Archives for July 2017

219: Civil Asset Forfeiture and Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

Chris Spangle, Greg Lenz, Cat Anagnos, Harry Price, and Seth discuss the scourge of civil asset forfeiture, the fate of Jeff Sessions, and Trump’s Trans ban in the military.

Show Notes

219 – Show Notes

Topic 1: Civil Asset Forfeiture is a stealth tax or method of seizing wealth from the taxpayers. This occurs when a law enforcement agency seizes the assets — including real estate, cars, cash, and other valuables — from private citizens based merely on the suspicion that the person has committed a crime with the assets in question. No due process is necessary. No conviction in a court of law need occur.

CAF is a law enforcement tool that enables the seizure and eventual forfeiture of real and personal property that may have been involved in criminal activity. Today’s expansive forfeiture laws, rather than relieving drug kingpins and criminal organizations of their ill-gotten gains (as was their original purpose), instead allow for—and even incentivize—the seizure of property and currency from ordinary Americans based on little or no evidence of actual criminality.

Modern civil forfeiture laws hold that property can be guilty of a crime, and therefore may be seized and forfeited even if that property’s owner never faces criminal charges. For two centuries, American civil forfeiture law was largely restrained to admiralty and customs enforcement.

In the 1980s, Congress and the states turned to civil forfeiture to combat rampant drug distribution and organized crime. Civil forfeiture became a mainstream law enforcement tool and Congress and the states encouraged its use by allowing law enforcement agencies to retain the proceeds of successful property forfeitures.

Once authorities seize private property, the resulting civil proceeding differs dramatically from the customary standards of American criminal law.



  • Important Facts: In recent years, numerous states have been passing new reforms of the long-abused civil asset forfeiture in which police agencies seize private property without any due process.




  • First, the proceeding targets the property rather than the owner. Under forfeiture law at the federal level and in most states, the evidentiary standard requires “a preponderance of the evidence,” not the criminal law standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Thus, prosecutors need prove only that it is more likely than not that the property is tied to crime and is thus forfeitable.




  • Second, the prosecution need not prove that an owner used the property to commit a crime or was willfully blind to its use, as is the case in ordinary criminal trials. In a forfeiture proceeding, the burden falls on the owner to disprove these facts by demonstrating that he neither knew of, nor consented to, the property’s illicit use.




  • Third, property owners in forfeiture cases, unlike defendants in criminal cases, have no guaranteed right to counsel. Consequently, if an owner cannot afford an attorney, he must navigate a tortuous legal landscape alone. Oftentimes, the cost of hiring a lawyer exceeds the value of the seized property or currency; hence, a large number of defendants opt not to retain counsel even if they can afford the expense.

  • With such low odds of victory in forfeiture cases, many innocent property owners simply walk away: A vast majority of federal civil forfeiture cases—88 percent by some estimates—never see the inside of a courtroom.




  • In these “administrative forfeiture” cases, the agency that originally seized the property, and stands to gain financially from keeping it, acts as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury all in one.




  • At least 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed new reforms. Some reforms, such as those in New Mexico and Nebraska, prohibit asset forfeiture altogether in the absence of a criminal conviction.




  • Other states have opted for a more incremental approach, and have settled for new mandates in which law enforcement agencies must publicly report what has been seized — with the intent of identifying abuse for possible additional future reforms.



    • Once a federal forfeiture is completed, federal law enforcement agencies may retain and spend the proceeds or, through a program known as “equitable sharing,” transfer a portion of the proceeds—in practice, up to 80 percent—to any state and local agency “which participated directly in any of the acts which led to the seizure or forfeiture of the property.”


    • The Treasury and Justice Departments operate equitable sharing programs. Since 2000, both have doled out more than $5 billion in forfeiture revenues.[6] This money may be spent only by the seizing agency, and then only for law enforcement purposes. The funds are not subject to control by state and local legislatures.



  • While it is technically possible to sue a government agency to reclaim one’s possessions, this requires immense amounts of time and legal fees to pursue. Needless to say, civil asset forfeiture has become a lucrative source of income for law enforcement agencies. And, over the past 30 years, the practice has become widespread.



