A March Only for Some Women
by Jessica De Gree
Just one day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, men and women worldwide participated in what they called a Women’s March. Marchers protested to raise awareness for a lack of respect of women’s rights. These so called “rights” include the “right” to get an abortion and access to free healthcare, along with respectful treatment of women from men. Protesters wanted to show the world that we should not tolerate hurtful and degrading words to women, such as statements Donald Trump has made. And, protesters also tried to show support for Planned Parenthood, an organization which openly supports and encourages abortions, in stating that they wanted the government to continue to allocate tax monies to the organization.
These marchers equated the ability or choice to abort their pregnancies with women’s rights, a clearly false association. By so doing, many women who regretted their abortions, or who work to help those who seek an abortion find alternatives, were immediately unwelcome. In excluding these women, the Women’s March was much less of a protest for women, and more of a protest for progressivism. Organizers of the Women's March refused to let the voices of all women be heard, contrary to their publicized message, and instead bullied conservative women with their intense exclusivity.
Pro-life groups such as Students for Life of America and New Wave Feminists, after asking to be partners or sponsors of the event, were declined for their pro-life standing. According to the board on the platform, the march’s message of inclusivity and solidarity did not extend to all women. By refusing to include all women in the Women’s March, and only including those who support abortion and believe abortion and other controversial subjects should be funded by tax dollars, the march demonstrates that it really isn’t a march for women, but rather a march for abortion. Whereas many people claim that the march intends to raise awareness for bullying, exclusivity, and poor treatment of women, it clearly only showcases the progressive feminists' views.
In the Woman’s March platform found on their website, the protesters state their intentions of encouraging healthy environments for women in their family. They argue that women should not accept violence towards their bodies in any way. While this is a worthy issue to try to highlight, the rest of the platform underscores this message. The platform calls for the continuation of federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the organization which is responsible for more than 30% of the nation’s abortions, giving 1 in every 8 patients who visit Planned Parenthood an abortion. Clearly, this organization encourages abortions, a violent and harmful choice, instead of less violent and harmful options, such as adoption. So, although the platform initially seems to have a nice message that demands safety and security for women, the specific policies within the platform suggest otherwise.
It seems strange that this event happened right after Trump’s inauguration. If it was truly a Women’s March, if it was a march that highlighted common problems women face and have been facing for a while, why had it not happened sooner? Why had it not happened after Bill Clinton’s scandals and Hillary Clinton's cover-ups? Or after Chris Brown attacked his girlfriend? The march was much more than a march for basic human rights. It was a political scheme directly attacking both Donald Trump’s presidency and Conservative values (both different things).
Whenever there is a natural disaster and politicians use that to help build their appearance, people seem to always be dismayed. They point out that it is wrong to use the victim’s experience to better the politician’s own standings. In the Women's March, the organizers used the abuse of women to push a radical progressive agenda. They turned the emotions women have been holding inside into a political ploy. This abuse of women and of their emotions from real problems contradicts the very end the march was supposed to stand for. It is sad that this march has misled so many people from the ability to actually express their feelings of real hurt and pain.
1. What do the Women's March organizers claim were the goals of the Women's March?
2. When did the Women's March occur?
3. According to Ms. De Gree, what were the real goals of the Women's March?
4. What is your opinion of Ms. De Gree's analysis of the Women's March?
5. Optional Questions: Where did the Women's March occur? Which individuals or orgaanizations provided funding for coordinating and organizing the Women's March?
Fidel Castro is Dead
By John De Gree
Fidel Castro, Cuba and the United States of America
On November 25th, 2016, one of the world’s brutal dictators, Fidel Castro, died. Fidel Castro led Cuba as its Communist dictator since 1959. During his 57-year rule, Castro was responsible for the murder, torture, and imprisonment of tens of thousands. Castro’s regime did not allow basic civil rights in Cuba such as the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press. In addition, Castro did not allow Cubans to travel outside of the island and ordered his navy to kill those trying to leave by boat. Under Castro, the Cuban navy sank ships and used fire hoses to drown Cubans in the Caribbean Sea trying to escape island by boat.
