State of the Union

Antibiotic Knowledge Is More Important Than the Big Bang

Yesterday, the Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal wrote up a new AP poll confirming a long-standing truth: Americans don’t poll very well on science. The poll asked 1,012 Americans to rate their confidence in a series of statements about science and medicine, all but one of which were true statements uncontroversial in the scientific community (full results below). Over 90 percent of respondents were at least somewhat confident that smoking causes cancer, a mental illness is a medical condition affecting the brain, genes inside our cells help determine who we are, and overusing antibiotics causes the development of drug-resistant bacteria (well, the last one was 89 percent).

What prompted the scientific wailing and rending of garments, however, were questions of a more foundational nature. While 55 percent of respondents were at least somewhat confident that “Life on Earth, including human beings, evolved through a process of natural selection,” 42 percent were not too confident, or not at all confident. That matches Gallup’s polling of Americans’ attitudes towards evolution, where 46 percent of respondents were young earth creationists.

When asked about the Big Bang, the idea that “The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang,” 46 percent of Americans were at least somewhat confident, while 51 percent were not confident. 60 percent were at least somewhat confident in the earth being 4.5 billion years old, however, so some of the Big Bang variation may be attributable to uncertainty. The foundational question that received the strongest affirmative response was in fact “The universe is so complex, there must be a supreme being guiding its creation.” 72 percent of respondents were at least somewhat confident in that statement.

Such results were, as expected, bemoaned as the product of a society bewitched by ignorance and superstition when the clear light of scientific day stands obvious before it. The AP rang up a variety of scientists, and reported back that “Those results depress and upset some of America’s top scientists, including several Nobel Prize winners.” One climate scientist said that the poll highlights “the iron triangle of science, religion and politics”; the AP followed up to find that “To the public “most often values and beliefs trump science” when they conflict, said Alan Leshner, chief executive of the world’s largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science.”

But as Madrigal notes, “very little has changed in the public awareness of scientific knowledge over the past 20 years.” Madrigal also documents that “On a general level, Americans’ understanding of science is comparable to people in other countries.” That does bear some close examination. After all, the past 20 years have seen some of the most incredible advances in physics and biology, in medicine and technology. The Higgs Boson has been discovered, and human cloning accomplished. Yet pluralities of Americans don’t even profess the most basic tenets of the scientific cosmology: a universe born out of the Big Bang, and life derived from natural selection. Read More…

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When Seized Land Lies Fallow

The now-vacant Fort Trumbull neighborhood where Kelo's house once stood. Daniel /  cc
The now-vacant Fort Trumbull neighborhood where Kelo's house once stood. Daniel / cc

When then Justice John Paul Stevens handed down his now infamous ruling in the eminent domain case Kelo v. New London, he insisted that the seizure of a Connecticut neighborhood “was not intended to serve the interests of Pfizer, Inc., or any other private entity, but rather to revitalize the local economy by creating temporary and permanent jobs, encouraging spin-off economic activities and maximizing public access to the waterfront.” The public use taking he approved was a public enterprise designed to serve the city and its people, not the state seizing and transferring private property for the benefit of other, wealthier, more powerful private hands.

Should Justice Stevens make it up from his Florida retirement to the town of New London, he could behold the revitalized local economy, with its temporary and permanent jobs, encouraged economic activities and maximized public access to the waterfront. He’ll have to squint, though. There’s nothing there.

As Charlotte Allen found on her tour of the area a few months ago, the Fort Trumbull area of New London is now “a vast, empty field​—​90 acres​—​that was entirely uninhabited and looked as though it had always been that way.” You see, the private entities whose interests were not the core justification of New London’s taking pulled out of the project: the developers failed to find funding; Pfizer engaged in a merger that allowed it to close its New London facilities, not expand them, and to get out just before the tax incentives the city gave them ran out and they would have had to pay full fare for their property.