    • Many police departments have become dependent on CAF [civil asset forfeiture] to pad their budgets. In a survey of 1,400 county sheriffs and municipal police departments, 40 percent of responding agencies agreed that forfeiture provides a necessary budget supplement.


    • Heritage Foundation Report: “The fact that these reforms have been adopted within the past three years is remarkable. Only a few short years ago America’s civil forfeiture system was skewed at both the state and federal levels, seemingly invulnerable to public criticism and legal attack. Yet, with widespread support in their legislatures, states continue to enact significant forfeiture reform measures, often over the alarmist and overblown objections of police, sheriffs, and prosecutors. The message is clear: Outside the law enforcement community, support for the forfeiture status quo is remarkably thin.


    • What happened? US Attorney General Jeff Sessions who in a recent speech to the National District Attorneys Association doubled down on the practice and called for more asset forfeiture.

      “[W]e plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures,” Sessions declared this month, claiming that ” No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” Of course, given that asset forfeiture is by definition a seizure of property from a person without any criminal conviction, what sessions really means is this: “no person we suspect of being a criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” In other words, in the mind of Jeff Sessions, due process means nothing.



  • Important Questions:



    • What is foundation or principle in question?


    • What historically relevant lessons exist? How so?


    • Are there a moral implications?


    • If so, what is it and what reasoning is the existing morality premised on?


  • Relevant Lessons or Related Ideas (Mentally unpack the topic by explaining and referencing the historical setting and philosophically driven divide behind the reasoning of the opposing left / right / libertarian divide):



  • Different Perspectives (Individual Co-Host Opinion and Analysis)




  • Application to Libertarianism:



    • How does it apply?
    • Is it congruent with libertarianism?


    • If so, how?


    • If not, how would a libertarian solve the problem?


    • Explain the reasoning behind the libertarian approach, not just the design of the solution:


Topic 2: President Trump-Attorney General Sessions Showdown


  • Important Facts: The feud between Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions started early on Tuesday, when President Trump, in an early tweetstorm lashed out at the attorney general whom he accused of taking a “VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes.”

  • “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump tweeted. Trump seems to be ignoring calls from almost everyone, from both sides of the aisle, in Congress to tone down the attacks on his own Attorney General.


  • The animosity between Trump and Sessions was first unveiled in an interview with The New York Times last week, when Trump said he would have never hired his attorney general if he knew he would recuse himself from the probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump in a tweet Monday morning also asked why the “beleaguered A.G.” wasn’t investigating ties between Clinton and Russia.


  • Overnight, the WaPo reported that Trump has floated possible replacements for Sessions including Sen. Ted Cruz and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, although subsequently Giuliani said on Monday, however, that he’s not being considered for the position.


  • In his latest tweet storm, Trump blasts Sessions for not replacing Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe who was inexplicably allowed by Comey to oversee the Clinton email investigation despite the fact that his wife received substantial funding from Hillary Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe to fund her Senate campaign.


  • After a week of being publicly blasted by President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly preparing to launch a series of investigations into leaks that have emanated from various intelligence agencies since Trump’s election last November.


  • The first word of the leak investigations was leaked, as ironic as that is, to The Washington Post yesterday after a couple of anonymous “U.S. officials” said that Sessions and the Justice Department were preparing to announce more criminal investigations into leaks of sensitive intelligence that have appeared in media reports.


  • Meanwhile, Trump’s new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, appeared on Fox & Friends earlier this morning to confirm the same.



  • Speaking at a press conference in the Rose Garden just yesterday, Trump said the following: “I want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level.  These are intelligence agencies, we can not have that happen. I’m very disappointed with the Attorney General.  But we will see what happens.  Time will tell.  Time will tell.”




  • Press Secretary and Communication Director Sean Spicer resigned on Friday morning, “telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.”