Cuba, 1492 – 1895
In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World for Spain, and Spain quickly colonized much of North and South America. For the next four hundred years, Spain ruled Cuba. As Spanish colonies in the New World revolted in the early 1800s and countries such as Mexico gained independence, Cuba remained loyal. In the mid to late 1800s, Cubans wanted independence from Spain and fought for many years. In the Ten Years’ War (1868-78) Cubans struggled to break away, but Spain kept control of the island.
The United States of America and Cuba, 1895-1959
During the Second War for Independence (1895-98) the United States entered the war on the side of the Cubans, fighting what Americans call the Spanish-American War. The United States defeated Spain, and at the Treaty of Paris it was decided that Spain would surrender Cuba, Puerto Rico, parts of the West Indies, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. The Americans gave Cuba its independence in 1901, but the U.S. insisted on the right to have a permanent naval base on Cuba (Guantanamo Bay), and claimed the right to militarily intervene in Cuban affairs should there be unrest. Over the next 60 years, the U.S.A. militarily intervened in Cuba on numerous occasions.
Cubans suffered under military dictatorships, and at times, the United States supported Cuban leaders who were undemocratic. Fulgencio Batista (1901-1973) seized power militarily in 1933, was elected Cuban President in 1940, and he made himself rich through his connections as the Cuban President. In 1944, he left office and lived in Florida. While Batista was in Florida, Cuba became unstable and corruption was rampant. The American government supported Batista’s return to power in 1952, and for the next seven years he led Cuba as dictator. Batista did not tolerate anyone going against him, controlled the media, and arrested, tortured and executed those who he believed were Communists. It is not known how many he killed, and the number historians give ranges from 1,000 to 20,000 Cubans.
Cuba, 1959 – Present Day
In 1959, Communist Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro overthrew Batista. The Castro government nationalized (took over) all foreign owned businesses, and eventually took over all businesses owned by Cubans, as well. Communists believe that only the government should own property, and they do not trust businesspeople. Communists are also against religion, and anyone wanting to pray to God in Cuba is punished. In the first few years of the Castro regime, the Cuban government terrorized those who did not obey. Tens of thousands of Cubans were tortured and executed because they did not want to follow the Castro regime. Che Guevara, Castro’s chief enforcer, in response to questions about Castro's firing squads, said, "To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution. And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate."
For the next few years, the U.S.A. tried to get Cuba back into its sphere of influence, but failed. In 1961, President Kennedy approved of a plan to support a group of Cubans to invade Cuba and conquer Castro. Called “The Bay of Pigs Invasion”, it failed miserably. In 1962, America realized that the Soviet Union was building a network of nuclear missile launch sites on Cuba. After a U.S. naval blockade, the Soviet weapons were withdrawn, and the U.S. promised to never invade Cuba, again. From 1962 on, Cuba was allied with the Soviet Union, America’s enemy throughout most of the second half of the 1900s. The Soviet Union gave Cuba money, food, and a great amount of support.
Cuba after the Fall of the Soviet Union
In 1991, the Soviet Union fell apart and could no longer give Cuba subsidies. As a result, Cubans suffer greatly from a lack of food and basic necessities. After 50 years of Communist rule, Cuba has become a poor country run by a government that only cares about itself. The Castro brothers are much older now, but they remain rich, as the average Cuban suffers. Cubans are jailed because they oppose the Castros and the Communists, and some have been executed for their beliefs. Whoever tries to escape Cuba and is caught faces grave danger.
President Obama has changed the United States policy towards Cuba from starving the Castro government to recognizing it as legitimate. President Obama thinks that increased American tourism and business will open up Cuba. Other Americans, like Senator Marco Rubio, argue that doing business with Cuba means helping the Castros stay in power. All foreign money spent in Cuba goes straight to the Communist leaders, so more American business means a richer Communist regime.
The death of Fidel Castro has been met with diverse reactions from leaders in North America.
President Obama wrote, "Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him," in a White House statement.
President-Elect Donald Trump wrote, "The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation."
