The Gods of the Copybook Headings

The Best of More Liberty – Less Government . . .
By: George Noga – Updated March 20, 2014

       Rudyard Kipling wrote The Gods of the Copybook Headings, excerpted herein, in 1919; It remains as apropos today as when men lived in trees because it is elemental, going to the fountainhead of our knowledge and beliefs. Kipling’s poem reveals eternal wisdom and common sense in a twenty-first century world that has badly lost its way.

         Copybooks disappeared from schools in the 1940s. Each page contained a large heading in perfect cursive – which common core now abolishes. The headings consisted of proverbs, hortatory or aphorisms which students copied to hone handwriting skills. Kipling’s poem traces man’s knowledge and superstitions through the epochs. Yet still the Gods of the Copybook Headings outlast all ersatz and transient feel-good bromides; we ignore them at our grave peril!
As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
        Kipling’s “Gods of the Market Place” refer to transient and ephemeral trends and fads. Today such Gods would include manmade global warming, endless debt and deficits, organic food, common core and ObamaCare. Back to Kipling and Pigs with Wings.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
 And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”
        The Gods of the Market Place tell us what we wish to hear. Today they tell us we can spend and borrow without limit; Iran is not really building a bomb; and we can slash defense spending, appease tyrants and manifest weakness to our enemies without consequence. They tell us we can provide medical care to millions more people while simultaneously slashing the costs. However, reality, with all its discomforts and irritation, is manifest in the Gods of the Copybook Headings which tell us this isn’t so. People and nations succeed when they act in conformity with the copybook headings, i.e. the collected wisdom and experience of mankind on our planet. When copybook headings are ignored, we are bound and delivered to our foes. As Jefferson put it: “He who beats his sword into plowshares shall plow for those who didn’t.”
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
         Man has achieved his present state by gradually accumulating nuggets of truth, morality and wisdom over the millennia. Nonetheless, every so often we lose touch with the veracity of the copybook headings. We then take destructive actions that set us aback, invariably with much collateral grief, suffering and death. We may be technological geniuses but we are economic, moral and political cretins. Following is the apt conclusion of Kiplinger’s epic.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
     As Kipling describes, moral and economic truths a/k/a copybook headings are timeless and immutable; disregarding them leads inevitably to terror and slaughter. The market place is nothing but pigs with wings, i.e. fad, fable, fashion and foolishness. There are no shortages today of smooth-talking wizards promising a brave new world of perpetual peace, abundance for all, men paid merely for existing and no wages of sin. All the while such wizards mock the copybook headings. Indeed, all today’s woes can be traced to defiance of the copybook rules, what Henry Ford called “the essence of human wisdom, or as Thomas Jefferson put it: “Those who turn their swords into plowshares, will plow for those who didn’t“.
         We can worship the Gods of the Market Place for a fleeting time. But lemonade doesn’t flow in rivers and basic, immutable and unchanging human nature invariably returns to every person and nation that permits itself to become self-indulgent or to believe in myths. Science still trumps superstition; chemistry still beats alchemy; real doctors still are superior to witch doctors; and reality always outstrips illusion, ideology and dogma. Substance eternally thumps hope and change and water still wets us and fire still burns. The only uncertainty is how much terror and slaughter must there be before the Gods of the Copybook Headings return?

Balanced Budget Amendment No Holy Grail

By: George Noga – Updated March 10, 2014

     A balanced budget amendment (“BBA”) is favored by 80% of all Americans in the belief it will, once and for all time, force fiscal discipline on the government. They are putting way too many eggs in the BBA basket. Watch out what you wish for. If there is a BBA, all those eggs will end up scrambled into a rather unpalatable omelet.

  There are myriad paths through, over, under and around a BBA. In short, it would not be worth the paper it was written on – assuming it can garner two-thirds majorities in Congress and ratification by 38 states. Following is a partial list of ways a BBA could be eviscerated.  

