Paris Climate Agreement

There is a lingering question following President Trump’s meeting with European leaders last week whether or not the United States will fulfill President Obama’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Drafted in 2015, the Paris document calls for a reduction of the global temperature increase and was signed by 195 countries, 147 of which have ratified the treaty.

The document is based on “the need for an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge.”

It’s worth noting, as I did in this space, that such specific urgencies have been predicted – falsely – since the 1970s.

In addition, the document notes “the importance…of the concept of ‘climate justice’, when taking action to address climate change.”

If you are not familiar with the concept of climate justice, the Mary Robinson Foundation defines it this way:

“Those who have benefited…from emissions in the form of on-going economic development and increased wealth…have an ethical obligation to share benefits with those who are today suffering from the effects of these emissions, mainly vulnerable people in developing countries.”

Expressed another way, climate justice is an attack on capitalism and an attack on the United States. Peacefuluprising.org puts it like this:

“The current system consolidates wealth in the hands of a corporate minority, while threatening the health and security of all people…To feed the US growth machine, once agricultural self-reliant economies are decimated…forcing many to migrate from their home. Some of these ‘corporate refugees’ come to the US looking for a better future for their children. And yet, when the economy tanks, our leaders pave the way for these migrants to be scapegoated and blamed for ‘stealing people’s jobs.’ Such scapegoating  directed at the most impacted and vulnerable communities, will continue unless we tackle the root causes of climate change, by re-evaluating our current system and challenging leaders who lack the political courage and integrity to do the same.”

The current system climate justice advocates apparently feel needs to be reevaluated is the free enterprise democratic capitalist society that has given the world so many benefits.

Consider the statistics: At the beginning of the industrial revolution, the percentage of the world population living in poverty was 94%. Because of capitalism, by which new technologies, new companies, and new jobs can be created and developed, that number had dropped to 51% by 1992. As of 2011, global population in poverty was only 17%.

However, Article 9 of the Paris Agreement calls for climate justice financial payments to be made to developing countries: “Developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention…As part of a global effort, developed country Parties should continue to take the lead in mobilizing climate finance from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels…”

Moreover, the United States is required to regularly report our progress in making payments to developing countries as part of this climate justice initiative. More from Article 9:

“Developed country Parties shall biennially communicate indicative quantitative and qualitative information related to paragraphs 1 and 3 of this Article, as applicable, including, as available, projected levels of public financial resources to be provided to developing country Parties.”

The Paris Climate Agreement is as much an attack on capitalism as it as an attempt to reverse climate change.

The Agreement commits “developed” countries (read: United States) to financially compensate “developing” countries for all of the harm we have caused them due to climate change.

Nevermind the benefits the United States’ free enterprise economy has given to the world over the years in helping to reduce poverty. It’s no wonder so many countries have signed on to this Agreement. The document requires the U.S. to pay them.

President Trump should withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement immediately.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a commencement address at Harvard last week in which he proposed the following:

“Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract. We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”

So let’s explore…

Universal basic income would, by definition, involve some form of wealth redistribution. The government doesn’t have money to give away. Every dollar it has was made somewhere in the private sector and paid to the government in the form of taxes.

Sure, the government prints money, but it’s not an indefinite supply.

(Increasing the money supply has consequences like runaway inflation and reduced value of the dollar versus other currencies. It’s not somewhere we want to go.)

So universal basic income would mean the federal government would redistribute tax dollars to the whole population.

This is the opposite of Capitalism.

This is the opposite of what made Mr. Zuckerberg rich.

This is the opposite of the system that made the United States of America the economic superpower it has become. One country carries a fourth of the world’s gross product, and it’s us.

So why won’t this work?

Because incentives matter.

Mr. Zuckerberg’s argument: Universal basic income would give everyone a cushion to try new ideas. He said he was able to take a chance with Facebook because he knew he had something on which he could fall back.

As great as that sounds, it’s a utopian dream. It’s not realistic. It’s not how the real world works.

The truth is that the United States is successful because capitalism gives its participants the incentive to keep the fruits of their hard work.

Universal basic income provides no such incentive.