It is unclear if the death of Fidel Castro will have a great impact on the lives of Cubans. His brother, 85 year old Raul Castro, is currently the Communist leader of Cuba, and he has so far followed his brother Fidel’s model of repressive leadership.
Interesting Questions You Can Discuss With Your Students and Kids:
Mao Zedong, Communism, and the USA
40th Anniversary of the Death of Mao Zedong
Next month marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Mao Zedong. Mao lived from 1893-1976 and is the founder of the People’s Republic of China. From the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 until Mao’s death in 1976, he ruled as the country’s autocrat, or dictator. Mao established communism in China, and is responsible for the murder of 48 – 78 million Chinese. Historians think that Mao is the greatest mass murderer in the history of the world, in terms of number of people killed. As China is the most populous country on Earth, and as Communists are against the ideals of the United States of America, it is important to understand the history of Mao.
Mao grew up in one of the wealthiest families in rural China, was an avid reader, and was interested in politics. When Mao was a young man, Chinese rebels fought the emperor and attempted to change the government of China. China had been ruled by an emperor for centuries, and the rebels wanted to establish a republic. Mao joined the rebel army as a soldier. The leader of the rebels was SunYat-sen. Sun Yat-sen established the Republic of China in 1912. Unfortunately, the Republic of China had many problems and didn’t resemble the United States Republic.
Mao Zedong spent the next few years studying philosophers and history and forming his political philosophy. Mao thought he was smarter than others, and that because of this he believed he didn’t have to follow a moral code. He thought that if his actions produced what he thought was good, it didn’t matter if his actions were bad. His father didn’t respect Mao’s intellectual pursuits and stopped paying for Mao’s schooling.
After graduation, Mao moved to Beijing to work and continue studying under a professor he respected and became active in politics. Mao worked in the university library, and increasingly became interested in the ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marx and Engels had written about communism. According to Communists, everyone should have the same amount of money, receive everything they need, and everyone should serve the state over their family. Communists hated religion, because religious people love God over the state. In 1917, the Communist Party took over in Russia, and Mao started to imagine the same thing happening in China. The Communists in Russia believed that they could do anything they wanted, even murder people, in order to get what they wanted. Russian Communists outlawed religion and murdered tens of millions of people.
Mao Zedong became the leader of the Communist Party of China until his death in 1976. From the 1920s until about 1949, the Communists fought various groups in China for control. On October 1, 1949, Mao founded the People’s Republic of China. Throughout this time, Mao attempted to force China to become the country he imagined. The Communist Chinese outlawed religion, private property, freedom of speech, the right to vote, and other liberties. In order to change China into what he wanted, Mao was involved in the murder of 48 million to 78 million Chinese. We are not exactly sure of the number he killed because of problems involved in record-keeping.
During the Korean War (1950-1953), the Communist North Korea fought the free South Korea, a republic. The United States of America supported the South and China supported the North. At times, Americans were fighting Chinese in Korea. Mao Zedong attempted to establish Communism throughout Korea. In 1953, the war ended with North Korea remaining Communist, and South Korea remaining a free republic. Today, American soldiers still guard South Korea from invasion by North Korea.
Today, over 1.357 billion people are Chinese, and China is still officially a Communist country. In 2016, Chinese enjoy more liberties than when Mao ruled. There are also not the mass murders that existed under Mao. Still, the Communist Party in China has control over all elements of life, Chinese do not get to vote for their leaders, and they are not able to speak or write against the government. Next month marks the 40th year anniversary of the death of one of the most influential persons of the 20th century.
Great Discussion Questions to Ask Your Kids
By John De Gree, of The Classical Historian
In a rare event in American political history, a self-proclaimed Socialist is one of the major candidates for the U.S. Presidency. Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) has competed very well against Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) for the Democratic nomination for the President. Many Americans do not know what is a Socialist.