  • While news of Scaramucci’s appointment first broke on Thursday night, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus tried to scuttle the appointment of Scaramucci due to a reported long-running feud with him, according to Breitbart, which adds that Steve Bannon, the ex-Executive Chairman of Breitbart News now the White House chief strategist, also objected to the Scaramucci appointment.



  • Scaramucci cautioned viewers to remember that it’s impossible for him to reach a point of absolutely no leaks, but pledged to clean up the White House press office.

    “People are suggesting I’m going to try to get the leaks down to zero, that is absolutely impossible in Washington, I’m learning a little about this town, but what I do want to have happen is people who report to me, if there are senior people in the administration trying to get them to leak information on each other, we’re getting that to stop right now.”

  • Finally, Mooch The Merciless told Fox:

    “D.C. is the kind of town where people are “very nice to your face,” but then stab you in the back. “I’m more of a front-stabbing person,” he said.



  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told friends he will be lucky to last a year in his job, according to a friend, while two officials said national security adviser H.R. McMaster was frustrated by what he sees as disorganization and indiscipline on key policy issues inside the White House.

    A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Tillerson was “very upset at not having autonomy, independence and control over his own department and the ability to do the job the way the job … is traditionally done.”

    The source said he had heard nothing about any possible departure, but added: “The situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better, and in some respects appears to be getting worse.



Topic 3: Trump Bans Transgender Individuals From Military Service



  • Important Facts:



Link To Study



  • The announcement represents a major shift in US military policy; the decision will affect nearly 150,000 active and/or retired/veteran people on service in the US military




  • What happened?



      1. In June 2016, then–Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that transgender individuals would be able to openly serve in the armed forces. He referred at the time to a RAND study estimate that between 1,320 and 6,630 of the 1.3 million active-duty service members might be transgender.


      1. President Obama’s final defense secretary, Ash Carter, issued a directive last year that permitted transgender troops to serve in the military, and to undergo reassignment surgery. That step left a decision for Trump Secretary of Defense James Mattis to make a decision on whether to allow new transgender troops to enter the military.

      2. Defense Secretary James Mattis last month delayed the review of an Obama-era policy that allowed openly transgender people to join the military. Trump’s new policy goes further than Mattis’ delay in definitively barring transgender people from serving in the military:

        “We refer all questions about the president’s statements to the White House,” Defense Department spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the commander-in-chief on transgender individuals serving the military. We will provide revised guidance to the department in the near future.”


      1. The Defense Department estimates as many as 7,000 transgender troops serve in the active-duty force of 1.3 million.


      1. It wasn’t immediately clear what Trump’s announcement would mean for the approximately 250 transgender people now serving openly in the U.S. military.


        1. All soldiers in the U.S. Army are now required to take a 50-minute training course on transgender sensitivity.


  • Democrats reacted swiftly, calling the bill discriminatory and unpatriotic:

    Former Vice President Joe Biden, via Twitter

    “Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop.”

    Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

    “When my Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind. If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve — no matter your gender identity, sexual orientation or race. Anything else is discriminatory and counterproductive to our national security.”

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

    “This morning transgender service members put on their uniform and showed up for their military duties to be told by their Commander in Chief via Twitter that he doesn’t want them in ‘any capacity.’ These service members are willing to die for their country, and this is an insult to their brave and honorable service. This new directive is harmful, misguided and weakens — not strengthens — our military. I will introduce legislation and will fight to overturn this discriminatory decision.”

    Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., via Twitter

    “I disagree with this decision. If you are qualified to serve, you shouldn’t be banned from the military.

    Also — did the president really consult military leaders on this? Four Star General told SASC [Senate Armed Services Committee] a week ago they wanted time to review this.”



Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., via Twitter

“Transgender Americans in military are heroes like anyone else risking their lives to defend us. @POTUS is wrong.”


Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., via Twitter

“The only thing — only thing — that matters when it comes to allowing military personnel to serve is whether or not they can handle the job. By attacking thousands of troops, @realDonaldTrump makes clear that he cares more about extreme ideology than military readiness. @realDonaldTrump can pretend this is a military decision, but it isn’t. Banning troops on gender identity is shameful & makes us less safe.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., via Twitter

“@POTUS @realDonaldTrump I promise you: this fight is not over. Hatred will never defeat #pride — both of country & of living your life as your true self.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

“On the 69th anniversary of President Truman’s order to integrate the military, President Trump has come down on the wrong side of history. He is choosing to divide us rather than unite us. Brave Americans who seek to selflessly serve this country in uniform should have the opportunity to answer the call to service, regardless of their identity. The Trump administration’s decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. armed forces is another anachronistic, divisive and discriminatory policy that does nothing to enhance the safety and security of the country.”



  • Reactions from Republican lawmakers and conservative groups:

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

    “The president’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.

    The statement was unclear. The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving.



There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“The commander in chief has a lot of latitude here. I don’t know what the policy proposal is. I don’t know why he decided what he did. But I think the right thing to do here is to have a hearing so we can hear from both sides.”

Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Mo.

“I’m pleased to hear that President Trump shares my readiness and cost concerns, and I’m glad to hear the president will be changing this costly and damaging policy. Military service is a privilege, not a right. We must ensure all our precious defense dollars are used to strengthen our national defense. Now, we can focus on rebuilding our military and addressing the growing threats around the world.”

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon

“AFA applauds President Trump for his courageous decision to end the usage of our military for social engineering and political correctness. American families deserve a military that is focused solely on readiness and national defense.”

Log Cabin Republicans

“This smacks of politics, pure and simple. The United States military already includes transgender individuals who protect our freedom day in and day out. Excommunicating transgender soldiers only weakens our readiness; it doesn’t strengthen it. The president’s statement this morning does a disservice to transgender military personnel and reintroduces the same hurtful stereotypes conjured when openly gay men and women were barred from service during the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ era. As an organization that led the charge against that hateful policy, Log Cabin Republicans remains equally committed to standing up for transgender military personnel who put their lives on the line to keep us free.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins

“I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military. The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda.

President Trump recognizes what the nation’s military leadership and the American people realize, this Obama policy makes no sense.

Now that we are assured that the Defense Department has its fiscal priorities in order, Family Research Council withdraws our opposition to increasing the budget of the Department of Defense through the ‘Make America Secure Appropriations Act’ and looks forward to seeing that legislation pass.”



  • LGBTQ rights activists and groups were outraged:

    Chelsea Manning, via Twitter

    “Today is further reason we should dismantle the bloated and dangerous military/intel/police state to fund #healthcare for all #WeGotThis.”



Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin

“Today Donald Trump has proven himself as unpatriotic as he is unfit to serve as commander in chief. He has put a target on the backs of the more than 15,000 transgender troops proudly serving in our military. This heinous and disgusting action endangers the lives of American service members, undermines military readiness and makes our country less safe. It is also the latest effort by Trump and Mike Pence to undo our progress and drag LGBTQ people back into the closet by using our lives as political pawns.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

“It’s a sad day when the president of the United States declares that transgender Americans are unwelcome in the United States military. This policy is deeply objectionable — it devalues individual Americans and is blatantly discriminatory. We’ll fight against this unpatriotic ban of transgender troops. We cannot let bigotry stop Americans from serving their country. It is especially bitter and ironic that President Trump is attempting to place unnecessary and discriminatory barriers against transgender military service on the very anniversary of President Harry Truman’s executive action in 1948 to desegregate the military.”

American Civil Liberties Union

“This is an outrageous and desperate action. The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander in chief who rejects their basic humanity,” said Joshua Block, the staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV projects.

Let us be clear. This has been studied extensively, and the consensus is clear: There are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country. The president is trying to score cheap political points on the backs of military personnel who have put their lives on the line for their country.

There is no basis for turning trans people away from our military, and the ACLU is examining all of our options on how to fight this. For any trans service member affected by today’s announcement: Please get in touch with us, because we want to hear from you.”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis

“President Trump today issued a direct attack on transgender Americans, and his administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology within our government — even if it means denying some of our bravest Americans the right to serve and protect our nation. Today further exposed President Trump’s overall goal to erase LGBTQ Americans from this nation. Trump has never been a friend to LGBTQ Americans, and this action couldn’t make that any more clear.”

