American Vs. French Revolutions

June 12, 2009

[First published April 10, 2005] I got carried away in writing this, and ended up with five pages single spaced, much too long for a blog. So, for the full essay, and that’s what it is, go here. This blog is a brief version.

There have been two revolutions, the American and French, and they expressed not only to opposing view of government, but they represent the struggle between Freedom and Socialism today.

The Constitution that eventually emerged from the American Revolution saw man as pursuing different, and often selfish, interests. The maximum satisfaction of all these interests requires that no one interest dominates. And what prevents such domination is a balance among opposing interests. This was a conception of Freedom as the outcome of this balancing of interests, each sustained by natural rights.

The Constitution thus embodied three principles. First, all men have certain inalienable Rights standing above and limiting government. Second, all governments carry within themselves the seeds of tyranny, of the absolute State, which can be limited only by a system of checks and balances. And third, since Freedom must reign, and no man working in his own interests can be unjust against himself, the government must be limited to defining and administering the common law. Government is to be an arbiter between interests, to serve a janitorial role of defending and maintaining the commonwealth. All else is the preserve of Freedom.

A conception of Freedom as an outcome of contending interests, each guaranteed inalienable Rights, and the three principles of Rights, checks and balances, and limited government, constituted the American Revolution — a revolution that established and preserved Freedom down to modern times.

The French Revolution of 1789 was also a revolt against the power of a monarch and aristocracy. Its motto was Liberty, Equality, Fraternity; its end was Social Justice; its means were to establish the sovereignty of the people, and to eliminate social and political inequalities.

Unlike the American Revolution, whose philosophical ancestors were the English liberals, the French Revolution was fundamentally fathered by the French radical philosophers, especially Jean Jacques Rousseau, and inherited the faith in reason engendered by The Enlightenment. René Descartes’ trust in geometric like reasoning and Rousseau’s belief in the common will and sovereignty of the people framed the conception guiding the French Revolution. This conception is mechanical. Government is a machine, fueled by coercive power, and driven by reason; and its destination is Social Justice. Government is thus a tool to reach a future goal ‑‑ improving man. Those in charge of the State would therefore use reason to apply government to further and create Social Justice.

This conception is clearly different from that of the American revolutionaries. For the Americans, interests were the guiding force; for the French, reason. For the Americans, Freedom was to be preserved against the State; for the French, the State was used by reason to achieve Social Justice. For the Americans, individual rights were essential to protect interests; for the French, the collective, the sovereignty of the people, the general will stood above rights. Finally, for the Americans, no one interest could be entrusted with the State ‑- all interests had to be limited and balanced by their opposition; for the French, the State was a tool that should have no limit so long as Social Justice was pursued according to the common will.

The first principle is that the benefits to the Community outweigh individual rights. This is what the common will or sovereignty of the people means ‑‑ that individuals are members of a Community which takes precedence over the individual, and that the Community has a will to be gratified, a justice to be sought, which no individual should bar.

The second principle is that the State, and thus government as its agent, can be beneficent instruments of progress, a tool to be used to pursue the common will, the Community’s betterment. Therefore, government should not be checked and balanced. Its powers should not be divided, for then the State is severely restrained. The Application of Reason to further Social Justice is crippled. Unlike the Americans, the French revolutionaries did not fear the State as such, but only the State in the service of the wrong class and bad ends.

And this led to the third principle of the French Revolution ‑- unlimited government. As the State’s implement of Reason working on behalf of the Community, government should not be limited. If necessary to pursue Social Justice, government should centralize, regulate, and control.

So, the American and French Revolutions launched an historic struggle between two conceptions and two sets of principles. One fosters Freedom and peace; the other furthers a statism which mankind has seldom, if ever, before known, a disease that not only blighted half the world, but even with the defeat of its most monstrous version, communism (Marxism), it still infests European politics and the American liberals, and especially, the socialist left.

