CRT Comes to Vermont

The race-based assault against Vermonters began in earnest well before the spark of George Floyd.  The toxic ideology of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) has been embraced for years by Vermont progressives, joined enthusiastically by RINO Governor Phil Scott.  Race is weaponized to promote every conceivable progressive policy.  America must inoculate itself from this CRT virus.  Vermont’s unfolding experimentation is the Petri dish that proves why.

Vermont’s mostly deaf Legislature has embraced a panoply of race-based bills in 2021:

  • H.268 seeks to legalize prostitution, claiming that its prohibition was “historically … used to prosecute men of color for having relationships with women.”  (In fact, Vermont banned prostitution in response to national feminist fervor.)
  • H.273 would create a “BIPOC Land Bank” for “Black and Indigenous People of Color” to be granted money to purchase farmland.  The Bill alleges (among other bald slanders) that Vermont excluded blacks from farmland using Jim Crow and sharecropping laws.
  • H.210 alleges that racial health and other disparities in Vermont are caused by “systemic racism” without regard to the influx of refugees and other low-income people “of color.”
  • S.25 allows black residents (“social equity applicants”) to receive loans, or fee reduction, to grow or sell cannabis.
  • Vermont House Devotionals have been used to vilify Vermont and its residents.

Concurrently, Vermont’s academic and executive circles have fueled the race focus:

  • Vermont’s newly minted (and recently arrived from NYC) “executive director of racial equity” has claimed that Vermont’s land-use laws (and CO2 deadlines) are racist and has scorned Vermont’s dairy farms.
  • Vermont’s police have been maligned as racists based on arrest disparities without consideration of the state-of-origin of suspects — in the midst of a heroin and fentanyl scourge.
  • Governor Scott has been quick to condemn Vermonters as racists.
  • COVID relief funds for sole proprietorships were distributed to minority but not white applicants

Most disturbingly, the indoctrination of Vermont’s public-school children with CRT is in full swing.  Segregating citizens by race in safe spaces has become commonplace in Vermont.  Now public schools will allow “students of color” to move to separate rooms during race discussions, and violent, white-hating poetry is being endorsed in school curricula.  (“Discrimination” is necessary, per the “theory” of CRT, to redress and cure discrimination.)

CRT seeks to eliminate First Amendment and other constitutional protections, in order to craft a novel society based on race and other identity attributes.  It posits no foreseeable end to this cycle of recrimination, offering not even the pretense of a world in which the MLK standard of “judge by character, not skin color” might be achievable.  This was exhibited in Vermont when a high school student who criticized CRT at a school board meeting was fired from his lifeguard position as punishment for his speech.

A Cultish Ideology

Vermont has offered the perfect “climate” to implement this nonsensical push toward “white wokeness.”  Vermont’s ultra-progressives are able to systematically substitute ideological conclusions in place of good policy.  Fabricating a race narrative cobbled together with manipulated facts and anecdotal arguments, these cultish zealots attract well-heeled but naïve white liberals who have no hesitation fomenting racial hatred by telling black people the “system” is rigged and that all white people (except them) subconsciously have it in for dark-skinned humans and must be brought to heel.

Thomas Sowell warns that no society in human history has achieved “equity” in the form of universally equal outcome — it is impossible.  But this does not dampen the allure of what Sowell dubs the “seemingly invincible fallacy” of CRT — that all racial disparities are necessarily the product of discrimination by white people.

Vermont is the ideal Petri dish to prove the fallacy of Critical Race Theory.  It is inequitable in distribution of resources, contemptuous of Vermont’s rural culture and abolitionist history, and divisive.  CRT is offensive to both moderate (MLK) Democrats and traditional conservatives.

Once dragged into the light of discussion and analysis, CRT will fail in Vermont, as it is failing across America.  It is racist opportunism dressed up as enlightened Utopia.  Vermont’s poor, white, rural inhabitants have witnessed equally pernicious liberal elite efforts previously — in the eugenics and lobotomy movements.

They won’t be fooled again

(Originally published at American Thinker, June 25, 2021)

In Defense of Food Liberty: The “Right” to Farm

The COVID pandemic traumatized the American economy as well as citizenry, exposing vulnerabilities (and dependencies) in the nation’s food distribution system. More Americans are now alert to the issue of food security as well as food quality — what if the nation had been as completely dependent on China for basic foods as it was for medical masks? In times of crisis, local farmers and locavore consumers are a vital part of the solution to this problem. But in today’s highly-regulated world, the legal parameters of the “liberty” of farmers to sell food to their customers (or even of citizens to grow vegetables for their own consumption!) continue to be defined.

Americans’ profound dependence on a fragile, fossil-fuel-gobbling, industrial food supply has increased with technological advances, globalization, and expanding government regulation of the hitherto sacrosanct “family farm.” As the factory food supply has grown, the health and safety risks of those “modern” and often inhumane facilities have been employed as justification to expand regulatory restrictions of smaller farms. Less than six decades ago, barely one-third of states required meat that was slaughtered and sold on the farm to be inspected. Disease outbreaks from “factory meat” have since been used to greatly expand costly regulation of non-offending small farms. This compels an unhealthy trend: younger would-be farmers and new ventures are discouraged from investing in the localvore economy.

The steady urbanization of America, encouraged by regulations and subsidies that favor industrially-produced food, continues to detach modern man from connection to the soil and food supply. This has resulted in bizarre regulatory restrictions that would be (properly!) seen as absurd a few decades past. Consider these reports back in 2014:

— In 2011, a woman in Oak Park, Mich., faced the possibility of jail time for having kept an edible garden in her front yard. The city claimed the woman’s vegetable garden didn’t fit its definition of “suitable live plant material.”

— In 2012, a Newton, Mass. resident was forced by the city to dig up the tomato garden he planted in his front yard or face a fine. 

— That same year, Tulsa, Okla., code enforcement officers trampled onto an unemployed woman’s front yard and ripped up the edible garden she had planted to help feed herself during lean times. 

— In 2013, Miami Shores, Fla., amended its ordinance to prohibit front yard vegetable gardens and informed Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll that they faced fines of $50 a day if they did not destroy their beautiful garden.

This battle between municipal zoning laws and gardening has heightened due to COVID, but conflicts in the countryside have raged for years to protect traditional farms from newcomers who prefer the visual to the olfactory dimension of rural agriculture: “right-to-farm” laws have been widely enacted in response. (Not content to inhibit the self-reliant from growing vegetables or rearing chickens in suburbia, the city mice have expanded to surrounding agriculture lands; food-hostile zoning edicts in tow).

Claiming health and safety powers, government has regulated “unhealthy” foods based not only on production but on consumption  — taxes and bans on sugary or fatty foods abound. If universal food provision is a basic human entitlement, what kind of food? And how can any right be preserved when humans’ connections to the land and food are artificially severed? Does the right to “receive” food exist via government provision, or is there an individual right to produce one’s own that is sacrosanct and untouchable by government?

It does not seem controversial to state, as did Attorney Ari Bargil of the Institute for Justice, that “We have the right to use our own properties to grow our own food, as long as that use doesn’t impinge on someone else’s freedom to enjoy their property.” Yet that is precisely the frontline of the battle: government has impinged that liberty.

As 2015 Report by the Institute for Justice warned:

Today, from the federal government on down to states and cities, elected officials and regulators are cracking down with increasing relentlessness on the lives and livelihoods of the farmers, chefs, artisans, restaurateurs, food truck operators and others who raise, produce, make, cook and sell the food we eat—and in the process, undermining their right to earn an honest living and provide for themselves…. Food freedom is under attack…. The Founding Fathers fought against British laws just like these, and sought in the Bill of Rights to ensure that no American government would ever mimic Britain’s wayward colonial attacks on food freedom…..It’s time to remind our elected officials of the lessons of food freedom and to demand the return of our intertwined rights of food freedom and economic liberty.

Co-author Dave Berg published a Law Review article in 2013 titled “Food Choice Is a Fundamental Liberty Right,” (9 J. FOOD L. & POL’Y 173), which argued for constitutional support for an “individual’s right to purchase meat and poultry directly from the person who raised and participated in the slaughtering of that meat or poultry without mandatory governmental inspection.” Some have suggested granting such a right post-Citizens United would expand corporate power at the expense of individual liberties, but it is hard to imagine Monsanto claiming it has a “personal corporate right” to choose what foods it eats any more than Nike could credibly claim it has a right to an abortion. We Americans witness our neighbors being prosecuted not for chopping up a cow in their front yard, but for planting zucchini! — are we to deny people the freedom to garden under the pretense that corporations would abuse that right?