National Center from Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Kiesling

“This is worse than ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ This is ‘don’t serve, don’t serve.’ This is an appalling attack on our service members; it is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science. It is indefensible and cannot stand. The president wants to discard thousands of trained and skilled troops who are already serving honorably and done nothing but be honest about who they are. To turn away qualified recruits simply because of who they are is a shameful way to show our country’s gratitude to the people who serve our country.”



  • Important Questions:



    • What is foundation or principle in question?


    • What historically relevant lessons exist? How so?


    • Are there a moral implications?


    • If so, what is it and what reasoning is the existing morality premised on?



  • Relevant Lessons or Related Ideas (Mentally unpack the topic by explaining and referencing the historical setting and philosophically driven divide behind the reasoning of the opposing left / right / libertarian divide):




  • Different Perspectives and Opinions (Individual Co-Host Opinion and Analysis)




  • Application to Libertarianism:



    • How does it apply?
    • Is it congruent with libertarianism?


    • If so, how?


    • If not, how would a libertarian solve the problem?


    • Explain the reasoning behind the libertarian approach, not just the design of the solution:

218: Chloe’s Story – Big Government Impedes Self-Improvement

Chris Spangle and Chloe Anagnos explain how government interferes with a person’s ability to improve their lives in a new installment of The Cost: The Human Toll of Government Policy.

Show Notes:

How Big Government Hurts Those with Chronic Conditions

According to the CDC, chronic conditions are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.

Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.

  • As of 2012, about half of all adults—117 million people—had one or more chronic health conditions.
  • One in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions.
  • Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2014 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 46% of all deaths.
  • Obesity is a serious health concern. During 2011–2014, more than one-third of adults (36%), or about 84 million people, were obese (defined as body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2). About one in six youths (17%) aged 2 to 19 years was obese (BMI ≥95th percentile).
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Of the 54 million adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis, more than 23 million say they have trouble with their usual activities because of arthritis.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations other than those caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults.

For those with chronic conditions, it’s difficult to get the medicine they need because:

Starting this year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will be enforcing new rules that limit the accessibility of almost every Schedule II opioid pain medication manufactured in the U.S. by 25 percent or more. This eliminates phone-in refills and mandates a check-in with a doctor every 90 days for a refill in an effort to curb opioid drug abuse and addiction.

In the United States, Schedule III and IV drugs, (like Xanax, Suboxone, etc.) are treated similarly. Moreover, a government ID must be presented in order to obtain things like cold medicine which could potentially be used to make Schedule I drugs like methamphetamine.

If I were to buy nasal decongestant in my home state of Indiana, not only would I need to present my driver license to the pharmacist, but my name, address, license number, and other personal information must be reported to the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Meth Investigation System.

Chronic Conditions and Big Government’s Unintended Consequences

Many know of the benefits of medical marijuana, but the federal government limits the amount of research that can be done:

“Research on marijuana’s potential for medicinal use has been hampered for years by federal restrictions, even though nearly half of the states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in some form.”

217: Is Anti-Intellectualism a Good Thing?

Chris Spangle, Gregory Lenz, Cat Anagnos discuss the rising tide of anti-intellectualism in America, and if it is a good thing for our public discourse.

Topic 1: Peak Anti-Intellectualism

“The great object of education is to acquaint the youthful man with himself, to inspire in him self-trust.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson


  • Definition of Anti-Intellectualism: opposing or hostile to intellectuals or to an intellectual view or approach.
  • Important Facts: A new Pew Research Center poll released on Monday revealed that there is one U.S. institution perceived through a larger partisan divide than even the media: It’s college.



  • For the first time, a majority of Republicans think that colleges and universities have a negative impact on the country. Fifty-eight percent say that colleges “are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country,” according to Pew.



  • In other words, the Wall Street banks are more popular with Republican voters than Stanford, Harvard or the University of Akron.