New London’s latest mayor has another plan in the works for Fort Trumbull, as the city’s coffers remain empty thanks to a missing tax base, this time “a national first​—​a green, integrated mid-rise community. There would be green tech, LEED-certified buildings, solar power. It would be a green, self-sustaining neighborhood.” Even that remains in the wispy aspiration phase at the moment, however. The only actual occupants of the Fort Trumbull development area since the seizure, and the clear-cutting, have been piles of garbage and waste, piled there in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Oh, and there have been reports of feral cats. Read More…

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The Sharing Economy’s Undead Capital, and Its Discontents

Uber targets Lyft drivers in San Francisco. Steve Rhodes /  cc
Uber targets Lyft drivers in San Francisco. Steve Rhodes / cc

Out in the LED-lit, LEED-certified halls of Silicon Valley, the past few years have heard a whisper growing into a roar: the sharing economy is coming, and it will be good. The “sharing economy” is best represented by enterprises such as Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft, internet-based companies that allow everyday people to monetize their own property. Airbnb allows people to rent out rooms or whole houses to strangers without having to go through an expensive rental company. Uber allows smartphone users to summon a variety of vehicles for hire directly without going through the oppressive and outdated taxi system. Lyft takes Uber one step further and allows regular drivers to offer rides for a fee; the Lyft app connects the driver with the passenger, who slips into the front seat and gives his lift a fist-bump.

Last week, R Street’s Daniel Rothschild described these services as bringing to life massive stores of previously “dead capital,” allowing a tremendous democratization of commercial life. He wrote, “If the key economic trend of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was the growth of economies of scale—factories, big firms, multinationals—we are now seeing the opposite.” The sharing economy combined with the Etsy (an online craft marketplace) economy in his eyes to represent a tremendous turn towards filling the coffers of the common person, rather than the great industrialist. Ever more easily, people can rent out their car to pay for a dinner, a room to pay for a date, a house to pay for their own vacation. In Rothschild’s eyes, corrupt cities bought off by entrenched interests risk stomping out this tremendous innovation, sending the undead capital back into the ground for good and depriving countless people of a chance to make a bit of extra money.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry finds himself unsettled by the prospect of an Uberfied economy, however, and suggests that its benefits may not be quite as democratically distributed as usually assumed. He acknowledges that “the efficiency case for “Uberifying” services is obvious. You have lots of productive capital which is unused (your spare bedroom, your car, your idle hours) and which could be used and monetized. Collectively, this makes society richer.” But he then follow, “how does it make society richer? I’m concerned.” Read More…

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Brendan Eich, Game of Thrones, and the Headaches of New Rulers

HBO
HBO

The forced resignation of Mozilla cofounder and CEO Brendan Eich has been seen by many conservatives as a sad dip into democratic despotism, in which conformity to a very recent societal consensus is demanded as the cost of employment. The uproar could be more of a backlash against perceived in-group betrayal than an immediate template for society-wide action, though. As Leah pointed out in her initial treatment of the controversy, gay marriage in-group policing is practiced by both sides of the issue, as international charity World Vision was forced to rescind its new policy of hiring employees in gay marriages. In-group policing is not limited to gay marriage, either, as the Dixie Chicks learned during the Iraq War.

What seems to distinguish the Eich case from World Vision in the minds of many on the right (besides their own group sympathies), is that progressives appear to be winning on gay marriage, thus their in-group policing will be taking place within an ever-enlarging share of society. As Ross Douthat wrote, “the way people behave within their own communities when a debate is seen to be settled often has at least some connection to how they behave when given legal and political power in society writ large.” An ascendant progressivism shedding the shackles of its suddenly constrictive liberalism is a frightening prospect to those determinedly holding fast against the tide.

If this is the beginning of a progressive moment, when the culture war is finally over and the conservative terms of surrender are being negotiated, the victorious side may find the coming years more problematic than anticipated. After all, if they have won, then they will see an ever-increasing range of industries and institutions as “belonging” to their group. We may have already started to see some of this playing out with other internet tempests of recent vintage, involving Ezra Klein and Nate Silver’s new ventures.

