Writes Wilders in In Defense of ‘Hurtful’ Speech:
[…] Yesterday, the Dutch people learned that political debate has not been stifled in their country. They learned that they are still allowed to speak critically about Islam and that resistance against Islamization is not a crime.
I was brought to trial despite being an elected politician and the leader of the third-largest party in the Dutch parliament. I was not prosecuted for anything I did, but for what I had said. My view on Islam is that it is not so much a religion as a totalitarian political ideology with religious elements. While there are many moderate Muslims, Islam’s political ideology is radical and has global ambitions. I expressed these views in newspaper interviews, op-ed articles and in my 2008 documentary, “Fitna.”
I was dragged to court by leftist and Islamic organizations that were bent not only on silencing me but on stifling public debate. My accusers claimed that I deliberately “insulted” and “incited discrimination and hatred” against Muslims.
[…] That’s why I was taken to court, despite the fact that the public prosecutor saw no reason to prosecute me. “Freedom of expression fulfills an essential role in public debate in a democratic society,” the prosecutors repeatedly said during my trial. “That comments are hurtful and offensive for a large number of Muslims does not mean that they are punishable.”
[…] Though I am obviously relieved by yesterday’s decision, my thoughts go to people such as Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard, Austrian human-rights activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and others who have recently been convicted for criticizing Islam. They have not been as fortunate as I. In far too many Western countries, it is still impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam.
[…] Citizens should never allow themselves to be silenced. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak.
Read the rest of In Defense of ‘Hurtful’ Speech.
This morning the Court of Amsterdam has acquitted Geert Wilders of all charges.
“I am delighted with this ruling,” says Geert Wilders. “It is a victory, not only for me but for all the Dutch people. Today is a victory for freedom of speech. The Dutch are still allowed to speak critically about islam, and resistance against islamisation is not a crime. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak.”
A victory for free speech and a great blow against the religion of violence and intolerance.
Writes economist Richard Salsman over at Forbes in Obama The Luddite: Friend To Labor Unions, Enemy Of Job Creators:
Before citing the many ways Washington’s policies impede job creation, let’s first consider Obama’s pet theory, which is centuries old and as fallacious as ever. Believe it or not, he blames high joblessness on automation, technology and efficiency. In a recent interview with NBC News, the president, asked why the U.S. jobless rate remained so high, answered:
There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.
So Obama prefers that humans again perform such automated tasks?
The economic illiteracy exposed by Obama’s resort to this ancient, bogus claim is truly astounding. Citizens should be shocked to find their political leader (and his advisors?) spouting such junk — and worse, pushing labor policies that embody the idiocy. The myth that automation or technology kills an economy’s job growth has been refuted by political economists (and empirical history) at least since the 16th century. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution itself (since 1750) entails the near-incessant introduction of new machines, factories, technologies, energies and transportation-communication systems — all of which saved physical labor and made skilled labor more productive (thus better paid), and coincided with massive growth in all kinds of jobs, including in services, intellectual fields and in the invention, design and creation of new technologies.
When it comes to genuine, pro-capitalist job-creation, Obama is a saboteur, in the original meaning of the word. Its root is sabot, which is French for “wooden shoe,” and it was such shoes (clogs) that insecure, ignorant Dutch workers threw into the gears of new machines centuries ago, hoping to impede output gains and prevent job losses among colleagues. To sabotage something means to purposely weaken or destroy it through subversion, obstruction and disruption. That’s what public policy does today to those who might hire labor.
Similarly, the “Luddites” were a gang of disgruntled British textile artisans in the 19th century (headed by a stupid thug named Ned Ludd) that tried to prevent the entry of more productive and mechanized looms by destroying them. The Luddites were applauded by village idiots who thought the destruction would “save” jobs. Obama is a current-day Luddite who obstructs industrial development and obsesses about such old-fashioned things as windmills, solar power and “shovel-ready” projects.
If economic activity is to be rational, profitable and thus beneficial to human well-being, the aim must be not more work or jobs for the mere sake of it, but to become wealthier and improve one’s living standards, through greater productivity. That goal often entails working less and devoting more time to leisure, perhaps even by reducing the number of workers per household, if it’s affordable.
Writes Richard Salsman over at Forbes on How The Demand-Siders Ruined The U.S. Economy:
Both [Keynesianism and Monetarism] schools, while posing as academic rivals, in fact have far more in common than they admit. Both obsess about mere spending and consumption — the economy’s “demand-side” — to the neglect and harm of its all-important supply-side. What always drives a robust economy is not “consumers” per se but savers, investors, innovators and producers.
Whereas Keynesians claim a free economy is at risk of “over-producing” and under-consuming, Monetarists claim it is at risk of “deflation” due to insufficient money supplies. The Keynesians are always eager to boost what they call “insufficient aggregate demand,” typically by means of government deficit-spending, a policy they tout as “stimulus.”
Likewise, the Monetarists are ever-eager to counter imagined threats to demand allegedly posed by insufficient money-creation, and if necessary they’d resort to helicopters to dispense the needed money from above, a policy they call “quantitative easing.” Yet these demand-side schemes – Keynesian deficit-spending and Monetarist money-printing alike — only erode entrepreneurial and productive prowess. For example, today’s dangerously long duration of unemployment (39 weeks) reflects repeated extensions of jobless benefits, which Keynesians demand as a way to stoke more consumption, not extra jobs or output.
In truth, and contra-Keynesianism, mere consumption is the effect of production, not its cause; to consume is equivalent to using up or destroying wealth, not creating it anew. Likewise, and contra-Monetarism, the mere creation of fiat paper money (or bank reserves) by a monopoly central bank isn’t the same as creating real wealth; indeed, more often than not the effect — inflation — only undermines the wealth-production process, by distorting price signals, while simultaneously robbing unsuspecting money-holders of purchasing power.
Sadly, U.S. policymakers seem to be aping the crazy policies adopted by their Japanese counterparts starting two decades ago: gargantuan deficit-spending and money-printing. Keynesian and Monetarist policies can easily cross borders, much like viruses. Japan’s economy has stagnated during this time, not “in spite of” its demand-side schemes but because of them. Its government debt is now 200% of GDP, double what it was in 1996, and at the same time the Bank of Japan boosted the money supply by 158%. What good did any of this do? Japan’s NIKKEI today is half what it was in 1996, while its industrial output is higher by only 1%.
In this century so far America also has suffered a “lost decade” of sorts, due to the anti-prosperity schemes of both Keynesians and Monetarists; they’ve depressed the economic growth rate and saddled both current and future generations with massive and unparalleled deficit-spending and debt monetization. Together with a burgeoning mass of regulations, demand-side policies suffocate private-sector incentives to save, produce, invest and hire. Thus capitalists are on strike — and rightly so, since they face political assaults from both sides.
From When It Comes to Wealth Creation, There Is No Pie over at Forbes:
One implication of the pie metaphor is that wealth is a zero-sum game: there is a fixed amount of houses, cars, medicines, etc. to go around, and the more Steve Jobs gets the less is left for the rest of us. That may have had some plausibility 250 years ago when most wealth was in the form of land. But today, when an iPhone 3G verges on outdated technology, it’s impossible to miss the fact that wealth grows. Roberts puts the point this way: “[T]he pie is not constant. So your well-being can grow even when your share of the pie falls if the pie is getting sufficiently larger.”
Wealth grows. True. But the pie metaphor carries with it another implication, which Roberts doesn’t challenge. It treats wealth as owned by society. We happen to find ourselves in possession of a pie. How did it get here? That’s never made too clear, but it’s here, and now we have to decide how to divide it up fairly.
In accepting the pie metaphor, we concede a moral point that should not be conceded. Wealth does not arise from an amorphous social process; “society” owns no pie.
Wealth is created by, and morally belongs to the individual creator. […]
[Or by extension, if a group of individuals team up together to bake a pie then the pie belongs to them and not “society.”]
[…] As Rand observes, since “man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.”
Writes Nathaniel Popper over at the LA Times:
The ultimate goal is to return the nation to the gold standard, in which every dollar would be backed by a fixed amount of the precious metal. Economists of all stripes say the plan would be ruinous, but that view is of scant concern to Pitts.
“Quite frankly, I think that economists from universities are thinking within the confines of their own little world,” Pitts said. “They don’t deal with the real issues.” Proponents of the laws believe that returning America to the gold standard would force the government to live within its means, curtailing runaway spending and inflation.
The United States and most of the rest of the world operated on a full gold standard until the Great Depression. Economists generally agree that the policy helped cause the depression and earlier severe downturns by limiting the amount of money the government could create, constraining its ability to stimulate the economy. Scholars say moving to a gold standard now would be likely to slow the economy’s already meager growth. [Gold Standard | U.S. monetary policy and gold standard: Pushing for a return to the gold standard – Los Angeles Times]
Contrast this view to that of Alan Greenspan (when he was a defender of capitalism):
“The irony was that since 1913, we had been, not on a gold standard, but on what may be termed “a mixed gold standard”; yet it is gold that took the blame.” [Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal]
The article falsely claims that economists “of all stripes” are against a gold standard. The truth is that any pro-capitalist economist would support a proper gold standard based on pro-capitalist principles over the FED mess we have now.
George Selgin, of the University of Georgia, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about whether the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 has been a boon or a bust for the U.S. economy. Drawing on a recent paper with William Lastrapes and Lawrence White recently released by the Cato Institute, “Has the Fed Been a Failure?” Selgin argues that the Fed has done poorly at two missions often deemed to justify a Central Bank: lender of last resort and smoother of the business cycle. Selgin makes the case that avoiding bank runs and bank panics does not require a central bank and that contrary to received wisdom, it is hard to argue that the Fed has smoothed the business cycle. Additional topics discussed include whether the Fed has the information to do its jobs well, the role of the Fed in moral hazard, and the potential for the gold standard to outperform the Fed.
Listen to George Selgin talk on the Fed over at the EconTalk: Library of Economics and Liberty.
Dr. Eric Daniels of Clemson University’s Institute for the Study of Capitalism has lectured internationally on the history of American ethics, American business, and entrepreneurship, as well as the American Enlightenment. He has also appeared on C-SPAN and is widely published in the field of economics.
You can also hear Dr. Daniels speak at this year’s OCON Conference.
Final remarks of Geert Wilders at his trial in Amsterdam, June 1st, 2011
Mister President, members of the Court,
I am here because of what I have said. I am here for having spoken. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak. Many have kept silent, but not Pim Fortuyn, not Theo Van Gogh, and not I.
I am obliged to speak. For the Netherlands is under threat of Islam. As I have argued many times, Islam is chiefly an ideology. An ideology of hatred, of destruction, of conquest. It is my strong conviction that Islam is a threat to Western values, to freedom of speech, to the equality of men and women, of heterosexuals and homosexuals, of believers and unbelievers.
All over the world we can see how freedom is fleeing from Islam. Day by day we see our freedoms dwindle.
Islam is opposed to freedom. Renowned scholars of Islam from all parts of the world agree on this. My witness experts subscribe to my view. There are more Islam scholars whom the court did not allow me to call upon to testify. All agree with my statements, they show that I speak the truth. That truth is on trial today.
We must live in the truth, said the dissidents under Communist rule, because the truth will set us free. Truth and freedom are inextricably connected. We must speak the truth because otherwise we shall lose our freedom.
That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.
The statements for which I am being tried are statements which I made in my function as a politician participating in the public debate in our society. My statements were not aimed at individuals, but at Islam and the process of Islamization. That is why the Public Prosecutor has concluded that I should be acquitted.
Mister President, members of the Court,
I am acting within a long tradition which I wish to honor. I am risking my life in defense of freedom in the Netherlands. Of all our achievements freedom is the most precious and the most vulnerable. Many have given their lives for freedom. We have been reminded of that in the commemorations of the month of May. But the struggle for freedom is much older.
