Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Boris Johnson to be next British PM

Boris Johnson has won the Tory party election to become the United Kingdom’s next prime minister.

In his victory speech, Mr Johnson promised he would “deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn”.

Speaking at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London, he said: “We are going to energise the country. We are going to get Brexit done on 31 October and take advantage of all the opportunities it will bring with a new spirit of can do. [emphasis mine]

Johnson has made it very clear that he intends to bluntly honor the will of the voters and be out of the European Union as quickly as possible. Do not expect him to spend any time negotiating a fake exit deal that tries to avoid that exit, as did his predecessor Theresa May.


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  • Lee S

    I wouldn’t be so sure….. He has a record of flip-flopping on issues, ( he is recorded as being all in for the EU some years ago), When he was major of London he miss-managed a host of boondongles costing the city many millions of pounds, his plans are vague, and crucially he does not have the support of many of the rest of his parties members of government.

    I am acctualy pro-brexit… But I think that many of the UK’s politicians should be fired as “not fit for purpose” as they have had years to negotiate a smooth exit from the EU and have achieved virtually nothing.

    Boris is no doubt charismatic, and somewhat charming.. but I doubt his political skill to deliver the Brexit he has promised….

    It is also worth noting that he is the 3rd unelected leader of the UK in just over a decade. A great blow to the very concept of democracy in the country which historically has done the most to promote the concept.

    You guys over the pond would be bringing out the torches and pitchforks!

    I am glad I’m out of the mess, and happy in my comfortable, pinko commie socialist Sweden ;-)

  • Cotour

    Sweden is actually a Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy (You basically live under a neutered King), that is capitalist and who chooses to implement more Socialist policies. Policies that become more and more onerous to support.

    So you appear to be just pink enough to enjoy the Swedes and their generous Capitalist / “Socialist” system (Not technically Socialist), very practical.

    I hear the scenery and the ladies are beautiful. Enjoy.

  • Lee S

    @ Cotour,
    Your correct, the scenery, and especially the ladies are beautiful! ( And the guys tend to be big and bearded!)

    You are also correct about me being “just pink enough”…. I have no problems with high taxation, and a higher level of social care… It’s admittedly a swings and roundabouts game…. But I believe ( as I’ve said here many times ) that it is worth a few people abusing the system, if it benefits the majority.. especially providing ( what I consider to be ) the basic human rights of food, shelter and health care.

    After my visit last November over the pond to West Virginia I understand the American mindset much more… And I have nothing but admiration for the good and oh so proud people I met there..
    I also came to understand that it’s unlikely that we ( Europeans) will ever see eye to eye with you guys regarding taxation and state.
    All that said I have no problem with a free market, competition, and the ability for folk to get wealthy if they work hard and prosper. The two are not mutually exclusive.
    And as a final point…. Regarding the topic of this thread… Keep watching…. Boris is either a Trainwreck or a genius. I predict the former… But I predict the former….
    Have a great evening ( or morning, or afternoon… I’m not good on time zones :-) )

  • Cotour

    I know next to nothing about Boris Johnson, but he has set a very high and action packed bar for himself, sounds much like Trump.

    If he delivers he will be a hero. If not then he will be a zero.

    As to “basic human rights”, being born does not give you a right to food, or housing or healthcare. All good things to have no doubt, hopefully provided by your nurturing mother and father, but not a right. But then you knew I was going to say that.

    I think the word “Rights”, just like the many other words and terms that the Left among us are attempting to pry free of their definition moorings have been abused and misused for the obvious reasons, fraud.

    All Leftist minded manipulations must be founded in fraud.

    Of course with the best intentions for all concerned.

  • Lee S

    @ Coutour….
    You say
    “As to “basic human rights”, being born does not give you a right to food, or housing or healthcare. All good things to have no doubt, hopefully provided by your nurturing mother and father, but not a right.”

    ( I am honestly not asking to be provocative… I genuinely want to understand more of the US mindset… )

    What do you consider to be “basic human rights”?

  • Lee S

    Sorry “Cotour”…. Bloody autocorrect!

  • Cotour

    This is the United Nations declaration of Universal Human Rights.

    These are positive rights, they sound very nice, as long as you have the ability / power to make them so. They are broad and far reaching and idealistic, a high aspiration.

    I believe that when you use the word “Right” what you are in fact referring to is something negative, something that a government must never do to deprive a citizen of. The U.N. identifies a positive “Benefit”, a prize that you receive upon being born, and Americans identify negatives, something that government must never go near or breach.

    A very different approach. One is something that I own as per my being born, the other a prize that is owed to the lucky recipient to be paid or ensured “By others”.