When Ezra Klein launched Vox, his new journalistic enterprise, he came under fire for a dearth of diversity among his hires. Later, the hiring of one reporter, Brandon Ambrosino, drew fire for being the wrong kind of diverse. Ambrino’s heterodox takes on gay controversies (including friendly words for Jerry Fallwell) were harshly criticized by former colleagues of Klein and his Vox compatriots. Their roots in progressive journalism caused their former allies to view Vox as an in-group enterprise, and to read any divergence as betrayal. They saw Vox as “one of us” more than Klein himself did.

Nate Silver’s new media venture FiveThirtyEight saw its own share of controversy in its opening days, when it ran an article contesting that criticism of the often-cited claim that the historic increase in the rising cost of natural disasters is due to climate change. Environmentalism is another in-group marker for liberal circles, and, predictably. the climate change draws particular focus and attention. The piece drew its own internet firestorm, including from outlets like Slate, ThinkProgress, and Huffington Post, leading Silver to commission his own rebuttal of the original piece.

The culture war’s victorious side may find their newfound power harder to exercise than they expect, however. I’ve recently started HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series, and in my rush to catch up to the current season, I came across very early advice given from Queen Cersei to her king-to-be son, Joffrey. Joffrey expresses a desire to destroy the tradition of each land fielding its own armies, and to consolidate them under his own hand, responding to any resistance by sacking the land in question. Cersei reminds her son that crushing any soldiers loyal to their own traditions would likely leave him without any army at all. The iron throne theoretically gives him access to more people than his family’s personal army, but those new acquisitions bring with them a complicating diversity. Read More…

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Here’s the “Missing” Evidence for S.D.’s Sex-Selective Abortion Ban

South Dakota recently became the 8th state to make it illegal to abort a fetus because of its sex, and set penalties including jail time and fines for doctors who knowingly provided such abortions. Sex-selective abortion is an phenomenon that has dramatically reshaped the sex balance of several Asian countries, most significantly China and India, where the natural males born per 100 females birth ratio of approximately 105 (it usually never naturally exceeds 106 in large populations) has been distorted to around 120, a breathtaking number indicative of millions of missing baby girls.

Reproductive rights advocates dispute the idea that it is a live issue here in the United States, however. Tara Culp-Ressler of ThinkProgress writes,

While female infanticide is an issue in some parts of the world, there’s absolutely no evidence that the Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals who live here in the U.S. are having abortions based on gender. [emphasis added] There is no epidemic of sex-selective abortion among the AAPI community, and passing legislation to “fix” this nonexistent issue simply ends up damaging women of color. Ultimately, these laws scrutinize Asian American women based solely on their race.

Last month, Elizabeth Nolan-Brown at Reason similarly wrote, “Despite having absolutely zero evidence that sex-selective abortions are a problem in South Dakota, state legislators are trying to pass a bill banning such procedures.” Eesha Pandit then penned at RH Reality Check, “Let’s return again to the facts: the purported problem of Asian Americans and sex-selection is not borne out by data,” and “sex-selective abortions are not an actual phenomenon here in the United States.”

Unfortunately (it is truly unfortunate), there is in fact credible evidence that the well-documented “Global War on Baby Girls” includes a small but active front here in the United States.

Culp-Russler and Pandit, among many others participating in this debate from the pro-choice side, rely on the reproductive health-focused Guttmacher Institute’s policy review titled “A Problem-and-Solution Mismatch: Son Preference and Sex-Selective Abortion Bans”. That very document closes its opening paragraph with the following:

Sex-selective abortion is widespread in certain countries, especially those in East and South Asia, where an inordinately high social value is placed on having male over female children. There is some evidence—although limited and inconclusive—to suggest that the practice may also occur among Asian communities in the United States. (emphasis added)

The policy review paper acknowledges the evidence, but calls it limited and inconclusive. Yet the two leading studies cited by Guttmacher policy review author Sneha Barot, and subsequently most of the authors relying on her paper, are neither especially limited nor inconclusive. Drawing on U.S. Census data and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, study authors Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of Columbia University open their discussion, “We document son-biased sex ratios at higher parities in a contemporary Western society. We interpret the found deviation in favor of sons to be evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage.”