The opposition between these principles remains the major schism today, the major historic battlefront. We are still heirs to the American Revolution, and the left and socialist are to the French. This is a struggle we can win. It all depends on democratic peoples understanding that the American Revolution is dying from a possibly malignant cancer – the statism of the neo-French revolutionaries at home and abroad – and in one form or another, domestic or foreign, it threatens us. The people’s common sense and their desire for freedom will in the end win out, if they comprehend the war being waged against them. It is the freedomist’s mission to assure this understanding


Link of Note

\”The” http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/french/french.html”>”The French Revolution”

By Rich Geib
Geib says

If the French revolution was the end of monarchy and aristocratic privilege and the emergence of the common man and democratic rights, it was also the beginnings of modern totalitarian government and large-scale executions of “enemies of the People” by impersonal government entities (Robespierre’s “Committee of Public Safety”). This legacy would not reach its fullest bloom until the tragic arrival of the German Nazis and Soviet and Chinese communists of the 20th century.

In fact, Rousseau has been called the precursor of the modern pseudo-democrats such as Stalin . . . Rousseau has been called the precursor of the modern pseudo-democrats such as Stalin and Hitler and the “people’s democracies.” His call for the “sovereign” to force men to be free if necessary in the interests of the “General Will” harks back to the Lycurgus of Sparta instead of to the pluralism of Athens; the legacy of Rousseau is Robespierre and the radical Jacobins of the Terror who followed and worshipped him passionately.

Freedom's Website Never Again Series


Our Own Reeducation Camps

April 17, 2009

[First published December 22, 2005] When North Vietnam took over the South in 1974, they introduced re-education camps. Their purpose was to brainwash those who had lived under capitalism and an anti-communist government. First, camp leaders daily drilled into prisoners’ minds the evil of greedy, exploitive capitalism and the selfishness and self-centeredness of freedom. This was followed by drilling, drilling, and more drilling into prisoners’ cleansed minds the glories of the people’s democracy, and its selflessness, compassion, and real freedom. The prisoners had two choices: accept this or else.

Well, you may not have realized it, but we have our own re-education camps in the United States. Young people are practically forced into the camps if they want to be professionals in some field or get a good job and income. Once in the camps, these youths are required to submit to re-education sessions (called classes) led by those well selected for this purpose. As they move towards getting a signed release from the camps in four or more years, they are successively brainwashed of the mental pollution instilled by parents, and their capitalist, racist, homophobic, bigoted Christian, right wing conservative environment. And year-by-year they are re-educated into the left’s view of the world — socialism, secularism, moral relativism, rabid environmentalism, fanatical feminism, anti-anti-communism, pro-homosexuality, and finally, but not least, fervent anti-Americanism.

Before they get their release from these camps, students must undergo constant testing to assure their session leaders that their minds have been washed, dried, and ironed with the approved mental creases and folds. The students have two choices: accept this or else.

Such is the higher education system in the U.S.

What, I exaggerate? Tell that to the young conservative Democrat, Republican, or libertarian who has gone through four years in almost any university or college to see how well this re-education analogy holds true.

For those who attended college before the 60′s flower children, “anti-war”, and pro-Vietcong demonstrators took over higher education as faculty and administrators, and need additional evidence, this can be easily found on the Internet. Just some recent references: “Intellectual diversity hoax”, “What keeps conservatives out of academia?”, “College chiefs favored Kerry 2-to-1, poll finds”, “Jihad on Campus”. And here is one of a long line of formal studies, “College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot, Study Finds” When reading such reports, keep in mind that academic departments include mathematics, physics, chemistry, and those in the business and engineering schools. These are where the small percentage of conservatives come from. The social sciences and humanities departments, however, have virtually no conservatives or libertarians.

No informed reader can deny that the University now runs to the left; that the left owns and controls it. Why is this? It is because universities are inverted pyramids of power, quite unlike organizations outside this enclave. It is the faculty that decide the essential questions — who will be hired and fired, what courses will be taught, what grades will be given students, and what their recommendations will be. Moreover, faculty decide what students will be awarded teaching and research assistantships, and higher degrees. So as the faculty moved left, so did the university.