  1. A BBA appears simple but is complex. How do you define budget; what does balanced mean; what is a tax? It would be the only part of the Constitution that could be waived.
  2. What are allowable exceptions such as for military actions and natural disasters? There will be escape hatches big enough to drive a truck through. Whatever exceptions are carved out for some things, expect many more of such things. How would waivers work?
  3. How would a BBA deal with economic cycles? Revenues can both skyrocket and plunge from year to year. Are we to slash spending in a recession and be profligate in a boom? How do we define recession and boom? How is a BBA to be managed over the course of an entire economic cycle without opening to door to great mischief?
  4. Lawsuits will tie up a BBA for decades and federal judges will wind up with enormous power to change it. Consider how the federal bench has dealt with desegregation and busing; they still are entangling themselves over 60 years after the initial ruling.
  5. How do we distinguish capital expenditures from annual expenses? Surely, the argument will go, a BBA was not meant to include infrastructure spending that has a life of 50 years. If capital is treated differently, more expenditures will be classified as such.
  6. How do we address off-budget spending such as by Fannie, Freddie, USPS and the Federal Reserve? Who will prevent government from creating scores of new off-budget entities? Do we exempt interest on the debt; what happens when interest rates skyrocket?
  7. Watch out for so-called special taxing districts; these are favorites of local government with 50,000 nationwide. If they are not under the BBA ambit, they will mushroom.
  8. Are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and civilian/military pensions to be part of the regular budget? Are they no longer to be considered off budget entitlements?
  9. User fees will sharply increase and the government will be creative in imposing new ones. Be prepared to pay handsomely for everything you get from Washington – how about $100 to file a paper income tax return or $50 to get into a national park?
  10. Loan guarantees will become de rigueur as a way to fund programs off budget. After all, a loan guarantee is not an expenditure – is it?
  11. Instead of direct taxation, costly new regulations will flourish. Rather than spend tax money, Congress will bypass taxes and accomplish the same result through regulation.
  12. The tax code can be used for far more than raising taxes subject to a BBA. It can be larded with tax expenditures, incentives, penalties and all sorts of tomfoolery.
  13. Don’t forget mandates. Since the ObamaCare mandate survived judicial scrutiny, what is to stop government from substituting mandates for taxes or spending? The feds could   mandate that states, counties, cities (and even people) spend money not subject to BBA.
  14. A budget can be balanced with tax increases. This would strictly comply with a BBA but tax increases are certainly not what BBA proponents intended.

     Reluctantly, I have come to the view that a BBA is not the answer because: (1) we would expend lots of energy (perhaps for naught) enacting a BBA better spent elsewhere; (2) it will not work for all the reasons noted supra; (3) it would beguile us into falsely believing the problem is solved once and for all; (4) many of us would declare victory and move on while the other side would keep fighting; and (5) you can’t take the politics out of politics.

     The solution is to remain engaged permanently, albeit this is contradictory to human nature. Once a problem appears solved, we tend to go back about our private business. But big government and its acolytes never stop and neither must we. As seductive as it may seem, a balanced budget amendment is fool’s gold; it is not the Holy Grail.


How Government Destroyed the American Dream

By: George Noga – Updated March 1, 2014

    In 1957 my parents paid $10,900 for a new median-price home. Their monthly payment including principal, interest, taxes and insurance was under $100. The house cost 1.5 years of my father’s income and the annual cost of ownership consumed less than 15% of income. We lived quite well without my mother ever working a single day.

     I graduated from high school in 1961 and went on to college. Most high school chums remained in Orlando, began work at entry-level positions, married, had children and bought homes. The wives stayed home as a second income was not necessary to own a home or to raise children. I kept in touch with many erstwhile high school classmates and often visited them in their homes. Following is the story of two such people, Steve and Sandy.  

The True Story of Steve and Sandy

    Steve and Sandy (their real names) were high school sweethearts who married following graduation. Steve was hired in the paint shop of the Martin Company. His starting wage of $2.00/hour soon was  increased to $2.25; including a little overtime, their family income was $5,000 per year. Less than a year after their marriage, they bought a new home; soon thereafter they had a daughter. Sandy did not work and stayed home to care for the baby.

    I visited Steve and Sandy frequently during summers. They bought and furnished a new median-price single family home in Orlando. They were able to accumulate the down payment and to furnish the home in less than one year with both working. Once Sandy became pregnant, she quit work as they were able to afford the cost of home ownership solely on Steve’s income. Their home cost two years of Steve’s income; their monthly house payment including principal, interest, taxes and insurance was under $100. They comfortably managed the cost of home and baby and never contemplated Sandy going back to work as it simply wasn’t necessary.

    Let’s fast forward 50 years to 2012 and to Steve and Sandy’s grandchild, Steve III. After high school Steve III earns at best $12/hour, or $24,000 per year. The median home costs 10 times his income and accumulating even a low 10% down payment would be daunting requiring years of saving. Even at low interest rates, the monthly nut would be $1,500, or $18,000 annually – nearly equal to Steve III’s take home pay. What possibly could account for such a dramatic change in only two generations? The answer in one word: government.

    The American dream is dead, thanks entirely to government that sucks the blood out of its citizens, i.e. the vampire state. For the first time ever, Americans believe the next generation will be worse off. In 1962 single-income families like Steve and Sandy were the norm; it was rare indeed for a married woman, especially one with children, to work outside the home.

  Within one generation (by 1985) two-income families became a majority. Now Steve and Sandy’s son, Steve Jr., was 50% likely to have his wife in the work force. Today, during the generation of Steve III, wives and mothers must work to keep the family afloat. How and why did these changes happen? Why is it necessary today for a family to have two wage earners merely to live as well as their grandparents once lived with only one wage-earner?

“Two-income families are a Faustian bargain; the second income

pays only for more government, i.e. more blood for the vampire.”