    So in fact when you use the word “Right” it is from my point of view being used incorrectly. You live within a generous model surrounded by services and accommodations like healthcare and housing. Those are not rights, they are services and accommodations, they are things, not rights.

    So from my point of view you and the U.N. are using the terminology and the word incorrectly. Another example of the Left among us redefining words and terms to serve their political purposes. In other words, a fraud.

  • Cotour

    PS: What you and the U.N. propose is the Globalist model of the world, and that is antithetical to the existence of the United States and its Constitution. To my point, have you ever heard the the U.N’s Agenda 2030?

    Fool yourself not.

    Not antithetical to the concepts of respect for humanity and human dignity, but the implications that there are no borders and so there can be no real sovereignty for individual country’s.

    And this is what you get when you purposefully and with intent misuse a word. Fraud.

  • Edward

    Lee S,
    You wrote: “( I am honestly not asking to be provocative… I genuinely want to understand more of the US mindset… )

    What do you consider to be ‘basic human rights’?

    The U.S. Constitution has a good start on basic human rights, but the reality is that the Constitution is written with the U.S. mindset, not the usual mindset that most of the world has developed due to group dependence on government.

    From your comment, it looks like Cotour said it well: “All good things to have no doubt, hopefully provided by your nurturing mother and father, but not a right.

    The list of what you seem to consider “rights” is something that you seem to want provided to you from your parental substitute: the government. That is all well and good, but rights are not something that is provided to you, they are concepts that make you free.

    The lion roars freely in his pride, and the bird chirps happily in his flock, so why must someone grant the right of freedom of speech, religion, or association with others? These are some of the rights that we possess just for being born. But the bird has to build his own nest, and the lion has to hunt for his food, unless his parents do so for him. Their rights to food and housing are the rights to get or to create them, not that manna will come from heaven or someone else will provide the housing.

    Forcing someone else to provide you with what you consider to be a right is the equivalent of you enslaving them, abridging their right to keep for themselves what they have made through hard work.

    The U.S. mindset is similar to the story of the Little Red Hen:

    We are adult enough to care for ourselves. It is our own responsibility to care for ourselves. We ask not what our country can do for us but what we can do for ourselves and for our country– the protector of our rights.

    It is amazing how many times I have been in discussions trying to convince someone that rights do not come from others, such as governments. They come from nature, or from God, if you prefer. People are born with rights. If they came from others or from governments, then who gave those people the rights so that they could confer them upon us?

    The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the French, was not intended to be a beacon to draw the world to the United States, it was intended to be a beacon to show the rest of the world how to live in liberty. The main problem that the rest of the world has is that they believe that rights are granted by governments to their populations. The opposite is true, since humans invented government not to give them the rights they already had but to protect their rights from foreign and domestic enemies. As part of that protection, governments also peaceably resolve disputes. That these governments have ownership of your rights shows that you are not free but live in a tyranny that only grants you the rights that it allows you to have.

    I bring this up often, and since you, Lee S, don’t get it yet then I expect this time will be just as futile. The contrast between the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights is astonishing.

    The Bill of Rights presents our rights as naturally belonging to us and as rights that government may not violate. This is the important concept, so let me repeat it: human rights naturally belong to us and government may not violate them.

    Generally, these rights do not require anyone else’s labor to fulfill, except for a couple of items, such as the right to a jury of our peers during the process of peaceably resolving disputes.

    Notice the Ninth Amendment (Article IX). We have rights that are not enumerated. We have the right to grow or purchase food, to build or buy housing, and to purchase health care or insurance for this service.

    The European mindset is seeping into America, where the right to goods or services means that someone else is required to provide it, especially to provide it to those who did not earn the money that these goods or services cost. That kind of mindset is a one of greed, getting something unearned.

    The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights is completely the opposite.

    These are presented as rights presented by the United Nations, a governing body, to the populace. What is more, the U.N. may violate these rights at will. Notice Article 29, item 3: “These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” All the U.N. has to do is declare a right or the way you exercise it to be contrary to what these leaders want you to do.

    U.S.: unalienable natural rights that belong to the individual. U.N.: granted rights on loan from the governing body.

    U.S.: we keep what we make (until the Sixteenth Amendment made us more European and less free). Rest of the world: you keep only that which the government lets you keep.

    U.S.: We ask what we can do for our country. Rest of the world: you ask your country to do for you.

    No wonder the rest of the world needs so much assistance buying food, housing, and healthcare. They aren’t allowed to keep enough to afford these on their own. Thus, the rest of the world’s mindset is one of being children being babysat by their governments.

    Some U.S. states are becoming more European, taxing so much that more and more people are reduced to asking their state for free stuff. The cost is far more than just the added taxes, it is the loss of the very liberty that the statue is meant to spread to the rest of the world.