And the reason for this is that once leftists gradually got control over university departments, such as sociology, political science, anthropology, English, and history, they always could find a reason not to hire someone not loyal to their cause: he or she is “politically insensitive,” their research is “incompetent,” their scholarship is “lacking,” they would not “fit into our program,” or they are “anti-diversity.” Moreover, students who try to keep an open mind are soon taught to keep their ideas and questions to themselves. Leftist teachers and advisors approve and shape their term papers, MA thesis, and Ph.D. dissertation. Anyway, few lowly students have the ego to disagree with a full professor who may be well known and often cited in his field.

What to do? Any attempt to work inside these re-education camps is doomed to failure. Since administrators are generally drawn from the faculty, and therefore are often as leftist as the faculty, the left organize and control these camps. They will bloc, weaken, delay, and redefine any attempt to reduce their power. It must be done from the outside, by boards of regents, legislatures, alumni, and grant givers. I suggest that a first step is to abolish tenure, which assures the left its positions and stability, and in its place have a five-year contract system, with renewal.

Secondly, I subscribe to the Academic bill of rights, and believe it should be legislated for those camps receiving state funds, and established as a governing charter by boards of regents for private camps.

Third, these bodies should also establish an outside appeal system for faculty and students who believe they have been subject to ideological bias.

Finally, if students and the few non-liberal-left faculty there are would expose what is going on in their departments and courses, legislatures and board of regents would be encouraged to act. It is the great ignorance of the public as to how their tax or tuition dollars are being spent that enables these re-education camps to exist as they are.

And how will the leftist faculty attack all this? They will scream that this is “a direct right wing attack on academic freedom.” Yes, freedom for the left to run their re-education camps. Can’t give the same freedom to those “stupid, ignorant, immoral, fascist, and just plain wrong,” conservatives, you know.


On Freedom

March 27, 2009

[First published June 18, 2005]
From Colleaque:

One of the mottos I have all my students memorize and understand is “RTM — Regime Type Matters.” I use your Power Kills to make sure they understand this both empirically and theoretically, as well as making sure they see the practical implications “since Power kills, if you want non-violence, promote democracy”).

I also use the famous satellite photo of the Korean peninsula at night: the North is almost completely dark, while the South is lit up like Times Square.
I ask why? Since the people are the same, the resources pretty much the same, the weather almost the same, the culture the same, what is the explanatory variable? Obviously politics! This makes “RTM” vividy clear to them.

Yesterday (Friday) Rush was asked what made America so different, and his answer is a classic statement of the importance or regime type — freedom is the answer. Transcript below….

….
Rush:

Who’s next? Anchorage, Alaska, this is Adam. Hello, sir.

CALLER:

Hey, Rush, mega dittos here from the great state of Alaska. You actually helped make my college experience bearable. My question is, democracy and freedom work so well here in America because we fought for it, we died for it, our blood was shed. How can we be assured that the Iraqis will have that same appreciation?

RUSH:

We can’t be sure. There is a lot of faith here and I will tell you why I am willing to try it. I ask this question of people constantly. You thanked me for getting you through the college experience, so you’re relatively young. I don’t know how much you’ve traveled internationally, but if you haven’t, you someday will, and when you travel the world, you will see a stark difference in almost every aspect of the human condition, when compared to this country. Even if you go to civilized parts of the world, western Europe, Japan, you will see a marked difference in the quality of life. And for the moment here I’m not talking about political circumstances. I’m just talking about economic. You will see civilizations that have been around far longer than we have who are not nearly as advanced. You will see civilizations and cultures that are on the road to where we are, but they’re not really near it, and they have been at it for thousands of years longer than we have. And you’ll ask yourself, “Why? Why is this?” The first thing you’ll do is say, “What is it about the United States geographically, what is it about the United States that enables us to be the leader of the world?” And you’ll start looking at things like, “Well, is it because of our agriculture? Is it because of our natural resources? Is it because of the cooperation so many people on one continent have because we are part of the United States, so Arkansans freely trade with Missourians, who freely trade with Californians, we’re all Americans, is it that?”

