Letter to the editor of the Daily Beacon, 02.05.10

My following letter appeared in the Daily Beacon, the University of Tennessee’s student newspaper, on February 5th:

Sam Smith’s Feb. 1 column was written with the journalistic integrity of a White House spokesperson.

Of President Obama’s unprecedented social reforms, he says that “it’s clear the policies being proposed would greatly benefit the American people.” This clarity is imaginary. The real lack of clarity in legislation today is a government failure, not to mention a broken campaign promise. If asked what exactly is being proposed in Washington, Smith would not know. Nor would anyone else. I suspect that general benefits to the people never require 2,000 pages of statutory language. While the reforms being proposed by Obama’s administration may arguably benefit some, it is a mistake to say that they would benefit the people in general. A law enforced always injures someone.

Smith also called Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito an “idiot” for mouthing the words “not true” and then challenged Alito to explain this. Just in case Judge Alito forgets to read Smith’s column, I will explain for him. Obama said that because of the Citizens United decision, American elections could be “bankrolled by foreign entities.” This is, as Alito correctly mouthed, not true. The opinion contains language specifically preventing this from happening. Obama was lying. If Alito had any chutzpah (which Smith incorrectly spelled hootspa), he would have channeled Joe Wilson and yelled, “NOT TRUE!”

Smith opines that the Republicans are “no longer a ‘serious’ opposition party,” with no serious ideas and no serious leaders. Republican leadership is serious to the extent that it is truly Republican—it is not. Serious Republican ideas do exist, even though the party’s official leadership does not acknowledge them. That human existence involves some degree of suffering that cannot be legislated away is an idea as serious as it is true, but it makes the political tinkerers in Washington seem irrelevant, so they selfishly refuse to give credence to it.

Alex Winston

Senior in political science


Letter to the editor of the Daily Beacon, 11.09.09

I am not sure if this letter ever appeared in the U. of Tennessee student newspaper.  If it did, I missed it.

I am writing in response to Amien Essif’s November 9 column, “Media miss drama of demonstration”.  In it, he distinguishes the political environments of Europe from ours in the United States, and his distinction deserves further exploration.

Essif laments the quiet politics of U.S. citizens, and wishes there were frequent raucous protests.  In Europe, crowds of people partake in what he calls “real action.”  Going to work, minding your own business, and expecting the same of others is the American political tradition, but apparently these activities do not qualify as “real action.”

Then again, Americans have never walked en masse to the enlightened despot’s palace to request food, or travelled to the democratic tyrant’s outpost to request medical attention.  Even before the United States ratified a constitution to prevent those European follies, their citizens had begun a very different tradition.  That tradition began every time a group of colonists stepped off of a boat and into a vast wilderness, finding no postal roads, no gendarmerie, and certainly no royal granary.

In his journal, William Bradford, leader of the religious separatists that founded Plymouth colony, wrote that within a few months of landfall, half his company was dead.  Back in the Old World, the key to survival was “real action,” but rowdy demonstrations proved futile in the colony.  The harsh winter of Massachusetts Bay heeds neither protest nor prayer.

How did colonists survive?  They took the unreal action of providing for themselves, and in so doing began the American tradition of personal responsibility.  This tradition has endured through countless authoritarian regimes in Europe, all of which began with moral intentions for the greater good and “real action.”

Essif complains about “the uniquely American relationship to government, a strange concoction of cowardice and contempt,” and believes that “in Europe, the government is afraid of the people, while in the United States, the people are afraid of the government.”  This begs the question: what have the European governments done that makes them so fearful of their people?

The answer is that European governments have promised their citizens an end to fear, and an end to want, and their citizens believed them.  A digressive lesson for citizens and single women: if a man ever promises to bring an end to your fears and wants, you believe him at the risk that he will thereafter control you.  No government can deliver on those promises, and those that try not only exceed their true purpose (to defend natural rights) but act against it, by becoming instruments of plunder.

When government pursues its true purpose, the political environment is very calm.  Essif sees the absence of massive demonstrations as a negative; on the contrary, it is a sign that society is working well.  As Frederic Bastiat points out, “No one would have any argument with government, provided that his person was respected, his labor was free, and the fruits of his labor were protected against all unjust attack.”