Socialists believe that society functions best when members are forced to share economic goods. This means, for example, that if someone earns $100,000 and another earns $10,000 a year, both should enjoy the $110,000. Socialists think it is unfair that one person should benefit more than another because of his ability, effort, or circumstances in life. Socialists think that the government should determine how much money a person is allowed to keep and how much he should give to others. Some socialists think all people should have the same income, where other socialists think some people can earn more than others. But all socialists agree that the government should determine a minimum amount that each person in society should earn, regardless of his situation.
A socialist thinks that it is the role of government to make decisions regarding private property. For example, if a family has 10 children the socialist thinks that the government should make sure the larger-sized family has a large enough house for the bigger family. This could mean that taxes from the family with 2 children will go to the family with 10 children to support them.
A socialist thinks that the individual rights of the citizen come second to the needs of the state, and it is the role of the government to determine what are the needs of the state. We have many examples in history over the last 200 years to help us understand what a socialist state may decide is the need of the state. In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) in the 1900s, the government decided that religion was an enemy of the people. The U.S.S.R. forbade religious practice and tortured and murdered millions of people to enforce the ban on religious practice. Because of the tragic consequences of the U.S.S.R., many Americans fear socialism.
Senator Sanders describes his political philosophy as democratic socialism. Sanders does not want government to take away others’ property or severely limit individual’s rights, but he would like government to heavily tax those who are successful, and he wants government to distribute this money evenly. Unlike in the U.S.S.R., where people were forced to follow the government or die, Sanders wants people in the U.S.A. to vote and choose a government that will raise taxes. Sanders thinks that the amount of money in a society is fixed, and it is the government’s job to distribute it evenly among all.
Great Questions You Can Ask Your Kids
1. Who is Bernie Sanders?
2. What is a socialist?
3. What happened in the U.S.S.R. in the 1900s?
4. What is democratic socialism?
5. What do you think of socialism?
By John De Gree of www.classicalhistorian.com Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved. #theclassicalhistorian
Harriet Tubman’s image will replace Andrew Jackson’s image on the front of the $20 bill, beginning sometime after 2020. Jackson’s image will move to the back of the bill. During Harriet Tubman’s life, she was hated by the Southern Democrats but loved by the party of Lincoln, the Republicans. Because of the change of the $20 bill, Tubman’s life and meaning has become again a controversial topic for the United States of America.
Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who risked her life to free others. Born a slave in Maryland, we believe her birth date was 1822, though we are unsure because slaveholders tried to take away any birthday celebrations for slaves. It was believed that if a slave didn’t think she was special, she would follow orders better. Some time in her young adulthood, Tubman escaped and travelled along the Underground Railroad until she made it to Pennsylvania, a free state. After making it to freedom, she returned South numerous times to rescue dozens of slaves.
Escaping from slavery was dangerous, but this did not stop Tubman from returning to the South to rescue more slaves. She travelled on the Underground Railroad. This was a secret system of families, mainly white, who sheltered and fed escaped slaves during the day at their homes, called “stations”. At nighttime, the slaves continued on the “railroad” until they made it to another station, or into the North. Tubman acted as a conductor, a person who led the slaves along the railroad.
Harriet Tubman carried a gun while a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Running away from slavery into the unknown was so terrifying, that some slaves wanted to return to their masters while on the journey to freedom. If a slave started to turn back, Tubman would point the gun at these individuals and threaten to shoot if they returned. Tubman knew the slave master would torture the slave until he found out information where the other runaways were.
Unlike Andrew Jackson who was the founder of the modern Democratic Party, Harriet Tubman was a lifelong Republican, even acting as a spy against the southern slaveholding Democrats during the Civil War (1861-1865). Tubman reportedly had hundreds of intelligence contacts and could easily gain the trust of slaves in the South. In one scouting mission, she became the first woman to command a significant number of American troops in combat. This action freed more slaves than all of her journeys on the Underground Railroad.
Harriet Tubman was a devout Christian and believed she gained her strength and courage to help others from her belief throughout her lifetime. After the Civil War, she helped to found a church and a retirement home. She also fought for woman’s suffrage and fair treatment of black Civil War veterans. Harriet Tubman died in 1913, loved by the North and the slaves she had freed.