During the trauma of the COVID pandemic, citizens of all political persuasions witnessed the industrial nature and Orwellian dependency that is their modern food supply. Homesteaders (and would-be homesteaders) are the antidote to a growing effort to transfer responsibility to the government and mega-corporations for that which we once did ourselves — grow healthy food and eat it. COVID has revealed the folly of industrial food, but also armed many more with the desire and awareness to respond regeneratively.

With increasing dependency on Chinese and other foreign food producers that are often subjected to lax regulation, it is dubious to further curtail local farmers and consumers from their centuries-long traditions of commerce in the name of protecting their health. As increasing awareness of the importance of healthy local food motivates more people to try their hands at home gardening, chicken-rearing, or milking a family cow, the collisions with ubiquitous stifling regulations — zoning laws, meat inspection regulations, labeling requirements, etc. — will increase. It is imperative that the right to grow one’s own food be granted it’s proper priority for human health and pursuit of happiness.

Henry Kissinger famously said “Control oil and control the nations; Control food and you control people.” One need not point to nefarious intentions by Big Brother Monsanto to see the logic of Kissinger’s proposition — and the imperative to oppose any control of one’s food liberty by Big Government or Big Ag (the two are often aligned). Stay tuned as Americans strive to retain liberty in their own food production and distribution: the battle is just heating up.

(Previously published in Mother Earth News.)

Vermont Town Fires High School Life Guard for Questioning CRT

After a well-spoken student from Essex High School vocally opposed the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) at a public “townhall”-style meeting to discuss CRT implementation in Vermont schools, he was promptly fired by the Essex Parks and Recreation Department.  Initially the contrived cause was “…concerns around your ability to adhere to… core values,” but was switched to “perceived threats” that “…cause legitimate concern around your ability to equitably look out for the safety of everyone who attends our pools.”  This is CRT in action — shame and attack anyone who dares challenge its race-based tenets: even High School lifeguards.

The brouhaha began when 18-year-old Alex Katsnelson read a prepared statement at the Essex public CRT discussion event.  Like a sad-sack sitcom, the Essex Parks & Rec bullies pounced on the kid, parsing out his words to contrive imagined sleight:

While all of your comments are concerning, several of the comments you made publicly stand out — the first being: “the residents of Essex and Westford will not stand idly by as anti-whiteness invades our school system.” The second being: “what you people plan to do is redistribute opportunity based solely on individual identity.” The third being: “This is why we have fifth graders coming home and saying they wish they were black.”

This language does not remotely approach “threat speech” or “true threats.”  Alex Katsnelson’s comments are pure political speech, in a political forum — one of the most highly-protected forms of speech in American jurisprudence.  Parks & Rec is guaranteeing Alex a slam-dunk lawsuit!

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that speech which advocates the use of force can be restricted when it is directed to, and likely to, “incite or produce imminent lawless action.”  Nothing in this student’s comments remotely approach that strict standard.  Yet the June 10 Essex P&R letter intones gravely:

The first comment mentioned above could be taken as a threat against the school and/or our community. It is aggressive and threatening in nature, while also being vague enough to elicit fear. The second comment mentioned above uses an offensive phrase “you people” while also being very vague and intimidating in nature.The third comment, along with the rest of the public comments we have referenced, shows that you do not possess, and that you cannot uphold, the Village core beliefs and values around racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

Confused Standards?

The constitutional standards that apply to government entities do not permit the censorship of employees for saying things deemed “very vague,” that “could be taken as a threat,” or that “are vague enough to elicit fear.”  These bully bureaucrats are simply censoring this young man in the name of their “core belief”:

— Live the “golden rule” in every interaction by demonstrating a deep regard for the diversity, needs, feelings and beliefs of all people and acknowledging the ideas and opinions of everyone.

This perfectly exhibits the pernicious nature of CRT ideology — it pretends to be inclusive but is brutally insistent on adhesion to its cultish, race-based tenets.  More, it disregards merit in favor of ideological compliance: Alex Katsnelson is not criticized as an unfit lifeguard — by all indications he is superior in those qualifications.  He was fired solely for his political expression in a public forum:

We have made the determination that your public comments cause legitimate concern around your ability to equitably look out for the safety of everyone who attends our pools. In addition, we feel that your public comments are likely to cause future disruption with our residents. Your comments have already begun to cause disruption amongst your peers who have seen them. Your position by its very nature requires a degree of public trust, not often found in other instances of public employment. We cannot create an unsafe environment at our pool, nor can we create a situation where any of our residents feel unsafe or unwelcome at our pool.  

The Essex-Westford School Board approved (9 to 1!) the Critical Race Theory curriculum on June 15.  After thanking “those who opposed the equity policy for helping him to think more deeply about the district’s equity work,” board member Brendan Kinney made this pre-vote statement directed at those who challenged CRT:

“Historically the work of school boards has been apolitical. Yet in recent months, we’ve seen partisan tactics being used to promote a political agenda,” Kinney continued. “They spread misinformation, they take and twist comments out of context, they use false equivalence in making their arguments, and they deploy scare tactics to confuse parents and taxpayers.” 

These Vermont town entities surely do not “acknowledg[e] the ideas and opinions of everyone.”  But the First Amendment does, which is why CRT attacks free speech.

CRT zealots are eliminating lifeguards at public pools for political opinions, while drowning young children in a toxic experimental ideology.  The United States Constitution remains a mighty life (and liberty) preserver. 

Vermont School Board Complaint Employs CRT Intimidation

In a bizarre “Complaint” filed against recently-elected Vermont School Board member Elizabeth Cady, two citizens allege Cady’s inquiries about the introduction of Critical Race Theory (CRT) constitute a “clear breach” of School Board Operations Policy.  As in many states, this controversial ideology is seeping into Vermont’s curricula.  Cady’s case is instructive of the coercive pressure exerted by CRT radicals against those who dare question the hasty implementation of this novel, race-based “theory.”

Laura Taylor and Emily Franz allege that Cady “gave the impression that… she would represent special interests or partisan politics for personal gain.”  No monetary “personal gain” is identified.  Their real complaint is summarized in their conclusion: 

We are both strong supporters of the EWSD and its work on equity and inclusion. We feel that each and every member of the School Board should be as well.

CRT proponents oppose dissenting opinions.  A core principle of CRT asserts that free speech liberties have been used to oppress black people, and thus white people cannot be permitted a differing opinion — free speech is an obstacle to “equity.”  (Ryszard Legutko calls this “coercion to freedom.”)  A quasi-religious ideology, CRT is being launched in Vermont schools via what scholar Christopher F. Rufo aptly identifies as an “institutional orthodoxy.”  This dogma does not tolerate disagreement, as it “feels that each and every member” of society “should” agree to use skin color as a determinant of education and public policy. If one disagrees, one is a heretic to be targeted, shunned and slandered. 

The complaint falsely attributes an article written by reporter Guy Page to Mrs. Cady, which dared employ the word “uppity”:   

Before we point out the clear breach of the policy, we must take a minute to point out that the word “uppity” has deeply troubling racial and sexist undertones. It is deeply disturbing to us that a school board member would post under such an offensive, racist, and sexist title, and yet, it is not even the most unsettling aspect of the post.

Guy Page used the term exactly as the dictionary defines it, depicting Elizabeth Cady as being treated as “uppity” for standing up to CRT bullies! Guy Page didn’t employ the word offensively, or to allude to black people.  Definitional contortions by the Franz/Taylor grammarians imputed a litany of moral condemnations to bully Cady into silence — treating her as if she were uppity; falsely impugning her as a racist for an article she didn’t write.  Vermont parents must carefully scrutinize this stifling effort and its tyrannical proponents.

Guy Page’s article describes Elizabeth Cady as

…a pro-school choice, Critical Race Theory critic mom who in March defeated an incumbent pro-Critical Race Theory, anti-school choice candidate for a seat on the Essex School Board… [S]he’s a woman dedicated to a vision of a Vermont committed to fairness and equality for all. And she’s not afraid to speak out and urge others to do likewise….

Elizabeth Cady merely asked for fuller dialogue, and expressed sensible reservations about CRT.  Yet Franz and Taylor claim that 

With this post, along with her continual campaign of misinformation and contextually inaccurate data, Ms. Cady has made it clear that she does not believe in the district’s equity work, and that she is actively encouraging others to join her in this crusade, which she has made political through this post on a conservative website.