Now, as the second study‘s author, Jason Abrevaya, explains in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, prenatal sex selection could conceivably be a result of using more advanced reproductive technologies, like IVF or sperm sorting. In practice, the high expense and rarity of such procedures means that almost all prenatal sex selection most likely takes place by abortion. He concludes his study, “This study has offered evidence consistent with gender selection at later births within the United States.” He continues, Read More…

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We Finally Start to See What Drove Snowden

Wikimedia Commons

As the New York Times and Washington Post have recently reported, and Leah Libresco has ably described, the United States’s position as a fully empowered foreign panopticon is finally coming into view. The MYSTIC program apparently has allowed the NSA to record every single phone call taking place within some unidentified foreign country, maintaining the records for 30 days to allow analysts to quickly build a history and profile of newly identified targets. Moreover, far from being limited to this one anonymous country, the Post reports that resources have been marshaled to be able to deploy a similar system to an additional five or six countries.

It should be noted that the Washington Post‘s Barton Gelman included that this tool seems to yield significant results far beyond most of the routine surveillance overreach reported:

Highly classified briefings cite examples in which the tool offered high-stakes intelligence that would not have existed under traditional surveillance programs in which subjects are identified for targeting in advance. In contrast with most of the government’s public claims about the value of controversial programs, the briefings supply names, dates, locations and fragments of intercepted calls in convincing detail.

When Edward Snowden revealed himself as the source of significant NSA revelations last June, he described himself has being motivated by a desire to bring the U.S. government’s global surveillance operations to light, telling Glenn Greenwald, then of the Guardian

I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.

In a subsequent moderated Q&A with Guardian readers, Snowden said

More fundamentally, the “US Persons” protection in general is a distraction from the power and danger of this system. Suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it’s only victimizing 95% of the world instead of 100%. Our founders did not write that “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all US Persons are created equal.”

Most of the discussion surrounding Snowden’s status as a legitimate whistleblower has concerned his disclosures of various apparently illegal or unconstitutional activities on the part of the NSA in its domestic data collection. What the above quotes make clear, though, is that particular violations of U.S. statues or the fourth amendment are almost incidental to Snowden’s most pressing concerns, which is the power of countries (the U.S. especially) to monitor incredible scales of communication by persons anywhere in the world.

Many of the more controversial disclosures from the Snowden documents have revealed this international surveillance activity, such as tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, that is neither illegal nor, in some cases, outside the usual bounds of signals intelligence. After all, the days of “gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail” have long gone by.

With the latest, carefully anonymized, revelations, however, Snowden’s strongest motivations come into clearer focus, and should be addressed seriously. When one entity, such as a country, has the power to record and document every telephone call taking place within a given society, what effect, if any, does that have on the society targeted? Surveillance is not tangible. Especially in the digital age, it cannot be seen, heard, tasted, smelled, or touched. Bits and bytes pass through routers, waves pass through the air, and sometimes they are monitored by a third party.

How does our understanding of privacy extend from laws against peeping toms to total information monitoring surveillance states? What does it mean to set up a telephone panopticon over another country? The United States does not have legal jurisdiction in that country, after all; it cannot itself prosecute or imprison any thought criminals. But a sense of violation cannot be escaped.

What responsibilities do countries have to foreign nationals, overseas? The Constitution offers little guidance here. All the more reason, then, to ask the questions carefully, and loudly.


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At CPAC, Rand Paul Stands Ascendant

This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference has had something of a deflated feeling floating about it. The crowds are smaller, the panels are fewer, and the entire enterprise has a sneaking feeling of being scrimped on. For Rand Paul, however, CPAC was bigger and better than ever.

At last year’s conference, Paul was freshly coming off of his launch into the full national spotlight thanks to a filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to the CIA in protest of Justice Department equivocating on executive domestic droning authority. Yet for all the positive attention he received from that filibuster, Paul was still treading softly on the Republican political ground. Libertarian politics had not been overly welcome in the wider GOP, especially after a decade of Bush II foreign policy. So he took to the 2013 stage with a rock star’s reception, complete with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” but deployed a sophisticated rhetorical strategy intended to make libertarianism more comfortable for conservative ears.