  • Cotour

    The Left turns everything upside down and calls it good. Then they tell you that your crazy.

    Words and terms that have meaning are to be all redefined to their specs.

    Like I said, the Left can only be about perpetrating a fraud in all they say and do.

  • Ian C.

    Robert, please excuse when I use this article’s comment area to ask for another one, but where did the recent “The Glaciers of Mars” article go? It was very interesting and I’m sad to not find it anymore. I hope you’re just editing and re-uploading it.

  • Steve

    Rights? Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government is instituted to guarantee Rights, not to give them. For what the government gives the government can take away. I pity you very confused and nieve Socialists. You may be comfortable, but you are not Free people. In the end, America will never follow. I can assure you.

  • Ian C. That article got published by mistake. It was only on the page for a few minutes. You were lucky to see it.

    It will likely get published by tomorrow or Thursday. I am waiting for one or two more answers to questions from the scientists involved.

  • Mark McSherry

    Just realized the article I posted may not meet the blog’s language standards. Please remove, Mr. Zimmerman, if you judge so. Thank you!

  • Mark McSherry: I appreciate your desire to keep to my language standards. Linking to an outside post is acceptable, though it is always better to warn people if the language or material there gets obscene. Your second comment clarifies this. Thank you.

  • m d mill

    Re: Lee S…human rights
    If food, shelter and health care are a basic human right (and what else do you really need), then someone else has a forced duty to provide it, and thus is a slave to the freeloader. This philosophy is not just inane but despicable.
    However, the Swedes were so disappointing with their experiments in socialism that they embraced free markets even in Public Education…the voucher educational system is alive and well in Sweden, so I understand.

  • m d mill

    If Boris does not ask for an extension of article 50, then it seems a true Brexit (no special deal-no modified EU membership) will occur on October 31. It seems all depends on whether he will keep his word.

  • Lee S

    I hear you all…. And I am apparently in a minority of one here….
    All of your explanations and remarks regarding my definition of “human rights” miss my point by a Swedish mile ( 10 kilometres if your wondering ;-) )

    The very nature of civilization is that the majority pull together for the good of the whole. If this were not the case we would still be living lone lives out in the savanna, and grandma would be dead because she’s surplus to requirements.

    Considering that many of you claim to be Christian, I think Jesus would have taken a dim view on that you don’t consider the basics to stay alive as a human right. And I pity the poor and the orphans of the world if your attitude ever becomes global.

    I’m sorry for commenting on a political matter…. I try not to, and this discussion proves why.

    Because I disagree with you guys doesn’t mean I’m attacking you… So why bite back so hard?

    I’ll enjoy living here in Sweden thank you very much…. With my leftist views and in my leftist society, and you guys over their continue doing what you do.

  • wayne

    Lee S.
    What is the rate of Sweden’s value-added tax?

  • Cotour

    Again, Lee S, your nomenclature / definition needs adjustment.

    In the context of this conversation and the difference between the American Constitution and the term “Rights” or “The Bill Of Rights” contained within it. And the choice of a society, Sweden for example, to provide as a function of their subjective interpretation of what they believe is essential for their citizens to basically have like food, housing, healthcare etc, etc are different.

    Rights in the context of the American Constitution are not THINGS OR SERVICES. A Right in America is a concept that exists pre the existence of our form of governance and protects one from the abuses of power of that government.

    And these Rights are not supplied by the government for you to be given. Upon your being born you have a natural possession of these rights and government, which is a function of you, must never, not without proscribed legal procedures, take them away or infringe upon them.

    Sweden gives you your rights, in America you already have your Rights and they have nothing to do with things or services.

    So lets agree, when the word “Rights” are used in connection with the American version where you are born with them and the government does not supply, and they are a function of you, the word will be capitalized.

    And when we are talking about “rights” as per the Socialist country’s of the world where the government supplies all of your rights, you are a function of it, it will be spelled using the lower case version.

  • Cotour

    Lee S:

    What do you think Jesus would think of this? (Did you really have to go there?)

    Social Welfare programs are a very large component of American society.

  • Edward

    Lee S,
    You wrote: “The very nature of civilization is that the majority pull together for the good of the whole. If this were not the case we would still be living lone lives out in the savanna, and grandma would be dead because she’s surplus to requirements.

    The very nature of civilization lived very well long before socialism started to steal from the middle class to give to the poor. It gets worse in every place where redistribution is tried. It looks fair (what is fair?), but it is not.

    Capitalism is the very definition of pulling together for the good of the whole. By definition, capitalism requires that two or more people pool their resources in order to do more than any one of them could alone. By definition, they must provide goods or services that are desired enough by the whole that they are traded for other goods and services (money is usually a substitute, as a kind of IOU, but someone else will kindly exchange that IOU for goods or services).

    Considering that many of you claim to be Christian, I think Jesus would have taken a dim view on that you don’t consider the basics to stay alive as a human right.

    I don’t know what we said to make you think we want everyone dead (if you can mischaracterize, I can, too). Steve even stated the most important concepts from the Declaration of Independence.

    I now believe that you have no intention of genuinely want[ing] to understand more of the US mindset. Rather than attempting to understand, you have deliberately mischaracterized things we have said. I think Jesus would have been proud of those who take care of themselves and other rather than place themselves deliberately as burdens on other people, behaving like the playful farm animals in the Little Red Hen fable.

    How is the theft of other people’s property or services “for the greater good?” As the Plymouth colonists learned in their very first year, those who do most of the productivity resent the able-bodied who do do little or none. That “greater good” attempt resulted in the death of half the colony. Another “greater good” attempt is resulting in chaos in Venezuela. Yet another “greater good” attempt caused the Soviet Union to collapse and its satellite countries in Eastern Europe to resent communism.

    And I pity the poor and the orphans of the world if your attitude ever becomes global.

    So in your mindset, only a government can care for the poor or orphans? That Christians have no desire or method to provide care to those who need a hand up or even a hand out? That you, Lee S, would not be charitable on your own? That you require a government to force you or to steal your hard-earned money in order to distribute it charitably as the government workers see fit, not as you see fit? That these government workers are more virtuous than you and thus better at choosing who to benefit and who to leave out? That you truly cannot understand why anyone, such as we Americans, would be charitable on our own, out of our own view of “the greater good?”

    You stated that you “genuinely want to understand more of the US mindset.” Once again, you have been uncharitable, and I think (a conservative word) that you have been disingenuous with that statement.

    Clearly, you have made no attempt to understand any mindset that is different from your own.

    Because I disagree with you guys doesn’t mean I’m attacking you… So why bite back so hard?

    As you requested, we sincerely wrote to you what the American mindset is. How is that biting hard?

    I’m sorry. I forgot. To a liberal mind, disagreement is the equivalent of hatred. We disagree with your own mindset, therefore you feel (a liberal word) that we hate you and are biting back as though you bit us first. Do you feel that you bit us? I am beginning to think that you intended to bite us with that remark, to make us feel bad for disagreeing with your chosen care and feeding system.

    I’ll enjoy living here in Sweden thank you very much…

    Of course you will enjoy your life there. You found a government that is willing to take other people’s money so that it can take care of you while you — as you have said in the past — enjoy sitting on your back porch, eating a pleasant meal, and sleeping a good night’s sleep. You rest well, because you know the government will provide for you. This is good for you, today but bad for your children, tomorrow. You don’t even have to worry — and you don’t mind — that someone (the Little Red Hen) is being robbed of her productivity in order to provide you with certain goods and services. Yours should be a good life, until the government runs out of other people’s money. That will happen as more and more people (the Little Red Hens of today) discover that it is hard work to do the providing and it is an enjoyable living to do the receiving.

    Just remember that when the government is in charge, all you and your children get is what the government is willing to provide to you. In America, We the People decide what we will produce for our fellow citizens, and they help us decide by buying what they want and leaving on the shelf what they don’t want. We produce more of what is most wanted and less of what is not. Our achievements are a virtue, and we profit by finding more efficient ways to be productive. For the “greater good,” we provide more for less cost.

    Free market capitalism is a system so efficient that has brought more people out of poverty than any system ever. Doesn’t that seem like a greater good to you?

    A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise man learn’s from other people’s mistakes. Socialism has been shown to be a mistake every time it has been tried.

    Socialism promotes the idea that it is okay to take from one man and give to another, that the measure of virtue is not what you achieve but what you do for others. Socialism misses the point that being productive for profit on your own terms is doing for others, and it does just what the others want, not what the government wants done. Socialism thinks that it knows what is best for everyone, but that results in one-size fits all. Just look at the mess that the one-size-fits-all Obamacare made out of the U.S. healthcare system.

    Socialism and, apparently, you promote the idea that people have a right to a living just because they are human. Not a right to earn a living but a right to a living, which someone else is required to provide for them. Socialism promotes the idea that it is the government that determines who is robbed and who is benefited rather than we individually choosing to be charitable and for what cause most needs our charity.

    Socialism promotes the idea that the needs of others is paramount and your needs are secondary. The philosophy is based upon how much you sacrifice to other people, not on what you achieve, but the government chooses who sacrifices and how much. The Plymouth colony quickly showed that this philosophy cannot work.