What Boardmember Cady wrote was this:

Whether or not you agree with the above being taught in schools is a personal choice, but my concern is that our community, as a whole, has been uninformed of these changes in schools and what it means to prioritize equity, specifically what is the desired end-state of equity in our schools…. If, as a parent or taxpayer, you share some of these concerns or have some of your own, I encourage you to attend the meeting and speak.  

This seems like a reasonable Voltairian appeal: but opposing views are verboten to the CRT cult.  What Franz and Taylor dub “the most unsettling aspect of the post” is that Elizabeth Cady dared question their newfound institutional orthodoxy:

This flagrant policy breach demonstrates what is apparent to many of us: EWSD School Board Member Liz Cady has a personal agenda that is not in the best interests of our schools, our students, or our community.

But isn’t the shoe on the other feet? Franz and Taylor advance a personal agenda to impose a CRT ideological indoctrination on Vermont children.  

Cady is a whistleblower and hero, whose loyalty to students and parents is her visible “personal agenda.”  The voters clearly wish to permit her to have her voice.  But most important, parents everywhere must critically examine this anti-Constitutional doctrine being rapidly introduced into America’s schools.


(Originally published at American Thinker.)

The COVID Vaccination Card and the “Mark of the Beast”

Proposals abound requiring citizens to prove they are free of COVID-19 to travel or buy goods, perhaps using a card, or a chip. Vermont has said refusal to be tested will be regarded as a presumed positive test, and reported as COVID… “in line with other states.” Some Christians call the COVID-19 vaccine “the mark of the beast.”  Travel-card proposals raise the same question — what is “the mark of the beast”?

The phrase is taken verbatim from Chapter 13 (Verses 16-18) of the Book of Revelation. Biblical scholars have generally tried to minimize interpretive license with this passage because it is so easily abused. This futuristic text predicts a “beast” will threaten complete totalitarian domination, targeting Christian believers.

Secular America mocks evangelists who point to the vaccine (or the immunization card) as “the mark.” But whether or not a COVID registration card fulfills biblical prophecy, that mark is indeed the sign of totalitarian domination. The language of Orwell, or Mao, or Huxley, might better be employed to describe the effects of such a requirement than Christian eschatology.

The technology is already there for our Brave “New-normal” COVID-ID World:

….a coalition of public and private entities are reportedly collaborating to launch CommonPass, “a trusted, globally-interoperable platform for people to document their COVID-19 status (health declarations/PCR tests/vaccinations) to satisfy country entry requirements while protecting their health data privacy.” IBM has also created its Digital Health Pass, which is designed to provide organizations with a way to bring people back into workplaces, schools, stadiums, and flights.

China employs similar tracking now, with social credits:

“Once discredited, limited everywhere” is the message China’s government announced in a report, released in early March, to the 23 million citizens it had banned from purchasing plane or train tickets the previous year. These citizens, the government declared, had proven themselves to be “untrustworthy”…. As a result, their freedom of movement has been revoked…. [T]he government is aiming for [its full social credit programme] to be fully operational and compulsory for all 1.4 billion Chinese citizens by next year…. It forces them to adhere to a system of morality imposed by the political ruling party….

The Biden administration’s sweeping implementation of edicts through executive orders threatens to increase American surveillance, using the same technological implements as China:

Stay-at-home orders, lockdowns and social isolation have meant that we rely on Silicon Valley companies to conduct basic life functions more than ever before. We order online from Amazon rather than shop; we conduct meetings online rather than meet in offices; we use Google constantly to navigate and communicate; we rely on social media more than ever to receive information about the world. And exactly as a weakened population’s dependence on them has increased to unprecedented levels, their wealth and power has reached all new heights, as has their willingness to control and censor information and debate.

One commentator coined the term “surveillance capitalists” to describe this escalating techno-tyranny:

….surveillance capitalists learned that the most predictive data come not just from monitoring but also from modifying and directing behavior. For example, by 2013, Facebook had learned how to engineer subliminal cues on its pages to shape users’ real-world actions and feelings. Later, these methods were combined with real-time emotional analyses, allowing marketers to cue behavior at the moment of maximum vulnerability. Democracy slept while surveillance capitalism flourished. As a result, surveillance capitalists now wield a uniquely 21st century quality of power, as unprecedented as totalitarianism was nearly a century ago.

This shift to cowed China-like compliance expanded following the 911 attacks, as Orwellian fear of unseen terrorists created “maximum vulnerability” for submission:

….the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell-phone calls and e-mails to Internet activity and credit-card transactions. Much of this data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children.

The purpose of a vaccination registration card must be questioned, when vaccination does not prevent transmission. There is no logical basis to track citizens for disparate treatment, yet some states are already doing so.

Scriptures aside, the blind secular rush to submit to complete COVID domination reflects a sacrifice of hundreds of years of Constitutional law and fundamental liberties on the fear-filled altar of COVID. Those who trust the government (pharmaceutical industry) to save (inoculate) them, seek a dubious savior indeed.

THE IMMINENT PERIL OF FISCAL COLLAPSE.

As Americans focus on survival under COVID-19, they remain largely oblivious to increasingly dire fiscal threats. A “debt monetization” virus (printing money without limit) has been unleashed on us, one that threatens inflation, economic stagnation, and unsustainable debt that will cripple future and present generations. And, if there is a resurgence of COVID-19, the combined wreckage will be irreversible: America will plunge into a new chaos.

[T]he Federal Reserve has broached “even more unconventional and far-reaching” monetary policies…

There are certainly scenarios where this does not unfold, all of which are dependent on COVID-19 waning. The stakes are very high: economic weaknesses exposed during the 2007-2008 crisis (including high leverage and systemic risk) were not cured. Critics claimed the 2008 bailout itself created a lasting moral hazard for banks, and regulatory oversight created by 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act was pared back significantly in 2018. As one market commentator, Nouriel Roubini, observed in 2020:

“After the 2007-2009 financial crisis, the imbalances and risks pervading the global economy were exacerbated by policy mistakes. So, rather than address the structural problems that the financial collapse and ensuing recession revealed, governments mostly kicked the can down the road, creating major downside risks that made another crisis inevitable…

Roubini forewarned that this weakness would be aggravated by protectionist policies enacted during COVID-19, and the United States government has done exactly as predicted: they’ve monetized the fiscal deficit to avoid total collapse. To justify this (and calm market anxieties), the Federal Reserve has broached “even more unconventional and far-reaching” monetary policies, to quote Roubini. These unprecedented policies include tacit promises by the Federal Reserve to the Treasury Department (and Biden administration) that, no matter how much money is printed, interest rates will remain low.Stock Exchange.

STOCK EXCHANGE.

Since 2007-2008, ear-tickling arguments that the old rules can be cast away, and money printed freely have proliferated. John C. Williams, currently President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is one such aficionado of “monetary policy under uncertainty.” While President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Williams hazarded that:

“Milton Friedman famously said, ‘Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.’ We are currently engaged in a test of this proposition … In my view, recent developments make a compelling case that traditional textbook views of the connections between monetary policy, money, and inflation are outdated and need to be revised.”

The Federal Reserve stated in mid-2020 that it will keep the federal funds rate near zero; this is itself a component of Fed aggressiveness called “forward guidance.” Traditionally, the Federal Reserve does not “guarantee rates for the future,” as this instills understandable market fear of unmonitored inflation. The federal funds rate (the rate banks charge for overnight loans, which is set by the Federal Reserve) strongly relates to interest rates on mortgages, credit cards, and other debt. But an important aspect of the Fed’s job is to monitor rates to prevent inflation—promising rates will remain low abandons that function, eliminating the Fed’s independent market monitoring function, and tying its (and the nation’s) fiscal hands in the event of rising inflation or other crises.

[A]n important aspect of the Fed’s job is to monitor rates to prevent inflation—promising rates will remain low abandons that function…

Promising low rates with unlimited spending power to the money-printers is a moral hazard: it encourages reckless debt monetization, unchallenged by a citizenry panicked by COVID and desperate for financial assistance. Morgan Stanley reported that early in the COVID-19 crisis, the Fed was buying securities at eight times the rate under 2007-2008 Quantitative Easing (QE), the process by which the Federal Reserve bought up trillions of dollars worth of mortgage and other securities to inject money into the economy and financial system. The Fed now holds more mortgages than ever, exceeding 34% of all mortgage debt.

The federal government has no choice. Mortgage (and rent) defaults skyrocketed when COVID-19 befell. Investors did not wish to own delinquent mortgages. Had the Fed not stepped in, the entire mortgage and banking system would have collapsed rapidly. The Fed’s actions kept interest rates artificially low, preventing (or merely postponing?) an uncontrollable rout.