  • Just two years ago, a majority of Republicans, 54 percent, rated universities’ effect as positive.



  • Pew noted, “this shift in opinion has occurred across most demographic and ideological groups within the GOP,” but in particular the poll found that positive views of colleges among Republicans under the age of 50 sunk by 21 percentage points from 2015 to 2017.



  • While Republican views of colleges and universities remained largely the same throughout much of the Obama administration, 65 percent of self-identified conservatives now say that colleges and universities have a negative impact on the country.



  • Positive views of colleges dropped even among Republicans who hold a college or graduate degree, declining by 11 percentage points during the last two years.



  • Democrats and independents who lean Democrat, on the other hand, continue to hold a positive attitude toward such institutions, with 72 percent saying they approve of higher education.



  • While Pew conducted the study, it was a article that really thrust this issue into arena of public debate among Mainstream media analysis and commentary panels. Salon’s analysis was:


    1. “Republican politicians in recent years have pushed back on the four-year degree, building upon their long-hyped attack on institutes of higher education as bastions of liberal indoctrination.

      Last month, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a hearing titled “Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses.” The Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill last month allowing college administrators to expel students for “disrupting” college speakers.

      It’s likely no coincidence that just as conservatives decry the scourge of “political correctness” on liberal arts campuses, their campaign to undermine the institutions that defend a growing diversity of voices among students and faculty is bearing fruit.

Arizona Republicans recently threatened to cut funding by 10 percent from public institutions that offer courses and events that are “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group” or advocate “solidarity” based on ethnicity, race, religion or gender.

Donald Trump’s threats to defund the University of California at Berkeley following a February melee in protest of right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’ scheduled appearance harken back to Ronald Reagan’s 1966 campaign for governor of California, during which he pledged “to clean up the mess at Berkeley” caused by “a small minority of hippies, radicals and filthy speech advocates.”

The right has long decried the ivory towers of academia, but now that those ivory towers are increasingly filled with members of marginalized communities, such attacks are beginning to resonate with average Republicans.

Between Election Day last November and April 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has documented at least 330 incidents of bias on university campuses. More than 135 incidents since the start of the 2016 academic school year, the SPLC reports, have involved recruitment efforts by white supremacists.”


  • Other relevant articles:



  • Important Questions:


    1. What is foundation or principle in question? Intellectualism or the accepted beliefs and consensus opinion of society’s “experts” on matters within the hard and social sciences.
    1. What historically relevant lessons exist? How so?


  • The track records of “experts”:


        1. Club of Rome: Forty years ago, The Limits to Growth, a report to the Club of Rome, was released with great fanfare at a conference at the Smithsonian Institution. The study was based on a computer model developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and designed “to investigate five major trends of global concern—accelerating industrial development, rapid population growth, widespread malnutrition, depletion of nonrenewable resources, and a deteriorating environment.”

The goal was to use the model to explore the increasingly dire “predicament of mankind.”

The MIT researchers concluded, “If present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years.”

With considerable understatement, they added, “The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.” In other words: a massive population crash in a starving, polluted, depleted world.

Population: The Limits researchers noted, “Unless there is a sharp rise in mortality, which mankind will strive mightily to avoid, we can look forward to a world population of around 7 billion persons in 30 more years.” In addition, they suggested that in 60 years there would be “four people in the world for everyone living today.”

In fact, average global life expectancy rose from 60 to nearly 70 years. On the other hand, the global fertility rate (the average number of children a woman has during her lifetime) fell from about 6 per woman in 1970 to 2.8 today and continues to fall.

World population stood at 3.8 billion in 1972, which means that a four-fold increase in 60 years would have yielded a total world population of 15 billion by 2030.

Food: In 1972, the Limits researchers noted that about 1.4 billion hectares of land was being cultivated and projected that if current crop yields did not improve 3 billion hectares would be needed by 2000 to feed a projected population of 7 billion.