     The causes are many but all have a nexus to government. Fiat money and the abolition of the gold standard debased the dollar and devalued thrift and savings. Payroll and income taxes mushroomed and applied to ever more income. Property taxes rose exponentially. Regulation chokes growth and hidden taxes proliferate. Housing costs skyrocketed due to government growth management diktats such as concurrency, greenbelts, zoning, bureaucracy, regulatory delay, infill and anti leap-frogging to name only some of the culprits. The vampire state sucked out ever increasing amounts of blood – but it never is sated.

   We were hoodwinked and seduced; for a brief time ersatz prosperity seemed to follow the transition to two-income households. Yes, we could have a second car (albeit a necessity not a luxury for two wage earners) and an extra TV and a few other accoutrements. By the time people noticed the degradation in their quality of life, it was too late for a volte-face. Two-worker families are a Faustian bargain; the second salary pays only for more blood for the vampire. Families doubled the number of workers and received only fool’s gold in return. Are Steve and Sandy’s grandchildren really better off today than their grandparents?

Environmentalism’s Siren Song

By: George Noga – Updated February 22, 2014

    Nothing matches the environmental movement for effrontery. Everything about it is fraudulent; yet it has captured the hearts, minds and souls of our children. Try explaining to your kids that every measure of human and environmental well-being is better today than at any time in the past 100 years and continues to improve; they will not believe you. And it just isn’t our kids; too many of us buy into environmental myths.

      Everyone supports reasonable laws for clean air, water and energy, biodiversity, saving rain forests and right on down the line. So what’s the difference between us and those who usurp the mantle of environmentalism? There are three main differences: (1) we are for capitalism, free trade and limited government; (2) our beliefs are based on empiricism and science; and (3) we make rational, economic tradeoffs when human well-being is at stake.

The Environmental Movement is Led by Marxists with Other Agendas

   Like most movements of our era, environmentalism began in response to legitimate concerns. All people of good will supported laws to address the concerns. Then things began to diverge. Moderates left the movement believing their mission accomplished. Extremists took over and pushed for more and costlier laws to eke out smaller and more dubious improvements. Then the Berlin Wall fell; communism collapsed; and the most diehard Marxists found themselves homeless. Patrick Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace, stated it well.

   Following the collapse of world communism . . . many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. The environmental movement was hijacked by political activists using green language to cloak agendas more about anti-capitalism and anti-globalization than with science or ecology.”

      Today the environmental movement is run by former Reds and the hard left. They have morphed into Greens for maskirovka but they are like watermelons, i.e. green on the outside and red on the inside. Its acolytes today are limited to big government types, professors, teachers, movie stars, a smattering of unthinking camp followers – and many of our children.

   The ultimate irony is that for a country to improve the environment, it must be wealthy. The only way for nations to become wealthy is via capitalism and free trade. That is why America, Japan and western Europe are able to spend lavishly on the environment. The worst environmental tragedy in human history was the Soviet Union and its satellites. The same leftists who created an environmental Armageddon in the USSR and who advocate a return to its disasterous ideology are the very ones leading the environmental movement in the USA.

Science and Empiricism Versus Failed Political Dogma

     We differ from the extremists in another important respect; our views are based on science and not failed dogma. Following are but a few examples to ponder.

  1. As well documented by economists Julian Simon and Steven Moore in their book It’s getting Better All the Time, the 100 greatest human and environmental trends of the past 100 years are the best they ever have been and continue to improve.
  2. Environmentalists oppose the Keystone Pipeline, US drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico (new wells), ANWR and the Atlantic continental shelf. Yet Cuba, Venezuela and many South American countries, with far worse safety records, drill in the gulf and on the continental shelf. Logically, it would be more eco-friendly for the US to drill.
  3. Extremists push for ever more costly laws to achieve insignificant marginal benefits while ignoring the 800-pound gorillas in the world such as coal mine fires in China and India that create more pollution than all the fuel burned by cars in a year in the USA.
  4. Organic food in scientific taste tests cannot be distinguished from conventionally grown food; it harms the environment as it requires 40% more land for production.
  5. Extremists insist we spend trillions in the years ahead to combat alleged warming and all to lower global temperature by an imperceptible .1 degree Fahrenheit by 2100. The same amount of money could be better spent fighting TB and malaria, ad infinitum.

Conflicts Between the Environment and Human Well-Being

  When inevitable conflicts arise between environmental and human well-being, extremists totally disregard economics and human suffering. There arise situations when harm to the environment is uncertain or minimal while the cost and suffering to humans is astronomical. In such situations, like the snail darter and delta smelt, my calculus favors humans.      

    We are losing our children’s hearts and minds to eco-extremists who seduce them like the Sirens of Greek  mythology. The Sirens were seductresses who lured sailors with enchanting music to shipwreck on the rocky shoals of their island. Today’s environmental Sirens similarly are beguiling our kids with enchanting thoughts but with the same pernicious intent.