But now, the debt-printing holding pattern must be maintained: interest rates are approaching zero, and the Federal Reserve is basically backing the entire mortgage market. The Fed dare not pull its monetary finger from this massive fiscal floodwall. President Biden’s tax plans will add another revenue-sapping straw to businesses’ backs—the Tax Foundation estimates some 46% of increased tax revenues will come from business, even as expansions of Child Care credits and other provisions reallocate wealth. Increases in corporate, capital gains, and individual income tax rates will undermine rather than bolster economic growth, especially when twinned with growing debt. As the Tax Foundation cautions, “Biden’s tax plan would reduce the economy’s size by 1.62% in the long run. The plan would shrink the capital stock by about 3.75% and reduce the overall wage rate by a little over 1%, leading to about 542,000 fewer full-time equivalent jobs.”

Meanwhile, not all COVID-19 spending is COVID-related—that pork is tying rocks to the feet of businesses trying to swim in fetid fiscal waters. Huge sums are being routed to arts organizations, and the President has launched a massive “infrastructure rebuilding program” for roads and bridges that he touts will “win the future.” Raising taxes while raising debt to fund expanded spending inflicts a chokehold on economic growth while creating strong inflationary pressures. Using COVID as an excuse to launch brave new economic experiments will have consequences: the risks of both inflation, and recession, are amplified by a reckless (desperate?) Federal Reserve policy that promises unconditionally to keep interest rates low long-term.

Note the constant pressure on the government and Federal Reserve to support Main Street and poor Americans, concurrently with banking Juggernauts that are “too big to fail.” This, too, is an almost impossible balancing act, as money funneled to Wall Street is more likely to cause asset inflation. One insightful investment analyst explains it this way: “When QE is used to buy mortgage-backed securities, corporate bonds, stocks, or other things, it mainly goes to financial markets rather than Main Street. When QE is used to buy Treasuries in a normal sense, it makes it to Main Street.” A large proportion of COVID relief funds have been applied in that first category, which artificially inflates asset values (as opposed to income). As Forbes magazine recently noted:

“By now pretty much everyone knows that the massive amount of financial stimulus from the central banks and the government has bid up all asset prices. But the Fed and the rest of the central bank community … are now all leaning on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) which says that as long as there is no inflation, a sovereign government can, and should, print unlimited amounts of money to solve economic, financial and social problems.”

Contrary to popular belief, 62% of the 2019 federal budget supports social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, versus merely 21% in 1960. This (inefficiently) fuels the economy, while gradually supplanting it: social program investments support consumer spending (demand), but provide zero investment capital, or business support. An economy doesn’t grow by service sector (healthcare, for instance) alone, so overlarge social programs tap economic vitality and undermine the economy more than they might stimulate it. Perhaps the President will soon announce his first Five-Year Plan.Credit Cards.

CREDIT CARDS.

NO ROOM FOR ERROR: COVID SQUEEZES THE FEDERAL RESERVE

This Scylla and Charibdis will narrow: for Biden, the Fed, and all Americans. As the COVID relief (and tax “stimulus”) spending works its way through the economy, both pressures on interest rates, and demands for yet more cash infusion, will increase, squeezing the nation between those competing pressures. Ironically, many people are earning more money on government relief than pre-COVID, and dependencies are increasing. It is unsurprising that narcotics overdose deaths spike each time COVID-19 “relief” checks are issued. But it is not sustainable, and at some point, substance abusers are just going to have to “earn” their fix (and food) again.

Properly understood, the Federal Reserve is not competently managing this crisis—it is feigning control while it is compelled into an unsustainable holding pattern of printing money.

The Federal Reserve’s purchases forestall mortgage rate spikes (temporarily), but they threaten artificial asset inflation (by pumping up demand, which causes prices to rise) that then tempts the Federal Treasury to shift its tax base from income (Main Street) to asset appreciation (Wall Street) in order to preserve revenue flows. This too is a moral hazard: taxing “gain” that is attributable to inflation is behind the current Dem push to tax wealthy New Yorkers for holding on to assets in an inflationary cycle.

Calling out Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for essentially giving Congress a green light to print money without fear of rate hikes, Wall Street Journal writer Joseph Sternberg cautions:

Treasury will benefit from Mr. Powell’s success in stoking stock and other asset markets to record highs over the past year even as the pandemic and attendant lockdowns throttled the Main Street economy. The growing disconnect between Wall Street prices and Main Street profits holds open the prospect that capital-gains taxation will grow ever more reliable as a revenue source … The government traditionally relied for revenue on the economy’s underlying productivity … To make the government proportionately more dependent on Fed-inflated capital gains, as Democrats are wont to do, would weaken an important tie between Congress’s fiscal role and the real economy. This is especially dangerous…”

The government is becoming “more dependent on Fed-inflated capital gains,” Sternberg cautions, which is “especially dangerous given mounting evidence in the economics literature that monetary and financial excess saps Main Street productivity rather than bolstering it.”

Properly understood, the Federal Reserve is not competently managing this crisis—it is feigning control while it is compelled into an unsustainable holding pattern of printing money. If it stops purchasing mortgages, rates will spike sharply, and panic will ensue. If it stops printing money for Main Street, upheaval and business decline are assured.U.S. Dollar.

U.S. DOLLAR.

America’s debt load now exceeds 134% of GDP and climbing, racing past the 130% threshold considered critical by many economists. The World Economic Forum summarizes this threat:

“[U]nder realistic parameter constellations, a debt ratio of 130% of GDP constitutes a critical threshold, where the line between sustainability and unsustainability is very thin. With a debt ratio above this ‘reference value’, a government might struggle to cope with the cost of debt … With very low interest rates, it is tempting for governments to spend more. However, while risk-free rates hover around zero in the euro area, high-debt countries face considerable risk premia that can lead to a feedback loop in which high-risk premia lead to higher debt, which in turn leads to ever higher risk premia.”

Debt service (the amount of revenue diverted to meet growing interest payments) begins to swallow real growth, even as interest rates spike (in part due to that debt), creating a vicious cycle (that “feedback loop” referred to above) from which not even the mighty Greenback is immune. America is now well beyond that threshold, praying it is not a cliff. Stratospheric lending levels led to widespread suffering in some European nations, who, because of their penchant for borrowing and spending, became known as the PIIGS nations (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain). Has America become a PIIGS country?:

“During the early 2000’s, fueled largely by an extremely accommodative monetary policy, these countries had access to capital at very low interest rates. Inevitably, this led to some of the weaker economies, especially the PIIGS, to borrow aggressively, often at levels that they could not reasonably expect to pay back should there be a negative shock to their financial systems. The 2008 global financial crisis was this negative shock.”

Perhaps America’s debt ratio should be compared with Italy’s (at 134.8% in 2019, now higher) or Spain’s (120.97%).

The Federal Reserve promises rates will stay low, and it will buy all mortgages—and market securities—required to uphold the markets. In essence, the Federal Reserve has become the economy, itself a terrifying prospect. But in all its promises and forecasts, the Fed is assuming a rosy national GDP growth of approximately 6.5% for 2021.

The March 10th, 2021 Economic Conference Board Forecast for the U.S. Economy considers a “pessimistic” scenario unaddressed by the Federal Reserve, in which an “additional wave” of COVID-19 mutations cause “the U.S. economy [to grow] by just 2.8 percent (year-over-year) in 2021.” Of course, a COVID-19 resurgence is just one of many economic shocks that could instead push national GDP into negative territory. But at 2.8% growth the Economic Conference Board forecasts “In this scenario, U.S. monthly economic output does not recover to pre-pandemic levels until sometime in 2022.”

Economics may be the science of yawns, but Americans should bolt awake to the knife’s edge along which President Biden and the Federal Reserve are so dangerously crawling. There is no margin for error: even if COVID disappeared tomorrow, a 140% deficit coupled with a declining economy and more taxes on businesses means that future generations carry the largest fiscal burden in U.S. history, bar none. Meanwhile, spendthrift state and federal governments are using COVID funds to expand rapidly, increasing long-term drains on real growth.

In the race through this treacherous channel, America must care for its poor and avoid revolt, while nurturing its banking and securities systems without sparking crushing inflation. The Federal Reserve pretends it has its hand on the monetary rudder, when in fact, the COVID-19 current has flung it wildly into uncharted seas. President Biden, too will howl at the wind, as we see whether we crash onto the rocks of strangling runaway inflation, or plunge into the whirlpool of economic and political anarchy.