What a difference a year makes.

When Paul arrived behind the podium Friday night, he walked and talked with the assurance of a man confident in his base of support, and spoke more to rally the faithful than sell the skeptical. From the beginning, Paul centered his remarks around liberty, telling the audience he was not calling for more Republicans, but more “friends of liberty.” And where last year’s speech was essentially grounded, a friendly pitch to make common cause, Paul deployed much loftier rhetoric, interspersing (as he often has) quotations and references to classic thinkers like Madison and Montesquieu in his rousing call to arms. The running theme was the “great battle” coming, and an urging to not be “lemmings” rushing towards destruction, but rather men who would defend their inalienable rights.

Paul castigated a progressive majoritarianism run amok, whose free-floating definition of legitimacy puts all minorities at risk, whether the racial minorities persecuted in generations past, or minorities of ideas at risk in the present day. He made frequent reference to his fight against the security state’s overreaches, and insisted upon the imperative importance of specific warrants and open, free trials instead of general warrants and secret determinations of guilt.

Finally, Paul closed on a muscular message rejecting the gradualist’s insistence on a hesitant program of changes, telling the CPAC crowd that their job is not to minimize liberty lost, but to maximize liberty.

Paul packed in the biggest crowds of the conference by far, and walked off to the adoring cries of his supporters, who then launched him once again to the top of CPAC’s straw poll, as he pulled in 31 percent of the vote. With the enthusiasm of Ron Paul’s supporters rallying behind a son of considerably more political savvy and talent, Rand Paul has more enthusiasm and organization than any other potential 2016 contender could hope to claim. It seems without question that Rand will be able to marshal more support than Ron.

It remains to be seen whether Paul will be able to ride a tide of libertarian enthusiasm all the way through the primary process on a platform of maximizing liberty, or whether Republicans will demand he make painful, perhaps too painful, concessions to the various constituencies of American conservatism.


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CIA May Have Spied on Congress’s Torture Probe

John Brennan confirmation hearing. Photo courtesy Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
John Brennan confirmation hearing. Photo courtesy Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

Late last night, McClatchy reported that the CIA inspector general has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the CIA illegally monitored Congressional staff investigating the Agency’s secret detention and interrogation programs. The Senate Intelligence Committee spent four years and $40 million investigating the use of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques in secret overseas prisons, producing a reportedly “searing” 6,300 page finding excoriating the Agency’s actions.

As part of this investigation, intelligence committee staff were required by the CIA to use Agency computers in a secure room in Langley to access millions of sensitive documents. Congressional investigators reportedly agreed to use those computers under the condition that their work not be monitored by the CIA, in accordance with due respect for the separation of powers and the integrity and independence of the investigation. Apparently, the spy mentality proved too strong to resist, as earlier this year the committee determined that their work had in fact been monitored in possible violation of their agreement.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report was finalized 15 months ago, and submitted to the CIA for classification vetting. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is now asking President Obama to strip the vetting control from the CIA, which may have been dragging its feet in allowing the release of a document that, according to McClatchy,

details how the CIA misled the Bush administration and Congress about the use of interrogation techniques that many experts consider torture, according to public statements by committee members. It also shows, members have said, how the techniques didn’t provide the intelligence that led the CIA to the hideout in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed in a 2011 raid by Navy SEALs.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) apparently was referring to this situation back on Jan. 9 when he asked CIA Director John Brennan whether the federal statue banning unauthorized computer access applied to the CIA. Brennan demurred.

McClatchy describes the situation following the criminal referral by the Inspector General to be “an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the CIA and its congressional overseers.”

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Hagel Begins Trimming Army to 1940 Levels

New America Foundation (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A reduction in the size of the military has been a long time coming. And now, it appears to have finally come. The New York Times reported last night that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, largely invisible since his confirmation a year ago, would be announcing “what officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001.” The budget, according to the Times‘s anonymous sources, would be ”a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations.”