Every day the armored cars drive me past the statue of Johan de Witt at the Hofvijver in The Hague. De Witt wrote the “Manifesto of True Freedom” and he paid for freedom with his life. Every day I go to my office through the Binnenhof where Johan van Oldenbarneveldt was beheaded after a political trial. Leaning on his stick the elderly Oldenbarneveldt addressed his last words to his people. He said: “I have acted honorably and piously as a good patriot.” Those words are also mine.
I do not wish to betray the trust of the 1.5 million voters of my party. I do not wish to betray my country. Inspired by Johan van Oldenbarneveldt and Johan de Witt I wish to be a politician who serves the truth end hence defends the freedom of the Dutch provinces and of the Dutch people. I wish to be honest, I wish to act with honesty and that is why I wish to protect my native land against Islam. Silence is treason.
That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.
Freedom and truth. I pay the price every day. Day and night I have to be protected against people who want to kill me. I am not complaining about it; it has been my own decision to speak. However, those who threaten me and other critics of Islam are not being tried here today. I am being tried. And about that I do complain.
I consider this trial to be a political trial. The values of D66 [a Dutch leftist liberal party] and NRC Handelsblad [a Dutch leftist liberal party] will never be brought before a judge in this country. One of the complainants clearly indicated that his intentions are political. Even questions I have asked in parliament and cooperation with the SGP are being brought as allegations against me by Mr Rabbae of GroenLinks [the leftist Dutch Green Party]. Those on the Left like to tamper with the separation of powers. When they cannot win politically because the Dutch people have discerned their sinister agenda, they try to win through the courts.
Whatever your verdict may be, that is the bitter conclusion of this trial.
This trial is also surrealistic. I am being compared with the Hutu murderers in Rwanda and with Mladic. Only a few minutes ago some here have doubted my mental health. I have been called a new Hitler. I wonder whether those who call me such names will also be sued, and if not, whether the Court will also order prosecution. Probably not. And that is just as well. Because freedom of speech applies also to my opponents.
My right to a fair trial has been violated. The order of the Amsterdam Court to prosecute me was not just a decision but a condemning verdict by judges who condemned me even before the actual trial had begun.
Mister President, members of the Court, you must now decide whether freedom still has a home in the Netherlands
Franz Kafka said: “one sees the sun slowly set, yet one is surprised when it suddenly becomes dark.”
Mister President, members of the Court, do not let the lights go out in the Netherlands.
Acquit me: Put an end to this Kafkaesque situation.
Acquit me. Political freedom requires that citizens and their elected representatives are allowed to voice opinions that are held in society.
Acquit me, for if I am convicted, you convict the freedom of opinion and expression of millions of Dutchmen.
Acquit me. I do not incite to hatred. I do not incite to discrimination. But I defend the character, the identity, the culture and the freedom of the Netherlands. That is the truth. That is why I am here. That is why I speak. That is why, like Luther before the Imperial Diet at Worms, I say: “Here I stand, I can do no other.”
That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.
Mister President, members of the Court, though I stand here alone, my voice is the voice of many. This trial is not about me. It is about something much greater. Freedom of expression is the life source of our Western civilization.
Do not let that source go dry just to cosy up to a totalitarian regime. “Freedom,” said the American President Dwight Eisenhower, “has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”
Mister President, members of the Court, you have a great responsibility. Do not cut freedom in the Netherlands from its roots, our freedom of expression. Acquit me. Choose freedom.
I have spoken, I speak, and it is my duty – I cannot do otherwise – to continue to speak.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many optimists claimed that the world was now somehow “after socialism.” There are reasons, however—structural, political, moral, and intellectual—why the collapse of Communism did not entail the end of socialism. This talk will explain why there can be no “after socialism” until the West comes to ultimate terms with the catastrophic legacy of international communism.
ALAN CHARLES KORS (B.A., Princeton; M.A. and Ph.D., Harvard) is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, and he is a co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). He is the author of numerous books on European intellectual history and American higher education. Dr. Kors has served on the National Council for the Humanities, and been honored with many awards, including the National Humanities Medal and the Bradley Prize.
Learn more at: clemson.edu/capitalism