(Originally published 4/9/2021 at Human Events)

Vermont Governor Phil Scott Calls Critics of Vaccinations Racists

Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott, an “enlightened” RINO, previously condemned all Vermonters as backwoods racists and all Trump-supporters as white supremacists, joined those who label all Vermont police as racists based on manipulated statistics, and also exempted Black Lives Matter protesters from COVID restrictions while shutting down conservative political rallies.  Now he is calling Vermonters racists yet again:

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has condemned the “racist response” to his administration’s decision to make Black, indigenous, and people of color of any age eligible for a coronavirus vaccine before residents of other races.

As Thomas Sowell explains in Discrimination and Disparities (p. 23), age is a better determinant of wealth than race.  In Vermont, this is evident in numbers that show that BIPOC residents have lower home ownership and incomes than older whites — age explains those differences better than race (though another factor is that significant numbers of BIPOC have relocated to Vermont, including from foreign lands as impoverished immigrants, and this has greatly skewed Vermont’s statistics — but that is another story).  But in Vermont, this clear factual evidence is swept under the ideological carpet in favor of narratives that paint whitey as ubiquitous oppressor.

Scott perceives he is “rescuing” BIPOC people when in fact he is killing old white Vermonters using a warped ideology that also distorts scientific evidence.  Old white Vermonters are more at risk of mortality than young blacks, and Vermont’s demographics show that blacks are younger than whites (again, those new arrivals).  Providing COVID vaccinations to the old in priority over the young is consistent with sound medical science; providing it to young BIPOC in preference to old whites is the opposite, and bases medical decisions on a racist ideology that is increasingly revealed to cause more new inequities than it eliminates (see Thomas Sowell, The Quest for Cosmic Justice).

Says Scott:

Unfortunately, the legacy of racism in America, and in Vermont, still drives a lot of anger and fear. Recently, my office, the Health department and those hardworking individuals getting us vaccinated, have been subjected to vitriolic and inappropriate comments in social media and other forums regarding this decision. This too is unacceptable. And it is evidence that many Americans, and many Vermonters, still have a lot to learn about the impacts of racism in our country and how it has influenced public policy over the years.

Notice how facts — why white old people should medically stand in line behind 16-year-old blacks — and the law — Bakke and other decisions — are both avoided: complaining is “not acceptable.”  This is evidence that Vermont’s governor does not comprehend the science or the law, or why calling everybody a racist and playing the victim is growing tiresome.

Incorporating the obligatory George Floyd invocation, the governor carried the social justice game one more step:

And to my fellow Vermonters who find themselves the target of these comments and actions of prejudice, please know that we stand with you. Do not be intimidated by the hate speech. Do not allow these comments of racism to keep you from getting vaccinated or from anything you deserve as members of the Vermont community.

When white Vermonters sue the state because of dead loved ones killed by Governor Scott’s unconstitutional race-based decision, and invoke Bakke and other existing legal precedents, will Governor Scott malign them as racists?

It is not racist hate speech to challenge Governor Scott’s patently racist, medically spurious, unilaterally declared edicts, which threaten elderly Vermonters with a miserable death.  More and more Vermonters are standing up bravely to ask these logical (and legal) questions — refusal to answer them will no longer be tolerated.

Calling Vermonters and their history “racist” is not an effective evasion of accountability to science and the Constitution. 

Image: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Sarah Mattison.

The United States Constitution: A Socio-Rhetorical Perspective

Theological scholarship has developed insightful tools to glean deeper understanding of biblical texts by analyzing a broad spectrum of cultural and other factors which infused the writers and their audiences. This evolving discipline allows modern readers to better comprehend and apply Scriptures penned thousands of years ago. Might it also have relevance for a document from our less distant past, such as the United States Constitution?

As an example of the enhanced comprehension gained by socio-rhetorical analysis, one might consider the writings of Paul. Paul shifted his discursive method, logical structure, and sources to fit his audience. Like the Gospels themselves, sometimes Paul is trying to persuade Greeks. e.g., the “unknown God” in Acts, and employment of classic Greek rhetoric. Other times he is evangelizing to Jews, and draws upon the Judaic tradition and methodology as foundation. Elsewhere he addresses pagan idolaters, mystics, Romans, various sects of errant Christians.

Modern readers of the Bible are understandably inclined to interpret all of Pauls’ writings through a modern lens, oblivious to these fine — but very important — distinctions in Paul’s tactics. Paul is extremely adept and flexible in responding to his audience — as Christians should still be today.

Applying an exhaustic socio-rhetorical analysis to the United States Constitution is beyond the scope of this essay, but even a cursory review of this contrast between cultures old and new reveals how grossly the authors’ meaning of that document can be distorted when context is ignored. A parallel jurisprudential dispute is found in the “Framers’ intent” versus “living document” thread that has never left our Supreme Court’s decisions throughout our history — is the United States Constitution something to be preserved rigidly, or is it malleable to changing times?

Constitutional Roots

The roots of our Constitution do reach back to Greek structures of government, as well as to Judeo-Christian traditions. But Aristotle endorsed human slavery, and those Spartans praised for first creating “citizen’s rights” also subjugated their neighbors into brutal servitude. Ultimately, the brilliant foundation of our Constitution stretches back to the amazing contributions to humanity of Moses, who advanced not only monotheism but a moral code, and an evolving faith in the divine worth of every soul.

These values were almost universally embraced in 1776: less so today. The great friction in our nation’s founding was not the worth of man — it was how much that worthy man could trust an unworthy government. This created the great rift that was bridged at the signing of the Constitution, but which has never left our populace: between those who do, and those who do not, favor a large and powerful federal government — between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists:

Federalist supporters battled for a strong union and the adoption of the Constitution, and Anti-Federalists fought against the creation of a stronger national government and sought to leave the Articles of Confederation, the predecessor of the Constitution, intact.

Indeed, 18th-century Anti-Federalists sounded concerns that carry a familiar echo:

When it came to national politics, they favored strong state governments, a weak central government, the direct election of government officials, short term limits for officeholders, accountability by officeholders to popular majorities, and the strengthening of individual liberties.

Together these groups mediated what has survived as our founding document — the Bill of Rights was a product of this compromise, demanded by the Anti-Federalists:

…the Antifederalists feared that before long Congress would pass oppressive taxes that they would enforce by creating a standing national army…. In spite of the diversity that characterized the Antifederalist opposition, they did share a core view of American politics. They believed that the greatest threat to the future of the United States lay in the government’s potential to become corrupt and seize more and more power until its tyrannical rule completely dominated the people. Having just succeeded in rejecting what they saw as the tyranny of British power, such threats were seen as a very real part of political life…. The most powerful objection raised by the Antifederalists, however, hinged on the lack of protection for individual liberties in the Constitution…. This was seen as a central safeguard of people’s rights and was considered a major Revolutionary improvement over the unwritten protections of the British constitution…. The Antifederalists and Federalists agreed on one thing: the future of the nation was at stake in the contest over the Constitution.

Applying these ideas to 2021, the damage to constitutional values caused by ignorance of American history is evident. It would seem that we do not agree on that “one thing” any longer. Just a brief list would include:

— The Second Amendment. Some argue that the framers never imagined modern firepower from “assault weapons” and would have opposed their common availability. Such an interpretation of the Second Amendment is laughably distant from the Framers’ intent — they wanted an armed citizenry to stave off tyranny — they would want us all to have AR-15s, or more!! (Especially lately). Additionally, these same people say “you can’t fight the federal government” as justification to ban guns. Times have changed, they say…. Perhaps they had best study the British of 1776, and the threats to patriots who rebelled.

— abortion and the “right” to privacy, gay marriage, transgender surgeries at public expense. What would these have looked like to the Framers? Many on the Left who argue that Americans should be restricted to flintlocks have no problem explosively expanding other provisions to accommodate modern culture.

— the First Amendment has morphed from “free exercise of religion” to “banning all religion,” according to modern secularists. This is only possible in a vacuum of ignorance of colonial context.

— the idea of free “inalienable” rights which cannot be impaired by government is now morphing into calls for new, very costly “rights” (to healthcare, college, housing, even income) that are created by and emanate from government.

— the electoral college was crafted in response to Shay’s Rebellion. The parallels with today’s Black Lives Matter riots are inescapable, but ignored.

The most poignant — and alarming — shift has come in the relationship between “We the People” and the federal government. Using torturous perversions to discredit, even dismantle, the United States Constitution, modern ideological efforts simultaneously embrace an even deeper dependence on an ever-more-powerful federal government. This is a seismic departure from the unbroken friction of American history between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.