History repeats itself. We’ve been through this. Centuries ago. See the story of Thanksgiving as told through the journal of William Bradford.

Initially, the community set up by the Pilgrims was socialistic in nature: common garden, everyone is allowed to take as much corn as they needed.

Bradford wrote: “For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort, for young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense…”

Then they changed. Instead of a community garden, they divided the land. They said each family can keep as much corn as they could grow themselves. They provided incentive.

Bradford wrote about the difference in his journal: “This had very good success. For it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”

Through Capitalism, the Pilgrim community produced more corn than they were able to eat themselves. They sold, or traded, the excess.

This is exactly why the United States economy has been so successful over the years. It’s because Capitalism, when allowed to properly function, works!

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than anything else out there. Rather than providing universal income, we should the system.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Memorial Day

A few Memorial Day facts on this holiday:

Memorial Day first began in May 1868 and was known as Decoration Day. It’s founder, John Logan, wished to honor the 620,000 soldiers killed during the Civil War, and declared May 30 Decoration Day.

A civil war veteran, Logan served in both the House and the Senate, and was a candidate for vice president in 1884.  After his death in 1886, his body laid in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol.

For more than 50 years, Decoration Day was used to remember only those killed in the Civil War. Beginning with World War I, the day was expanded to recognize soldiers killed in all wars.

In 1971, Decoration Day was officially renamed Memorial Day and was moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May.

The Significance of Memorial Day

While it has evolved culturally into the unofficial beginning of the Summer season, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Memorial Day is intended to honor the sacrifice of those who died protecting our freedoms.  

Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

The comparison has been made of our military to sheepdogs, protecting the sheep by keeping the wolves at bay.

Presently, there are several wolves out in the world who, for lack of our sheepdogs, would devour us sheep at home in the U.S. North Korea, Iran, ISIS, Al Qaeda all come to mind.

Reagan also reminded us of something of which we should never forget, “Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

Happy Memorial Day.

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

USA: Founded on Prayer?

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understanding?”

These are the words of Benjamin Franklin, five weeks into the Constitutional Convention in the midst of probable failure.

Yes, the United States of America was founded on prayer.

Ben Franklin continued: “In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine protection…I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

Have we, as a nation, forgotten this? I surmise the answer is yes, and our leaders need prayer as much now as ever before.

1 John 5:14 says that if we pray according to God’s will, He will hear us.

1 Timothy 2:2 tells us we should pray for our political leaders.

According to John 14:21, for our prayers to be effective, we must live in accordance with God’s will.

(This is different than salvation, which is a free gift from God for those who believe Jesus died for your sins and rose again on three days later.)

We, as Americans, should be in prayer for wisdom for President Trump and our Congressional leaders.  We should pray, as Benjamin Franklin urged, for Congress and our President to have the ability to recognize and distinguish political truth when it presents itself.

We’re so quick to complain. We talk at our fellow citizens rather than with them. We’re swiftly losing the ability to have civil political discourse and we rarely admit fault or grow in our beliefs.

It appears we all could use a little political wisdom right about now.

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

ABC News

So I decided to try an experiment.

After reading several seemingly big news stories yesterday, I decided to watch a broadcast network evening newscast to see what actually is being covered.

First, the stories:

Circa.com ran a story this morning with the headline “Declassified memos show FBI illegally shared spy data on Americans with private parties”.

Sounds serious, doesn’t it?  

The story reads that under the Obama Administration, the FBI violated constitutional privacy protections hundreds of times and shared raw intelligence with unauthorized third parties.

These violations of the law also contradict then FBI Director James Comey’s Congressional testimony in which he explicitly stated such violations did not occur.

Circa reports: “The most serious involved the NSA searching for American data it was forbidden to search. But the FBI also was forced to admit its agents and analysts shared espionage data with prohibited third parties, ranging from a federal contractor to a private entity that did not have the legal right to see the intelligence.”

This report comes just two days after news that the NSA also violated intelligence gathering protocol and was reprimanded by a FISA court.

Headline: “Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years”.

In addition to these abuses of power, a third story seemingly worthy of evening news coverage was yet another attack on Christians in Egypt in which twenty-nine were killed.