The military-industrial complex is not likely to take the cuts lying down, as there are many interest groups targeted for outright cuts or reductions in growth. And already, the Times reports, the lobbies are ramping up:

For example, some members of Congress, given advance notice of plans to retire air wings, have vowed legislative action to block the move, and the National Guard Association, an advocacy group for those part-time military personnel, is circulating talking points urging Congress to reject anticipated cuts. State governors are certain to weigh in, as well. And defense-industry officials and members of Congress in those port communities can be expected to oppose any initiatives to slow Navy shipbuilding.

The cuts come across the board, including the Air Force’s entire fleet of A-10 “Warthogs,” which Kelley Vlahos recently profiled in depth.

Post-Iraq, and soon to be post-Afghanistan, the Army was already “scheduled to drop to 490,000 troops from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000,” but “Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the Army would drop over the coming years to between 440,000 and 450,000.” The Times reports that Hagel has the sign-off of all the Joint Chiefs, but in a recent Hagel profile, Kelley Vlahos mentioned that such a number “conflicts directly with what Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno says is an acceptable readiness level.” This will require a transition away from the Cold War-era “two wars” doctrine that required the military to maintain the capacity to wage two simultaneous land wars. Now, according to the Times report, “the military has been ordered to be prepared to decisively win one conflict while holding off an adversary’s aspirations in a second until sufficient forces could be mobilized and redeployed to win there.”


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A Painean Policy Proposal from a Beltway Burkean

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine

Last week, just as the East Coast descended into a terrifying world of ice and snow, Norm Ornstein proposed “A Plan to Reduce Inequality: Give $1,000 to Every Newborn Baby.” As Ornstein described the details:

It is called KidSave, and it was devised in the 1990s by then-Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, with then-Senator Joe Lieberman as cosponsor. The first iteration of KidSave, in simple terms, was this: Each year, for every one of the 4 million newborns in America, the federal government would put $1,000 in a designated savings account. The payment would be financed by using 1 percent of annual payroll-tax revenues. Then, for the first five years of a child’s life, the $500 child tax credit would be added to that account, with a subsidy for poor people who pay no income. The accounts would be administered the same way as the federal employees’ Thrift Savings Plan, with three options—low-, medium-, and high-risk—using broad-based stock and bond funds. Under the initial KidSave proposal, the funds could not be withdrawn until age 65, when, through the miracle of compound interest, they would represent a hefty nest egg. At 5 percent annual growth, an individual would have almost $700,000.

By reviving a Democratic communitarian policy proposal from the 1990s, Ornstein, a resident scholar at AEI, would probably wind up pegged in the camp of what Ben Domenech branded the “Beltway Burkeans” in an essay last summer. Domenech said, “The Beltway Burkeans talk a good game about shifting the right’s coalition, but the truth is that their agenda represents a much more modest shift, in large part a reworking of the same ideas they’ve been pitching for years.” Domenech argued this Washington-centric view could hobble Republicans by disconnecting them from the populist opportunity that the Tea Party uprising afforded them. To Domenech, “A bolder approach to remaking the coalition would ditch the false promise of technocratic paternalism in favor of a bias toward individual liberty and a rediscovery of the populist agenda.” Paine is the Republican future, not Burke, then. And to the small-government populists, Ornstein’s closing sentiment, “If the cost, in the end, were even $20 billion a year, that is chump change in a $17 [tr]illion economy—and, of course, money that would all be invested in America,” is anathema.

Yet if one thumbs back through history, Tea Party favorite Thomas Paine proposes a roughly similar policy agenda. In his 1795 pamphlet Agrarian Justice, Paine makes the Rousseauean natural law case that “The most affluent and the most miserable of the human race are to be found in the countries that are called civilized. … Poverty, therefore, is a thing created by that which is called civilized life. It exists not in the natural state.” While acknowledging the property right of those who have improved the land and thus created wealth from it, Paine held that those landowners owed the community a “ground rent” for the value of the land before improvement, which belonged to the whole human race equally. So Paine sought to remedy civilization’s poverty, by providing out of that ground rent (collected as a 10 percent estate tax as the improvers of the land turn over) a sum of 15 pounds sterling to every person upon reaching their 21st birthday. Read More…

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