But as the above list recounts, the consistent theme in the American 21st Century is to sweep aside the Anti-federalists as anachronistic, and plunge off the cliff of complete federalism. This is a divide between those who do trust the federal government, and those who do not. This modern thrust to enlarge and expand the federal government’s power and role in Americans’ lives is a repudiation of all Constitutional precepts. But more, it is a sort of sociological breach of contract — those Americans who trust the federal government seek to compel the rest of us to join their servitude. That is a violation of those historic tenets that created the most profound living document in human history, and it courts disaster.

It is well-known that the federal government has experimented on citizens with drugs, psychiatric conditioning, medical research, biological agents, LSD, even radiation. Not all Americans are persuaded that 911 was not a controlled demolition — but surely they know that the bombing of those towers was employed to justify a horrid war with a country that had nothing at all to do with the attacks. Will today’s (Democrat) federalists now pass a law that all Americans must trust the 2020 election results as well?

None of this unraveling would be possible without a re-writing, or utter ignorance, of American colonial history. Those who blindly seek to eviscerate the Constitution also seek to remove statues, and have essentially re-written American history as a narrative of exploitive racist enslavement, itself a dangerous fiction. How much did George Orwell caution against such forces? How far from our foundations can this generation stray before we must repeat the whole episode to learn anew?

Both sides claim they are the defenders of Constitutional democracy. Consider the recent effort to intrude into United States Senator Republican Senator Josh Hawley’s residence. Leftwing media reported this as “a peaceful protest,” yet rioters are seen trying to enter the Senator’s home: his wife was understandably terrified. A lead protester with a bullhorn yelled:

We’re not gonna let people hold our democracy hostage. We’re not going to let them infringe on our rights, and the ballots have been counted and it’s over, and democracy is under attack. What do we do when democracy is under attack? We’re not gonna let some fascist, racist, and ignorant people come into our town and into our community…. So therefore, we’re going to hold political figures accountable who are trying to swindle the election, swindle democracy, and don’t give a rat’s ass about the American people.

So, in order to protect “their rights,” they will decide what others get to do — travel, opinions, even have peace in their own homes. The Constitution is subverted, ignorantly, as the New Tyranny presents itself as the Great Liberty. Only ignorance of the foundations of our nation (the socio-rhetorical context of our founding document, if you will), permit such deterioration. We are living in TS Eliot’s Wasteland — no shared culture, or morality, or even community.

The Federalist Party essentially evaporated by 1816, but the Jeffersonian Republicans continued on:

Led by Thomas Jefferson, whom they helped elect to the presidency for two terms (1801-1809), the Republicans believed in individual freedoms and the rights of states. They feared that the concentration of federal power under George Washington and John Adams represented a dangerous threat to liberty.

The battle then, as today, was contentious. Many Anti-Federalists planned to boycott even a vote, absent a Bill of Rights. In Pennsylvania, they had to be rounded up or it would not have been ratified:

extraordinarily coercive measures were taken to force Antifederalists to attend. Antifederalists were found at their boarding house and then dragged through the streets of Philadelphia and deposited in the Pennsylvania State House with the doors locked behind them. The presence of these Antifederalists against their will, created the required number of members to allow a special convention to be called in the state, which eventually voted 46 to 23 to accept the Constitution. 

That Republican Party of Jefferson supposedly morphed into today’s Democrats, but it is hard to see…. The lines between two sides of Americans seems to have never left us — or have they?

A View of Today’s Division

Let us take a socio-rhetorical gander at today’s America. It is largely secular, repudiating the Judeo-Christian beliefs that infused the Constitution. The two sides have broken their truce — the Federalists wish to eliminate “Individual liberties” as anachronistic tools of oppression by racists, not bulwarks against government oppression. That is, the Left seeks to renege on that historic compact, and reboot with something undefined, unilateral, and undemocratic.

If this sounds controversial, it is hardly difficult to prove. Antifa calls to ban hate speech, ignoring a long line of Supreme Court cases that shield it. (Calling people racist without evidence is hateful, and maybe should be illegal…). The BLM political movement repeatedly invokes Critical Race Theory, proclaiming “we must not use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house.” That is, the cheat. One set of rights for us, another for you. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. 

This new ideology (unimaginable to any of the founders) alleges Christianity did not liberate people from slavery, or improve prisons, create hospitals, or build schools for blacks and Indigenous people’s — it oppressed them and did nothing else, and must be removed. Race and slavery are THE core issues for Americans, and all else (including the Bill of Rights) must bow in recognition (servitude). And who will eliminate subconscious racism, rewrite the past, and usher in our New Utopia? Why the, new federal government, of course — or maybe an international one, unhampered by those pesky restraints about “God” and “inalienability.”

And here we see the central role of historiography: in how we perceive the socio-political and cultural influences that shaped our society. The only way to eliminate the Constitution and impose totalitarianism is to miseducate all those values and the uniqueness of man that gave rise to American exceptionalism, itself deemed evil. An insightful writer warns us of

the rising specter of man’s hostility to man in the collapse of religious authority and its corresponding duty to teach virtue. Disordered polities and disordered peoples emerge when religious authority and the self-control it teaches to mankind begin to erode. As virtue fails and men descend, secular political authority fills the gap with police, surveillance, and the totalitarian temptation.

This observable truth is lost on the new ideology, which shares almost no socio-rhetorical resemblance to the world that gave humble rise to our mighty Constitution. Without the compromise embraced in 1790, that compact becomes a Phoenix that may never rise again. For the “New Federalists” to presume that the Anti-Federalists will now line up for dystopian federal domination, reveals the deep chasm into which America is now plunging, headlong.

This is not an evolution of thought, or a new blend of ideas: this is divorce. 

May the God of our fathers save us.

PROPOSED VERMONT STATUTE PERVERTS HISTORY.

The “social justice” movement that’s taken the nation by storm since last summer has descended upon the Green Mountains as leftists employ absurd lies to impose glaring injustices. Perhaps the biggest of these lies being spread by leftists lawmakers is that Vermonters killed off all the Native Americans, and must now pay economic penance. A vile bill, introduced by 18 misinformed legislators, incorporates fraudulent claims to statutorily inflict hateful vengeance in the name of “social justice.”

H.273, “An act relating to promoting racial and social equity in land access,” proposes to contribute $10 million to a BIPOC-operated bank which will administer the funds for BIPOC applicants to purchase land or housing in “every town in Vermont.” To justify this, the bill incorporates the following fallacious drivel:

“The foundation of our current economic system was built on land that was taken from Abenaki and other Indigenous persons, and the structures of our economic system were constructed with the labor of enslaved persons … The laws and policies of our State and nation severed Indigenous persons from their land while denying them, Black persons, and other Persons of Color from having the opportunity to access and to own land.”

That all sounds horrid, of course, but here’s the thing… It never happened. Not in Vermont, at least. This statute re-writes Vermont’s history, replacing its past with fiction. It attributes violence against Abenakis to all Vermonters, when the reality is that the vast majority of white migrants settled lands nearly empty of Abenaki, back in the 1800s. The Abenaki were nomadic and did not “own land” to be “taken” in the western sense, and the “economic system” alleged in the statute was white subsistence farming, which built Vermont’s economy for some two hundred years—after most Abenaki were gone. The bill alleges that “Centuries of genocide, eugenics, broken treaties, displacement, and land dispossession placed persons of the Abenaki Nations and other Indigenous persons living in Vermont at a great social disadvantage.” While it is true that Abenaki were targeted for forced sterilization, that was a progressive policy of which most white Vermonters were simply not complicit—indeed, poor white farmers were themselves targeted.

The statute also conflates the Abenaki and slaves, yet slavery was prohibited in Vermont by its “laws and policies”—the first Constitution in the nation, in fact, banning slavery. Vermont is so extremely white today because slavery was almost nonexistent in the state’s history. There is no record of Vermont “denying… [people of color]… from having access to land.” It just did not occur, not “systemically,” not ever.

In truth, the historic basis for this kind of legislation is entirely imagined.

TRUE BIPOC VERMONT 

Black people have never lived in Vermont in significant numbers: the 1960 Census (Table 15) reflects 572 Black residents in 1920, 568 in 1930, 584 in 1940, 443 in 1950, and 519 in 1960. The 1910 U.S. Census identified 34 Native Americans residing in Vermont in 1890, 5 in 1900, and 26 in 1910. But the evidence that this demographic makeup is a result of discrimination—or “barriers to the equal enjoyment and economic benefit of land access and homeownership opportunities based on race and ethnicity,” as H. 273 alleges—is scant.