One definition of irony is "a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result." It is ironic that the Obama administration is replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill. Jackson is the modern founder of the Democratic Party. President Obama is the leader of the Democratic Party. Jackson was a populist, and Obama campaigned as one. Tubman was hated by Democrats and loved by Republicans. She was a gun-carrying, Republican Christian, the exact person that President Obama continues to speak and act against. It is ironic that under a Democratic administration that is against civilian use of weapons, that Harriet Tubman is replacing the founder of the Democratic Party on the $20 bill.
By John De Gree of www.classicalhistorian.com Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.
Redesigning the $20 Bill, Part I
The United States Treasury announced that it is redesigning $5, $10, and $20 bills. The final redesign will be presented in 2020. In 2016, President Obama had requested the Treasury Department (which the President runs) to place women and civil rights activists on prominent places on U.S. bills. In response to his request, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew began a process that has been controversial. The most significant change will be on the $20 bill. The image of Harriet Tubman will replace the image of President Andrew Jackson on the front of the bill, and Jackson will be featured on the back of the bill.
The Current $20 Bill and Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson is currently featured on the front of the $20 bill, and from the early 1800s until about the 1960s, nearly all Americans considered him a hero. Andrew Jackson had fought as a young teenager in the American Revolution, was caught, and suffered a sword injury because of his stubborn refusal to obey a British officer to clean his muddy boots. He rose in ranks in the American Army, and earned the nickname of “the Second George Washington” in the War of 1812 because of his crucial role in soundly defeating the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson defeated Indians in a series of battles over many years, and he captured Florida from Spain.
The American people overwhelmingly elected Andrew Jackson President twice, and he served from 1829-1837. Andrew Jackson is considered as the founder of the modern Democratic Party. He was one of the most popular Presidents ever elected, and he was the first President who related well with the common man. Jackson was the first born in a log cabin, west of the Appalachian Mountains. He promoted the idea that the people should vote for electors, and historians call this period in history “Jacksonian Democracy.” As President, he vetoed the National Bank, and some think this kept America from having an elite that controlled everyone.
In the 1960s and 1970s, some Americans began to rethink the idea that Jackson was an American hero. They point to Jackson’s strong support for the Indian Removal Act (1830). The Indian Removal Act was a law that forced Indians to move west to Oklahoma. The law gave the President authority to forcefully remove Indians, take their land, and resettle them. Though the Supreme Court ruled that this law was unconstitutional, Jackson and subsequent Presidents enforced it.
From 1830–1850, around 60,000 Indians were forced to move west into present-day Oklahoma. Many of the marches west were under the bayonet of the American soldier. Because some of the marches were carried out in inhumane ways, from 7,000 to 15,000 Indians died while moving west. “The Trail of Tears” is a name that historians give to one or more of these removals. It is because of Jackson’s policy towards Indians that many Americans do not think he was an American hero.
Was Jackson an American Hero?
The question about Jackson being an American hero should be asked in its historical context. During the time of Jackson, America was a new country, fighting for its survival. Had Great Britain won the War of 1812, the United States of America would have become part of Britain’s empire and would have lost its independence. Jackson was a main reason America won the war. Jackson promoted the idea that every citizen should vote for the President, and he was loved by nearly all. He founded the modern Democratic Party, and wanted government to represent average Americans, not just the powerful.
Some think Jackson’s policy of removing Indians west was genocide, and some say that Jackson was evil because he owned slaves. Genocide means when a government tries to kill all people from one religious or ethnic group. Removing the Indians west was brutal and Americans killed Indians because the forced marches were harsh, but there never was an American policy to kill all Indians. It is true Jackson owned slaves. While our society rightfully believes that slavery is an evil, it used to be seen as normal.
The New $20 Bill
On the new $20 bill, the image of Harriet Tubman will be on the front, and Andrew Jackson’s image will be on the reverse. Who is Harriet Tubman? Was she an American hero? Is there any debate regarding her past, like with Jackson? Read our next article, “Redesigning the $20 Bill, Part II” to find out!
By John De Gree of The Classical Historian, www.classicalhistorian.com Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.