The Sacrament of Recycling

By: George Noga – Updated February 15, 2014

     High in the pantheon of environmental gods is recycling. A religion is a set of fundamental beliefs based on faith about the nature of the universe involving ritual observances and a moral code governing the conduct of its adherents. Recycling in the environmental religion is accepted dogma and a universally practiced sacrament. Even those who do not fully imbibe in environmentalism, believe in and practice recycling.

     The act of recycling itself is viewed as a morally redemptive, transcendental experience that meets some deep-seated emotional need. It involves just enough effort (but not too much) to impart an eco-high. Explaining to its acolytes why recycling is a waste of time, money and resources, i.e. a fraud, is received with predictable paroxysms.

“Recycling: A morally redemptive, transcendental experience satisfying deep-seated emotional needs and imparting an eco-high.”

       Recycling has its own mythology which, although not as entertaining as its Greek counterpart, is equally fatuous. The top five myths will be examined and debunked; but first it must be duly noted that my quarrel is only with recycling mandated by government. For many decades businesses have been voluntarily and quite profitably recycling, inter alia, steel, aluminum, and newsprint. Recycling makes sense only when confirmed in the marketplace.

The Five Biggest Recycling Myths

  1. Recycling is good for the environment  In many places up to half of recycled waste goes into the same landfill as other waste. Two separate trucks and crews make the pick ups and burn twice the fuel to drive to the same landfill; of course, the wasted trucks, people  fuel and money (to buy more trucks, etc.) are not counted as an environmental cost. A true accounting would be devastating for recycling. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment reports recycling changes the nature of pollution – often for the worse.
  2. There is a shortage of landfills   This is true only in a few areas of the Northeast and that primarily is due to politics. In any event, those few areas are able to ship their garbage economically to places that compete aggressively for the business. If every US county devoted one square mile to landfills, it would be enough for 4,000 years. In recent years private companies have opened huge new landfills and prices are plummeting.
  3. Packaging is a problem   Au contraire, packaging actually is a net environmental benefit. Packaging results in less waste and breakage; less advanced countries without modern packaging generate more waste. Mexico has fewer packaged goods but produces 33% more waste than a comparable American household. Egad, even McDonald’s is eco-friendly; it discards less than two ounces of waste per customer, less than eating at home.
  4. Natural resources (trees) are wasted  Trees are a farmed product grown expressly for paper. It makes no more sense to conserve paper to save trees than it makes to conserve cloth  to save cotton. Paper is natural, organic, biodegradable, renewable and sustainable. Working forests employ millions of Americans and help the environment by providing clean air and water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage. There are more trees planted each year (40% more) than are consumed. There are more trees than 100 years ago. Failure to use paper can hasten the conversion of forests to strip malls and parking lots.
  5. Plastic is particularly evil  Plastic doesn’t decay but neither do many biodegradable things in a landfill. Because plastic is so lightweight it uses less landfill space. Moreover, plastic is getting stronger, thinner and lighter all the time. Lightweight plastic requires less energy to manufacture and to transport; 12 plastic bags fit in the space of one paper bag.  Plastic packaging reduces waste and thereby is eco-friendly. Learn to like it.

  Most everything you thought you knew about recycling is wrong. Many times recycling is a waste of scarce resources and – when considering all the costs – likely harms the environment. You will know it is time to recycle when the marketplace deems it profitable – and not before.

The Natural Condition of Mankind

By: George Noga – February 1, 2014

      Whenever I want to understand an economic issue, I use a didactic aide that never fails me. I reduce elusive concepts to their simplest form by assuming the world consists of a small island. For example, if I wish to understand the economic effects of labor unions, I think through the effect on the island before and after unions are created; who benefits and why; who suffers and why; and what is the net effect on wealth creation and/or destruction. I call this Island Economics. Following is the first lesson from island economics – it explains a powerful, yet simple, economic precept.

           Many eons ago on a small as yet unnamed island, the denizens subsist as hunter-fisher-gatherers. They are unaware there may be other islands. There is no economy per se; people are divided into small families or clans, each of which functions as a putative economic unit. They coexist with other such units – sometimes peaceably, sometimes not. Their lives, short and brutish, are on a bare subsistence level, dependant on the fickle bounty of the sea, the exigencies of the hunt and the caprice of nature. They still are many generations removed from division of labor, having a medium of exchange or even agriculture and animal husbandry.

“The natural and normal condition of mankind is poverty.”

        What economic lesson can we sophists of the twenty-first century learn from such primitive people? What, if anything, can they teach us? Surprisingly, they teach us an ineffaceable economic truth applicable across all time and space. Indeed, the lesson applies throughout the universe even on other planets wherever scient beings may exist. The lesson: it is universally true that the natural and normal condition of mankind is poverty.