At one point, the bill even calls out Jim Crow laws… (Vermont, of course, was not a Jim Crow state).

Instead, the bill makes a huge show of condemning historic grievances that “BIPOC” Americans may have with the federal government: the General Allotment Act of 1887 (the Dawes Act); policies started 1934 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation that were criticized for “denying Black and brown residents equal access to home mortgages, often offering subprime loans that came with unusually severe terms”; or the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act which created the G.I. Bill of Rights (“Funds from the bill were only made available to White soldiers returning from war and not BIPOC veterans.”). None of these policies were enacted in or by Vermonters. At one point, the bill even calls out Jim Crow laws: “The rate of ‘Black land-loss’ can be attributed to Jim Crow, racist practices conducted by the USDA and decades of farm busts.” (Vermont, of course, was not a Jim Crow state).

Still, H. 273 seeks to fund land acquisition for those “who have not had equal access to public or private economic benefits due to race, ethnicity, sex, geography, language preference, immigrant or citizen status, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, or disability status.” Hundreds of thousands of white Vermonters, meanwhile, have endured a long history of crushing poverty—a history that “native” Vermonters well know, but a history which those who condemn them recast as “white privilege.”

Most “native” Vermonters (now a pejorative term) understand and are humbled by this history. Poor houses existed in numerous Vermont towns. Sheep farming was once relatively profitable, but the wool market peaked in 1851. Then, Vermont shifted its agriculture to dairy—first butter and cheese lugged to Boston; later, fresh milk. But the opening of the railroads undermined dairy prices, and Vermont dairy farming has been in decline ever since. Over the decades, from 1930 to the present, Vermont dairy suffered an “economic freefall.” Vermont’s dairy farms—its primary industry—shrank from 27,000 in 1927 to barely 600 today. Milk prices dropped by more than half during the Great Depression and never fully rebounded.

Social Justice Warriors proclaim that today’s black Vermonters are owed money and land by their white neighbors…

There were a few black farmers through this period, but blacks were mostly spared the abject misery, alcoholism, and despair that strangled white farm families who often lacked food, clothing, and dental or health care. This is what H.273 now fantastically alleges was a period of white privilege enabled by the exploitation of black and Abenaki labor.

Now Social Justice Warriors proclaim that today’s black Vermonters are owed money and land by their white neighbors, for nebulous crimes such as those routinely alleged (and far from proven) against Abenaki natives. “Native peoples” are routinely invoked by just-off-the-bus agitators who claim that only Native Americans (and them) have the right to declare who owns the land. As former legislator Kiah Morris proclaimed, “Unless you are First Nations, you have no right to claim who are real Vermonters. Nativist political platforms are the basest level of discourse.” SJWs use allegations of historic Native suffering to stake their claim—Kiah herself moved to Vermont from Chicago (where presumably, only native people have a right to claim who are really Chicagoans).

Xusana Davis, Vermont’s Executive Director of Racial Equity, echoes this same manipulation. Having moved to Vermont from New York City six months before COVID-19 struck, Xusana stated in a recent podcast:

“What’s most interesting to me is that when we think about a typical Vermonter, it is often the case that people envision somebody who may be white. Oftentimes, people who are white who maybe are born and raised in Vermont, they’ll say, ‘I’m a native Vermonter.’ And I always think, oh, you’re Abenaki? Because if you’re really a native Vermonter, then you’re probably indigenous to the land.”

But there are no Abenaki “indigenous to the land” in that there are no Abenaki with intact culture, language, or genetics. The Cro Magnon have no indigenous sites remaining either, so perhaps exploitation of them can be similarly understood. Why do newly arrived BIPOC ideologues possess the authority to exact retribution from white Vermonters who have lived on family land for 200 uninterrupted years?

Note how Davis invokes Native American history as a claim of right for black people:

“[T]he message around who’s a real Vermonter circulates so much around whiteness and proximity to whiteness, as opposed to being rooted in the recognition that this remains unceded land, and that we all exist on this territory as a result of force, biological warfare, and the manipulation of laws that keeps some people buoyed by the system and others oppressed by it. So when it comes to a sense of belonging, I think we really have to reckon with that.”

Davis attended Fordham University (the 14th most expensive American college), and New York Law School in New York City, even though NYC suffers from horrid wealth disparity, and sits on unceded land, stolen from the Lenape Indians. By what logic is Xusana Davis more of a Vermonter than those who have lived here for centuries? Is she “entitled” to claim their land because of ancient, generalized grievances? And under that logic, couldn’t Vermonters pack their carpetbags and employ the same exploitation and subjugation in NYC? This language of denigrating and condemning native white Vermonters resembles the colonizing language of those who robbed the Inuit of their culture, or robbed Vermonters of their fertility during the eugenics movement.

Most Vermonters would be receptive to a law that acknowledged historic socio-economic racial disparities arising from slavery, and would seek to eliminate those inequities. But H. 273, which insists on denigrating Vermonters, is a bridge too far. Vermonters and their history are being unfairly (racially) vilified by opportunistic ideologues.

THE TRUTH ABOUT NATIVE AMERICAN VERMONTERS

Leftist history revisionists frequently romanticize Native American culture, what they see as some Utopian hippie commune of peaceful weavers disrupted by murderous capitalists. Indeed the Abenaki were more peaceful than the neighboring Iroquois, but their life expectancy was very short, living conditions harsh, and famine was common. Native American life was hardly the Kumbaya Shangri-La that those who seek to exploit it pretend.

Some New England tribes were brutally warlike: the Mohawks (an Iroquois tribe) regularly conducted violent raids into Vermont against more peaceful tribes. In his thorough study of the life of Samuel de Champlain, the navigator and colonist who established French settlements in Quebec and New France, Pulitzer-prize winning historian David Hackett Fischer relays this:

“Torture and cannibalism was an ancient custom among these nations. Not all Indians in the northeast practiced it. Acadian nations did not usually treat warrior-captives that way … Champlain understood this ritual atrocity better than some ethnographers have done, and he refused to accept any part of it. He hated Indian torture. It offended his deepest ideals and created a major obstacle to his grand design. He observed that the explicit purpose of torture was to commit an act of vengeance and retribution, designed to exceed the horror of tortures past. This was the foundation of Champlain’s judgment that the Indians had no law. He meant that their conception of justice was to punish a wrong by a greater wrong. That way of thinking was very different from an idea of law and justice as the rule of right.”

Champlain’s desire was to create a new colony where Natives’ lives would improve, and he did contribute to growing amiability between the tribes. But the history is a complex one in which many Abenakis perished in wars fighting beside the French against British troops allied with other tribes. Fischer relates that, in 1755, 6,000 Abenakis were expelled from their lands in Nova Scotia by British governor Colonel Charles Lawrence. Singling out white Vermonters, who themselves were killed in both sides of these battles, is folly.

This humbling history is a far cry from the oversimplified assertions of H.273, which claims that Vermont’s white settlers employed slavery and genocide to obtain land. The statute conflates the two grievances of slavery and Abenaki abuse while clouding (re-fashioning) Vermont’s history relative to both. Proponents seem less interested in advancing the fortunes of black people than penalizing present-day Vermonters for wrongs past. And it does not appear that any Abenaki Vermonters were involved in its drafting.

DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD

Douglas Murray sharply chronicles this dangerous propensity toward hate and thuggery from the New Left in his 2019 monograph, The Madness of Crowds. Murray writes, “this spirit of accusation, claim and grudge has spread with a swiftness that is remarkable… this form of dogmatic, vengeful liberalism may, among other things, at some stage risk undermining and even bringing down the whole liberal era.” Murray describes this leftist propensity for “making insincere claims and catastrophizing minute events” as the new ideological methodology to impose race-based judgments: “It took only half a century for Martin Luther King’s vision to be exactly inverted.”

Whatever the morality of individual settlers, or disparate Native American tribes, the yearning for healing and growth stems from forgiveness and moving forward.

It’s not just race-based judgments; it’s gender too. Murray explains how, “There seems to be a move less intended to improve men than to neuter them, to turn any and all virtues around on them and turn them instead into self-doubting, self-loathing objects of pity. It looks, in a word, like some type of revenge.”

America’s future faces a clear fork in its constitutional road: should we move toward forgiveness, reconciliation, and continued progress on the trail of constitutional aspirations toward equality and healing, or, should we hurtle forward on a rocky trail of recrimination and falsehood, one so often used to mask a toxic coup for total domination?