(Where is the outrage?)

I was curious as to whether any of these stories are being reported, and I wanted to see what Americans are being told.

A quick google search revealed the highest rated broadcast newscast is currently ABC, so at 5:30 p.m. CDT, I tuned in…

…and was utterly disappointed.

Here is how the newscast broke down.

The lead story was about the Trump sons meeting with the FBI about hackers trying to infiltrate Trump tower as well as coverage on Jared Kushner and his alleged contacts with Russia. (three minutes)

Next came Trump’s foreign trip. (two minutes)

Then it was Hillary Clinton’s commencement address at Wellesley where she criticized President Trump. (two minutes)

The Hillary Clinton coverage was followed by nearly three minutes on travel conditions during the upcoming holiday weekend. 

Then a minute about a serial killer in Georgia.

Coverage of Ariana Grande’s decision to do a Manchester benefit concert. (two minutes)

Followed by a collection of miscellaneous stories:

Missing sailors near the Bahamas

A city bus hits a warehouse 

Police chase on airport tarmac

Controversy about John Glenn’s remains

A hot dog recall

And a story on their person of the week

And that’s it.

Not even a mention of any of the three stories above.

Your government spied on you for years and shared your information with unauthorized third parties, and a recall on hot dogs got more coverage on the country’s highest rated evening news broadcast.

The information isn’t even alleged. It didn’t come from anonymous sources. It came from declassified memos, and a police chase on an airport tarmac got more coverage.

Media bias is sometimes more apparent not in what is actually covered on the news but in what is left out.  In this case, Americans, at least those watching ABC, are not being told the whole story.

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

Ben Carson

A story was in the news yesterday that reveals a lot about what we, as a nation, think about the topic of personal responsibility.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson said this:

“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there. You take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world — they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom.”

When I heard those words, spoken by a man who grew up in poverty and went on to become one of the world’s leading neurosurgeons, I heard words of encouragement speaking to how far a good attitude, hard work, and personal responsibility will take you in life.

The rest of the media, apparently, heard something different.  Here are a few of the criticisms:

New York Daily News – “Ben Carson somehow reaches new levels of stupidity with latest commentary on poor”

CNN – “Secretary Carson, you should know better” 

Charles Blow – “Can we take Ben Carson back to the vendor and get a refund? Something is broken…”

George Takei – “Ben Carson says that poverty is a “state of mind.” You know what else is a state of mind? Always being a blithering idiot.”

Despite the criticisms, what Dr. Carson said is true.  Americans can rescue themselves out of poverty.  They do it all the time according to statistics.

“By age 60, 53% of Americans will have experienced at least one year in the top 10th income percentile, while 54% of Americans will experience at least one year of poverty by the same age.”

Our economic classes have a fluidity about them that critics don’t acknowledge. That’s not to say it isn’t more difficult to escape if you are born into poverty. It is to say that escaping poverty happens frequently.

One criticism called Dr. Carson’s statement “a convenient, intellectually lazy argument.”  An argument can be made that it is actually the other way around. Riding the assumption of perpetual dependence is akin to saying,”Vote for me! I’ll take care of you! The other party doesn’t care about you!”

Criticizing Dr. Carson because of his words is a politically convenient argument.  We shouldn’t stand for it.

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

Sean Hannity

A decision on whether to accept the validity of a story should be based on available facts, not on the number of individuals who believe the story or even the trust one places in certain individuals or media outlets who do not believe the story.

Additionally, all Americans should be free to discuss ideas openly without fear of consequences.  The manner in which we find truth is through the exchange and evaluation of ideas.

We’re losing this.

Sean Hannity is one of the last media members to discuss the Seth Rich story.  (Fox News has retracted its report, and a thorough review of the known facts can be  found here.)

Because of his stated desire for a truthful solution to the unsolved murder of the DNC staffer, Media Matters has called for a boycott of Hannity’s advertisers.

This is wrong.

I get it.  The insinuations are extremely serious, and a matter like this doesn’t need to be investigated in the media, but calling for a boycott because you don’t like the political position a host is taking on an opinion-based show violates the intellectual freedom that is such an important part of a democratic society.

