had been proposed by Israel. Israel, then at war with the Arabs, had its own reasons to want the Iraqi forces diverted.

But by that time, the shah had started moving in a different direction. As early as October 1972, the CIA got wind of overtures towards a settlement of the border dispute between Iran and Iraq. But the agency was ordered not to inform the Kurdish command and to keep the Kurds fighting, thus providing the shah with “a card to play” in his negotiations with Saddam Hussein. The Pike report commented, “Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise.”

On March 5, 1975, without advance word to either the United States government or the Kurds, the shah concluded his agreement with Iraq, which was announced the next day in Algiers during an OPEC session, and Iran abruptly pulled the plug on the Kurdish insurrection. The Pike report describes what followed:

“The insurgents were clearly taken by surprise. Their adversaries, knowing of the impending aid cut-off, launched an all-out search-and-destroy campaign the day after the agreement was signed. The autonomy movement was over and our former clients scattered before the central government’s superior forces.”

A message to the CIA from Kurdish headquarters said, “There is confusion and dismay among our people and forces. Our people’s fate in unprecedented danger. Complete destruction hanging over our head. No explanation for all of this . . . .”

The CIA station chief cabled Colby to warn that if the U.S. government did not “handle this situation deftly in a way which will avoid giving the Kurds the impression that we are abandoning them, they are likely to go public.”

Some 200,000 Kurds escaped into Iran, of whom 40,000 were forcibly returned to Iraq. Appeals for humanitarian assistance and for political asylum in the United States were ignored. The last message recorded in the report was an April 10, 1975, cable from the CIA station chief in Tehran to Colby, saying: “If senior Americans like Kissinger who are aware of their relationship do nothing to help the Kurds in their present extremity, we may be sure that they will not lie down quietly to be buried without telling their story to the world. Hence, even if nobody in the State Department or Dr. Kissinger cares what happens to the Kurds, they had better do something to help them, if only in USG and administration interest.”

The report tells what happened next: “Help never arrived.” It quotes a “high U.S. official” as having remarked to the committee’s staff, “Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.”

Kissinger later denounced the Pike report as “a collection of distortions and untruths.” Barzani, suffering from cancer, was eventually brought to the United States by the CIA and treated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. He told me he had agreed not to speak out publicly against the U.S. government. He also feared for his compatriots who had taken refuge in Iran.

His last days were spent in a modest house in McLean. Before his death, in March 1979, he gave one interview — to New York Times columnist William Safire — in which Barzani said:

“We do not want to be anybody’s pawns. We are an ancient people. We want our autonomy. We want sarbasti — freedom. I do not know who will take my place one day. But they cannot crush us.”

Present during the interview was the general’s young son, Massoud, who, 12 years later, would be leading the Kurds into fruitless battle again. Daniel Schorr, currently senior news analyst for National Public Radio, was threatened with imprisonment in 1976 for contempt of Congress for refusing to disclose how he had obtained the suppressed Pike report.

Falsely Promoting the “Old Dominion”

October 6, 2019

Before I could commence raising equity financing to start an online university in Yorktown, Virginia, I was required to obtain approval from the State Higher Education Council of Virginia, called SCHEV.

That was when the Commonwealth of Virginia promoted itself as the “Digital Dominion.”  Of course, that was a promotion that had no basis in reality and I even published a book about this false advertising.

The Commonwealth of Virginia, in many ways, is governed by its past which is dominated by government.

In the 18th century, Williamsburg was the capital of the English colonies. In the 19th century Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States of America, and in the 20th century SCHEV was the agency of government designed to block desegregation of Virginia’s public schools. In fact, Virginia even closed its public schools in order to block intervention by the Federal government.

Today, the Commonwealth is an adjunct of Washington, DC, yet its current governor, mentally a relic of segregation, wore “black face” in a skit performed at his medical school in Norfolk, Virginia.

I live in Norfolk and have seen firsthand how the Commonwealth’s past has shaped the character of its citizens and made them–and me–subservient to government. For many years I have bridled at the Commonwealth’s advertising slogan “Virginia is for Lovers” since, as noted here, Virginia Loves Government.

In response, I have asked my very gifted graphic designer to design a bumper sticker in protest.

Soon, you may purchase “Virginia Loves Government” bumper stickers by sending a request to VAlovesgovt@gmail.com.

Take that, you Old Dominion farts!

Pay for Play

October 4, 2019

In November 2017, I raised a subject that is now “in the news.”  College sport, amateur athletics and abuse of college athletes.

One semester that I was in a special Latin class at Loyola University-Chicago, I was “roomed” on the same dormitory floor with Loyola’s basketball team.  These were very gifted African American athletes who, to my knowledge, were admitted to play basketball and win a national title, but not graduate.

All universities “use” college athletes and in some instances derive significant income from winning teams and in case of celebrity players, income is derived using their name and image on sales that do not financially benefit the players.

Here’s what I argued:

A. Is big time college sports out of control?

You bet!

B. If so, what can be done to diminish sporting events from detracting from the academic mission of accredited colleges and universities

Forget “amateur” sports, they don’t exist. Treat college players as professional athletes and compensate them appropriately. Organize college basketball, baseball and football under the auspices of the professional basketball, baseball and football leagues. Treat them as you would minor-league teams and hold a competition where all the “big league” sport teams are sold to the professional leagues.

C. Are student athletes taken advantage of by “the system” of college sport and should they be granted the rights of collective bargaining?

You bet!

American higher education needs to face reality and stop exploiting college athletes. As this report from InsideHigherEd.com indicates, finally, this issue is front and center in higher education.