The Limits analysts did note that if crop yields doubled (which they did not expect) that land devoted to producing crops would only increase marginally—which is what actually happened. The U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization reports that since 1960 cropland has expanded from 1.4 billion to 1.5 billion hectares

Nonrenewable resources: Probably the most notorious projections from the MIT computer model involved the future of nonrenewable resources. The researchers warned: “Given present resource consumption rates and the projected increase in these rates, the great majority of currently nonrenewable resources will be extremely expensive 100 years from now.” To emphasize the point they pointed out that “those resources with the shortest static reserve indices have already begun to increase.”

Environment: In most of the Limits model runs, the ultimate factor that does humanity in is pollution. In their model pollution directly increases human death rates and also dramatically reduces food production.

In fact, as the world economy has grown, global average life expectancy has increased from 52 years in 1960 to 70 years now. It must be acknowledged that globally, pollution [PDF] from industrial and agricultural production continues to rise. But the model assumed that pollution would increase at exponential rates. However, many pollution trends have not increased exponentially in advanced countries.

One of the odder features of the Limits computer model is that it basically ignores one of the most robust feedback mechanisms in the world—markets and price systems. The modelers warn against placing our faith in the technological solutions, pointing to the collapse of the whaling industry as an example. They argue that improvements in whaling technology ended up destroying that industry.

They completely overlook the fact that whaling occurred in an open access commons in which everyone has incentive to kill as many whales as possible to make sure that their competitors didn’t benefit from them.

Similarly, today wherever one identifies an environmental problem, one can be sure that it is occurring in the moral equivalent of an open access commons. In fact, the depletion of whales and rising price of whale oil encouraged entrepreneurs to seek new form of lighting; in this case, turning gooey crude oil into kerosene.


  • Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth: 18 examples of the spectacularly wrong predictions made around 1970 when the “green holy day” (aka Earth Day) started:

    1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

    2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

    3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

    4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

    5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”

    6. Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

    7. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.

    8. Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

    9. In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”

    10. Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”

    11. Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.

    12. Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.

    13. Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).

    14. Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”

    15. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

    16. Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

    17. In 1975, Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”

    18. Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

  • Central Planning Social Policies at every level of US Government: busing, integration of public schools in the American south post the Civil Rights Act being adopted, etc…


    1. Are there a moral implications? A great number of them
    1. If so, what is it and what reasoning is the existing morality premised on? Man’s ability to discover knowledge through reason is a “positive”


  • What caused higher education to become viewed as a negative thing?



  • What were the seminal moments?



  • When did Americans stop aspiring to education and allow a lack of it to make them feel inferior and distrustful?



  • What’s the current state of higher education?



  • Are the majority of Republicans wrong?



  • What comprises a “good” education or “knowledge”?



  • What should one be able to do upon being “educated”?



  • What demonstrable skills or abilities should one be able to display or know?



  • What is “intellectualism” defined as by those who were about growing opposition to it?



  • What does peak anti-intellectualism mean for the future?



  • What effect will growing anti-intellectualism have on libertarianism? In what ways? Positive or negative?



  • American Politics and Political movements in general?
  • Relevant Lessons or Related Ideas (Mentally unpack the topic by explaining and referencing the historical setting and philosophically driven divide behind the reasoning of the opposing left / right / libertarian divide):


  • Different Perspectives (Individual Co-Host Opinion and Analysis)



  • Application to Libertarianism:


    1. How does it apply?
    1. Is it congruent with libertarianism?
    1. If so, how?
    1. If not, how would a libertarian solve the problem?
    1. Explain the reasoning behind the libertarian approach, not just the design of the solution:

216: CNN, Explaining North Korea, Succession and the Free State of Jones

Chris Spangle, Gregory Lenz, and Cat Anagnos discuss Trump’s CNN GIF, explain the background and complexity of the North Korean crisis, and review a libertarian movie titled The Free State of Jones.


Topics: North Korea, Trump-Putin First Meeting, and Showtime’s Free State of Jones

Topic 1: North Korea

North Korea’s latest provocation—a successful test of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM)—brings the long-building crisis on the Korean peninsula to a dangerous flashpoint.