And then you’ll say, “Well, wait. It can’t all be that because we don’t have nearly enough oil to supply our own needs, we have to get that elsewhere from around the world.” Then you’ll say, “It can’t be that because when I go to the store I see all kinds of products made in China and Japan and Mexico. So what is it,” you’ll ask yourself, “what is it about us?” And then you’ll ask yourself, “Are we different human beings? Is there something about us as human beings that makes us different than, say, human beings in Africa or Asia or Europe?”

And then you’ll have to conclude, no, because a human being is a human being, regardless what a human being looks like, regardless what a human being’s skin color is or where a human being is born, we’re all human beings. We’re no better than any other group of human beings, collectively or individually anywhere else on the planet. So why are we so far advanced in every which way, politically as well? Let’s bring the political system in – and you will conclude, Adam, as I have, after many experiences and asking yourself these questions, that there’s one thing that sets us apart from all these other people, and that is freedom. We as human beings here are allowed, because of the freedom we have compared to other human beings on the planet, to maximize our potential as human beings, our creativity, our industriousness, our talents.

Now, we have shackles on ourselves here, we’ve got restrictions and regulations, but it’s nothing compared to people that live in totalitarian regimes run by dictators and thugs and so forth. It is therefore the conclusion, the theory is that guides our policy, President Bush’s policy, I’m sure, is that a human being has a natural yearning as a result of creation to be free and to be the best he can be. But society, culture after culture, generation after generation, when you tamp that down, step on it, you suppress it for generation after generation after generation. Now in Iraq, it’s being put to the test. And I think it’s succeeding. I think the Iraqis themselves are getting along much faster than we did in getting a Constitution. I wouldn’t say this is a lost cause, just the exact opposite. I think what’s going on over there is a sight to behold and it’s a model for the rest of that region.

BAR.RED.BLACK.GIF Freedom's Website


The Courts Take Over

March 6, 2009

[First published May 5, 2005] I usually keep my focus on international events, since what is stake surpasses almost any concern with domestic matters, given that a coup against the American government, or a rise into political power of a fascist or communist, or their ilk, is most improbable. However, some unconstitutional domestic trends that already weigh heavily on present American freedoms and especially what they portend for the future must be addressed.

One of these is the creeping, nonviolent coup d’etat against the American balance of power and check and balances system that has been underway for over fifty years. This is the gradual assumption of unchecked, unbalanced legislative power by the judiciary. The judiciary collectively and increasingly has taken over legislative power—they throw out laws they don’t like; make law state and federal legislatures would oppose, and that is widely unpopular among the people; and defend unconstitutional laws that they like.

Some examples:

The massacre of free speech: The Supreme Court approving the McCain-Feingold in the McConnell v. Federal Election Commission case.

Giving captured foreign terrorists access to American courts: The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Rasul v. Bush and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld cases.

Trumped citizenship—noncitizens have a right to government jobs: The Supreme Court in the Hampton v Mow Sun Wong cases

And so on for giving illegal aliens rights that make them virtual citizens, intervening in elections to decide the outcome, determining who can marry whom, overturning the results of referendums (such for legislative term limits), defining how much of what can be bought and sold and where, breaking up companies because they are successful, deciding who can live and die when on life-support, and approving the most blatant racism and sexism against white male Anglo-Saxons and Asians (as in college admissions), etc.

Is it no wonder that the appointment of judges is now a most important partisan matter, as can well be seen in the Senate battle between Democrats and Republicans over President Bush’s nominees. Who wins will decide how judges will rule, often unconstitutionally, on the most important domestic and political issues of the day. The issues the courts now determine range from marriage, through the death penalty and abortion, to prisoners of war and how a war is waged, leaving aside the itty-bitty cases such as how much fat they will allow in my McDonald’s hamburger.