    The only reason some people like it is that they live an easy life on other people’s money. For a while.

    Other socialist experiments took decades to show the same lesson, but unlike Plymouth, these experiments started with other people’s money. It helped that no matter how much they took from their populations, they still could count on some people to have a work ethic, integrity, and a desire to keep producing, but eventually those virtues died out with the people who held them.

    Socialism is a system so inefficient that has brought more death and poverty, in the last century alone, than any other system ever. What kind of “greater good” is that?

    What has worked is voluntarily care by free market capitalists of those who are less fortunate . Not only are the poor cared for, but they have better opportunity and incentive to care for themselves. “If you give a man a fish, he will be hungry tomorrow. If you teach a man to fish, he will be richer forever.” Socialism passes out the fish (literally passes out the goods and services: to each according to his need). In America, we want everyone to learn to fish and be richer forever.

    It is hard work to earn your own living, but it works.

  • Edward

    There is more that shows the different mindset of Americans.

    There is a sense of freedom, here, that helps to drive us to do things. There is a reason why our five percent of the world’s population is responsible for much more than our fair share of economic activity, inventions, scientific papers, new medicines, blockbuster movies, and why our military often is asked to help with hot spots around the world.

    We tend to think along the lines that anything that isn’t prohibited is mandatory. Since we are not prohibited from trying new things, we tend to try new things. We tend to have such a work ethic that many Americans are willing to do the work that it takes to start new companies and to create new things. Our competitive spirit helps us to find new efficiencies, which helps to explains why Elon Musk came to the United States and started his own companies, including a rocket company with reusable rockets, greatly improving the competitive advantage over other launch companies.

    We Americans tend to think that wars are not fought for territorial gain, so when we were asked to help out, it is with the idea that we are there to free people, not to take their country from them. This may have started with the Mexican-American war, in which we didn’t keep Mexico after we kicked them pretty hard.

    There is some kind of can-do spirit that causes us to create a transcontinental railroad that was linearly longer than the total track length of any railroad in existence at the time, and we learned how to safely run trains on such a route. This same can-do spirit helped us to overcome the challenges of building the Panama Canal when the French were unable to do so. We also overcame all the challenges of getting to the Moon at a time when the Soviets started in the lead but were unable to make it happen for themselves. This is yet another mindset of Americans.

    For the American bicentennial, the French had a wine taste-off between French wines and California wines. The reason that the Californians won is that the French, whose wines were for decades, if not centuries, hands-down the best, the French protected their best-wines reputation by keeping their processes the same — it was the law, they were not free to change. The Californians were free to try improvements, and due to the American mindset many did in very successful ways.

    Trains, planes, automobiles, canals, rockets, wines are just some of the areas where the American mindset has resulted in improvements to everyone’s lives.

    Some call this mindset American Exceptionalism, which is just another way of saying that we take advantage of our freedom to do things differently. It isn’t that the American people are exceptional or that we are better than the rest of the world, because we come from the rest of the world; we are the rest of the world. It is because of the freedom that we have that gives us the spirit and mindset that others lack.

    This is why it is important for the Statue of Liberty to help spread liberty to the rest of the world rather than for the rest of the world to come here. If liberty and the mindset of the American people can spread to the rest of the world, then even more people will have the same spirit, the same drive to improve, and the same liberty to do it. The whole world would be a much better place if it had the same kind of economic growth, innovative spirit, and creativity as Americans have.

    The U.S. understands that government has only three roles — it is written into the Constitution’s Preamble — and babysitting a passivized populace is not one of them. Government protects its citizens’ rights from all enemies, foreign and domestic; peaceably resolves disputes; and stays out of its people’s way. Governments were not invented to tell us how to live our lives, they were invented to protect our choices of how to live our lives.

    Lee S,
    You think that it is a right to have others provide food, housing, and healthcare for you, but what are the rights of those who do the providing? For you to have the right to other people’s labor, you must necessarily reduce the rights of those people to keep the fruits of their labor. You have violated their rights in order for you to have yours.

    Your government increases its power over you at the cost of your freedom. They tax away much of your freedom, but now that you have less to spend as you choose, you depend upon your government for much of your sustenance. For some reason that the rest of us do not understand, you like it that way. A government that usurps power beyond its three roles is an evil government, a tyranny.

    Being on your own is just too scary for you. Rather than save for a rainy day, you let the government care for you even when it is sunny. What you think of as a safety net for emergencies is in reality a hammock that you rest in. You willingly gave your government this power, so that you can go back to feeling the same security that you felt in your childhood. You depended upon your parents to keep you safe, now you depend upon your government to do so. The difference is that your parents cared about you personally; your government doesn’t even know who you are or care.