        There is no instance where any aboriginal population existed in a state other than poverty. Yes, some aboriginal populations were better off than others; any such distinctions however were due solely to the beneficence of nature and not to any form of economic activity.

      Okay, so you already knew the normal condition of mankind is poverty. But, do you understand all the implications that flow from that axiom? It is clear from their behavior that many folks today do not fully understand that immutable truism. Progressives still prattle about poverty and ruminate about its root causes; we even have declared war on poverty. If everyone understood the natural state of man is poverty, there would be nothing more to discuss.

“The question we should be asking is:

What causes wealth and how can we bring it about?”

      Those who futilely and unproductively seek to understand poverty are wasting their time.  The question they should be asking is: What causes or creates wealth and how can we bring it about? Wealth is not a natural condition of man; indeed, it is rare throughout human history. Wealth creation must be studied, understood, fostered and replicated for progeny. Indeed, it is only by understanding wealth that poverty may be alleviated. Someone may assert that, for example, ignorance or lack of education creates poverty. This is a posteriori reasoning. People are born ignorant and uneducated. To better create wealth they need to become educated. Education creates wealth; ignorance does not create poverty.

      The aboriginal inhabitants of our unnamed island did not even know wealth existed. If they had, they likely would have attributed their impoverished state to displeasure of the deities. Perhaps a few of them viscerally understood their poverty was a natural condition; but they would have held no clue about how to escape it via economic activity that resulted in wealth creation. This was a process that required mankind millennia to discern and about which our present grasp remains far more tenuous than it should.

         Let’s review lesson number one, arguably the most basic lesson of economics. This prime lesson, compliments of our aboriginal island dwellers, is a valuable one not fully appreciated several millennia later. Poverty has no causes; it is the natural condition of mankind. We have known that for centuries. We also understand what causes wealth even though we are doing much today to destroy it – purely for ideological and political reasons.

“Poverty today continues because of obsience to false gods.”

        Mankind will continue to advance economically only by shedding its shibboleths which we possess in abundance. Unlike our island denizens, we do not blame poverty on deities, animal spirits or natural phenomena. Oh no – we have progressed to where we assign fault based on ersatz science, modern mythology and political correctness. We now blame poverty on bogeymen like greed, multi-national corporations, western civilization, and capitalism.

       Nothing causes poverty; it is our natural state. To escape poverty we must focus on what is required to create wealth. At the dawn of the twenty first century, we understand reasonably well how to create wealth but we fail to do so solely because of obseiance to false gods.

The Truth About Matthew Shepard

By: George Noga – January 17, 2014
      Like me, you probably accepted the media version of Matthew Shepard’s murder; there was, after all, nothing to contradict it. As reported by the media, on October 6, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21 year old University of Wyoming student, left a Laramie bar late one night with two men, was brutally beaten and crucified to a fence post where he was left to die – although he clung to life for 6 more days.  He was murdered solely because he was gay in what universally has been touted as the hate crime of the century.
      Shepard’s vicious murder became a bedrock of liberal-progressive shibboleths about the hate permeating middle America. During the 15 years following Matt’s murder, liberal and gay rights organizations have orchestrated the activities listed below; they continue to this day with unabated intensity and undoubtedly will persist ad infinitum – whether or not they are true.
  1. Even before Matt died, national gay rights groups trumpeted Matt’s story as one of extreme homophobic cruelty and violence; they condemned Laramie, and by extension all of middle America, as a crucible of intolerance. The national media uncritically bought in and made the case a cause celebre. Matt was portrayed as an innocent martyr.
  2. At least four TV movies have been made – each one increasingly mawkish.
  3. The Shepard saga has spawned a panoply of art, poetry, publications, studies, museum exhibits, merchandise and dramatizations – which continue 15 years after his murder.
  4. Matt’s mother founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which sells goods including a hoodie emblazoned with “Erase Hate”. She travels widely and gives 50 speeches a year.
  5. The most successful commercial exploitation of Matt is The Laramie Project, a play staged thousands of times; it is among the 10 most ever performed plays in high schools. It  depicts life in middle America as ugly, violent, intolerant and hopelessly psychotic.
  6. Schools throughout the land use “Laramie” study guides that direct classroom discussion about homophobia, our culture of violence and rampant injustice in fly-over America.
    There is one thing wrong with the previously accepted facts of the Matt Shepard murder saga: they all are lies; none of them is true. What really happened was a murder resulting from a drug (methamphetamine) deal gone sour. To top it off, one of Matt’s murderers, Aaron McKinney, was also gay and likely had a prior sexual relationship with Matt Shepard. Also, the crucifixion to a fence post never happened. This bears repeating in a bigger font.
“Matt Shepard was murdered by his gay lover in a drug deal gone bad. Everything you ever thought you knew about Matt Shepard is a lie.” 
     The real facts have come to light only recently, primarily in a book published in October 2013 entitled “The Book of Matt“. Its author, Stephen Jimenez, is both progressive and gay. To his credit, he ended up writing a book far different than the one he originally intended by following facts wherever they led him. Jiminez studied Shepard’s murder for 13 years, interviewed hundreds of witnesses and scoured thousands of pages of public records. His book has been critically acclaimed even by gay groups and favorably reviewed by the Advocate.

The Real Lesson From Matt Shepard’s Murder

     The abject fecklessness of the media in the Shepard case is hard to fathom – even by someone who believes they are slime. It’s not just that they blindly accepted “facts” provided by biased sources advancing a point of view. Most disturbing of all is that Matt’s saga exposed their universally and deeply held belief that the monstrous brutality of Matt Shepard’s murder occurred solely because he was gay; moreover, such events were de rigueur in small town middle America. After all, these rubes all are gun-toting, homicidal, psychotic homophobes.
“The visceral contempt and hatred liberals, progressives and
the media have for America is the real hate crime of the century.”
      I also am disappointed with myself for having accepted the “official” media version of Matt’s death. At the time it happened and as the years have passed, I could not reconcile the ersatz facts of the Shepard case with my view of America. In the America I know and love, the events as originally reported could not have happened. I was right; they did not happen.
      The visceral contempt and hatred liberals, progressives and the media have for America, on full display for all to see in the Matt Shepard case, is the real hate crime of the century.

George Washington: A Mount Vernon Christmas

By: George Noga – December 15, 2013
       Again this Christmas I am reprising America’s greatest Christmas story; yet, it is one known only to a very few. It is deeply moving and uniquely American. It reveals much of both the man and the fledgling nation. What transpired between late November and Christmas Eve 1783 could not have happened anywhere but America. It shaped our republic in ways still being felt today and cemented George Washington as the greatest man of his era. In an age filled with hollow hyperbole, A Mount Vernon Christmas is an authentic feel-good American classic that should be shared with the entire family.

Prequel: December 25, 1776 – Crossing the Delaware

      On Christmas Day 1776 Washington was desperate; that year had been the darkest in American history. He had just endured a succession of military disasters. The morale of his remaining army, starving and freezing, was low; hundreds desert during the night. He is down to 2,400 troops. Many (at least one-third) have no shoes and wrap their feet in burlap during the all night march, leaving behind a crimson trail of blood in the new fallen snow as a sudden and fierce northeast storm engulfs his Continentals. It all has come to this; facing impossible odds both Washington and the American revolution is down to one last desperate throw of the dice.
The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in.”   (George Washington 1776)
      Although Washington leads one of the most successful surprise attacks in history, it only buys time. Still to come is the desperate winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge. Indeed, every winter and Christmas until 1783 was to be the same story of hunger, cold and privation. In late November of that year (1783) Washington received word that the peace treaty ending the war had been signed. Only then could he resign his commission and return home to Mount Vernon.

A Mt. Vernon Christmas: November 17 to December 24, 1783

     As soon as Washington learned of the treaty, he wanted very much to return home to Mount Vernon for Christmas. Except for a few days enroute to Yorktown, he had been away for about eight years. However, he had less than six weeks, many duties to perform and many miles to travel. This is the story of his incredible 38 day Christmas journey.

Quelling Revolt of Officers

     Just before learning of the peace treaty, Washington dealt with a rebellion while quartered in Newburgh, New York. Washington called a meeting, gave a short speech and then reached for a letter from Congress in his pocket to read aloud. He gazed upon it and fumbled with it without speaking. He then took a pair of reading glasses from his pocket which none had seen him wear. He said, “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.” This moved everyone to tears as they realized the sacrifices Washington had made; the rebellion died instantly.

Farewell Orders to the Troops

      On November 17th Washington issued his “Farewell Orders”. He lauded his troops for their extreme hardship and urged them never to forget the extraordinary events to which they bore witness. He closed by announcing his retirement from service stating, “The curtain of separation will soon be drawn . . . and closed forever” meaning for all future offices. Instead of using such an opportunity to promote himself, he appeared above all human ambition. When his remarks reached King George III, he called Washington “the greatest man of his age“.

New York and Fraunces Tavern

      Washington, arriving in New York from Newburgh on November 21st, believed it necessary to reoccupy New York but had to wait for the British to evacuate. While there he made sure Tories who had secretly assisted the American cause were shielded from retribution. He also protected the British withdrawal to prevent untoward actions. Everywhere Washington was greeted as a hero with cheering and enthusiastic crowds; nearly every home had a drawing or lithograph of him in the window. Receptions and dinners were held nightly in his honor.
      On December 4 Washington hosted a farewell reception for his officers at Fraunces Tavern. He realized the inadequacy of any formal address and did not trust his emotions to read one. When all the glasses were filled, Washington offered a toast, “With a heart filled with love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I  most devoutly wish your later days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.” Following the toast, blinded by tears and voice faltering, Washington continued, “I cannot come to each of you but shall be obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.” Each officer came forward suffused with tears and unable to utter an intelligible word.