Election 2016 and Tax Policies
In 2016, Americans will choose candidates to represent the Democrat and Republican parties, and these two candidates will compete against each other in the general election in November. Each candidate has a tax policy that reflects their philosophy and ideas. To understand how tax policies impact a country’s economy, it is helpful to look at the actions and results of past Presidents.
The 2016 Democrat Candidates and Taxes
The two main Presidential candidates for the Democrats are Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both candidates favor raising taxes, especially on those Americans who earn higher incomes. Bernie Sanders has called for a top marginal income tax rate of 90% and to increase the death tax so that “Trump and his billionaire friends and their families will end up paying more.” Marginal tax rate means the rate on the next dollar that is earned. The death tax is paid by a person’s estate when they die. This means, there is a tax on dying.
The 2016 Republican Candidates and Taxes
There are many Republican candidates, but the top in polling seem to be Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, former governor Jeb Bush, governor Kasich and governor Christie. Each has their own tax plan, but they all intend to cut income taxes and business taxes from their current rates. One of the biggest tax cuts appear to be from candidate Ben Carson, who favors a 14.9% flat tax on income, and a reduction to “0” of all capital gains tax.
Goals of Taxation
One of the most recognized goals of taxation is to raise revenue to pay for government programs. The U.S. government supplies an army and runs social welfare programs like Social Security and Medicare. Some argue that it is unfair that others make more money than some, and thus, some politicians see taxation as a way to make people’s income the same.
Taxes, Presidents, and History
There may be differences of opinion on tax cuts and how they affect the government, but there is only one history. Since 1962, we have three instances in history where the U.S. government has drastically cut taxes. President John F. Kennedy cut the top tax rate from 90% to 71% in 1962. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan cut the top tax rate from 70% to 50% in 1981, and then in 1986, he dropped the top tax rate to 28%. In the 2000s, President Bush cut income taxes from a high of 39.6% to 35%. In each of these largest tax cuts in the past 60 years during each President’s terms, revenue to the U.S. government grew, individual income grew, unemployment fell, and the gross domestic product grew over 3.5%. What appears to have happened is that because individuals were allowed to keep more of their money, they invested it into businesses or spent more on consumer goods. This seems to have increased the overall growth of the economy.
President Obama and Taxes
In the last 7 years, President Obama has raised taxes many times, including 22 different taxes including in the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). During his presidency, revenue to the U.S. government has grown, however, individual income has fallen, the number of people unemployed has grown to 92.5 million people, and gross domestic product has grown at a 2% rate. While there are other factors affecting the economy, tax policy is one of the most consequential.
On November 8, 2016, Americans will vote for a U.S. President and Vice President. Because Americans currently have a president who cannot run for office as President Obama is in his second term, candidates are more active than normal, even though the election is more than one year away. One idea that is a large part of the election is how each candidate thinks the U.S. government will get involved, or leave alone, the economic activities of Americans. Because the U.S. President has great influence on American economic policy, it’s important to know the differing views on economic policy to choose which one works the best. This article is the first of many to discuss the history of economic policies and U.S history.
Up through the 1400s, Italian city-states had a big advantage over other European cities. Italians controlled the trade between Asia and Europe. Italian control of the Mediterranean trade and with Asian products ended when the Atlantic countries explored and colonized much of the world, beginning with Columbus discovering America in 1492. Power shifted from the south of Europe to the Atlantic countries. New ways of thinking and acting regarding money led what historians call The Commercial Revolution.
Perhaps most important to the Commercial Revolution was capitalism. Capitalism is an outlook and behavior taken by people who freely make, buy, and sell goods. In capitalism, people take risks in the hopes of improving their financial situation. Money that is earned is called profit. Individuals who earn a profit reinvest for more profit. In capitalism, hard work and risk taking is rewarded. Individuals tend to work harder for themselves because they get to enjoy the benefit of their labor. Bankers are ready to loan people capital in the hopes that they will be repaid with interest. The government’s role in capitalism is to be a sort of umpire, who makes sure that each citizen has a fair chance of competing. Government is not supposed to become an active participant in the affairs of the economy under capitalism.