Look at what happened to Ann Coulter a few weeks ago with UC Berkley. Invited to speak by a conservative group on campus, her speech was cancelled following the threat of violence by students opposed to her political views. 

The idea that it is somehow acceptable to silence a person because you don’t agree with them goes against the very foundations of our country.  

Most of our founding fathers adhered to the views expressed by the French philosopher, Voltaire. Evelyn Hall, as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs, wrote the following words in his biography, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death  your right to say it.”

One of the tenets of Fascism is the forcible suppression of opposition.  It’s ironic, is it not, that those advocating for the suppression of speech today mistakenly think they are doing so in the name of democracy?

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

Defeating Terrorism

Let’s get something straight. Terrorism is a tactic. What we are trying to defeat is the radical ideology that leads to the evil terroristic deeds.

I’m a big proponent of freedom of thought. We shouldn’t punish individuals for their thoughts. It’s only when thoughts produce actions that infringe on others’ rights does it become a problem.

We should encourage freedom of thought and the free exchange of ideas. Why? Because our ideas are better. We can win in this arena and prevent radicalization.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it best at an anti-terrorism conference a few years back, “Militant Islam…will ultimately disappear from the stage of history because I think it’s a grand failure – it doesn’t know how to manage economies, it cannot offer the young people to which it appeals any kind of future.”

Now don’t get me wrong. Defensive measures and vigilance are absolutely necessary, but that will only contain the problem and serve to minimize damage. The same is true with killing terrorists. It’s necessary, but it’s not enough. As long as they can radicalize more terrorists, it’s an unending battle.

We win, in the long run, by changing minds.

How does that happen?

Courage, Clarity, and Isolation

Netanyahu said, “All the other qualities that we could bring to bear in the battle against terrorism are meaningless if you don’t have courage.”

We must, as individuals and collectively, have the courage to stand up to radical ideas. Engage our neighbors. Educate. Exchange ideas. Don’t be afraid to say what you believe.

We must also have the courage to admit when we are wrong. Part of the free exchange of ideas involves adjusting our positions as better information is acquired. Sometimes it takes more courage to do that than it does to speak out in the first place.

Having the courage to change our opinions adds clarity to the views we hold. It makes our opinions stronger and easier to defend. It gives us the vision to understand why we are right and radicalism is wrong.

Netanyahu again, “(We must have the) clarity to understand they’re wrong, we’re right; they’re evil, we’re good. No moral relativism there at all. These people who lop off heads, trample human rights into the dust – are evil and they have to be resisted. Evil has to be resisted.”

Which takes courage.

Courage and clarity. That’s a long term solution. How do we fight the battle of ideas for near term results?

Isolation.

President Trump talked about it in Saudi Arabia. The global community of nations must deny territory, support, and funding to any and all sponsors of terrorism. If a country is discovered to be funneling money to a terrorist group or providing safe haven, they too must be isolated.

We must deny terrorists a future, and this can only happen if all nations stand in solidarity.

Military action will limit the tactic of terror. This will win battles. If we fight in the arena of ideas and take practical steps to remove any hope of a future life after terrorism, we can win the war.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Manchester

What happened last night in Manchester is inexcusable. Of course, no act of terror is acceptable by anyone for any reason, but this one should hit all of us in the civilized world especially hard.

An apparent suicide bomber blew himself up as concert goers were leaving an Ariana Grande concert, killing nineteen and injuring fifty-nine.

Targeting young women and girls leaving a concert is a new low. An evil, evil, cowardice.

This appears to be a level of sophistication not typical of the recent European terrorist acts involving cars driven into crowds or random stabbings. A bomb consisting of shrapnel may hint at the sponsorship of a foreign terrorist organization, it was reported last night.

So where do we go from here?

How do we as a civilized society combat radical extremism?

How do we protect ourselves?