Our government has stepped outside of the boundaries of its purpose, but it has not been doing this as long or as extensively as its European counterparts, and the effects are not yet as visible.  While Americans were running their own lives and expecting the same of others, their leaders in Washington–perhaps envying European governmental power–were patterning their legislation on the unwisely set examples of Europe, and then destroying the constitution accordingly.  After more than a century of this insidious legal process, the American political stage is finally set for some “real action.”

Europeans demonstrate to their governments because their governments run their lives, and in all likelihood this will soon be true for us, and then Thomas Paine’s words will apply to America for the first time since before he penned them: “The enormous expense of government has provoked men to think, by making them feel.”


Letter to the editor, 10.27.09

My following letter to the Daily Beacon, the U. of Tennessee’s student newspaper, appeared on October 27, 2009.

For an exemplary misunderstanding of economics, freedom, and human action, refer to Amien Essif’s October 19 column, “Resisting self-interest an act of freedom”.

 In order to understand the human world, we must first recognize that each and every person is responsible for his/her own actions.  External authorities can restrict individual actions, but cannot force individuals to act.  You picked up a newspaper today and began reading.  You are reading out of your own volition.  No government, no religion, no community, no party, no corporation, no family, no philosophy department, nor any other authority outside of yourself can force you to read this letter.  

 Human freedom is a fact that can only be escaped in the imagination, and Essif’s column is an escapist’s trip down the rabbit-hole.  He who will publicly complain about the restrictiveness of capitalism’s conveniences has strayed far from reality.

 Essif admonishes “private institutions whose first interest is making money–and I’m not talking about people.”  If he is not talking about people, he imagines the animate in the inanimate.  His column, however intriguing, becomes fictional when he asserts that corporations–and not the people within them–have any interests at all.  No corporation has ever had any interest that was not in fact a human interest.  Pick any corporation, and remove all of its human interests; you will then find it has no interests whatsoever.

 Essif says that “Nabisco, acting individually, can practically force me to buy a package of crackers.”  Forgetting the absurdity of this statement, let us examine reality.  What have the generally good, honest, hard-working people of the Nabisco corporation done?  They have fed the hungry, and they have done so by acting in their own interests.  Essif’s purchase of crackers, far from restricting his freedom, is evidence that his freedom is relatively unhindered by false authorities.

 The false authority Essif worships is the community, an entity incapable of thought or action.  So, predictably, all of his faulty logic culminates in the exaltation of communal living.  Communal life is simpler in the sense that it is less complex, but it is harder in the sense that it requires much more work.  To spend five minutes of labor on a pack of crackers would be impossible for a practicing communist, whose mere sustenance hangs often in the balance.  Essif should be free to go forth and live as he pleases, on a commune, but neither he nor anyone else should ever have the authority to force the restrictions of communal living on those of us who understand freedom and cherish it.


Alex Winston

Junior in political science

NRSC ignores viable conservative Schiff in CT Senate race


Over the past decade, no one has articulated the truth about free markets better than Peter Schiff.  For years the Connecticut brokerage manager has expressed a free market, limited government position across cable news networks, to the cheers of conservatives around the United States.  

Schiff is running for Senate in 2010, and his campaign has received donations on par with all the other GOP Senatorial primary candidates in Connecticut.  He is one of the few truly conservative Republicans seeking office in the Northeast part of the country, and he is polling ahead of the incumbent Democrat, Senator Chris Dodd.  You would think this would make Schiff the ideal candidate for the GOP to steal Dodd’s seat.  But the National Republican Senatorial Committee, for unknown reasons, refuses to even acknowledge Schiff’s candidacy.  Their website lists four Republicans seeking the seat, but fails to mention Schiff, the man who may indeed have the best chance to win.

Today I received a donation request from the NRSC.  The NRSC appears to me to be an organization devoted to demagoguery, and if it refuses to mention a principled conservative like Schiff on its website, its fundraising ability depends more on ignorance than on conservative principles.

Letter to the editor, 09.28.09

I wrote the following letter, which appeared in the University of Tennessee student newspaper, The Daily Beacon, on September 28th:

By morally defending universal health care in his Sept. 21 column, Amien Essif displays a level of bravery not shared by many members of Congress, who would rather call their constituents racists than rationally defend their own policy positions. Unfortunately, in political debates, bravery is a weak contender against wisdom, and wisdom cannot morally defend universal health care.

