Instilling Virtue in Future World Leaders…
What an Opportunity!
Just last week, my husband and I had a chance to visit our old “stomping grounds” in Princeton, New Jersey, where he was invited to give a lecture. While there, we chanced across another incredible lecture by a Princeton alumnus, Steve Forbes, entitled Why the Tax and Monetary Sins of the West Now Threaten Civilization. Just had to share that lecture, and a bit about the incredible people behind it! (for audio and summary, scroll down below)
In the photo (left to right), I am pictured after the lecture with Steve Forbes, and with Robert P. George. These are two very remarkable men, who are making great strides toward instilling virtue in our next generation of intellectuals.
The speaker, Malcolm Stevenson “Steve” Forbes, is an ardent pro-life supporter, and knows the value of a higher moral standard in society. He also advocates common-sense fiscal policies which he distills from his study of history (both recent and not-so-recent), as well as from his family’s capacity as financial experts and journalists for over a century. Steve campaigned for Republican nomination to the presidency twice, in 1996 and in 2000. His views, more liberal in the first election, shifted toward conservatism, and in 2000 he opposed abortion and supported prayer in public schools.
While on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University, Steve’s alma mater (’70), Steve Forbes issued a statement in 1999, withdrawing his donations from Princeton University due to its hiring of philospher Peter Singer, who advocates infanticide and views personhood as being limited to ‘sentient’ beings. Singer, despite his exclusion of some disabled people and of infants from personhood, was appointed by Princeton University to a place of honor in an endowed chair of bioethics. Steve Forbes sent a letter withdrawing financial backing from Princeton, stating that “Peter Singer is part of what the Pope rightly calls the “culture of death.”
Shortly after Singer’s appointment, Steve Forbes left the Princeton Board of Trustees, after 10 years of service. In 2000, he co-founded the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton, which today offers students high caliber lectures almost weekly, in association with Princeton’s Department of Politics.
Robert P. George
|Steve was introduced by Robert P. George, the Director of the Princeton University James Madison Program. (More information on the James Madison Program after the lecture summary and audio.) Professor George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and has been called America’s “most influential conservative Christian thinker”.
George drafted the Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto signed by Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders that “promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage.”
This manifesto has been signed by over half a million people, including about 250 prominent US religious leaders from all faiths, and including 55 Roman Catholic Bishops. For my Madison friends, Madison’s Bishop Morlino was among the first to sign the Manhattan Declaration. I have signed it as well.
I could go on about the seemingly endless credentials of these two men, but let’s get to the lecture. Suffice it to say that I stand in awe of both them, and I pray that efforts like theirs will begin to balance the liberal propaganda offered at most Universities under the guise of education, so that our young people, whose minds and consciences are being formed at Universities, get to hear virtuous alternatives and arguments.
|The lecture took place at Princeton University, in McCosh Hall at 4:30PM, on March 10th, 2013.
Why the Tax and Monetary Sins of the West Now Threaten Civilization:
Princeton Chapel and McCosh Hall
Summary of Steve Forbes’ lecture:
Steve Forbes’ talk, in conjunction with the title, and with the historical analysis he provided, implied that irresponsible policies such as abandoning the gold standard and excessive taxation not only caused the Great Depression, which could have been averted, but may threaten our present civilization, although there is still adequate time for correction.
Forbes Media, which was founded by Steve’s grandfather (Bertie Charles Forbes, born in Scotland, 1880). Forbes is the nation’s leading business magazine with a circulation of over
900,000. Each issue’s “Fact and Comment” editorial is written by Steve, and he is widely recognized as a financial journalist whose economic forecasts have proved most accurate.
Steve has served on a variety of influential commissions, including heading President Reagan’s bi-partisan Board for International Broadcasting. He oversaw Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, which have been acknowledged to have helped President Reagan in his efforts to dismantle the iron curtain.
Steve campaigned twice (1996 and 2000) for the Republican nomination for the presidency.
He currently serves on several Foundations, including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Steve received the BA degree from Princeton in 1970, and he served as a member of the board of trustees of Princeton University for 10 years.
Steve Forbes speaks (summary):
In the 1970s, a weak US government with weak policies lead to a perceived decline, and world instability grew.
A strengthened government with changes in policy in the 1980s caused democracy to spread world-wide.
The US instituted massive tax cuts, rebuilt its economy and military strength, creativity rose, and the Berlin wall fell.
From the early 1980s to 2007 the world went through an amazing period of growth where never before had so many people enjoyed such economic growth – millions joined the middle class in countries like India, China and Africa.
So what went wrong?
France, Germany, Japan are in recession – massive spending is hurting China.
Crises are seen in North Korea and the Middle East.
Iran’s buildup of nuclear weapons is threatening Israel.
The US has moved military assets to that part of the world to keep oil flowing.
Extremist groups are active, China has massive military buildup, Vietnam is begging the US for help.
All of this is happening because the US is seen as being in decline.
The US’s financial crisis is seen as evidence of a fundamental flaw in free-market capitalism.
Where do we go from here?
The situation we have today is the result of fundamental policy errors in money and taxes, like those of the 1930 and 1970s.
These errors are errors in Monetary Policy and Taxes/Trade – topics that are so boring that the Federal Reserve has no oversight by Congress!
Monetary policy is an intimidating subject.
The Central Bank must supply the right amount of money to prevent stalling or flooding the economic engine.
Our Central Bank has been printing too much money.
They do not understand that money or currency is just a means to facilitate trade.
Distortions occur when the Fed does not understand that wealth is created by you – not by money.
For this to work, money must have a fixed value, like time or length.
If the number of hours in a day does not have a fixed value, how would you know how to pay someone’s hourly rate?
With variable value of money, investment in a more productive future is discouraged, and instead money goes into hard assets to preserve what you have.
In the 1970s oil went from $3 to $40 per barrel.
When inflation was stopped by Reagan, oil went down to $20 where it stayed for 20 years.
You know there are problems when people start talking about investing in gold.
Why would people want to invest in gold?
Faulty government policies create mistrust in the value of currency.
Money is not being invested the way it should in building businesses for the future.
If you don’t know whether your investment will pay back an amount in today’s dollars, or in some lesser amount, you do not take the risk.
If the hour was suddenly made 50 minutes by government policy, how would you decide what to pay the hourly worker? Inflation undermines investments, wages stagnate, and social trust is undermined. This demoralizes society by creating arbitrarily winners and losers.
So what will happen?
I believe that the dollar will be realigned with G-O-L-D, which guarantees a fixed value of money.
The market should determine the value of money, not Washington.
Gold is the one thing we have that keeps its intrinsic value.
Fixing the mile at 5,280 feet, does not mean that you cannot build more highway.
Similarly, gold just fixes the value of money – it sets the standard.
This worked for 180 years – and gave us a stable value of money.
The other error made by government concerns Taxes and Trade.
Taxes are not just a means to raise revenue for government – taxes are the price you have to pay to take risks on your investments.
Therefore it is easy to see that lowering taxes encourages people to do more.
Raise the price of something, you get less, lower the price you get more – it is just that simple!
For the first time since the 1930s we have countries increasing taxes instead of lowering them in the face of declining economies.
This is in spite of plenty of evidence that raising taxes deepens the decline.
Greece is in a depression – yet it is raising taxes, Italy is stagnant – but it is raising taxes.
Portugal, Spain, France are wondering why people are leaving their countries.
Japan raised its taxes and is going nowhere.
Is there hope? Yes!
In the Baltic states and Sweden, where they have not raised taxes, people are doing well.
In the US, states without income taxes do much better than those that do.
Illinois, California, Connecticut, Maryland are going in the the same direction as Greece.
The good news is that people do eventually learn from their mistakes.
Structural changes are needed so that economies can come back.
Put another way, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address is only 272 words, the Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words, the US Constitution and amendments: 7,200 words, the Bible: 773,000 words, and the US Tax code is 9,000,000 words and running!
Nobody knows what is in it!
But consensus is emerging to revamp the tax code.
This includes cutting taxes and eliminating death taxes (i.e., no taxation without respiration!)
The US population spends $6.5B per year on preparing taxes.
This money can be put to much better use!
Signs of change are being seen.
Once the US starts to get it right, other countries will follow.
The Great Depression was the result of massive government error that started with the US government raising taxes and tariff out of ignorance.
In 1930 they decide to raise taxes on imports.
Other countries retaliated by raising taxes, and this destroyed the global trading system, and led to the depression.
Stable exchange rates and removal of trade barriers are simple measures that history has shown lead to success.
These changes will recreate the momentum we had before 2007, where everyone in the world will have, as Lincoln put it, “a chance to improve their lot in life” again.
-End of Steve Forbes Talk Summary
The James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions
The James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions was founded in 2000 by the Department of Politics at Princeton University and “is dedicated to exploring fundamental and enduring questions of political thought and constitutional law. It promotes greater appreciation of Western tradition of legal and political thought, and supports the application of fundamental principles to modern social problems, particularly as they are manifested in the domain of public law. By supporting the study of foundational issues, the Program seeks to fulfill its mandate of offering civic education of the highest possible caliber.”
The James Madison Program at Princeton also supports the James Madison Society, which is an international community of scholars whose research contributes to civic education in institutions of higher learning. Members of the Society share the belief of James Madison that only a well-instructed people can be permanently free. They also share a commitment to instill within rising generations an appreciation of the common good and the moral foundations of democratic governance. The Society provides a forum through which scholars who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in constitutional law, political thought, and related fields, can engage in intensive discussions about their research and teaching.
After listening to Steve’s lecture audio above, or reading the summary of it, it is clear that the James Madison Program should expand its reach to as many universities as possible, so as to instill reasoned values of virtue and common-sense
in our students, the future leaders of our society.
The James Madison Program website offers opportunities for audio and video of previous talks, schedules of future talks, email notification of events, and opportunities to contribute to this crucial program, which specailizes in instilling values in the future leaders of America.