Setting aside the moral views of the 16th-century, Americans must decide what their value system is in 2021. Whatever the morality of individual settlers, or disparate Native American tribes, the yearning for healing and growth stems from forgiveness and moving forward. Though this concept has been embraced by many faith traditions, we must fashion a “modern” definition for application, which one author has framed thusly:

“‘[T]he modern concept of forgiveness,’ which is not a simple notion, but is part of a constellation of ethical and emotional concepts. First, in order for A to forgive B, B must have done wrong to A, bear some responsibility for that, acknowledge the wrong, and manifest remorse, confession, and a change of the self; and A must be aware of the wrong or be reminded of it.”

A horde of C’s (Social Justice Warriors) has descended on Vermont, invoking unnamed B’s (racist Vermonters who allegedly ejected blacks or Indians from their lands) to extract money from on behalf of dead A’s (the Abenakis, whose numbers now are minuscule). There are no B’s alive who did wrong to long-perished A’s, and no real justification for awarding land and money to Cs.

But even if there were evidence of a pattern of past oppression by all white Vermonters against Abenakis, is there any component whatsoever in all this language of “equity,” and “justice,” and “reparations” of a concept of forgiveness? Is this “social justice” ideology a philosophy of forgiveness and healing, or endless strife through unforgiveness? How much money or contrition can today’s white Vermonters offer BIPOC people to satisfy what was done by French and British people to Abenaki people 400 years ago? Can there ever be a point where forgiveness is achieved or even possible, and then perhaps America would return to that aspirational path of healing through the equality and mutual respect ensconced in the Constitution?

The irony in all this is that the desire to break endless cycles of violence and retribution is what motivated the actions of Samuel de Champlain—i.e. the colonizers. As Fischer wrote of Champlain:

“He also recognized that Indian torture was also rational and functional in a very dark way. In the warrior cultures of North America, the continuing practice of torture was a way of guaranteeing a state of perpetual war. It meant that the work of retribution would always need to be done, and warriors would be needed to do it. For Champlain it was utterly destructive of peace and universal justice.”

The fight for social justice, waged as it is today, will never achieve equity; that is a logistical impossibility. No philosophy can achieve a just end when fueled by unjust revenge. Vermont’s newly-arrived “social justice warriors” are the ultimate colonizers and capitalist opportunists, flocking to Vermont to extract a Shylockian pound of white flesh, exploiting the indigenous man as a fulcrum. Social justice ideology resembles the endless cycle of retribution embraced by warring Indian tribes; today’s white Vermonters are more akin to the peaceful Acadian tribes they plundered.

The question for Vermonters is not: “What was the morality of the Native Americans, or those who slew them?” The question for Vermonters (and Americans) remains: “Is our future one of forgiveness, or endless perpetual social war?”

Taxing Asset Inflation Caused by Debt Monetization: The WMD of Moral Hazards

Since the creation of the United States Income Tax, government and taxpayers have wrangled over definitions of what constitutes “income,” how it is to be calculated, and when it is to be “recognized” — that is, subjected to tax.  A recent New York initiative (predictably backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) would tax appreciated assets held by wealthy taxpayers before they were sold. 

This hideous tax policy hints at the temptation for government to shift its tax base to rapidly-appreciating assets when magnifying inflation through reckless debt monetization:

A new tax is being proposed by progressive lawmakers and activists that would impose a new form of capital gains tax on New Yorkers with $1 billion or more in assets…. With New York state staring at a $13 billion deficit,…. [l]awmakers are proposing a new kind of mark-to-market tax on unrealized capital gains. Currently, taxpayers pay capital gains tax on assets only when they sell. The new policy would tax any gain in value for an asset during the calendar year, regardless of whether it’s sold. 

The complexity of this state tax law would be profound.  And what of assets subsequently sold at a loss — will the state refund the taxes on the phantom gain that it “recognized” the previous year? 

Blatantly Unconstitutional

In 1920, when America grappled with the issue of whether capital gains constituted taxable income, the United States Supreme Court settled the matter in Eisner v MacomberEisner concerned the government’s effort to tax as income a stock dividend (a dividend issued not in cash but as an additional pro rata share of stock).  The Court did not mince its words:

Yet, without selling, the shareholder, unless possessed of other resources, has not the wherewithal to pay an income tax upon the dividend stock. Nothing could more clearly show that to tax a stock dividend is to tax a capital increase, and not income, than this demonstration that, in the nature of things, it requires conversion of capital in order to pay the tax….. enrichment through increase in value of capital investment is not income in any proper meaning of the term. (pp. 213, 214-215).

AOC and “Tax Fairness” advocates cannot constitutionally tax unrealized capital appreciation. 

Asset Taxation, COVID Relief, and Inflation

But the very attempt reveals an insidious threat.  Massive federal spending under COVID will create seismic inflation of asset values while crushing real wages and economic growth.  If the government shifts its tax base from income to capital appreciation, it will perpetuate its own fiscal sustenance by taxing the inflation it has unleashed. 

This concept of taxing “gain” that is attributable to inflation is behind the current Dem push to tax wealthy New Yorkers for holding on to assets in an inflationary cycle.  Calling out Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for essentially giving Congress a green light to print money without fear of rate hikes, Wall Street Journal writer Joseph Sternberg cautions:

Treasury will benefit from Mr. Powell’s success in stoking stock and other asset markets to record highs over the past year even as the pandemic and attendant lockdowns throttled the Main Street economy. The growing disconnect between Wall Street prices and Main Street profits holds open the prospect that capital-gains taxation will grow ever more reliable as a revenue source. Expect lawmakers to take full advantage…. The government traditionally relied for revenue on the economy’s underlying productivity. The overall dependence on personal-income and corporate-profits taxation ties fiscal health to wage growth and corporate success. This was a practical incentive, although not always a strong or effective one, for lawmakers to care about the Main Street economy…. To make the government proportionately more dependent on Fed-inflated capital gains, as Democrats are wont to do, would weaken an important tie between Congress’s fiscal role and the real economy. This is especially dangerous given mounting evidence in the economics literature that monetary and financial excess saps Main Street productivity rather than bolstering it.

Traditional economic theory held that the overprinting of money (a la Zimbabwe) caused inflation.  The Federal Reserve has generally viewed the economic world similarly, noting in a video that “when the money supply increases, and neither velocity nor quantity changes, the price level must also increase—we call this inflation.”  This principle has been challenged with Quantitative Easing, which was touted as the new modern money supply solution to those old crusty economic restraints. 

This led some in the Federal Reserve to chart new fiscal territory:

Milton Friedman famously said, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.” We are currently engaged in a test of this proposition…. In my view, recent developments make a compelling case that traditional textbook views of the connections between monetary policy, money, and inflation are outdated and need to be revised. 

The Moral Hazard

These are sweet-smelling words to the money-printers, foreshadowing the reckless gate-flinging debt monetization now embraced by the federal government; unchallenged by a COVID-anxious citizenry.  But Quantitative Easing was premised on the idea that it would be followed by Quantitative Tightening in an improved economy.  That has never been witnessed.  Instead, real wages continued to decline following the 2007-8 financial implosion, consistent with economists’ warnings that wages could not keep pace with inflation.

Contrast today’s fiscal America with Ron Paul’s warning to Congress in 1978:

When the federal government spends money it does not have… and pays the bills by creating new dollars out of thin air, the value of each existing dollar must fall…. The government also creates new money in the banking system, by a complicated process called monetizing the debt. What this all amounts to is inflation. (p. 108)

The federal government has now monetized some $10 trillion in COVID “relief” that may prove to be the final nail in the American fiscal coffin.  Joseph Sternberg is warning of the temptation for AOC and others to tax not real income, but inflationary growth fueled by debt monetization (money-printing).  The potential for an “IWMD” (Inflationary Weapon of Mass Destruction), unleashed but then uncontainable, cannot be overstated. 

But this shift depends on the Ponzi-like proliferation of ever more debt — Quantitative Tightening becomes catastrophic.  This scheme will work only so long as the money keeps flowing — a post-COVID economic decline and spiking inflation will likely serve as justification not to hit the brakes on debt monetization, but to keep those fiat-printing mechanisms fully primed to “stimulate the economy.”  Then there’s universal income….

In seeking to tax unrealized income from hyper-inflated capital assets, AOC et al are launching an aggressive, unconstitutional plan to destroy the national economy while growing government limitlessly.  Given her past pronouncements, she likely understands this travesty even less than she comprehends cow farts

What is terrifying is not that AOC is calling for insane monetary policy and whole new means of tax takings.  What is terrifying is that almost no one is raising the fiscal alarum.

(Also published March 26, 2021 at American Thinker)