Essif challenges himself to minimize his assumptions and employ good tact, then promptly adds, “the most important thing is that everyone in America has free access to good health care.” He assumes the government can provide a very costly service to everyone for free. Any economic genius who makes this assumption will confidently tell you that money is valuable because “um.” Essif imagines a great society: infinitely healthy, happy, prosperous, without worry and completely fictional.

Essif deems his argument a moral one, so let us briefly examine the morality of universal health care. Do not mistake terms. Universal health care is not charity; it is coercion. If a family member, friend, neighbor, fellow congregant or stranger came to you with upturned hands, your help would be charitable. If a person in need came to you with a loaded firearm and demands, your “help” would be coerced; that person would be a criminal.

If the robber’s need is then examined, and a public opinion poll shows that a majority of respondents believe he should be allowed to rob, does this legitimize his crime? This robber is universal health care, an injustice legitimized only by majority rule. That injustice can win the support of a majority is an elementary school fact. It is the reason our democratic whims are limited by the Constitution. If we respect morality and the Constitution, we must conclude that universal health care is immoral and illegal.

Alex Winston

Junior in political science

Letter to the editor, 09.17.09

Obama schoolchildren

This letter appeared, with some cosmetic edits, in the University of Tennessee’s student newspaper, The Daily Beacon, on September 17.

Sam Smith’s friday column, “Criticism of Obama’s speech outrageous,” was nothing if not educational. While reading it, I learned that I am “either a hateful individual or a nincompoop.” I learned that I am “involved in the madness and mistruths,” that my behavior should be called into question, that I should refrain from expressing myself, so that the country can move forward. I learned that I am perhaps an adherent to “the worst sentiments among us like covert prejudice and ignorance.” I learned that I do not accept the fact of Obama’s presidency. I learned that all opponents of the White House’s unconstitutional plans for healthcare and energy are small-minded and petty. I learned that I am a global citizen, although I do not recall accepting the rule of a global government. These revelations say nothing about me, but they speak volumes of the columnist’s attitude toward those who disagree with him.

At the risk of being outrageous, I will criticize Obama’s speech to the nation’s schoolchildren. I take no issue with the speech’s content. It spoke of hard work and self-reliance. It could have been written by a staunch conservative. The speech, however, was not given in good faith; it was disingenuous. It was pure demagoguery. If Thomas Paine was correct in writing that “infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what [one] does not believe,” then Obama’s speech epitomized infidelity. He preached hard work and personal responsibility, but his policies encourage laziness and collective responsibility. If Obama had spoken in good faith, his message to America’s youth would have been: “I hope you work hard for your country, but if you do not, don’t worry. It is not your fault and it should not be your responsibility. I will force your hardworking, responsible neighbors to give you food, cash, cars, homes and healthcare.”


Alex Winston

Junior in Political Science

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s false mandate


In my many college political science courses, I have yet to meet a professor who did not subscribe to the belief that Franklin D. Roosevelt was given a mandate by the people to institute his New Deal reforms.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Like many elected since, President Roosevelt attained office through deception.  If the people had known what his plans were, not only would he have failed to win, he would not have received the Democratic party’s nomination.  Roosevelt ran on the promise of less government, but after winning election, he abandoned his rhetoric and his electorate, and instituted a giant bureaucracy that the people did not want.

For proof, I refer the reader to Garet Garrett’s “The Revolution Was”, a pertinent excerpt of which I will provide:

“The first three planks of the Democratic party platform read as follows: We advocate: ‘1. An immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus and eliminating extravagance, to accomplish a saving of not less than 25 per cent in the cost of Federal government…2. Maintenance of the national credit by a Federal budget annually balanced…3. A sound currency to be maintained at all hazards.’  

Mr. Roosevelt pledged himself to be bound by this platform as no President had ever before been bound by a party document.  All during the campaign he supported it with words that could not possibly be misunderstood.  He said: ‘I accuse the present Administration (Hoover’s) of being the greatest spending Administration in peace time in all American history–one which piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission, and has failed to anticipate the dire needs or reduced earning power of the people.  Bureaus and bureaucrats have been retained at the expense of the taxpayer…We are spending altogether too much money for government services which are neither practical nor necessary.  In addition to this, we are attempting too many functions and we need a simplification of what the Federal government is giving to the people.’  This he said many times.”

So when you hear a self-described intellectual claim that Roosevelt’s New Deal was an execution of the people’s will, or allowed by the electoral mandate, know that you are listening to a person who has no understanding of the 1932 election.