Generally, material ambition became more accepted in European society. It had once been that all Christians were forbidden to earn interest from loaned money. Some elements in society were against the drive for wealth, as William Shakespeare expresses in his play “The Merchant of Venice,” set in 16th century Europe. Johannes Fugger of Augsburg was the head of a very successful banking family. The Fuggers funded the quest of Spanish King Charles I (1500-1558) to become Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
New kinds of businesses emerged. The idea of the corporation emerged: a legal entity that had the rights of an individual. A joint-stock company was one where business people could put their money together to raise huge amounts of capital. Each person bought stock in the company and owned a share of it. These large amounts of capital were used to fund large enterprises, take huge risks, and reap or lose great amounts of wealth. Insurance products came into existence that guaranteed business ventures.
Merchants used their money to build new businesses, like manufacturing things. Cloth manufacturing was one such business. In a company that worked as a “domestic system,” weavers were paid to make cloth in their homes. Capitalists paid weavers with wages and raw materials. They then sold the goods in the market for a profit. Over time, they brought the raw materials and workers in one location, called the factory system.
Global trade increased the European standard of living in the 1700s and 1800s. Europeans invested in tobacco and sugar plantations in America and in coffee plantations in Asia. Owners took the profits from these businesses and reinvested them. The standard of living of citizens who lived in countries that followed some practices of capitalism greatly increased, while the standard of living of people who lived in countries that did not adopt capitalism either stagnated or decreased. From the 1500s on, Europeans, though not representing the largest population of the world, enjoyed the fruits of capitalism and rapidly modernized.
For our video on global warming, please go here.
On April 22nd, many around the world will celebrate “Earth Day,” a day set aside to focus on the environment and environmental awareness. Much of the current discussions regarding the environment and Earth Day deal with “Global Warming,” or, “Global Climate Change.” Based on which scientist or author you read, the environment is either in peril, or, there is really no problem. Is the environment worse than what it was four hundred years ago? Is the Earth in danger? These are scientific questions which can be answered through the scientific method. However, many leaders in America approach these questions not from a scientific viewpoint, but from a political agenda. Those who support the notion there is an environmental catastrophe occurring are heralded as heroes by some, while those who claim there is no real problem are called deniers and threatened with jail sentences. What should be a free and open discussion has become a battle for the freedom of speech.
History of Earth Day
On April 22nd, 1970, Americans celebrated the first “Earth Day,” a day to bring awareness to the public of the desire to promote governmental and personal policies that would bring about cleaner air, healthier food, and the protection of wildlife. Wisconsin U.S. Senator Democrat Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, worked with Californian Republican Pet McCloskey to build Earth Day into a national movement. They hired Denis Hayes as national coordinator. In 1990, Hayes organized an international Earth Day, and since then it has become an event that is recognized throughout the world. For his work, Senator Nelson was awarded the highest award given to a civilian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Clinton in 1995.
Birth of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
On December 2, 1970, the EPA began as a result of an executive order signed by President Nixon. Part of the executive branch, the EPA has grown to a branch of over 15,000 employees. Regulations from the EPA can have the effect of law. This goes against the separation of powers principles instituted in the American constitution.
Climate Worries in the 1970s and 1980s
In the 1970s, at the dawn of Earth Day, a great number of national and international organizations reported that the Earth’s climate was on a dangerous cooling trend, and that a New Ice Age was coming. The National Academy of Sciences, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, many in American media, the Climate Research Unit – University of East Anglia, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) all reported that humans were in danger because of Earth’s rapid cooling. Many scientists believed that human production of carbon dioxide and aerosols would trigger an ice age that would destroy human life. The worry of global cooling continued into the 1980s.
Global Warming Worries Began in the 1980s
In late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher, who would become Great Britain’s first female Prime Minister, raised fears of the possibility of global warming. Thatcher was influential in bringing these theories to the international world, and she promoted the founding of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, which would later be used by other organizations to promote the idea that global warming is an international danger.
