Libertarian-Feminist Icon: Rose Wilder Lane

NPR released an article this week interviewing Peter Bagge about his latest comic-book biography Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story. Bagge has featured several famous women in his comic-book biographies such as Margaret Sanger and Zora Neale Hurtson. In the article, Bagge explains why he enjoys writing and illustrating these women’s’ stories:

“… It struck a note in me just because there’s been — and it isn’t just with women, it’s with everybody these days — this obsession with safety. You know, ‘I don’t feel safe,’ or, ‘Because of how I identify myself, there are people trying to hold me back.’ These women never, ever stopped for a single second in doing what they wanted to do. In the back of my mind I thought this would be something of a demonstration of how people could be and — I would argue — should be.”

Rose Wilder Lane certainly can be described as just that – doing whatever she wanted, and did not allow anyone to stop her.

bookc
Source: https://www.npr.org/books/titles/715175972/credo-the-rose-wilder-lane-story

 

Rose Wilder Lane was a journalist, writer and political theorist. She’s cited alongside of Isabel Paterson and Ayn Rand, as the female trio that inspired the liberty movement and the libertarian party. She famously compared Social Security to a “Ponzi scheme” and grew her own food to protest World War II rationing.

Lane was born into a poor family of farmers in 1886. While her family could not afford to send her to college, there was no doubt that Lane was bright. In 1915, the same year her marriage failed, she started her career as a journalist.

Her writing came to pause when she was sent overseas in 1920 with the Red Cross. During her time abroad, Lane made an effort to visit the Soviet Union. Lane was informed by her Host that their community was suffering due to the government’s interference with village affairs and firm grip on production. Viewing firsthand how the community was suffering from centralized economic control, Lane became an advocate against government overreach and promoted personal freedom/individualism.

The title of the Bagge’s comic-book biography Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story, was inspired by Lane’s 18,000 word article about liberty, Credo. The article was originally published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1936 and later republished and retitled as Give Me Liberty.

Rose Lane Wilder
Source: https://historydaily.org/laura-ingalls-wilders-famous-daughter-rose-wilder-lane

 

Lane wrote articles for various publications over her lifetime; a notable period in her writing career was her columns in the Pittsburgh Courier, an African American newspaper. Lane would often combine laissez-faire ideas and antiracism in her pieces. Lane would comment on the over-policing of African Americans and critique the idea that judging people based on skin color was no different than the Communists’ assignment of guilt or virtue on the basis of class. Also, she would praise the success of the capitalism and the existence of upward mobility by stating how minorities were able to create businesses, such as the Pittsburgh Courier and that Henry Ford started as a poor mechanic, now has created thousands of jobs. 

In 1943, Lane’s novel The Discovery of Freedom was published. She wrote about the 6,000 year struggle that ordinary people endured: defying tyrannical rulers, producing food, building industries, engaging in trade of products, idea, and innovation. She denounced claims that argue bureaucrats can do more for people, and attacked many collectivist positions. 

During World War II mail monitoring – for an unknown reason – a Connecticut State Trooper was sent to her home to question her motives. Lane’s responded to this event as infringement on her right of free speech, which resulted in newspaper articles and the publishing of a pamphlet, “What is this, the Gestapo?”. The FBI compiled a file on Lane.

Rose Wilder Lane was an iconic individualist who was far ahead of her time. Her focus on free market, antiracism, and personal responsibly makes her a trailblazer of the libertarian movement.

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Gender Pay Gap Claims Do Not Make ‘Cents’

The famous ‘Equal Pay Day’ was celebrated (for lack of a better term) on April 2 in the United States. The movement took over news cycles and social media for an entire day and was based on the discussion of women receiving unequal pay in comparison to their male counterparts. The significance of the date exhibits how far into the year women must work in order to earn what men made in the previous year; a statistic that is often thrown around is “for every dollar men earn, women will only make $0.80“.

On the surface level, this is shocking statistic that supports the gender inequality narrative. However, does this movement – that has resulted in a hashtag – uphold any factual basis?

Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Various studies that explore the income differences between men and women, demonstrate that women make roughly $0.80 for every one dollar a man earns. This conclusion is reached by dividing the median earnings of all women working full time by the median earnings of all men working full time.

Based on the mere statistic alone, this does not offer enough evidence to conclude that gender inequality is running ramped and The Equal Pay Act of 1963 , and The Civil Rights Act of 1964  has been thrown out the window. Each piece of legislation offers protection against baseless gender discrimination and makes unequal pay illegal.

An assortment of variables regarding an explanation for women’s income are conveniently ignored. Men are more likely to go into ‘high risk’ occupations, spend more hours at work/take less time off, willing to relocate for better opportunities, and negotiate for a better wage.

An example of time spent at the work place and receiving better pay is shown by Harvard Economist Claudia Goldin’s findings. Goldin’s research proved that if a law firm hires two lawyers – each with identical educational backgrounds and position placements – the lawyer that was willing to work ‘on call’ earned a higher salary versus the lawyer that wanted a regular nine-to-five schedule. The firm had an incentive to give a pay raise to the lawyer that was willing to work longer/atypical works.

While more women choose to go into higher education than men, there are gender differences when choosing their field of study. According to Georgetown University’s Best Paying Major list:

  • Petroleum Engineering is 87 percent male.
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences is 48 percent male.
  • Mathematics and Computer Science is 67 percent male.
  • Aerospace Engineering is 88 percent male.
  • Chem Engineering is 72 percent male.

In contrast, Georgetown University’s Worst Paying Majors:

  • Counseling and Psychology is 74 percent female.
  • Early childhood education is 97 percent female.
  • Theology and Religious Vocations is 66 percent male.
  • Human Services and Community Organization is 81 percent female.
  • Social Work is 88 percent female.

Although there is nothing wrong with entering these majors, it needs to be understood that certain fields vary in wages and that women have a choice in which field they would like to study.

Some may argue there is a social construct that limits women from to going into the STEM fields.  Yet, our society has created affirmative action programs and organizations to encourage women to have interest in STEM. For example, at West Virginia University there are various organizations, events, and communities that promote women in STEM.

Additionally, the US Department of Labor found that after looking over 50 peer-reviewed studies, that often citied a wage gap of 77 cents on the dollar statistic, were practically based on women’s career choices.

Equal Pay Day perpetuates a narrative that women earn less simply due to their gender, which does not have enough significant research to back up its claim. This narrative most certainly does not benefit or empower women.  Rather than taking into account all of the variables that go into wages, it is easier to have a ‘society is against women’ mindset as opposed to the fact that women (in the US) have personal autonomy and individual responsibly to decide their own career choices.

Party over Principle: Welcome to American Politics

One will never have to avoid the disdain of hypocrisy if they consistently uphold their values. However, abandoning principle appears to be a trend for political party warriors.

GOP senators like Sasse and Cruz voted in support of Trump’s unconstitutional emergency declaration.

 

The label ‘constitutional conservative’ leads others to assume where one’s priorities may lie. The goal to uphold the values of the document would supersede political party quarrels. The label wouldn’t be held by those who abandon said principals when their party is in power.

The true hypocrisy is shown by those who shout “But what about the constitution”, when the left side of the political spectrum tries to bypass congress and empower the executive branch. Personally, I’m old enough to remember the ‘principled’ republicans that were outraged throughout the duration of the Obama era.

Are those very same behaviors acceptable as long as your team is in charge?

However, twelve GOP senators chose to uphold their values and principles over political party goals.

Senator Rand Paul states Trump’s emergency declaration is unconstitutional because it is an abuse of executive powers, bypasses congress, and dismisses the importances of checks and balances.

Senator Thom Tillis wrote in an op-ed, “As a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress. As a conservative, I cannot endorse a precedent that I know future left-wing presidents will exploit to advance radical policies that will erode economic and individual freedoms.”

 

Prison isn’t the Solution to Drug Crimes

The opioid crisis has taken over various states, including West Virginia. The death toll and imprisonment rates continue to increase. The US criminal justice system, as it stands, has failed to solve a major problem that is affecting our communities.