Philadelphia, Wilmington and Enroute to Annapolis

       From December 5-18 Washington’s journey took him to Philadelphia where he spent several days and then onward, via Wilmington, toward Annapolis, where Congress was sitting. At every stop and all along his route (throughout his entire journey) citizens gathered to pay tribute. Always courteous, the general accepted every proffered hand and returned every greeting. America never before had and never again will experience such an emotional outpouring for one man. Every citizen understood he conducted them through a long and bloody war that achieved glory and independence for their country. All knew viscerally there never again would be such a moment or such a man.

Annapolis and Returning His Commission

      Washington arrived in Annapolis, then the Capitol and seat of Congress, on December 19. From  December 20-22 he was feted endlessly at lavish dinners and balls, always preceded with 13 toasts followed by 13 cannon shots. On December 23 there was a special session of Congress to honor Washington and to accept his resignation. Attendance overflowed the facilities with people everywhere. He closed his address by stating, “I retire from the great theatre of action and . . . here offer my commission and take my leave of all the employments of public life.” Then he withdrew from his coat pocket the parchment given to him in 1775 that was his appointment as Commander-in-Chief and ceremoniously returned it. Some consider it the most significant address ever delivered in civil society.

Christmas in Mount Vernon

Immediately after returning his commission, Washington set out for Mount Vernon, still hoping to arrive in time for Christmas. It was so late on the 23rd and the days so short, he got only as far as Bladensburgh, Maryland before retiring. The next morning, Christmas Eve, he rode to the Potomac River, crossed with a ferry to Alexandria and rode the final miles. It already was dark when he approached Mount Vernon. About a mile away he could see its many green-shuttered windows – now all ablaze with candles; it was, after all, Christmas Eve.
In Vernon’s groves you shun the throne,
Admired by kings, but seen by none.

Post Script

      Much of the material is from “General Washington’s Christmas Farewell – A Mount Vernon Homecoming 1783” by Stanley Weintraub. The 174 page  book is readily available. As hard as I tried, this summary is woefully inadequate to describe the events of November-December  1783 and the true character of George Washington. I beseech anyone with young children or grandchildren to read it to them in installments over the holidays. There is no better gift you can bestow than to expose young minds to the extraordinary character of George Washington.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers from the
 MLLG Foundation; our next posting will be in early to mid January.

Warming Observed Throughout the Solar System

 By: George Noga – December 8, 2013
       Several recent MLLG postings about global warming have referenced temperatures throughout our solar system moving in near lockstep with Earth’s. This has been cited by MLLG as proof that warming is caused by solar phenomena and not man. Some  readers have asked to see the evidence because, if indeed the assertion is true, that appears to provide conclusive evidence that warming is not manmade in any significant part.
      Proof of warming throughout our solar system was the final evidence I needed back in 2007, when I wrote the very first MLLG blog, to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that manmade  global warming was junk science, a very bold assertion indeed way back in 2007. Following are the data and the critics’ reactions. We begin with the moon and work our way outward to Pluto.
  1. Moon: Temperature sensors were placed on the moon by Apollo 15 in 1971; additional probes were deployed by Apollo 17 in 1972 at a different lunar site. They reported rising temperatures year after year for as long as they operated. Moreover, the observed lunar temperatures were comparable to the long term warming trend on Earth. Candor however compels me to report there are SUVs on the moon – detritus from Apollo missions.

  2. Mars: NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions in 2005 showed the south polar icecap receding each year. Recently the Mars Rover mission reported much higher than expected temperatures. NASA scientists say Mars has warmed by the same amount as Earth since the 1970s. Critics blame higher Martian temperatures on dust storms, albedo (reflection coefficient)  and a host of other things. They also point out that the Martian north polar icecap has been increasing. Well – so has Earth’s south polar icecap. Oh yes – there also are some SUVs on Mars – jetsam from various NASA missions.
  3. Jupiter: Jupiter is developing a second red spot which scientists attribute to warming. Some parts of Jupiter now are 6 degrees warmer than before. Data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck II telescope show Jupiter in the midst of a significant warming trend. Critics blame shifts in internal turbulence – whatever that means.
  4. Saturn: Recently temperatures jumped several degrees based on data from Voyager 2 and the later Cassini probe. Critics say the warming is momentary and due to orbital position.
  5. Neptune and Triton: Voyager 2 observed the atmosphere of Neptune and Triton (a moon of Nepture) in 1989. Recent data from Hubble confirm that Neptune and Triton have warmed considerably since Voyager 2 took readings in 1989; thus at least since 1989 Triton has been warming. More recent Earth-based measurements show the surface temperature has increased up to 5%. Critics haven’t yet responded to this data.
  6. Pluto: In recent decades Pluto has warmed considerably based on studies by scientists from MIT, the University of Hawaii and Cornell – and this is occurring despite the fact Pluto is moving away from the sun. The study was conducted by telescopes based at Mauna Kea, Lick, Lowell and Palomar Observatories. Critics blame Pluto’s orbit.
  7. Elsewhere in the solar system: There are data showing warming on Titan and Enceladus  (both moons of Saturn) and Dysnomia, a moon of dwarf planet Eris. There is not one single measurement anywhere in our solar system showing lower temperatures.
“There has been observed warming on our moon, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Triton, Pluto, Titan, Dysnomia, Eris, Enceladus and elsewhere. There is not one instance of observed temperature decrease anywhere in the solar system.”
      If the preceding data do not convince everyone warming is a solar phenomenon, I don’t believe anything ever can. How can it be possible for any scient person to see these data and continue to believe global warming is anthropogenic to any significant degree? And don’t forget – per the United Nations IPCC – warming is a net benefit to both man and planet.

Conversations with a Liberal about GMOs

By: George Noga – December 1, 2013
       Recently I spent a week on the Hawaiian isle of Kauai. My visit coincided with a major political brouhaha about genetically modified organisms or “GMOs”. The residents were up in arms against agricultural interests that produce GMO seeds (mostly corn) there. In response, the local government passed a sweeping new law placing  restrictions on GMOs. Opposition is not restricted to Kauai as there are anti-GMO laws pending in several US states and Europeans’ loathing of GMOs borders on hysteria.
“GMOs are mentioned in the Bible – Genesis 30:25-43.”
       Genetic engineering is timeless. Selective breeding was practiced on corn at the dawn of human agriculture 10,000 years ago.  It is mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 30:25-43).  If you own a dog, it is safe to say it has gone through extensive genetic modifications. Circa 1973 man acquired the technology to modify DNA directly rather than via breeding. Since that time there have been many thousands of GMOs and in the subsequent 40 years not one person anywhere on the planet has experienced an ill effect – even a bellyache – from GMOs.
       While in Kauai I had the opportunity to talk with a liberal opponent of GMOs. The conversation went something like the following:
MLLG (Me): I don’t understand why you are so opposed to GMOs. They produce much more food more safely on significantly less land thus benefiting both humanity and the environment.
LIBERAL: I am against big corporations profiting from GMOs. If GMOs are that good, why are there still so many people in the world starving?
MLLG: The short answer is that  hunger today is primarily due to logistics and government interference. Surely GMOs have vastly alleviated hunger; India has become an exporter of rice.
MLLG: Even with the prices companies charge for GMO seeds, farmers in third world nations come out way ahead in the long run. They willingly spend their own money in a free market because their calculus is they will benefit at the prices they are paying. Fifteen million small farmers owning only  a few acres each in developing nations buy and plant GMO seeds.
LIBERAL: It is not right that big companies profit; in particular granting corporations patents on life forms is objectionable as it forces people to pay year after year for the same seeds. Moreover, large corporations take legal action against small farmers who copy the seeds.
MLLG: If businesses did not protect their patents they would go out of business and there  never again would be new life-saving GMO products created and everyone would be worse off.
LIBERAL: It is simply obscene and unacceptable for giant multinational corporations to go after small third world farmers struggling to get by.
MLLG: Isn’t copying the seeds without a patent the same as stealing?
LIBERAL: No, because the corporations acquired the patents unjustly; patents on plants, animals or genes must not be granted; these should be owned in common by all of humanity.
MLLG: You seem to hate bigness; are you aware GM crops are subject to hyper regulation? Because of the cost and complexity imposed by governments, only large multinational companies can afford to comply. Furthermore, small companies grow into  big companies only if they benefit a great many people by providing products they value and voluntarily purchase. Incidentally, do you also hate bigness in government? Never mind that – it was just rhetorical.
LIBERAL: It is not right for anyone to profit from something so basic as DNA or life forms; the technology should be posted on the internet or otherwise be placed in the public domain.
MLLG: It costs an enormous amount to research, test and produce successful GM crops. There are huge costs to comply with government rules and the Cartagena  Protocol on Biosafety. Without the profit motive, patents and patent enforcement, how could GMO technology exist?
LIBERAL: Governments or universities (with government grants) could do the job.
MLLG: Name anything government does well or a product produced by a university?
LIBERAL: Governments build good roads and bridges.
MLLG: Actually, governments contract with private for-profit companies to build these things.
MLLG: One final question: I know you also believe climate change poses an existential threat to humanity and you contemptuously dismiss those who disagree as being opposed to science. Given that situation, your opposition to biotechnology seems irreconcilable with your stance on climate. Your opposition to GMOs doesn’t appear to be based on science but on ideology and politics because  of your animus and antipathy toward free markets and private enterprise.
LIBERAL: I fail to see the connection.