Global Warming as a Political Issue and Not a Scientific Question
Throughout the 19900s, the 2000s, and 2010s, discussion about global warming have evolved more around politics than science. Those who believe in global warming paint those who question it as “Deniers” and unscientific, while at the same time these same global warming proponents do not allow any debate. Global warming proponents President Obama and former Vice-President Al Gore repeatedly state that the debate is over, that there is a scientific consensus that the Earth is warming and that it is due to man’s activities. However, thousands of scientists disagree and continue to point out the problems with the global warming data and conclusions. To read more on this discussion, go here.
Though Prime Minister Thatcher appears to have started the global warming discussion, in 2002, she wrote, “The doomsters’ favourite subject today is climate change. This has a number of attractions for them. First, the science is extremely obscure so they cannot easily be proved wrong. Second, we all have ideas about the weather: traditionally, the English on first acquaintance talk of little else. Third, since clearly no plan to alter climate could be considered on anything but a global scale, it provides a marvellous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism. All this suggests a degree of calculation. Yet perhaps that is to miss half the point. Rather, as it was said of Hamlet that there was method in his madness, so one feels that in the case of some of the gloomier alarmists there is a large amount of madness in their method.” (from her 2002 book Statecraft/ see link below)
1. When is Earth Day and when did this "day" begin?
2. What were many climate scientists worried about in the 1970s?
3. How did global warming begin as a political issue?
4. How do believers in global warming treat those who don't believe, or question, global warming?
5. What is your opinion about debating global warming? Should this be a topic that reasonable people can do research on and debate?
Tax Day 2015
On April 15th, Americans who work are required by law to file tax returns. Popularly called “Tax Day,” no dread this day. Before midnight on April 15th, you may see long lines at the post office, as procrastinating Americans rush to drop off their tax forms. Failing to file tax returns is a crime and punishable by fines. Before 1913, however, this annual ritual did not exist. The federal government was not allowed to collect individual income taxes. Only state governments could tax individual income.
On February 3, 1913, the 16th Amendment was adopted. The 16th Amendment to the Constitution allows Congress to lay and collect taxes on income. Before this amendment, the U.S. government collected revenue primarily from customs duties and excise taxes. Customs duties are fees placed on companies that import products from out of the country. Excise taxes are taxes that a producer has to pay on a specific product that he sells.
Many of the founding fathers did believe in taxes, but unlike today’s politicians, they believed that taxes should be greater on the poor. Benjamin Franklin wrote that the poor should be taxed higher to give poor people greater incentive to work out of their poverty. This view was shared by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, and John Adams. (See Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, 1776).
The American Founding Fathers disagreed on whether the federal government or the state governments should have more power in taxing incomes. During the Constitutional Convention, the delegates agreed that the federal government should not have control over taxing individuals’ income, because it would be a power they could easily abuse. Any tax on income would not reside in the federal government.
Popularity of income tax and graduated taxes increased during the second half of the 1800s. A graduated tax is one where individuals pay a higher percentage, depending on how much money they make. The first tax on income was introduced by the U.S. Congress during the American Civil War, in the Revenue Act of 1861, and later, in 1862. The Civil War taxes ended in 1872. During the decade of the Civil War, and after, the Socialist Labor Party and the Populist Party advocated a graduated income tax. These political parties believed that those with higher incomes should pay more.
Since 1913, Americans have paid the federal government taxes on their income. The tax has been a graduated one, with high earners paying a higher percentage of their income. There are a number of debates regarding federal taxes. The following are just some of the questions Americans discuss:
1. How high should there be taxes on federal individual income?
2. Should federal individual income taxes be flat? This means, should everyone pay the same percentage of their income for federal taxes?
3. Should federal individual income taxes be graduated?
4. Do federal income taxes hurt America’s economy?
5. Are fees that the government collects actually taxes?
6. Should tax collection by the federal government be redistributive? This means, should the federal government take from one part of society to give to another part?
7. When are federal taxes too high?
8. Why does no one ever discuss abolishing the 16th amendment that was established in 1913?
9. Should all people pay federal income taxes, regardless of their income?
10. Should Americans receive money from the federal government, if they do not earn a certain amount?
John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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