The Selfish Leftist Heart

A droning accusation that many leftists fling at their conservative and libertarian society-mates is that they lack empathy, i.e., non-leftists are heartless. They typically ascribe self-serving motives to the alleged lack of empathy. There is a good reason to believe that those leftists are so busy projecting their own heartless selfishness on others that they do not realize that those castigations are boomerangs.

An examination of their cries for “Medicare for All,” “Universal Healthcare,” or “Socialized Medicine” reveals their lack of self-awareness.

The Democrats running for president preen their supposed virtue by proposing policies for “universal” healthcare.[i] They claim that healthcare is a “human right.”[ii] None of them, however, are proposing universal healthcare. They are merely proposing universal healthcare for the wealthiest, most powerful and most privileged people ever to walk the Earth, people residing in America. They are proposing healthcare for the elitist of the elite people in human history. The heartlessness of the Democrat candidates is revealed by their unwillingness to fleece the wealthy in order to provide the “human right” of welfare to everyone in the world.

Of course, none of the candidates will say anything that would tarnish their self-congratulations by admitting how stingy they are with the money they could take from the wealthy to serve humanity, i.e., admit that they are only extending healthcare the smallest group that will serve their selfish political interests. They do not extend their feigned beneficence even to all of South America, much less the devastatingly poor of Africa, Asia, and Oceana. Contrary to the empathetic image of themselves they serve up to the public, their empathy is severely constricted.

Bernie Sanders is most explicit on such matters. He believes that “open borders” is a Koch brothers’ idea.[iii] He would severely limit who could get into America so that the money he takes from millionaires and billionaires[iv] is spent in a way that serves his political objectives (human rights and universal coverage be damned). But, even with open borders, the “human right” of healthcare for all will be unaddressed for all but about 5% of humanity. Heartless!


[i] For example, see “Health Care as a Human Right – Medicare For All.”

[ii] See “Bernie Sanders schools Vox on immigration.”

[iii] Id.

[iv]Bernie Sanders says billionaires | Mic Check.”

Fix Climate Change For The Children!

Recently, a friend commented on and shared an article on Facebook titled, “Climate Change Fears of Teen Activist Are Empirically Baseless.” A commenter responded, as if he was saying something dispositive about the shared article, with this:

“These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation.”

True! Also true, however, is that there are sources that are moderately to strongly biased toward non-conservative causes… So, the ad hominem attack on the article is a classic sound and fury signifying nothing.

As if biased reporting on climate change were not a big enough problem, people in government agencies tend to be moderately to strongly biased toward causes that will lead to greater governmental power. Even if a scientist at NASA held a different view of the matter than the one NASA wanted to present (or was ordered to present by the president), speaking up against the climate change narrative would likely be hazardous to her career. (The same is true of professors at universities.) Moreover, many, if not almost all scientists want their research to be funded and their reports published, and some work is more likely to be funded and published than other work. Whether their work gets noticed depends on the receptivity of biased news outlets. Diogenes would have fared just poorly had he changed his search to a disinterested man. When someone who has a stake in the outcome of her assertion professes something to be true, skepticism is warranted.

Highly honest, smart, and educated climatologists disagree about the extent, if any, to which humans are affecting climate, how big the problem is, and whether elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations will do more harm than good or vice versa. Even if there were a consensus of climate scientists on all three of those issues (which there is not[i]) a consensus by scientists about a non-falsifiable claim is not proof the claim is true. Neither is a consensus considered to be scientific by respectable scientists. As Nobel laureate physicist Richard Fineman put it, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”[ii] A belief in the edicts of experts might, on occasion, happen to be valid, but a belief is not scientific.

In its efforts to catastrophize the issue (to increase the importance of international organizations?), the IPCC’s first climate change report in 1990 predicted a 3° per decade rise in global temperature. The IPCC relied on scientific studies, including NASA’s (the source upon which the Facebook responder relied). “Measurements” of how much the temperature has increased over the three decades since 1990 are around 1.3° per decade. Skepticism about IPCC’s motives and its summary of reports (many claim that the actual report is vastly more scientific (circumspect and fair) than the summary written for public and politician consumption and use. There are strong reasons to be skeptical of the IPCC and its reports.

Both global warming and global cooling create problems. On balance, however, the problems of global cooling are far more and more serious than those of global warming. “The NASA Earth Observatory notes three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, all separated by intervals of slight warming.” Humans, of course, played no significant role in bringing on or recovering from the Little Ice Age. Because no one fully understands why those cycles occur or their exact periodicity, the possibility (probability?) that the Earth is on the verge of another Little Ice Age cannot be reasonably ruled out, i.e., no one knows that we will not soon need every extra degree of warming we can muster. Because increasing global temperatures significantly will take a long time, if we will need more heat, the last thing we should do is to spend resources to slow warming.

Humans constantly confront a Pandora’s box of problems (and always will, no matter how many problems are solved). Climate change may very well be one of them. However, to address a problem, resources must be devoted to it. Resources spent on one problem are not available to be spent on other problems. If the goal is to leave our grandchildren a better world, getting the prioritization of the most efficacious use of resources is essential, i.e., getting the biggest bangs for each buck must be the goal.[iii]

Science has much to say about problems confronting humans, how much addressing each problem might cost, and the probability that spending resources on a problem will mitigate the problem. Science has essentially nothing to say about how the multiple conflicting values implicated by a massive reallocation of resources should be weighted in prioritization of multiple catastrophic problems.

Consequently, the prioritization of priorities is ultimately a moral question. Science is of essentially no use concerning what is and is not moral, much less the weighting of various moral values. Sadly, however, philosophers must rely on scientific studies (about which much skepticism is warranted) to set moral priorities. Complicating matters, philosophers do not agree concerning the prioritization of various moral values.

For climatologists to demand that resources be spent on meteorological problems (protecting and promoting the importance of their work) “to protect our grandchildren’s future,” is, at a minimum, self-serving.

Given the above-described problems with doing something about AGW, it is irresponsible for a non-climatologists (1) not to be skeptical of AGW claims and the prudence of attempting its proposed remedies, or (2) to demand, without a comprehensive understanding of all the issues involved and the uncertainty of good results, that humans devote massive amounts of our scarce resources to global warming efforts and away from other problems that have higher chances of improving the lives of our grandchildren.


[i] See “Julia Hartley-Brewer meets Matt Ridley.”

[ii] See “Richard Feynman’s Philosophy of Science.”

[iii] See “Cost-Effective Approaches to Save the Environment, with Bjorn Lomborg.”

Free Speech and Big Tech – What To Do

As sorted out in “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Conundrum,” Big Tech taking upon itself the role of deciding what speech is to be heard and not heard over the preeminent modern means of communication is so damaging to human rights and flourishing, all options should be on the table, carefully examined, and subjected to searing debate to tease out a policy that has a high probability of doing more good than harm.” But, as sorted out in “Free Speech and Big Tech – How To Make Things Worse,” permitting the government to moderate what speech would make matters worse. What to do?

As is typically the case when addressing complex social/economic/legal issues, there are no solutions[i] to this problem; there are only trade-offs. Whatever is done to mitigate the infringement on speech made possible by Section 230, Big Tech’s ability to provide its good stuff to society will be diminished. Although Section 230 hints that it will deliver platform neutrality, immunity is not conditioned on neutrality.[ii] Therefore, the goal should be to change existing law (either through legislation or judicial determination that aspects of Section 230 are unconstitutional) as little as possible, but as much as necessary to break the pact (Section 230) between politicians and Big Tech that results in the infringement of speech which the Big Tech-Government Complex determines to be detrimental to their continued aggregations of mutually beneficial power. Because free speech is so essential to human flourishing, doing nothing to address the extant infringement on free speech by the Big Tech-Government Complex should not be an option.

The stated purposes and most of the language of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act are sound. In particular, “The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity,” and “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation” are were accurate and consistent with the Enlightenment ideas. Permitting Big Tech to block or filter content that is “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, [or] harassing,” conflicts little, if any with The Enlightenment ideas—so long as Big Tech does not (1) distort the plain meaning of the words such that Big Tech uses its interpretations of those words to continue with its blocking and filtering of political/social/cultural/scientific ideas that are not simpatico with Big Tech’s biased preferences, or (2) block/filter the obscene, lewd, etc. language of disfavored speakers and not block/filter similar content of favored speakers.

If Big Tech distorts the plain meaning of the words, “obscene, lewd,” etc. or selectively blocked content, Big Tech would not be providing “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity” and would be harmfully infringing on free speech which it and the government want to suppress. More important, if Big Tech were to do that, it would be publishing curated news and opinions just as newspapers and magazines do, i.e., it would be a publisher. However, unless Section 230 is changed, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service [Big Tech] shall be treated as the publisher.”

Note that Section 230 grants immunity from publishing liability to Big Tech when it curates content on its platforms to suppress content it deems objectionable for any reason or no reason while it denies such immunity to non-Big Tech publishers who are similarly curating similar content on their platforms. Such a discriminatory application of the law is a violation of the right to equal protection of the law. That portion of Section 230 that denies equal protection should be struck down as unconstitutional, or changed.

Amending Section 230 would be preferable to judicially striking the “otherwise objectionable” language in Section 230. If all defenses for providers of neutral platforms on which users might post defamation were struck down, operating neutral platforms would likely be untenable—which would be a travesty. Also, striking down all immunity would not preserve the valuable distinction between publishers and neutral platform providers, which distinction is essential to a proper balance between the free exchange of ideas (humans’ primary means of finding truth and wisdom) and protecting the rights of individuals not to be defamed. Only legislation could strike a reasonable balance between these conflicting values.

Legislation could repeal immunity concerning “otherwise objectionable” speech and grant to Big Tech an affirmative defense to defamation claims. With such a law, Big Tech defendants would be entitled to a directed verdict if, in a contested pretrial hearing, the defendant can convince a judge that its algorithms or other means of curating content on its platform do not discriminate for or against speech concerning any political, social, cultural, or scientific matter. The trial court’s findings would be subject to appellate review.

The standard of proof for the preliminary hearing should be no less than “by a preponderance of the evidence.” However, Congress should monitor the outcomes of such trials and make periodic assessments as to whether the evidentiary standard is achieving an acceptable level of uninfringed speech. If Congress finds that such level is not being achieved, the standard of proof should be raised to “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If, however, speech remains too infringed, further measures will be required to preserve free speech.


[i] See “Solutions.”

[ii] See “WHY THE INTERNET’S MOST IMPORTANT LAW EXISTS AND HOW PEOPLE ARE STILL GETTING IT WRONG.”

Free Speech and Big Tech – The Legislative Betrayal

Before we sort out what to do about Big Tech’s assaults on free speech, let’s examine the special treatment Congress granted to Big Tech, which treatment enabled it to infringe so broadly on free speech and sort out the implications and consequences of that legislation.

To get a clear picture of the situation, one must first recognize that people who publish slanderous or libelous words (“defame”) have committed a tort against the person(s) defamed are liable for damages caused by their tort. Publishers of such defamation are liable as a joint participant in the defamation.

When Big Tech came up with the idea of creating platforms on which users would post comments, Big Tech executives knew (1) their platforms would facilitate the propagation of much defamation by users, and (2) they would face huge, potentially untenable, liabilities if they were to be held responsible for the defamation posted on their platforms by users.

Before the internet, the established law was: “Distributors, such as booksellers, newsvendors, and libraries, merely distribute content and hence bear liability only upon a showing of knowledge or negligence. Common carriers, such as telephone companies, transmit information mechanically with no opportunity to review its content. Therefore, common carriers are not liable for the transfer of harmful data.”[i] In 1991 a court had held that Compuserve[ii] was a distributor rather than a publisher of content, i.e., not liable for defamation posted by users. On May 24, 1995, however, a New York Supreme Court ruled that “Prodigy was liable as the publisher of the content created by its users because it exercised editorial control over the messages on their bulletin boards in three ways: 1) by posting Content Guidelines for users, 2) by enforcing those guidelines with “Board Leaders,” and 3) by utilizing screening software designed to remove offensive language.”[iii] In response, Big Tech, that was doing things identical or similar to what Prodigy had been held liable for, ramped up lobbying efforts to obtain a federal law shielding Big Tech from publisher liability. By that time, Big Tech was in a position to greatly affect what was heard or said about Representatives and Senators. Big Tech’s lobbying efforts paid off in less than nine months.[iv]

Big Tech’s argument to Congress (at least for public consumption—more on this below) to justify a liability shield for content published on their platforms by users was that, unlike publishers who pick and choose what to publish (thereby being directly involved in the act of publishing the defamation), Big Tech, subject to a few, reasonably objective and appropriate exceptions, would not be involved curating or filtering what was published by users. Their platforms were to be open public forums available to all.

A necessary and proper role of democratic-republican governments is to ensure that public forums exist. Cass Sunstein put it this way, “The idea (the “Public Forum Doctrine”[v]) is, in addition to saying the government can’t censor speech of which it disapproves, it has to maintain spaces open for expressive activity. Parks and streets; and this is a historically-based idea, that streets and parks have been open for expressive activity. Supreme Court has actually said that’s part of what free speech tradition requires. And that’s important because it gives us an opportunity, if we want to use the streets, to have access to people with whom we have a beef–so, we can protest.”[vi] Consequently, it was appropriate and beneficial to the public for Congress to enable Big Tech to deliver on the promise of the greatest and most effective and unbiased forum for free speech humans have ever experienced.  Adopting a law that, in effect, would accomplish approximately the opposite of a neutral forum open to all (and putting their interests ahead of the public’s interest in free speech in the process), however, was a betrayal of the American people.

The 1996 law, 47 U.S. Code § 230. Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material (“Section 230”) codified the betrayal. This law is startlingly short but directly enabled the unfathomably long list of Big Tech’s destructive abuses of blocking and filtering powers. Amending Section 230 could be a means to address the Big Tech problem. Sorting out the contrast between what the law proclaimed it would do and what it did is essential to understanding the issues involved.[vii]

The findings of Section 230 were reasonably accurate—in 1996:

(a) Findings The Congress finds the following:

(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other interactive computer services available to individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources to our citizens.

(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology develops.

(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.

(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.

(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.

The finding, “(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology develops” could not be found today—after more than 20 years the law’s consequences, quite the opposite. As Big Tech has honed its algorithms, finding the facts/truth about something is easy only if the facts/truth comport with the biases of Big Tech. Facts/truth that do not so comport crop up, if at all, after many pages of search results comprised of debunking, biased “fact checks,” counter-takes, and ridicule of the searched proposition, while the most effective critics of Big Tech’s biased “facts/truth” are suppressed, ridiculed, demonetized, and/or de-platformed.

Proof that Big Tech designs their algorithms to serve up what Big Tech leftists want users to see rather than give “users a great degree of control over the information that they receive” is in prior posts in this series. In Douglas Murray’s insightful new book, “The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity,” another way to make the point glaringly obvious was presented. Take a look at these two screenshots of Google searches that I took on 10/9/19.

SW Couples

SB Couples

The first search was for images of “straight white couples.” You will see that only 16 of the first 36 images presented were of possibly straight white couples. Six of that 16, however, were of a white couple who lost a court battle seeking equal treatment under the law for straight couples, most with controversial protest signs behind them. (Is that what typically comes to mind when you think of straight white couples?). So, only 11 of 36 different examples of straight white couples were presented. Worse, only four of the 36 results were of normal, reasonably happy, white couples. The second search was for “straight black couples.” Compared to the search for straight white couples, the search for straight black couples produced twice as many different examples of straight black couples. Moreover, 15 (as opposed to only four for whites) of the examples were of normal, reasonably happy, black couples. Note also, that when searching for “straight white couples,” Google took it upon itself to eliminate results that were limited to “straight” white couples, but did not do so for black couples. Obviously, according to Google’s biases, being a happy straight black couple is OK, but being a happy straight white couple is not.

Based on the examples given in Murray’s book, it appears that the results Google presents now have been tamed down after his book was published. Little doubt, Google will return to its more aggressive “nudging” when the hullabaloo of the book wears off. By reporting that Google’s search results in non-Western foreign countries evince none of the shenanigans described above proves that Google can tweak its algorithms to give “users a great degree of control over the information that they receive,” but chooses not to do so in Western countries.

As if the above was not bad enough, the following screenshot of Google results for “straight white couples” leaves no doubt about what Google executives want you to think about straight white couples and the lengths to which they will go to get you and everyone else to think it as Google executives do. The below image is an example of groupthink and attempted brain-washing of the highest and most evil order. A free society cannot allow this to go on for much longer.

SW Couples HteIf “(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse…” was true before Section 230’s adoption, it has not been true after. Big Tech has been and is shutting down as much diversity of political thought as rapidly as Big Tech believes it can, which is a great deal. The more they have done, the more it becomes unnoteworthy, and the more they can do without effective hue and cry.

It is truer now than in 1996 that “(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.” That is why it is so important that Congress undo the damage that Section 230 enabled Big Tech to inflict.

The policies Congress was trying to implement were laudable:

    (b) Policy It is the policy of the United States—

(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services and other interactive media;

(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;

(3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services;

(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and

(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.

If only the laudable stated policy objectives had been sincere.

Note that the removal of the “disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material” has not worked out as advertised. Though many blocking and filtering technologies are thankfully now available to parents, Big Tech is using blocking and filtering technologies to achieve other ends, i.e., to restrict, bury deep in search results, and eliminate access by adults to content Big Tech believes, in its own, arrogant, biased, and uncircumspect opinion, to be objectionable. To defend itself against criticism of that practice, Big Tech testifies that what it is doing is necessary to keep out of search results and platform posts what essentially everyone believes should not be in our K-12 school libraries. Because Big Tech is fully capable of producing multiple search engines equivalent to movie ratings (G, GP, GP-13, R, M, etc.) to overcome the stated obstacle to real free speech in the public forum, this defense is merely a smokescreen for their treatment adults as their who must be indoctrinated (propagandized) in the ideologies approved by the Big Tech-Government Complex. That is precisely the opposite of achieving “a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity” for adults while providing “technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services.” They could do both, but they falsely proclaim that Big Tech is not capable of delivering on the policies Section 230 purports to deliver. In practice, the language of the “Findings” and the “Policies” of Section are false advertising to provide cover for technologies and powers that enable Big Tech to coordinate with the federal government to enhance the powers of both.

The protections the law created were a mixed bag:

(c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material

(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

(2) Civil Liability No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—

(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph.

To divine in 1996 that all Big Tech executives will always be “Good Samaritans” in the use of blocking and screening powers granted to them by Section 230 was both naively presumptuous,[viii] a dereliction of duty, and a violation of their oaths of office. Congresspeople could have been responsible had they defined in the law what Big Tech had to do and what standards they had to meet to avail themselves of immunities a Good Samaritan would deserve, but, as you can see from the text, they did not. On the contrary, they granted blanket immunity, i.e., they, in effect, deemed Big Tech executives to be “Good Samaritans” regardless of their future conduct. As it turned out, far from being Good Samaritans, Big Tech executives now play the role of priests who pass by on the far side of the road when they see a non-leftist naked, bruised, and abandoned on the internet highway (unlike the priests of the Bible, however, the Big Tech priests, at a minimum, appear to sneer at and often smear the abandoned soul as they pass)—all with, IMO, solemn perjurious denials and arrogant impunity.

The coup de gras of the betrayal is in subsection (c)(2)(A): “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of— (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable…” [Emphasis added.]

This subsection appears to be specifying the few, reasonably objective, and appropriate authorizations to block or filter user content that a responsible Congress would impose on people who seek immunity from otherwise established law. Given that a court can be called upon to determine whether the platform provider was acting in good faith when blocking or filtering “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or excessively violent” content, this immunity is unobjectionable. A reasonable exception could be taken to the grant to Big Tech the power to determine what is “harassing,” but that grant is not blatantly objectionable. What is blatantly objectionable is the unreasonable delegation of the functional equivalent of governmental power to block “otherwise objectionable” content and effectively placing Big Tech’s blocking and filtering power beyond the review of the courts. Adding “otherwise objectionable” to the list of items permitted to be blocked renders all the previously listed standards superfluous, window dressing for the delegation of abusive power, mere feigns for the knockout punch to people’s natural right to free speech.

The “the functional equivalent of governmental power” claim is founded on the mutuality of interests between government functionaries and Big Tech. The Congresspeople who enacted the law knew that Big Tech executives, like they, are unsympathetic to (or, at a minimum were in a conflict of interest with) the Constitutional principle of “limited government.” People in power typically want unlimited power and Big Tech wanted a grant of immunity to exercise powers that Congress did and could not exercise itself. (Whether Congress can delegate a power it does not have is an interesting constitutional question that will not be sorted out here). Consequently, Congresspeople knew that Big Tech executives would use any blocking and filtering immunity delegated to them to promote posts that support Congress freeing itself from limitations and squelch contrary posts. Consequently, Section 230 was an undermining of the Constitution’s purpose of securing people’s natural rights, which violates their oath of office.

Passing Section 230 created the near-perfect, “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” arrangement, with each party having the power to do great damage to the other if they stopped scratching. In other words, to maintain the mutually beneficial arrangement, Big Tech must either infringe on speech in the dominant modern public forum in a way that suits Congress so as not to loses the favors of Section 230, and Congress must to either ensure that the government does not prevent Big Tech from doing what it wants to do, or Big Tech will adjust the filters so as to wreak havoc on political careers. The especially delicious icing on this corrupt cake was that by granting such a valuable right to Big Tech, Congress enabled Big Tech to make enough money to thrive even after it delivers luxurious scratches to the backs of Congresspeople.

The phrases, “effectively beyond the review of the courts is the power to block or filter content that Big Tech believes, in good faith, is, in some way objectionable to Big Tech,” refers to the fact that the phrase “otherwise objectionable” in Section 230 is not a standard. Objectionable to whom? Is 66/100% objectionable (i.e., 99 and 44/100% pure/unobjectionable) enough to block speech? Is something objectionable to any madcap moderator sufficient to block, no matter how unfounded, irrational, or biased the objection? When the intent is to grant unlimited power to a third party to do one’s bidding in the public square, unconstitutional vagueness will do the trick.

With the above context in mind, we are in a position to sort out “What to do.” We’ll do that next.


[i] See “Communications Decency Act 230 – Berkeley Law Research,” Page 403.

[ii] See “Cubby v. CompuServe.”

[iii] See “Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy Services Co.”

[iv] See “47 U.S. Code § 230. Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material.”

[v] See “Public Forum Doctrine.”

[vi] See or listen to “Cass Sunstein on #Republic” at about 6:30.

[vii] The law is comprised of five subsections (a) – (e). Because they are irrelevant to this post, discussions of subsections (d) and (e) will be omitted.

[viii]Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Free Speech and Big Tech – The Conundrum

As described earlier in this series,[i] major social media companies, Google/YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. (“Big Tech”) infringe on the free speech of people whose views are not in sink with the ideology of the members of Big Tech’s top brass. That the members of Big Tech companies’ top brass are ideologically simpatico is conceded even by left-leaning think tanks. For example, a Brookings report said, “We know that an overwhelming majority of technology entrepreneurs subscribe to a liberal ideology. Despite the claims by companies such as Google, I believe that political biases affect how these companies operate… Empirical evidence support this intuition; By analyzing a dataset consisting of 10.1 million U.S. Facebook users, a 2014 study demonstrated that liberal users are less likely than their conservative counterparts to get exposed to news content that oppose their political views. Another analysis of Yahoo! search queries concluded that ‘more right-leaning a query it is, the more negative sentiments can be  found in its search results.’”[ii] The Washington Post confirms that Big Tech discriminates against non-leftists.[iii]/ As if that were not enough proof, Mark Zuckerburg was caught saying, “It’s just that breaking up these companies, whether it’s Facebook or Google or Amazon, is not actually going to solve the issues. And, you know, it doesn’t make election interference less likely. It makes it more likely because now the companies can’t coordinate and work together.”[iv]

As explained in the first two blogs in this series, [v] Big Tech’s selective suppression of free speech is “a big problem.” (Big Tech’s services create other serious problems, e.g., psychiatric problems for individuals,[vi] societal problems,[vii] and have increased the pace at which the cavern between competing ideologies widens, which rends society’s cohesion. All and each of these problems could be reasons to take governmental action to address them, but this series is focused exclusively on the biggest of Big Tech’s negative effects, infringement of free speech.)

While the negative effects of Big Tech’s infringement of free speech (and other domains) are huge, so are Big Tech’s positive effects in many domains. Big Tech provides incomprehensibly fantastic and desirable services. Although productivity increases attributable to information technology have been hard to find or quantify,[viii] the fact that Big Tech’s services are used/consumed in massive quantities is strong evidence that consumers find Big Tech’s services to be very valuable, i.e., are effective means by which people invent and produce things and pursue happiness. Consequently, it is reasonable to conclude that Big Tech deserves significant credit for increases in both productivity and happiness compared to what would have occurred without their services.

So, Big Tech creates huge positive and huge negative effects. We tinker with Big Tech at our peril. However, it is more perilous not to infringe upon Big Tech’s suppression of free speech. However, the extent to which regulations will reduce Big Tech’s ability to retain or increase the positive consequences of its services if Big Tech’s suppression of free speech is suppressed is an open question, but it could very seriously reduce the value of Big Tech’s services. Therein lies a conundrum, i.e., we are damned if we do suppress Big Tech’s suppression of free speech and damned if we don’t. Making matters more complicated, transferring to the government the power to control what speech should be suppressed or promoted is a surefire way to make matters worse.[ix]

Effectively addressing the huge problems Big Tech’s suppression of free speech is creating will not be easy, especially if we demand, as we should, that the policy not undermine our constitutional values. Nevertheless, Big Tech’s negative effects on free speech are so damaging to societies’ ability to enable human flourishing is so overwhelming, all options should be carefully examined and subjected to searing debate to tease out a policy that has a high probability of doing more good than harm.

The biggest hurdles to overcome concerning the regulation of Big Tech’s suppression of free speech are constitutional. The Constitution prohibits governments from infringing upon the rights of American citizens (a) to utter and publish their speech,[x] (b) to assemble peaceably with others (e.g., via a corporation) to exercise their rights as they please (e.g., to achieve political objectives), and (c) to not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.[xi] (Note, however, uttering or publishing words to commit a crime or a tort is not the exercise of free speech.[xii])

Big Tech companies are formed by citizens who have assembled with others to exercise their constitutional rights to speak and create portals to facilitate free speech—among other things. Consequently, Big Tech companies, like other publishers, have the constitutional right to publish whatever they want.

On the other hand, Big Tech’s ability to provide the goods and services of search and social media that Americans have grown to love if it were subject to criminal and tort liability like publishers would be severely curtailed. Publishers of speech are jointly and severally liable with the authors of criminal or defamatory content. [Big Tech was granted immunity from such liability in 1996.[xiii] More on this in later posts.] Big Tech could not survive in the form we now know it (could not provide as many positive societal effects) if it were made liable for the criminal and defamatory content that populates its search results and feeds. The resulting tidal wave of lawsuits would vastly weaken them, perhaps to extinction or uselessness.

Consequently, effectively addressing the problem without undermining America’s core principles will be very hard. Telling private companies what they can and cannot do falsely presumes that regulators will selflessly prescribe what they believe is in the best interest of society and knows enough to determine what is in the best interest of society. Regulation is fraught with negative consequences (some intended, some unanticipated), a corruption factory, and is often unconstitutional. All too often, regulations exacerbate the problem they intend to solve.[xiv]

George Gilder has predicted that cloud computing, upon which Big Tech currently relies to do its good and evil, will soon become a thing of the past, i.e., that we don’t need to do anything about Big Tech’s abuses.[xv] On the chance that Gilder’s prediction will not get the job done, let’s sort out what might be done in the next blog.


[i] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem,” “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Most Negative Consequence,” and “Free Speech and Big Tech – How To Make Things Worse.”

[ii] See “Regulating free speech on social media is dangerous and futile.”

[iii][iii] See one of many examples “Did Facebook bury conservative news? Ex-staffers say yes.”

[iv]/ See “All Hands On Deck.”

[v] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem” and “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Most Negative Consequence.”

[vi] See “Jordan Peterson: The Psychology of Social Media” and “https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=psychological+problems+created+by+social+media.”

[vii] See “What Impact Has Social Media Truly Had On Society.”

[viii] See “Productivity Paradox.”

[ix] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – How To Make Things Worse.”

[x] See:

The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” and

The Fourteenth Amendment: “No state shall… deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

[xi] The Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

[xii] The right to free speech is the right to express ideas, no matter how mean, despicable, offensive, fallacious or untenable an idea is. That right does not mean that one is free to say anything with impunity. One can be sued if she uses speech to commit a tort.  For example, yelling fire in a crowded theater for the purpose of causing a stampede that will injure people, inciting violence, and defaming people (slander or libel) are not considered to be an expression of an idea, “speech.” They are wrongful acts against others, i.e., torts. Publishing tortious words of others is also a tort.

Torts, however, are not crimes. A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. The Constitution places limitations on what federal and state governments can do but it does not place limits on what people acting in non-governmental capacities can do.

[xiii] See “47 U.S. Code § 230 (c).”

[xiv] Perhaps the best example is the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act following the 2008 banking crisis. The bill was to solve the problem that banks had been “too big to fail,” which was why they had to be bailed out. After its implementation, the big banks got bigger and many smaller banks could not absorb the extra cost of regulatory compliance and closed their doors. See “The “Too Big to Fail Banks” are Bigger and more Powerful. The Financial Crisis has not Ended … It’s Only Gotten Worse” and “Dodd-Frank at 5 — helping big banks get bigger.”

[xv] See “George Gilder: Forget Cloud Computing, Blockchain is the Future.”

 

Free Speech and Big Tech – How To Make Things Worse

Now that we’ve sorted out how bad it is that Big Tech has as much power over free speech that it now has, we can move on to what to do about the problem. Before we do, however, let’s sort how the typical, knee-jerk reaction would make matters worse.

The typical, knee-jerk reaction when businesses run amok is for people, especially politicians who want more power, demand that government regulates the misbehaving business. That is a proper response concerning some kinds of business misbehavior. However, “as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefits.”[i] Another general rule is that regulation of industry almost always winds up creating so much red tape that only the big, long-established companies can compete in the regulated business, i.e., small startups that could produce a higher quality or cheaper good or service are at a disadvantage because the cost of regulatory compliance is a large percentage of a small company’s cost structure and a small percentage of a large company’s cost structure. (Perhaps the best proof of this is Mark Zuckerberg’s call for more government regulation of search and social media.[ii]) New regulations almost always cede more power to a government that is already exercising much too much power already and facilitates even more corruption than already exists.

In light of all of that, for the regulation of a business to be warranted, the harm should be very significant, the regulation should very significantly reduce the likelihood of misbehavior, and the benefits of the foregoing exceed the inevitable negative consequences described above plus some unanticipated, “unintended” consequences. The government regulating search and social media would not come close to meeting this test.

As bad as all of the above described negative consequences of regulation are, they are not the worst consequences of government regulation of search and social media. The worst problem with the government regulating search and social media is that the government would have the power to harness some, if not all, of the power to control, infringe upon free speech that Big Tech now has. It is not just that having and exercising that power would be unconstitutional, which it would be, it is that having that much power would ultimately, if not immediately snuff out the remaining flickers of The Enlightenment ideas that are so essential to truth and a free society.[iii]


[i] “…as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefits…Regulatory capture.

[ii] See “Mark Zuckerberg: The Internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas” and “Zuckerberg Wants to Regulate the Internet. Here’s Why.”

[iii] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem.”

Free Speech and Big Tech – The Most Negative Consequence

Unless the aggregated the power that was described in the first blog of this series, Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem, is not checked and balanced, the likely consequence will be the end to free societies. Recognizing and understanding why that is the case is essential to finding a cure for the problem that does not do as much harm as the disease will be hard.  Let’s sort this out by first pinpointing the problematic consequence.

Big Tech (1) controls the primary means humans use to communicate ideas (speech), something essential to a free society,[i] (2) can tweak its algorithms to promote negative comments and suppress positive comments about anyone and thereby demonize anyone while being blocking or overwhelming the victim’s attempt to defend herself, (3) can ban anyone from the primary communication platforms, and/or (4) can surveil everyone who uses those platforms. These are awesome powers.

Having the power to surveil is particularly important for Big Tech’s power because it enables Big Tech to discover things about people who use the primary means of communication that those people do not want to be made public. Obtaining compromising information about people gives Big Tech the power to blackmail. The threat that Big Tech can allow negative comments about a person to flow far and wide while stifling positive comments (defame people with the curated words of others) gives Big Tech a highly effective way to force people to shut up. Knowing how essential free speech was to a free society, ensuring that every citizen’s right to free speech would not be infringed was a first, and foremost goal of the U.S. founders. Unfortunately, the founders did not have the clairvoyance to see that an institution other than the government might amass enough power to infringe on free speech.

As subversive to a free society Big Tech’s power to infringe on citizen’s free speech rights is, exercising that power against citizens is not the worst consequence of Big Tech’s power. Big Tech power to surveil and blackmail politicians and bureaucrats is worse.

A fundamental and eternal bane of human existence is that while humans flourish more in societies that have rules established by effective rulers, unless those rulers are reasonably restrained, rulers become tyrannical. Societies that have achieved the most humans flourishing have a set of rules that limit the powers of rulers to become tyrannical by giving their citizens an ability to dethrone rulers who exceed the powers delegated to them. That approach to governance is fundamental to the most successful country in human history, America. Big Tech’s power, however, is changing America’s fundamental approach to governance.

As Dr. Robert Epstein testified to Congress in July 2019, “In 2016, Google’s search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that shifted at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton, whom I supported… In the weeks leading up to the 2018 election, bias in Google search results may have shifted upwards of 78.2 million votes, spread across many races to the candidates of one political party.”[ii] Politicians are supposedly accountable to the people because the people have the power to vote them out of office if they do not serve the interests of the people. That theory falls apart if there is a separate power that can destroy a politician’s chance of getting elected if she does not serve the political and economic objectives of that power. “One man, one vote” has little meaning when corporations can control who can be nominated.

As bad the high priests of Big Tech meddling in elections is, it is not the worst consequence.

If it is not already there, Big Tech will soon supplant the government as the predominate power that controls how society works. Once free speech is sufficiently stifled, tyranny will follow. This is because “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely… [and] as a person’s power increases, their moral sense diminishes.”[iii] However moral Big Tech may be today, which is debatable, history clearly demonstrates that morality is a minor factor in decision-making by tyrants, if it is a factor at all.[iv]

Whistleblowers, hidden camera videos, and purloined memos of Big Tech officials have revealed that Big Tech is actively exercising its powers to achieve its political and financial objectives.[v] Those practices would be less problematic if (1) humans had not so overwhelmingly gravitated to Big Tech’s modes of communication, (2) Big Tech had not used and would not continue to use the wealth generated by humans consuming its products to invest in product-improving R&D at rates that will outpace potential competitors, (3) all the corporate officers of the companies that run the primary modern modes of communication did not have the same political philosophies and objectives, then Big Tech’s power could be checked by competition from companies with officers that had political philosophies and objectives that challenged the political groupthink that has enthralled Big Tech executives. Because all of that happened, Big Tech is using its unchecked, unchallenged, monolithic power to impose their philosophy (religion, actually) on society, including its electoral processes. This collection of powers has grown constantly and continues to get stronger. In many respects its power to affect elections is greater than any politician, party, or deep state actor.

Perhaps more important than all of that, with its surveillance and speech control abilities, Big Tech has the power to blackmail most, if not all, politicians and bureaucrats to serve their financial and political purposes. A threat by Big Tech to demonize, embarrass, silence, subject to criminal inquiry, etc. against a politician would be highly credible, i.e., effective. In short, Big Tech has or soon will have the power to tell politicians and bureaucrats what laws or regulations they need to support and to lie to Congress and investigators with impunity (prosecutors dare not fall out of favor with Big Tech). The idea that a people can live in a society under a government of the people, by the people, and for the people may be a thing of the past if a way to check Big Tech’s power is not found and implemented.

As will be discussed in the next post, finding a way to address this threat to liberty that does not do more harm than good is a monumental challenge.


[i] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem.”

[ii] See “DR. ROBERT EPSTEIN ON BIG TECH CENSORSHIP” and “Dr. Robert Epstein on Big Tech Censorship.”

[iii] See “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton

[iv] See the histories of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, and Xi. Note also, Google’s parent company chose not to adopt one of Google’s original rules of conduct, “Don’t be evil.”

[v] See “Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem.”

Free Speech and Big Tech – The Problem

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post is more relevant, timely, and important than I knew as I was writing it. As I was working to get the article uploaded to my blog today, Project Veritas posted THIS VIDEO, which is a video of a Google employee whistleblower explaining how Google is manipulating search results to achieve the political objectives of the top brass at Google. The damage that Google and other Big Tech players is doing to America’s democratic republic is tremendous and horrifying.

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The invention and adoption of “The Enlightenment” ideas by people in the “Western World” enabled them to vastly outpace the rest of the world with respect to freedom, inventiveness, prosperity, and human flourishing. In so doing, they produced manifold blessings for themselves and the rest of humankind. Sadly, they inflicted many miseries along the way on others and subsets of their own people. Happily, however, as those countries implemented The Enlightenment ideas more broadly and effectively over a few hundred years, they accelerated the improvement in humans’ standards of living by many millennia compared to what would have been achieved using pre-enlightenment ideas.

Here is a great visual representation of what The Enlightenment bestowed on humankind:

World GDP 1-2008 BCE

This graph adds and zooms in on more recent data:

World GDP 1970-2006 BCE

The AEI article from which I grabbed the first chart above said, “… the chart above could perhaps qualify as the “chart of the century” because it illustrates one of the most remarkable achievements in human history: the 80% reduction in world poverty in only 36 years, from 26.8% of the world’s population living on $1 or less (in 1987 dollars) in 1970 to only 5.4% in 2006.”[i] Abject poverty has continued to fall significantly since 2006—as more and more countries embraced and implemented The Enlightenment ideas.[ii] (Though most countries, even ones that have adopted some Enlightenment ideas, remain plagued with too many unenlightened ideas and too many once enlightened countries are abandoning The Enlightenment ideas.[iii])

So, what was so special about those ideas? The Enlightenment thinker, Immanuel Kant, described The Enlightenment as “humankind’s release from its self-incurred immaturity; ‘immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another.’”[iv]  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy had this to say about The Enlightenment:

“The Enlightenment is most identified with its political accomplishments. The era is marked by three political revolutions, which together lay the basis for modern, republican, constitutional democracies: The English Revolution (1688), the American Revolution (1775–83), and the French Revolution (1789–99). The success at explaining and understanding the natural world encourages the Enlightenment project of re-making the social/political world, in accord with the models we allegedly find in our reason. Enlightenment philosophers find that the existing social and political orders [e.g., the divine right of kings] do not withstand critical scrutiny.”[v]

The Enlightenment enabled and encouraged everyone, not just the monarchs, lords, and their advisers, to think, explore, experiment, invent, and have a go at finding better ideas and making things better—with a heavy emphasis on thinking. Thinking in a vacuum is much better than not thinking, but bouncing ideas off of others to test whether one’s ideas are sound is an exponentially better process of thinking and to find the truth. Consequently, as a means to extract the maximum value from the power of thinking and discovering what is true, The Enlightenment extolled the virtues of robust and uninfringed free speech.

In short, free speech is essential to making things better because it is what humans use to explore nature and to test the validity and merit of ideas through vigorous debate. Good science and good governance depend on understanding the nature of things and giving due consideration of both the positive and negative aspects and consequences of an idea or a proposed policy. An idea that has survived the gauntlet of honest and vigorous debate is far more likely to make things better (do more good than harm) than an idea that sails through on the wings of blinkering emotions that have been unenlightened by a vigorous challenge. As Jordan Peterson put it, free speech “is bedrock and it is not something that is arbitrary, it’s not a mere game that we’re playing in the West—none of that—it’s the most fundamental truth that the human race has ever discovered, and we lose it at our absolute peril.”[vi]

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution it spawned are, perhaps, the crowning achievement of The Enlightenment. They spawned the most successful and powerful, while (given its capacity to be otherwise) exceptionally non-hegemonic. The essentiality of free speech to an effective democratic-republican government was made clear by its priority in the Bill of Rights. The first two limitations on government in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights deal with free speech. The first item listed was a prohibition of government established/imposed religion, which, by using blasphemy laws, has historically been humankind’s fiercest opponent of free speech and independent thinking. The second item listed was a direct prohibition of any law that infringes on free speech. Many other countries have embraced the virtues of free speech in their governing documents, but few, if any, come close to the reverence for the idea that Americans have—at least historically. (That Americans’ reverence for free speech is waning is the motivation for this post.)

Consequently, if Americans were taught American history as it should be taught, Americans would understand that infringing on speech by government action, by companies with control over our modern means of communications (the power to shadow ban, shadow ban, or demonetize certain speakers while promoting other speakers), or by individuals or groups shouting down speakers, giving low grades on papers that express ideas unsympathetic to the teacher’s beliefs, or mob violence impedes human progress and flourishing. Sadly, Americans are, to a significant, if not a great degree, being taught the opposite.

An ever-growing percentage of Americans is calling for infringement of free speech by both individuals and our institutions.[vii] That children and young adults have been and are being taught to be intolerant of speech they don’t like was starkly evidenced by the University of Chicago feeling compelled to warn incoming freshmen that intellectual inquiry via free speech will be permitted and promoted at UofC. Not only have very few colleges followed suit, many are doubling down on shielding students from ideas that stray even slightly from leftist orthodoxy,[viii] encouraging professors not to debate non-leftists (as if they need encouragement), and are complicit by insufficient suppression of students and professors who do what they can to prevent non-leftists from speaking on or near campus. Many universities are so dedicated to the proposition that people’s freedom to speak of ideas that are incompatible with the leftists’ ideology that they have set up, usually small and avoidable “free speech zones” to keep non-leftist speech as infringed as possible.[ix] In short, higher education has been for a long time and remains filled with crusaders against the ideas (first and foremost, free speech) that are responsible for the hockey sticks of human flourishing depicted above in favor of ideologies that return excessive power to cloistered monks in ivory towers and rulers on thrones of prodigious power.

Let’s pause to note a mental inconsistency by university professors and administrators who suppress speech that runs counter to their dogmas. Universities are, among other things, society’s centers of science. They profess to be society’s primary practitioners, defenders, and champions of the scientific method. A lament often emanating from universities and their acolytes is that much of the general public “deny science” (intending to shame those who deny truths that have been derived from the scientific method). Yet, in large part, the scientific method discovers truths by challenging and disproving prior scientific claims. Scientists and the public continue to refer to Copernicus (born 1473) because he challenged the prevailing groupthink about the solar system. So, while they extol the virtues of challenging orthodoxy in order to discover scientific truths, they blithely promote or tolerate interfering with the use of the scientific method to discover truths concerning ideologies and public policies.

Rarely in human history have rulers not used every power grabbed by or yielded to them to silence opposition to what they do, including the aggregation of ever more power. Though far from perfect, Americans have been exceptionally tolerant of the public criticizing leaders. Not only was such criticism tolerated, Americans believe they have an unalienable the right to do so. That essential attitude toward free speech has been significantly eroded since Big Tech has become the primary means by which humans communicate with each other and, because our societal safeguards were not designed to deal with private entities having greater power to infringe on free speech than the government could ever hope to have, we are in serious jeopardy of losing it all.

For over 200 years the First Amendment has been a somewhat effective shield against being silenced. In 1789, the means by which humans exercised free speech to affect rulers and their policies were face-to-face conversations, speeches/debates in the public square, and the press. All of those primary forms of communication were constitutionally protected against infringement by the two entities that had enough power to stifle a person’s inalienable right to speak freely, government and a government-established church. The founders reasonably believed that the First Amendment’s “wall between church and state” and the prohibition against infringing on a citizen’s inalienable right to speak was sufficient to prevent people in power from stifling free speech. As grounded in reality and blessed with brilliance as they were, the founders could not have imagined that someday a completely new and vastly different group of non-governmental “sheriffs” would come to town packing the power to silence blasphemers, however, the sheriffs self-servingly choose to defined blasphemy. Big Tech has invented and deployed those sheriffs. America, we have a problem.

The new sheriffs, primarily Google/YouTube, Facebook/ Instagram, and Twitter (“Big Tech”), now control people’s primary modes of communication and they are not constrained by the Constitution, or much of anything other than their own conscious and the whims of the mob—the very thing that the Constitution’s checks and balances was designed to prevent. Their power to stifle speech rivals and to promote the speech of their allies exceeds the power of the popes of the Holy Roman Empire or Mohamed and is vastly greater than the constitutionally limited U.S. federal government. It would not be so bad if there were competition among the Big Tech companies as to what speech should be heard, but they all have similar political and moral ideologies.

Of course, Big Tech denies that it is stifling the speech of some and promoting the speech of others.[x] Perhaps they believe their denials. Those denials, however, ring plausible only to those who have been proselytized into the faith of leftist orthodoxy.

That Big Tech has its ideas as to what is good and bad and will use its power to cause what it believes to be the good word and suppress what they believe to be the bad word (and demonize the speakers of bad words) is disputable only with newspeak.  Conservatives have long complained that Google,[xi] Facebook,[xii] Twitter,[xiii] and Instagram (“Big Tech”) stifle their speech. The same is true of Libertarians.[xiv] Prager University has sued in an attempt to stop the abuse of power of Big Tech./[xv] Despite Big Tech’s pious but phony denials, that the new sheriffs have suppressed commentary out of line with leftist orthodoxy cannot be seriously disputed. (If you doubt this, see all the endnote to this post, especially this one.xvi Compelling evidence of the legitimacy of those complaints is the recent Project Veritas reports[xvii] and the fact that Google is attempting to cover its tracks.[xviii]

This reality threatens the single most important bedrock idea that produced the most successful society in human history, the inalienable right to free speech.

In my apocalyptic estimation, the future of America as a good place to live and as the last best hope that freedom[xix] can exist in the world depends on reinstituting Enlightenment ideas in America. It is possible that when snuffed out here those ideas can be rekindled elsewhere, e.g., New Zealand or Croatia, but I doubt it. The only candidate with a reasonable shot at saving The Enlightenment ideas is America. Figuring out how to undo the damage and reverse the course described above will be extremely difficult. I do not have the answer. Let’s hope that not all intellectuals are Intellectual Yet Idiots.

Sadly, like most important societal problems, there are no solutions[xx] to the problem Big Tech has created. There are negative consequences to any course of action. All of the proposed “cures” for the problem of which I am aware might, on balance, make things worse. Those issues are well worth sorting out. Let’s do that in a future post.

UPDATE: Andrew Klaven and Candace Owens had this very good conversation about this topic. As you will read in a future post, one should understand the negative consequences of the remedy Klaven proposes before jumping on board.

 


[i] See “Chart of the greatest and most remarkable achievement in human history, and one you probably never heard about.” Why we “never hear about” this achievement is, to a large degree, because it puts the “Western Ideals,” which is another name for “The Enlightenment Ideals,” in a good light.

[ii] See “The Hong Kong Experiment,” “Singapore: A remarkable free-market success story,” “Singapore: A remarkable free-market success story,” “China’s The Most Viciously Free Market Economy On The Planet Right Now,” “India’s Great Free-Market Economist,”Miracle of Chile,” “The Estonian Economic Miracle” (to cite but a few).

[iii] See “The Left Is Dismantling Western Values” and “We Should Not Be Reluctant to Assert the Superiority of Western Values.”

[iv] See “Enlightenment.”

[v] Id. At 2.1

[vi] See “On the Vital Necessity of Free Speech (are you listening, Saudis)?

[vii] See “Deniers of the war on free speech on college campuses are dead wrong,” and “Colleges Have No Right to Limit Students’ Free Speech,” and “The 10 worst colleges for free speech: 2018.”

[viii] See “Politics on the American Campus.”

[ix] See “How Campus Policies Limit Free Speech” and “Study: Liberal Bias Among Campus Administrators ‘Astonishing,’ Worse Than Professors.”

[x]Ted Cruz Makes Google Exec Squirm Over Conservative Censorship,” “Senator Hawley Questions Twitter and Facebook Execs on Transparency,” and “Senator Hawley Grills Google Exec During Judiciary Committee Hearing.”

[xi] See “Google Blocks Conservative Websites” and “YouTube vs. Conservative Speech.”

[xii] See “Former Facebook Insider: We Buried Conservative News,” and “Fired by Google, a Republican Engineer Hits Back: ‘There’s Been a Lot of Bullying’

[xiii] See “HIDDEN CAMERA: Twitter Engineers To “Ban a Way of Talking” Through “Shadow Banning,” “How Facebook, Twitter silence conservative voices online” and “Free speech activist Lindsay Shepherd on her Twitter ban: ‘Your instincts should not be to celebrate’.

[xiv] See “GOOGLE CENSORS CONSERVATIVES ON THE INTERNET AND FIRES THOSE WHO WORK FOR THEM.”

[xv] See “PragerU Takes Legal Action Against Google and YouTube for Discrimination.

[xvi] See “Sen. Ted Cruz questions Google about recent Project Veritas report.” As if this were not enough evidence, see THIS screenshot of a YouTube warning I got when I clicked on the Ted Cruz video.

[xvii] See “Insider Blows Whistle & Exec Reveals Google Plan to Prevent “Trump situation” in 2020 on Hidden Cam.” Note that Snopes did not bother to report on its fact check of the Project Veritas report. See “Snopes Search.”

[xviii] See “Google Employees Sure Are Covering Their Tracks Now That Their Censorship Scheme Has Been Exposed” and “Google “Machine Learning Fairness” Whistleblower Goes Public, says: “burden lifted off of my soul”” The skillful prevarication on display in “Sen. Cruz Questions Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube on Censorship of Conservatives” is telling.

[xix] See “The last speech of Ronald Reagan as president was on immigration.”

[xx] See “Solutions.”

Choosing Diversity over Competence

On July 29, 2019, six senior staff members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee resigned[i] because of outrage within the party that the party’s leadership was comprised of an insufficient percentage of “oppressed people” (they call it “lack of diversity”). Half of the resigning leaders of the party were women holding the positions of DCCC Executive Director, Political Director, and Top Communications Aide. It is reasonable to assume that those people held those positions because of their competence, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that the women nosed out some equally or more capable white men because they were women.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a similar approach when constructing his cabinet which gave “Canada first cabinet with equal number of men and women.”[ii] The group was also ethnically diverse also. “It’s important to be here before you today to present to Canada a cabinet that looks like Canada,” Trudeau, 43, told reporters…” [The Guardian, November 5, 2015.] The result was that he purposefully prioritized diversity over competence.

It is not that women or non-white men are, in general, less competent than white men. It’s that the larger the pool of potential candidates a position, the greater the likelihood the best candidate for any particular job will be in the pool. For example, let’s assume that men and women are, in general, equally capable. While the percentage of working-age women and men in America is approximately equal, about half of women work outside the home while about 75% of men do.[iii] So, the pool of women from whom to choose is only 2/3rds the size of the men’s pool. If one assumes that men and women are equally competent and employers do not discriminate in favor of women or men when seeking to fill high profile, high status government jobs (Trudeau’s example and the general push to get women in high profile jobs for public relations and “social justice” purposes are reasons to doubt the second, possibly generous, assumption), then there should be approximately 50% more eligible men in the labor pool than women, i.e., the probability of the most competent person being a man is larger. Similar, if not even starker, statistics apply to other groupings of people.

With the above in mind, please watch this video to see the disaster Trudeau’s decision has wrought on Canada.

 

 

You might also find THIS VIDEO and THIS VIDEO to be interesting and entertaining.


[i] See “Liberal outrage leads to ‘Monday Night Massacre’ of resignations from senior Democratic staff.”

[ii] See “Trudeau gives Canada first cabinet with equal number of men and women.”

[iii] See “In U.S., Half of Women Prefer a Job Outside the Home.”

Nationalism PART V, Nationalism or One World Government?

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Author’s Note: As readers may have surmised, the overarching point of this series is to sort out whether Nationalism or a One World Government is the better approach to governance. My plan for this morning was to finish this post. To my surprise this morning, a link to THIS SERENDIPITOUS VIDEO (which bears directly on that subject) appeared in my inbox. I encourage you to watch it after you have read this post. It provides a very optimistic spin on how the ideas of this series are gaining currency.

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As discussed previously, nationalistic, capitalistic, democratic republics have produced more successful and moral results for a higher percentage of their populations than any other forms of governance (and their research and inventions have been spread widely across the Earth). Sadly, however, they also create many problems, e.g., high levels of income inequality and other unequal outcomes, and imperialistic nationalistic nations have a history of starting wars.[i] With the advent of weapons of mass destruction, humans now have the capacity to render huge swaths of the world uninhabitable, and conceivably do great damage globally. What is humanity to do?

An oft-touted alternative to nationalism that has not been fully tried is a “One World Government.”[ii] Some intellectuals claim that a One World Government is the only way to avoid a nuclear holocaust.[iii] If a One World Government could, (1) eliminate the possibility of a nuclear holocaust,[iv] (2) not stifle human flourishing, and (3) be sustainable, the case for a One World Government would be compelling. Sadly, a One World Government could not achieve any of those objectives. Not only would a One World Government fail to achieve objectives that might justify it, but it would also make matters worse. Let’s sort out why that is true.

The primary purpose of a government is to establish and enforce rules that enable humans to fare better than if they were to live in chaos. The fundamental problem with governments, however, is that they are run by humans, i.e., a government allows some humans to set the rules under which all humans within the government’s jurisdiction to live. Granting people some power to rule over others enables them to obtain even more power than was granted. A ruler can simply use the power granted to withhold favors or inflict harm on those who are subject to their rules unless the ruled cede more power to a ruler. When it comes to expanding one’s power, the primary difference between a protection racket[v] (e.g., The Mafia or Mexican cartels) and government action is that the government officials need not worry about an external law enforcement agency bringing the hammer down on their racket.

Consequently, because they are not angles,[vi] unless rulers are restrained, they will eventually (and often quickly) amass enough power to do as they please. The more power they garner the less power “the people” have to stop them. One might suppose that rulers would be fearful of becoming so tyrannical that the people will find a way to forcibly dethrone the ruler. However, that so many rulers have been beheaded or dethroned throughout history reveals how much risk of going too far rulers will take to satisfy their lust for power. Gaining ever more power is in the best interest of the powerful and is, most definitely, not in the best interest of the vast majority of people living under the rule of the powerful. Rulers having too much power results in tyranny and misery for all but the most powerful. Yet, unless some power is not granted to rulers, there is chaos. What is humanity to do?

The most ingenious approach to addressing the problem of both granting power to rulers and restraining them from abusing it was devised by the American founders. The key was to set up the system so that rulers could not get anything done unless many antithetical interests, a.k.a, “factions”[vii] agreed that a problem was sufficiently pressing and a proposed solution would be sufficiently effective that the proposed solution should be implemented. To further prevent unnecessary government action, they also added a Bill of Rights that, hopefully, would prevent the adoption of laws that infringed on certain inalienable rights. In this system, “the people” had the ultimate authority to “throw the bastards out” if government officials amassed too much power.

The founders, however, knew that the system was not foolproof. By responding to a lady who asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government the Constitutional Convention would propose, he expressed his doubts about the sustainability of the proposed government when he responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”[viii] As ingenious as it was, the idea that factions could be kept at bay came into doubt immediately after the founding. In his “Farewell Address,”[ix] Washington signaled out factions as a primary threat to the republic. Interestingly, Washington urged nationalism as the solution:

“…you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”

As if the original constitutional structure was not weak enough in its defenses against tyranny, from the beginning, progressives have both whittled away at its protections and diminished the citizens’ fealty to the constitutional system. Consequently, we have only been able to keep some shreds of the checks and balances envisioned by the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin, in addition to his many other fine qualities, was prescient.

Today it is hard, if not impossible, to get American’s to rally around America’s relatively good set of principles. This is despite the country being mostly populated by people who, for the most part, embrace Judeo-Christian values and have a shared faith in the ideas of The Enlightenment[x] (whether or not they acknowledge that source of their values and ideas). Although America is a relatively diverse country, its diverse citizenry is fairly homogeneous concerning values, ideas, and mores. The idea that all people of the world with profoundly different histories, values, and ideas could be motivated to adhere to principles, values, and mores dictated by a One World Government is preposterous. There is simply no way tribalistic humans can tribalize around one set of ideas, much less ideas dictated by faraway people with whom they have essentially nothing in common. In the 20th Century not even three variations (U.S.S.R, Nazi Germany, and Maoist China) of one set of values and ideas, socialism, could co-exist with each other. None of them could even co-exist with their own citizens, collectively killing more than 100 million of their citizens who wouldn’t or couldn’t get in line with the state’s programs.

If ultimate control of all nuclear weapons were placed in the hands of a small group of people, those people would have as close to ultimate power as has ever existed on Earth. Absolute power will produce absolute tyranny. The notion that humans would thrive in such a world is untenable.

Consider the problems confronting the European Union which is a conglomeration of comparatively homogeneous fellow Europeans. The Brexit vote and the discontent in Germany of Greece holding Germans hostage are just the most visible of the EU’s problems.[xi] In addition to being financially dysfunctional, the relatively globalist ideas that have taken root in Europe create other insolvable problems. Among them are too much welfare, low birthrates, and a necessity to take in more immigrants than can reasonably be assimilated. The confluence of these problems and ideas has created stagnation.

“The EU’s biggest problem is that its economic model has aged alongside its population. Europe has plenty of world-class companies but, unlike the US, none of them were set up in the past 25 years. In Europe’s golden age, Volkswagen was a rival to Ford, and Siemens could go toe to toe with General Electric. But there is no European Google, Facebook or Amazon and in the emerging technologies of the fourth Industrial Revolution, such as artificial intelligence, Europe is nowhere.”[xii]

With a one-world tyranny, there would be no way out and no reason for the tyrants to ease their tyranny. Contrast that to a world in which nations with relative freedom exist. In such a world, tyrants are exposed to the possibility and reality that humans will flee to relative freedom. Non-enterprising, non-productive, and cowardly people will remain in the already dysfunctional society. (A common saying in the U.S.S.R. was, “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”[xiii]) As we saw in Berlin before the wall fell, enterprising, productive and courageous people who prefer to actually work and actually get paid will risk their lives to get out. As a result, the tyrannical country becomes poorer whether the person escapes or gets killed. Conversely, if the escapees make it out alive, the freer, receiving country is benefits.

By this process, the freer a country is, the more sustainable and prosperous it will be. The more prosperous a country is, the greater a magnet it is to those who are yearning to be free and to have opportunities to become productive and prosperous. Historically, people who have little initiative or courage tend to stay put and hope that the government will take care of them. (Today there are countervailing forces.[xiv]) This reality is a motivation for countries to be freer.

The motivations described above (punishment of tyranny and rewarding freedom) are not merely theoretical. Demonstrations of the effectiveness of those motivations are played out daily in America today. When a U.S. state becomes too tyrannical (e.g., the state considers the wealth of its citizens to be communal, and, therefore, extract exceptionally high taxes on their wealthy citizens and subsidize those who do not work whether or not they are capable of working) migration happens. Wealthy people tend to leave[xv] (with the occasional exception of people who are so wealthy that they need not sweat the loss of extra hundreds of millions in taxes—although even they often move their company’s operations to lower tax states) and less or non-productive people who are spared the high taxes tend to stay and non-productive people from elsewhere move to the state. The next thing you know, they have massive homeless problems.[xvi]

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[i] See “ See “Income Inequality Is More Than It’s Cracked Up To Be.”

[ii] See “ See “World government.” The United Nations is an international body but has so few powers that calling it a government would be an error.

[iii] See “ See “The case for a World State to wipe out war and nuclear weapons and bring global peace and prosperity” and “Pope Francis Calls For ‘One World Government’ To ‘Save Humanity’.”

[iv] See “ “…widespread destruction and radioactive fallout causing the collapse of civilization, through the use of nuclear weapons.”

[v] See “ See “Protection Racket.”

[vi] See “ See “Milton Friedman on Greed, Virtue, and Angels.”

[vii] See “ Originally the structural factions were “the people” (House of Representatives), states (Senate and the Electoral College), and the Courts. There were sub-factions within the House, Senate, and the Courts. To become and remain a law required surviving quite a gauntlet. It was institutional gridlock for all but the most compelling measures that did not violate citizens’ inalienable rights.

[viii] See “ See “A Republic, if You Can Keep It.

[ix] See Washington’s “Farewell Address.”

[x] See “ See “Ideas of the Enlightenment.”

“The Age of Enlightenment refers to a period in which reason was advocated as the primary basis of thought and authority. Logic and rationality were used to explain the ways in which the world worked as opposed to old traditions and superstitions. Free speech, individualism, and tolerance for other ways of life also became important ideas during this time. This period also coincided with the rise of nationalism and introduced great thinkers who later influenced developing democratic governments including the government of the United States.”

[xi] See “ See “The European Union has bigger problems to deal with than Brexit.”

[xii] See “ Id.

[xiii] See “ See “ See “The Economist” Aug 26, 1999.

[xiv] See “  See “The weaponization of Milton Friedman.” This article rightly points out how Friedman’s quote was misused. The article does not, however, prove that Milton Friedman’s statement (below) about immigrants coming illegally to America to have Americans provide for them was incorrect. The most they could say was, “not necessarily.” But the article simply describes some possible offsets to the costs of providing welfare to “illegal immigrants.” The article does not even attempt to put any numbers to determine the net flow of values. Here is what Friedman said:

“It is one thing to have free immigration to jobs, it is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. … [I]f you come under circumstances where each person is entitled to a prorated share of a pot … then the effect of that situation is that free immigration would mean a reduction for everybody.”

[xv] See “ See “The Great Tax Migration,” and “Wealthy Americans flee high-tax states, take billions with them: ‘Tax the rich. The rich leave’

[xvi] See “As California’s homelessness grows, the crisis emerges as a major issue in state’s gubernatorial race.”