How do we change the world?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave solid advice on this in a speech at an anti-terrorism conference on September 11, 2014:

“(The ability to attack and defend against terrorism) requires weapons, defensive and offensive, but above all it requires, I believe, clarity and courage – clarity to understand they’re wrong, we’re right; they’re evil, we’re good. No moral relativism there at all. These people who lop off heads, trample human rights into the dust – are evil and they have to be resisted. Evil has to be resisted. And the second, it requires courage and responsibility. It requires courage because all the other qualities that we could bring to bear in the battle against terrorism are meaningless if you don’t have courage.”

Courage to educate.

Clarity to explain well why we are right, and militant Islam is wrong.

More Netanyahu:

“I may surprise you when I tell you that I think militant Islam will be defeated. I think it will be, I think it will ultimately disappear from the stage of history because I think it’s a grand failure – it doesn’t know how to manage economies, it cannot offer the young people to which it appeals any kind of future. It can control their minds for now but ultimately the spread of information technology will obviate that, will give people choices. But this may take a long time.”

President Trump two days ago:

“There can be no coexistence with this violence. There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.”

President Bush, 2001:

“”We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter, and we will not fail. Peace and Freedom will prevail.”

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Israeli Palestinian Conflict

President Trump spent day three of his first foreign trip in Israel meeting with Israeli officials. Also on this trip, he will meet with Palestinian leaders.

One of his stated goals for his presidency is the establishment of a lasting peace between the nation of Israel and the Palestinians.

A lofty goal indeed.

When considering the issue, it is important to be aware of the history of the conflict to provide the proper context around which decisions can be effectively made.

If you only listen to the way it is described in the media, you’ll likely come away with the opinion that a two-state solution is reasonable, and Israel’s resistance to a two-state solution is unreasonable.

You may even believe that Israel is the aggressor and has invaded land not belonging to them just as Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait or, more recently, Vladimir Putin invaded part of the Ukraine.

That’s not the whole story. Here is a brief timeline of Israel’s modern history:

May 15, 1947 – United Nations General Assembly formed a committee to prepare a report on the issue of Palestine and its Jewish immigrants.

September 3, 1947 – The committee proposed the formation of an independent Arab State, an independent Jewish State, both independent from Jerusalem and Bethlehem which would be controlled by the United Nations.

Neither side liked it, but most of the Jews in the region accepted the plan. “Every major Arab leader objected in principle to the right of the Jews to an independent state in Palestine.”

November 29, 1947 – A slightly amended version of the previous plan was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Thirty-three nations voted in favor, thirteen opposed, and ten nations abstained. “The Yishuv accepted the plan, but the Arabs in Palestine and the surrounding Arab states rejected the plan.”

Immediately following approval of the plan, attacks began – shootings, stonings, bombings, rioting – by Arabs against the Jewish population in Palestine.

May 14, 1948 – In the face of violence by those denying its right to exist, Israel declared itself a sovereign nation. “The declaration was stated to be ‘by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly’. The Declaration stated that the State of Israel would ‘ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The next day, Israel was invaded by Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Israel fought them back, capturing land and expanding its borders in the process. The 1949 Armistice Agreement was signed by Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. Per the agreement, Egypt controlled Gaza Strip. Transjordan controlled the West Bank.

1950-1967 saw attacks on Jewish civilians stemming from Gaza Strip.

1967 – Israel launched a preemptive strike against Egypt known today as the Six-Day War. Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and took complete control over Jerusalem.

In August 1967, “Arab leaders met in Khartoum in response to the war, to discuss the Arab position toward Israel. They reached consensus that there should be no recognition, no peace, and no negotiations with the State of Israel.”

1972 – At the Summer Olympics, eleven members of the Israeli team were taken hostage and killed by Palestinian terrorists.

1973 – Syria and Egypt declared war on Israel in what is known as the Yom Kippur War.

September 9, 1993 – “Yasser Arafat sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stating that the PLO officially recognized Israel’s right to exist and officially renouncing terrorism.” This began the Oslo Peace Process in which Israel gave up control over certain regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, Palestinian terrorist acts continued which escalated from both sides of the conflict.

Terror continues to this day.

A two-state solution may or may not be the best solution to the conflict. Given the history, however, peace is difficult when one side refuses to acknowledge the right of the other side to exist.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG