Rebirth of Reason


Why I Am Voting for Kerry
by Adam Reed

(Author's note: John Kerry has started fighting back, and so I wrote the following article for another site. It was declined, but that is no reason to hold it back.)

Since 1989, when Marxian economic theory was disconfirmed by evidence of reality, the Social-Democratic parties of Europe and North America have become prime movers of Neo-Liberalism, that is of classical Liberalism informed by the factual history of socialism, and by the ideas of Austrian and American libertarian economics. In Europe, economists associated with Social-Democratic political parties, such as President Kwasniewski of Poland, transformed the command economies of former dictatorships into dynamic, market-driven liberal - Capitalist - societies. In the United States, the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton quickly abandoned its socialist electoral promises, and then abolished the welfare entitlement, balanced the federal budget by arresting government spending, and opened the United States to international trade. By adapting Neo-Liberalism in practice, regardless of Socialist talk at election time, today's Social-Democrats have become over-all defenders of individual human rights, and of the central Liberal value: Man's pursuit of happiness on Earth.

The mirror image of the Left's reversal into Neo-Liberalism has taken place on the Conservative-Republican Right. While still paying a quota of lip service to limited government at election time, in practice the Republican administration of George W. Bush has returned to the religious and national-collectivist roots of the nineteenth-century conservative opponents of classical liberalism. If Leonard Peikoff (as in this lecture audio excerpt) is right, future historians will wonder at the brief, paradoxical cold-war alliance of Objectivists, libertarians and classical liberals - with men whose core values are faith, chastity, humility, fidelity to the national collective, the postponement of happiness into an imaginary after-life, and gratitude to God for His gifts of suffering and pain. To impose those values on the people of a previously individualist country, requires an unprecedented expansion of government force, of which the first-term record of George W. Bush is just the beginning: a total ban on medical research into therapeutic cloning; an enormous new entitlement program; a spend and borrow Keynesian stimulus "tax cut" - really a tax postponement, with collateral debasement of the US dollar; protectionist tariffs; and totalitarian enforcement - with emphasis on force - of Bush's religious values at home and abroad.

The coming election is the first in American history that will be won or lost on issues of national security. Any President, of any party, would have responded to 9-11 as Bush did, excepting only his despicable exclusion of religions that do not require belief in God from the national memorial service for the victims of terrorist mayhem. The clergy of Buddhist, Ethical Culture, Jewish Humanistic and Jewish Reconstructionist congregations - even those whose congregants were murdered at the World Trade Center - were not invited. Bush did invite an Imam, who lectured a grieving America on its "sin" of Pride.

As any American President would have, George W. Bush drove Al Qaeda into hiding and eliminated the Taliban regime that hosted them. However, Bush's previous policies prevented America from solving the second most immediate threat. North Korea, the primary vendor of long-range missiles to the terrorist regimes of the Middle East, is actively developing nuclear weapons for sale to the same customers. Bush's steel tariffs eliminated $800 million of South Korea's annual $1.1 billion exports to the United States, nearly wiping out South Korea's steel industry and plunging the country into unprecedented unemployment, a deep personal tragedy in South Korea's work-centered culture. As a result of Bush's tariff, South Koreans have come to despise the United States as a country that betrayed its principles, betrayed its history, and betrayed its friends. The United States will not be able to deal with the threat from North Korea without South Korean support, which Bush has destroyed.

In second place among threats was Iran, an Islamist regime with its own nuclear weapons program. In third place Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islamist terrorism, including Al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia is also the world's second most brutal dictatorship (after North Korea,) where prohibited speech is punished by cutting out the tongue, prohibited writing by cutting off the hand, and where marrying an unmarried adult woman without her father's consent is punished by death. In fourth place was Iran's satellite Syria, the operational headquarters of Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. Then, in fifth place, Iraq.

Iraq was conquered quickly and efficiently, as Afghanistan had been. The achievement of General Eric Shinseki, as US Army Chief of Staff the strategic planner for both brilliant campaigns, was quickly obscured by President Bush's exhibitionistic and unintentionally comic landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier returning from the Gulf. And then began the lack of follow-through.

Ever since the liberation of Cuba in the Spanish American War, the United States has always repudiated the odious debts imposed on each newly liberated country by its previous rulers. Unfortunately for the people of Iraq, Saddam Hussein's main creditors were Bush family friends, the royal family of the Islamist kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In Iraq, for the first time since the Spanish-American War, liberation from the tyrant - by the United Stares - did not mean liberation from the tyrant's debt.

To this day, Iraqis remain deprived of the benefits of a market economy by state monopolies on oil production, food distribution, electricity and so on. The lack of market price information results in scarcity. Food is still bought on ration cards. Electricity is only available for a few hours each day. The whole Soviet-style nightmare is managed by pull-peddler company Haliburton, an eminent collaborator in the Royal Command Economy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not surprisingly, since there are no incentives for increasing oil production in Haliburton's contract, Iraqi oil production remains minimal. Thanks to the resulting shortages, world oil prices, and the oil income of Saudi Arabia, are at an all-time high.

Not unexpectedly from a President whose world-view is deeply rooted in primacy of consciousness, Bush's main foreign policy success has been in using America's war against Islamist terrorism as a curtain to hide a coercive, Christianist policy at home. Bush has made recess appointments, not subject to review by the Senate, of anti-abortion and otherwise anti-individualist activists to Federal appellate courts. He will, if re-elected, make similar appointments to the Supreme Court. His home state of Texas has already indicted a man on charges of "murder" for conspiring with his girlfriend to abort her pregnancy, apparently expecting that Bush's future recess appointees to the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade.

George W. Bush is the first president in US history to delegate government functions to organizations that make services conditional on adherence to their religion. (As everywhere in this article, to see what an abstract proposition means in reality, click on the hyperlink.) Bush promotes legislation that would exempt the reference to God in the US official "Pledge of Allegiance," which is often used in the schools to "out" Atheist children for harassment, bullying and abuse, from any constitutional review by the courts. The Bush administration's enforcement of its false morality includes a revival of federal obscenity prosecutions; a record $550,000. FCC fine levied against a television station for two second's exposure of a healthy female breast; and similar interventions into every previously private area of Americans' personal lives. I will discuss the area of medicine and medical research not because I consider it most important, but because as a scientist I know what my colleagues in the medical sciences are going through.

One horrid but predictable Bush intervention into medicine is based directly on the Christianist idea that suffering is a gift from God, and must be accepted as a sign of grace. The Bush DEA has re-interpreted the drug laws to mean that all chronic use of pain medications constitutes criminal addiction; all physicians treating chronic pain in the United States have been either prosecuted and imprisoned, intimidated out of ordering effective medication for their patients, or driven out of the field.

Bush's acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, one Steven Galson, ordered a ban on over-the-counter sale of emergency contraceptive Plan B. He made this decision against all scientific evidence evaluated by the FDA's own scientific staff, and against the nearly unanimous (23-4) vote of the expert advisory panel of outside scientists appointed by the agency. Galson's official rationalization of this arbitrary decision set a new record in salacious dishonesty: it was motivated, he said, by lack of information about "the younger age group between 11 and 14, where we know there is a substantial amount of sexual activity" - even though no one in America is allowed to ask young people between 11 and 14 for this information. Yet the Bush administration insists on having Steven Galson's decision, capricious, salacious, dishonest and contrary to evidence though it was, enforced - as a warning, to any enterprise that would invest in therapies contrary to this administration's false morality: if you develop products that the Bush administration disapproves of, you will not be allowed to sell them. The same goes for criticism - Leonard Peikoff reports hearing from two Objectivists who are CEOs of biotechnology companies, that they were informally told by FDA officials to silence any criticism of the administration's medical research policies by their scientists, or face equally arbitrary FDA bans on their products.

To silence scientists who do not work for FDA-controlled companies, Bush's ironically named "Justice Department" launched investigations and prosecutions, of several of America's most distinguished medical scientists for nominal departures from of obscure regulations, creating a state of fear in the medical research community. In the most egregious case Dr Thomas Butler, whose invention of oral rehydration therapy for diarrhea in the 1970s saved literally millions of lives, was sentenced to federal prison on charges that amounted to checking the wrong box on a shipping form. His family - wife Elisabeth and four children, including a five-year-old son - are broke from the cost of his defense. He has lost his job and his lab, and turned 62 in prison. Other, less distinguished scientists have been effectively silenced by example.

I will vote for John Kerry because Kerry, whatever the ugly errors of his distant past, lacks the defects that make George W. Bush unfit for the presidency of the United States. Because Kerry's political concepts belong to modernity and the enlightenment, and not to the age of religion that is Bush's ideal. Because Kerry's economic advisers, like Clinton's before him, will be free-market neo-liberals, and not Bush's neo-conservative Keynesians. Because Kerry is not beholden to the Saudi theocrats or the pull-peddlers of Haliburton, he will be able to repudiate Saddam's odious debt, privatize Iraq's economy, and with the resulting prosperity win the support of the people of Iraq. Without those steps an American victory will remain forever impossible. With them, the people of Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia will learn that Moslems, too, are capable of prosperity - and will deal with their rulers accordingly.

I will vote for John Kerry because he has the integrity to go to South Korea, make amends for the tragedy of Bush's steel tariff, sign a treaty abolishing forever all tariffs between South Korea and the United States, and with South Korea's support take out the most malignant and dangerous dictatorship on the planet.

I will vote for John Kerry because free minds lead to free markets, and free markets lead to life - not for the glory of an imaginary God, but for the glory of human happiness on Earth.
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