And yet, these federal court judges, deciding the most major issues for the whole nation, superceding even state courts and constitutions, are only a tiny, unelected group—nine (9!) on the Supreme Court—each with this lifetime, incredible power. The only way to remove them is by impeachment, a clumsy and difficult process, possibly achievable only when a judge rapes a teenager in his courtroom at noon on a weekday.

I suggest three ways of dealing with this growing non-democratic judiciarchy, which are constitutional. One is to restrict what issues the courts can decide to strictly constitutional matters. Second, is to restrict the terms of judges to six years (what I recommend for university faculty plus one-year to correspond to the election cycle), and to make them run for election every six years. I trust the people more than I do the appointment process, which is so easily governed by special interests and political considerations that are hidden, and not transparent, as they have to be in political campaigns.


Link of Note

Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America By Mark Levine

I read the book and highly recommend it as an informative eye opener. The link takes you to Amazon.com and the huge number of reviews of the book by readers. The following is an editorial review by John Moe for Amazon.com (I could not find a review by a constitutional lawyer or professor of law):

Conservative talk radio host, lawyer, and frequent National Review contributor Mark R. Levin comes out firing against the United States Supreme Court in Men in Black, accusing the institution of corrupting the ideals of America’s founding fathers. The court, in Levin’s estimation, pursues an ideology-based activist agenda that oversteps its authority within the government. Levin examines several decisions in the court’s history to illustrate his point, beginning with the landmark Marbury v. Madison case, wherein the court granted itself the power to declare acts of the other branches of government unconstitutional. He devotes later chapters to other key cases culminating in modern issues such as same-sex marriage and the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.

Like effective attorneys do, Levin packs in copious research material and delivers his points with tremendous vigor, excoriating the justices for instances where he feels strict constitutional constructivism gave way to biased interpretation. But Levin’s definition of “activism” seems inconsistent. In the case of McCain-Feingold, the court declined to rule on a bill already passed by congress and signed by the president, but Levin, who thinks the bill violates the First Amendment, still accuses them of activism even when they were actually passive. To his talk-radio listeners, Levin’s hard-charging style and dire warnings of the court’s direction will strike a resonant tone of alarm, though the hyperbole may be a bit off-putting to the uninitiated. As an attack on the vagaries of decisions rendered by the Supreme Court and on some current justices, Men in Black scores points and will likely lead sympathetic juries to conviction.


Is The U.S. The Most Violent Of All?

January 18, 2009

[First published February 3, 2006] I’ve had the most respected academics in peace research tell me flatly that the United States is the most violent nation in the world. And after I’ve given lectures and speeches on the democratic peace, some questioners have said or implied the same thing. This myth has been widely believed among peace researchers and is a matter of religious faith on the left.

In response, I would point out the bloody wars in Africa and Asia not involving the U.S., including the Iraq-Iran war which cost about a million lives. Then, I would note the worst domestic democides, including that of Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, and so on, and compare the top annual domestic democide rates (the percent of the population murdered per year of the regime) to that for the U.S. (I always had a special page in my notes with the figures):

U.S. = .000016
USSR = .42
Communist China = .12 (if 1959-1962 famine treated as nondemocidal)
Hitler’s Germany = .09
Pol Pot’s Cambodia 8.16

And, I would add, here are the average overall domestic democide rates (average percent of the population murdered) for types of regimes.

Democracies = .043, of which the U.S. = .001
Authoritarian regimes = 1.1
Totalitarian regimes = 3.9, of which communist = 5.2

Particularly note how small the annual rate is for the U.S. even compared to the average for democracies.

But, the leftist mind assumes that there has to be something bloody wrong with the U.S. (in addition to its raging imperialism, blood sucking capitalism, and ardent support for right wing dictators), and so they fall back on the civil murder rate. They say, “No one is secure in America, since Americans murder each other at a rate greater than any other nation, and that’s why it is the most violent nation in the world.”