In the past 10 years, deaths from drug overdoses have increased by roughly 52 percent in the US. Shockingly, the overdose rates in WV increased 11.2 percent from 2016 to 2017.

 

 

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/drug_poisoning_mortality/drug_poisoning.htm
Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/drug_poisoning_mortality/drug_poisoning.htm

 

Nearly one third of fatal overdoses in WV are caused by fentanyl.

The map below shows the top five counties in WV for fatal drug overdoses. The majority of the markers are grouped in the southern part of the state.

 

The response regarding nonviolent drug crimes and the opioid crisis has been mass incarceration.

One in five of those incarcerated are locked up due to drug offense(s). Of the 2.3 million people held by the US justice system, 456,000 are being held for nonviolent drug offenses.

The threat of imprisonment has not been a successful deterrent to drug use and crime. While the prison population has increased, the deaths via misuse of drug has followed suit – The “War on Drugs” has failed.

The libertarian push to end the “War on Drugs” does equate to advocation of drug abuse. The “War on Drugs” has imprisoned countless nonviolent individuals and has empowered the black market to pour fatal/additive drugs into our communities.

Rather than burdening taxpayers with the high costs of incarceration, there should be a strong push for lawmakers to consider alternative treatments and prevention strategies for those who suffer from addiction.

 

 

 

 

 

WV Education: The Failing Status Quo

After a long fight for eduction reform – teachers strike, SB 451 dies, unions declare victory, and West Virginia students are left in the dust. Unfortunately, the freedom for parents to choose the proper education program for their child met its end.

The union led, teacher strike sought to kill SB 451 has now officially reached its demise.

“Today the champions of the status quo won,” Senate President Carmichael said. “But that will not stop progress. They’re on the wrong side of history. Other states are moving forward. It’s a marker in the process of education reform…”

SB 451 included a pay raise for teachers, increased funding for public schools, and permitted the creation of charter schools in WV.

However, what are these “scary” charter schools and school choice legislation that has caused all of this fuss?

1. “Those evil charter schools!”

Public charter schools, are tuition-free schools that are open to all students. The majority of charter schools are “public”, leaving less than 15 percent operating as privately ran.

Unlike traditional public schools that have to function on a “one size fits all” approach to education, charter schools are independently operated. This allows teachers to have the autonomy to run their classroom based on the students’ needs.  Additionally, the charter school has the operational autonomy to pursue specific curriculum, staff, and budget. This system is fiscally responsible and holds the school accountable to the same (sometimes higher) standards as public schools.

In order to be successful, the charter school has to maintain either the same or higher standards as the surrounding schools to ensure parents will want to send their child [to said school]. This incentive functions via school choice. School choice and charter schools often operate hand in hand.

Currently in WV, the state has zero school choice programs or charter schools. However, 43 states and Washington D.C. allow charter schools.

If a student in WV is not satisfied at their current public school they cannot simply transfer. The parents/guardians must apply to the West Virginia Department of Eduction to be allowed to transfer. If the application is denied, the parents must file for an appeal. According to one transfer appeal rules, the appeal may be approved if:

“The parents of the student must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the State Superintendent that the proposed transfer is based upon sound educational grounds and is in the best interests of the student.”

(Basically, if it pleases the crown.)

The key difference is parents/guardians get to choose which eduction program best fits their child’s needs, as opposed to the BoE making the decision for them. Alternately, they can pay out of pocket for private or homeschool tuition while still being taxed for public education; WV certainly lacks education options.

2. Voucher and Funding

School choice programs function off of a voucher system. This funding system allows parents a set amount of public funding that is utilized for the student’s education. The parent/guardian has the choice to send their child, whether that’s public school, private, online, charter, or homeschool, and the money will follow the child.

Education Account Savings allows for the parent/guardian to withdraw their child from their current school and receive a deposit of public fund to choose the education system that works best for their child.

3. Successful Charter Schools

The Success Academy is a network of NY charter schools located in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Of the students enrolled, 76 percent are from low-income households, 93 percent are children of color, and 15 percent are students have special needs.

Among the 6,800 students tested, 98 percent were proficient in math and 91 percent proficient in ELA and outranked their peers statewide.

Source: https://www.successacademies.org/results/
Source: https://www.successacademies.org/results/

4. Debunking the Fear Mongering

There were a variety of claims used to orchestrate the WV teacher strike in response to education reform.

Source: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-k-12/news/2017/10/24/440833/the-progressive-case-for-charter-schools/

 

5. WV Eduction

The school choice system ensures the education programs will provide the up most quality because of free-market accountability. Unfortunately, due to the current system in WV, public schools to do not have to provide high quality education because there is basically no other choice – No competition, zero incentive.

West Virginia education ranks #49 nationally. The 49th ranking is based off of many elements: GED completion, higher education certifications, and K-12th grade test score standards.

To put data into perspective, this is the WV school scorecard based off of academic performance for 2017-2018.

Source: https://wveis.k12.wv.us/essa/dashboard.html

Due to the lack of a push for education reform and the control of the teacher unions, students are left with the failing status quo. West Virginians had an opportunity to exercise personal autonomy, fix a broken education system, and exercise the freedom to choose the best education program for their child – regardless of household income. Hopefully, this will beginning of West Virginians refusing to settle for mediocrity.

President Trump’s Border Wall and its Giant Price Tag

A truly free market economy should not only rely on the free movement of products and ideas, but people as well. According to the Libertarian Party website, those who align with the party values believe that peaceful individuals should be allowed to travel freely and the US should welcome immigrants who are seeking a better life.

The path to citizenship, as it stands, is complex, expensive, and lengthy – rather than reasonable and accessible.  The immigration system is in dire need of reform.

In regards to President Trump declaring a state of emergency to fulfill his campaign promises to “Build the Wall” and secure the southern border, let’s discuss the burden that will be placed on American taxpayers.

The total cost of the 1,933 mile long border wall has been estimated between $8 billion to $70 billion. Officials at The Office of Management and Budget have estimated that the government-funded infrastructure is around $24 million per mile. As mentioned in my previous blog post Green New “Debt” regarding fiscal concerns, the same question applies – where are we getting the money to pay for the wall? Our country is $22 trillion in debt.

In regards to land acquisition, 60% of the land the wall will utilize would be forcibly taken away from private property owners.

One thing is clear: There is no national emergency regarding immigration across our southern border,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark. “Trump may have a political emergency as he tries to keep his anti-immigration base happy… We benefit from letting outsiders in, not by spending exorbitant sums of money..”

Today, Rep. Dan Crenhaw tweeted a statement in support of the national emergency declaration and the border wall. However, Austin Petersen, libertarian political activist, criticizes the statement.

 

The Libertarian Party’s philosophies do not align with President Trump’s Republican base concerning the state of emergency, immigration, infrastructure, and seizing private property.

 

Green New “Debt”

Climate change and environmental conservation has been a topic of debate and public concern. Many lawmakers, organizations, and individuals have proposed various solutions and participated in educational outreach on the topic.

Through a political lens (it can be argued), those who lean left suggest more government programs and regulations to combat climate change. While those who lean right focus on advocating private companies and individuals to focus on the market, and policies that reduce pollution and waste, and maximize the use of resources.

In more recent news regarding climate change, US Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed the Green New Deal.

The goals of the Green New Deal includes transitioning completely away from fossil fuels, decreasing the use of carbon, agriculture, transportation, and infrastructure. Additionally, enacting a federal jobs-guarantee program that pays a “living wage”.

However, the Green New Deal has been heavily criticized by Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, and Republicans.

The resolution calls for an enormous expansion of government control and would cost the US $93 trillion dollars or $600K per household.

It is not an entire surprise that renovating every building in the US to achieve maximum energy efficiency has quite the price tag. Before knocking down every building, we should figure out where in our $22 trillion deficit we are funding this endeavor. Also, let’s consider the burden this will be put on taxpayers; Can the average American give up $600K to fund the Green New Deal?