    You gave up your liberty for security. As usual, you do not have the security that you think you do, because as soon as your government runs out of money, Sweden will begin to look like Venezuela. You will not have your rights, the government will not be able to afford to give you what you think are your rights (food, housing, and healthcare), and that means that your high-cost security will be gone. You will have no safety net and no hammock. This is what happens every time and everywhere socialism is tried.

    You gave them your power, your rights, and your adulthood. These are things that socialism asked you to sacrifice, and you agreed to sacrifice them.

    All that your evil government needs in order to win is the consent of good people, like you.

    You are too innocent to grasp the depths of the evil of socialism, including the evil of your own socialist government. It has seduced you, and now you are dependent upon it. The leaders in your government think you need to be controlled and that is what they are doing to you. They don’t respect you. They think you can’t live on your own, that you need them, and they like it that way.

    It seems nicer to rest in that hammock, but it is selfish, and you are actually better off as a free man, able to make your own choices and to try new things in order to improve your own and everyone else’s lives. We have been doing it here in America for more than a quarter millennium, bringing great benefits not only to ourselves but to the world. It’s the American mindset. It’s the American Exceptionalism. It’s the American dream. It’s the American way.

  • Edward

    Thank you.

    However, I seriously doubt that Lee S or others like him are able to see the tenuous position that they are in. The early part of a Ponzi scheme would be a good analogy (called a bubble scheme until a century ago when Charles Ponzi pulled a “Madoff” but in an international postage stamp scam).

    At first, it looks like a great deal, perhaps even too good to be true. Sweden seems to be in that condition, right now. Early on, everyone favored Mr. Ponzi and chastised those who invested the old way. The benefits seemed endless, and the buy in was cheap. Nothing could go wrong. (I am reminded of Japan in the 1980s, when their stock market’s Price to Earnings ratio was very high, and everyone said that Japan was different, that the P/E didn’t count there; then reality hit, the bubble burst, and Japan has yet to recover.) (I am reminded of the internet in the 1990s, when, internet companies were selling stock at ever increasing prices without showing a profit, and everyone said that the internet was different, that making a profit didn’t matter there; then reality hit, the bubble burst, and only the internet companies that were based most upon making a profit remained — even had started making a profit by the time of the burst.) (Remember bitcoin? Wasn’t it at $15,000 a year and a half ago? People were saying, “buy now, while it is still low.” Today it is 2/3 of that. I’m sticking with U.S. currency.)

    As with every Ponzi scheme, at some point the socialist bubble bursts, and it is revealed that there is nothing left to distribute.

    What is seen in early socialist countries as in early Ponzi schemes is that the benefits are tangible and the cost is low; no other investment is nearly as good — certainly not free market capitalism, which benefits those with talent, skills, a work ethic, and other virtues. When some get more benefits, it seems unfair (what is fair?).

    When some earn more than others, and especially when they earn far more than others, it seems especially unfair. Why should the most productive own mansions on large properties with servants and multiple expensive cars when the jobless person on welfare and EBT cards eats at MacDonald’s, vacations at Disneyland, and plays on his X-Box all the rest of the time?

    What is not seen is that the socialist mechanism is not based upon encouraging productivity but rewards neediness. “From each according to his ability” means that what is produced belongs to the state, not the producer. So why work hard? “To each according to his need” means that those who appear more needy are rewarded with more of what little has been produced. So why not be the most needy? Somehow, the productive people in the society do not appear needy and the unproductive appear very needy, so they get more benefits. Why does that seem any more fair than free market capitalism? As an aside, the leaders are also deemed to be among those deserving of more, even though their product consists only of determining who is most deserving of the fruits of other people’s labor, the productive people’s labor. Why is that fair at all?

    When Obama took the presidency, Hugo Chavez was still a hero to some people, and Venezuela still looked like socialism worked better than that evil capitalism that kept the ownership of the oil out of the hands of the leadership — er — the people. Chavez even gave Obama a book that lament’s Latin America’s dependence on the U.S., “The Open Veins of Latin America.” Sometime during Obama’s presidency the bubble burst, and now the people cannot find enough food; the zoo was stripped of its animals for food, and Venezuela’s current president has recommended that families raise their own rabbits for food.

    A couple of decades ago, Micheal Moore made a movie showing how wonderful Cuba’s medical system was. A couple of years later, that same system was not good enough to treat Fidel Castro’s stroke. He had to fly across an ocean to find a good enough medical system. Meanwhile, the rest of Cuba’s populace has to suffer through Cuba’s inferior medical system. I’m not sure that Cuba’s socialist society ever got those “good” years of the early Ponzi scheme. They were dependent upon the Soviet Union from the beginning.

    The Soviet Union also did not seem to have those “good” years of the early Ponzi scheme. They packed multiple families into the rooms of the mansions that once belonged to the formerly rich. If the lesson was supposed to be how good the rich had had it, it was lost on those families.

    Someone once wrote that, to paraphrase, in 1972 the Soviet Union was still eking out a living, but by 1990 it was an insolvent system; somewhere in between it failed (I would have used the word died) but did not yet realize it. This zombie Soviet Union finally collapsed when it did not have enough left of its railway system to move both their armaments from its satellite Eastern Block countries, per a treaty, and move the food from the farms to the cities. The leadership chose the arms over the food.

    Seriously. They were that stupid. If it hadn’t happened, if it were a work of fiction, I would not have believed it. It actually happened, I saw it, and I still have a hard time believing it.

    As someone said (Jerry Pournelle?), “No country is more than three meals from a revolution,” and that is what happened to the Soviet Union. The decision to favor the arms over the food was the trigger to a revolution that was probably inevitable, due to several other reasons. As I recall, Robert, you mention at least one of these other reasons in your book, “Leaving Earth.”

    Not coincidentally, I watched the three “Atlas Shrugged” movies this past week, thinking that I would find some good ideas for this thread (some of yesterday’s comments were inspired by the third movie). Interestingly, in the third movie,

    [*** SPOILER ALERT! ***]

    not only does America come to look a lot like Venezuela, but the leadership does the same thing as the Soviet Union did and chose to keep trains in reserve for moving troops, fearing a revolution, rather than use the trains to move food from Minnesota. If it hadn’t happened in real life, it would have been unbelievable in the movie.


    I hate to report that the United States is beginning to look like some of these socialist countries in their early days. Socialist concepts are accumulating within public policies; as the national debt grows, we are spending other people’s money (our children’s money); and more and more people in the U.S. are decrying free market capitalism. The worst part is also the ironic part: it is the people whose money that we are spending who are the most vocal against capitalism and in favor of socialism.

    Unless something changes and we go back to free market capitalism, balanced budgets, and paid-down debt,

    [*** SPOILER ALERT! ***]

    I do not see this ending well.

  • Edward

    Lee S,
    Here’s another part of the American mindset: frontiers.

    Exploring and expansion into frontiers is a longstanding American tradition, and it is something that we like to do. This could be physical (e. g. territory) or knowledge (e.g. science, technology, etc.). It is why we try new things. Unlike Europe, we have very few things around us that are older than a few decades, which means that much of our lives revolve around what is new. We may have reached the limit of America’s physical frontier, but we still have frontiers to explore and build up.

    Our mindset is not one of just living in this country, it is one of having helped to build this country. It is the reason why we favor immigrants who come to help build over those who come to break laws and take advantage of our generosity. It is one of the reasons why Obama’s declaration that “You didn’t build that” was so soundly rejected; we knew instantly that he was wrong, because we are all the makers of “that.” Trenton, New Jersey has a slogan: “Trenton Makes, The World Takes.” Make magazine puts on annual Maker Faires, one on each coast. We are proud makers.

    We love to explore and make the best of what we find.

    This is why the rights we treasure most are not the rights to require others to provide goods or services but the rights to do things, including the right to produce those goods and services. They include the freedom from being forced into doing things and the freedom to perform to the best of our abilities. The Army had an advertisement slogan, “Be all you can be.” This was very attractive to Americans.

    For a similar reason, we tend to thrive on challenge. In addition to the major achievements that I mentioned in my comment on July 26, above, we challenge ourselves quite often. Not being addressed by NASA was the making of access to space similar to airline operations, so we rose to the occasion by making the X-Prize challenge and then met it. SpaceX makes its own challenges and works to meet them: a reusable first stage and now a spaceship to reach and explore Mars. Blue Origin also pioneered reusable booster rockets and now wants to pioneer manned lunar exploration. These are technological and physical frontiers.

  • wayne

    Good stuff, ma’ man!
    (incidentally, I had one g-father who was a civil-engineer & the other was a tool & die maker. They both knew all about ‘building that.’)

    Lee S.
    In Sweden, how much for 1) pack of cigarettes, 2) gallon of milk, 3) loaf of bread,
    4) gallon of gasoline?
    (You can use metric, I’ll convert it myself.)

    Pivoting humorously—

    The WHO
    “Boris the Spider”

  • Edward

    Lee S,
    Even though this thread has moved to the second page, I hope you are still reading it and will answer one question:

    Why would you live in a society with democratic elections only to depend upon those you elect to make the important decisions for you?

    You want to have control over your politicians, but then you give them control over your lifestyle and your life. It seems to me that you should also want to retain control over your own lifestyle, and that you should be allowed to have your own lifestyle while your neighbor can have his own. A couple of days ago, I thought I didn’t want to know what your mindset it, but today it looks like I do, after all.

    By supplying you with what you perceive to be your basic human rights of food, shelter, and healthcare, you give up to the government your right to make the decisions of what kind of food, shelter, and healthcare are available to you. Your vote with your ballot supersedes your vote with your dollar (or should I say krona?), and the government makes these decisions for you.

    I have discovered that with American healthcare, my favored type of insurance policy has been deemed to be “junk insurance,” and — ironically — was replaced by the government with almost the exact same coverage, except it costs twice as much up front and the deductible is four times as much as my previous insurance policy. This is the same “junk” but at greater cost. At the time, many Americans were cheering this fiasco, but they didn’t realize yet that it was a fiasco.

    We Americans voted poorly, in 2008 (the most important election of our lifetimes) and ended up with such poor healthcare that the Democratic presidential nominee candidates are currently debating how to replace this failed, fouled-up plan.

    I preferred it when the insurance companies were allowed to offer a variety of plans that suited different people, families, and businesses.

    Oh, and the country now considers us all to be hermaphrodites.

  • Edward

    Lee S,
    Overnight I clarified my question:
    How can you have the right to self government if you do not trust yourself to be self reliant?

    A government of people who do not believe that they can count on themselves to provide what you call basic rights is a government that is unlikely to trust them to make the vital decisions as to who should run the government. Isn’t this why the Soviet Union had elections but only one candidate on the ballot?

    Governments are all too eager to relieve you of your rights to be free to act on your own and provide for yourself, and socialist governments are no exception. They convince you that the rights that you have are only the rights that they bestow upon you and that these are the rights to have the things, not the freedoms, that the government provides to you.

  • m d mill

    If I were to read all of Edwards voluminous comments above almost certainly I would completely agree…But I still think it is easier, quicker, and more direct to simply restate:
    “If food, shelter and health care are a basic human right (and what else do you really need), then someone else has a forced duty to provide it, and thus is a slave to the freeloader. This philosophy is not just inane but despicable”

  • Edward

    m d mill,
    Thank you for caring for this topic and following through.

    Lee S had said “I genuinely want to understand more of the US mindset,” which cannot be stated quickly. It took de Tocqueville two volumes.

    Your summary mostly covers the abolitionist mindset, abolitionism having started in the American colonies in the 18th century. I think that he should know even more, because there is so much more to liberty than just not being forced to do another man’s work.

  • wayne

    Edward / m d mill
    good stuff, all around.

    Lee S.
    –rephrasing m d mill’s point, one does not have a right to a good or service, for the reason someone else must be enslaved to provide that good or service. (tangentially– taxation is just slavery, with extra steps. Buts that’s a topic for another thread.)
    –unfortunately, our (Federal) government started going off the rails about 100+/- years ago with our so-called progressive-era. It took an Amendment to our Constitution to impose income-tax, and a fundamental division of power firewall was breached with the direct-election of US (federal) senators, which also took a Constitutional Amendment.
    Once the Federal government started vacuuming up income-tax, all bets were off. During our Great Depression, FDRoosevelt further dragged us to the far left and fully embedded our Federal government into realms once the exclusive domain of Local & State governments.
    –mainly what our federal government does currently; income transfer’s. (and as someone who has been pulling the wagon for a long time….I’m sick of it myself.)

  • Edward

    wayne wrote: “as someone who has been pulling the wagon for a long time….I’m sick of it myself.

    What good imagery. It was OK when we all were pulling the wagon holding those who were unable to care for themselves. It was another thing when the progressives started loading it up with those who chose not to care for themselves; then it got pretty heavy. Now they want to load it up with everyone who breaks into our country, giving them a free ride from our labor. Not only is the wagon getting impossible to pull, the overloaded wagon may break.

    If we compare the amount that we have spent on military expenses over the past half century to the amount that we have spent on welfare-type services (the “War on Poverty”), we find that the result has been that we are the go-to country for the defense of the world, we have more impoverished now than half a century ago, we are the go-to country for freeloaders, we have spent far more on this welfare stuff than on military stuff, and that our entire national debt is less than it cost for the past quarter century alone of the “War on Poverty.”

    Apparently, that is yet another part of our mindset. We spend ourselves into oblivion attempting to end poverty.

    Wherever it is that the progressives have us pulling this dammed heavy wagon, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go there, much less take this wagon with us.

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