Well, this can be easily checked on the Internet, such as through The International Crime Victim Survey and here. From the latter source, I reproduce its rank ordered list of murder’s per nation per capita.

Note that the U.S. is not only 24th, but that its murder rate is tiny compared to the top four nations. It is 6.9% of Colombia’s, 8.6% of South Africa’s, 13.2% of Jamaica’s, and 21.2 % of Venezuela’s.

The next time a so called “anti-war” activist, self-righteous “peace researcher,” or blathering leftist declares that the U.S. is the most violent nation in the world, kindly tell them that their ignorance is only exceeded by their ideological blindness.


But, Didn’t The U.S. Support Tin-Pot Dictators?

January 14, 2009

[First published February 9, 2006] Whenever I give a speech on the democratic peace to university audiences, questioners always shift the focus to the United States, and especially this kind of question:

Has not the U.S. intervened in many countries, some democracies such as Chile, Guatemala, and El Salvador, supported death squads murdering rebels, and behind the scenes helped mass murder, such as in Indonesia?

Even if true, none of these events was a war. No collection or list of international wars includes them. They are therefore irrelevant to the proposition that democracies do not make war on each other, and cannot be used as evidence to disprove it. As to democide, I have only counted those governments directly responsible. If one were to also count indirect responsibility, then this would have to be done not only for the U.S., but all regimes, including those of Stalin, Mao, and Hitler. I bet that if this were done, the proportional differences between democracies and nondemocracies would be even more weighed toward totalitarian regimes.

To understand why a democracy like the U.S. would be allying itself with dictators, one has to understand that in the late 1940s to the late 1980s, American foreign and defense policies were geared toward containing communism, and responding to the realistic fear of a Soviet Invasion of Europe or a nuclear first strike on the U.S. This Cold War was World War III, with hot battlefronts in Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Afghanistan; and with theaters of related guerrilla warfare, subversion, spying, and political action throughout Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Within this context, American alliances, and ties to “right wing” dictators, or interventions to prop them up, were meant to prevent their communist takeover or revolution, and/or to secure their support of our side in the Cold War by, for example, providing basis. There has been much criticism of this among academics, but strangely, there has been no similar criticism of the American alliance with Stalin to defeat Hitler in World War II. Yet, of all regimes, Stalin’s was worse than any military or authoritarian regime we supported after the war, and on par with Hitler’s.

One example always brought up is the 1973 military coup in Chile against an elected president that America presumably engineered. To many on the left it is the proof of American imperialism and true antidemocratic nature. But, the U.S. did not intervene against President Allende, or help overthrow him. See my “The Chilean Coup–Icon of the Anti-American Left.” The coup against him was an internally generated matter. The U.S. did favor it, however. Keep in mind that Allende was a communist, aided by Castro and the Soviet Union, and was attempting to convert Chile to a communist dictatorship, like that of his model, Castro. By the time of the coup, Allende had destroyed virtually all his pubic support, including the unions, business, the church, and, of course, the military.

World War III has been won, communism defeated as a competing and threatening world force, and there is no longer a perceived need to contain it. If people are stupid enough to elect communists, as they have done in Venezuela, and Bolivia, so be it. People who don’t learn from history, will have to repeat it.

In any case, in general, where the U.S. has intervened, and supported dictators under communist threat, these countries are now democracies. In two notable cases where we could have intervened and did not, the worst not only happened to these countries, but the horrible result continues to this day. Think of Cuba for one, where President Eisenhower refused to save the Fulgencio Batista regime from Castro, until it was too late. Then President Kennedy inherited Eisenhower’s plans to overthrow Castro with the Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban expatriates, which was miserably prepared and handled. Of course, had we supported Batista, we would be hearing to this day about American imperialism and intervention to save right wing Batista, but had we done so we would have saved tens of thousands of lives, and the Cuban people from a miserable existence under communism. And by now, Cuba would probably be a democracy, as are El Salvador, Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala.

Then there is Iran. At the time of the Ayatollah’s 1978-1979 revolution, Iran was led by a pro-American and secular modernizing dynasty, much to the rage of the Iran’s Ayatollahs and Islamic extremists. When the dynasty was on the verge of collapse, the Iranian military contacted President Carter asking for support for a military takeover — a protective coup. Typical of his softheaded worldview, Carter refused, and in effect gave a go ahead to the Ayatollah’s revolution. We now all know the result in the hundreds of thousands murdered, the infliction of totalitarian Islamic rule on a people, and the danger of its revolutionary regime producing nuclear weapons The irony of this is, as with Cuba, had we supported a coup this would have become another black mark against the United States.

Foreign and defense policy in wartime, which included the Cold War, and now the War on Terror, is messy and shot through with moral ambiguities and compromises. Thus, we dropped a-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; allied ourselves with the fascist Chiang Kai-shek regime of China, and the communist megamurderer Stalin; and agreed to turn over Eastern Europe to Stalin’s tender mercies after the war. Now we are allied with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, among other distasteful regimes, who are hardly models of democracy. It all boils down to the balance sheet of pluses and minuses in defending freedom and waging peace.

But, then those pure in heart, innocent in mind, and morally self-righteous, will always find something in such foreign and defense policies to attack, while assuming no responsibility for the inevitable consequences. Witness the Patriot Act, alleged torture of terrorists, and the Al Qaeda NSA surveillance (“Bush spying”) program.


Why Are Americans So Incredibly Happy?

January 13, 2009

[First published February 14, 2006] In spite the continual deluge of bad news from the major media, are Americans happy with their lives? The Pew Research Center (PRC) has published a survey, “Are We Happy Yet?” The PRC did telephone interviews of a randomly selected sample of 3,014 adults. The margin of sampling error is 2%, which is meaningless given the huge differences between groups of responses.

The most interesting result is on the overall happiness of Americans, as shown in the chart below.

About one-third of Americans are very happy, and half pretty happy, which totals to 84% of Americans are happy versus 15% who are not. This great happiness of Americans has been consistent since 1972, without much variation across economic recessions, war and peace, and presidential administrations.

How does this happiness compare to other nations. While questions are not quite comparable, we can get some feel for this from the World Data Base of Happiness overall rating of nations on, “How much people enjoy their life-as-a-whole on a scale of 0 to 10.” The U.S. is 7.4, which is exceeded by fellow liberal democracies Denmark (8.2), Switzerland (8.2), Iceland (7.7), and Mexico (7.7), while at the bottom are Armenia (3.7), Ukraine (3.6), Moldova (3.5), Zimbabwe (3.3), and Tanzania (3.2), all nondemocracies, except for marginally (electorally) democratic Ukraine.

I can’t believe any readers of my blog are politically oriented, but just in case I should note how American happiness breaks out by political party. The Chart below shows this.

And this is not due to Republicans having more money. The same breakout occurs regardless of income. Also, if rather than party, we look at ideology, then conservatives are happier (40%) than moderates (33%) and moderates are happier than liberals (27%). What is more revealing is that the strength of ideology makes a difference. Conservative Republicans are happier than moderate liberal Republicans (47 to 45%), and conservative democrats are happier than liberal Democrats (31 to 28%). Independents are almost at the bottom (29%).

The PRC carried out multiple regression analysis to pin down what accounts for the overall happiness of Americans. Overall, what best explains this are health, income, church attendance, being married, and being a Republican. Now, we know why the major media trumpet the gloomy, pessimistic, and depressing news. They are overwhelmingly dominated by non-church-going, liberal Democrats.

And note this carefully, the regression analysis showed education, gender, and race did not account for happiness, holding the other effects constant. Yet, our unhappy media liberals tend to focus on these three characteristics, and especially the last two, as though happiness dependent exclusively on them.

Finally, and to me the most important result of all. Being a cat or dog owner makes no difference to being happy or not. Again, so much for theory.


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