For one thing, it’s clear evidence that North Korea aspires not merely to have a nuclear-weapons program, but to be able to target the continental US. And that’s a dangerous aspiration for a risk-tolerant pariah state to have.

The conundrum with North Korea is that none of the options are good. Despite Trump’s self-assuring rhetoric that the United States has “many options,” the reality is exactly the opposite.

U.S. military action, a last-ditch option that would pretty much guarantee the leveling of the South Korean capital, tens of thousands of civilian casualties, perhaps thousands of American casualties, and the highly likely prospect of further escalation between the two Koreas. Sure, this is one of Trump’s “many options,” but it’s not one that is particularly productive.

So, what other alternatives are there?

The Trump administration has so far thrown most of its chips in the China pot—pressuring and/or cajoling Chinese President Xi Jinping that it’s in his country’s interest and the region’s interest to sever the lifeblood of money flowing into North Korea courtesy of banks, middlemen, black-market smugglers and financial subsidiaries operating on Chinese soil.

Beijing has cut North Korean coal imports to near zero levels for the last three months, there is still plenty of business going on across the Chinese-North Korean border. The Treasury Department wouldn’t have recently sanctioned a top Chinese bank if the administration didn’t believe that Beijing needed a jolt to the arm.

So, if military action would be a disaster and the Chinese route looks less than fleeting, what other options are there?

  1. One is admitting the obvious: that North Korea is a nuclear-weapons state whether America likes it or not, and that the time has come for a full U.S.-led containment strategy with South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. Containment would mean deploying more anti-missile defense systems in the area, expanding the THAAD system into Japan, placing an additional aircraft carrier permanently in the waters of the Pacific, and tripling down on missile defense to protect American cities on the West Coast.

Congress would certainly appreciate the extra investment in missile defense but would be absolutely livid if the White House simply accepted North Korea as a member of the nuclear club. The politics would be terrible for the administration and for the president personally, especially with members of his own party.

  1. The last option would require another round of diplomacy—a decision that is unpopular in Washington on a good day, but detested at present given Otto Warmbier’s untimely death and Pyongyang’s successful ICBM launch. The diplomatic route would require U.S. diplomats to sit down with the North Koreans and negotiate with them directly, a picture that would be revolting to a lot of Americans.

It would also require the United States to offer some concessions to Pyongyang in exchange for a suspension of its nuclear and missile testing, a stoppage of nuclear research and development, and a commitment that U.N. Security Council resolutions would no longer be violated every other day.

Kim Jong-un would certainly have a lot of asks; he’ll probably ask for the moon and the stars, perhaps calculating that the United States needs North Korea to cease its nuclear program more than North Korea needs Washington to provide sanctions relief. And there’s always a very good possibility that discussions with North break down entirely, which has happened so many times in the past that it’s become part of the script over the last two decades.

*The North Koreans are not stupid: They know they’re militarily outclassed by their enemies. So their strategy in the event of an out-and-out war, as far as outside analysts can tell, is to inflict overwhelming pain as quickly as possible:

To bombard South Korea, Japan, and any American forces they can find with missiles and artillery to the point where their stronger enemies lose their appetite for a protracted conflict.


  • Important Facts:



  • What happened?


      • While Americans were busy enjoying the July Fourth holiday, news broke that North Korea had crossed another military milestone: its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. This missile, the kind that could theoretically be tipped with a nuclear warhead, could travel far enough to hit Alaska.
      • Trump’s unequivocal declaration that “the year of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed and that the “patience is over,” was well and good for the cameras.
      • But the strong and forceful rhetoric Trump delivered wasn’t a policy, which is sorely what the administration needs if it has even a slim possibility of arresting the development of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile programs.


  • Who are the individuals, institutions, organizations, and area involved?



  • North Korea



  • United States



  • South Korea



  • China



  • Russia



  • Japan



  • South China Sea



  • What is the argument about? It is a dispute over territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, and the Paracels and the Spratlys – two island chains claimed in whole or in part by a number of countries. Alongside the fully fledged islands, there are dozens of rocky outcrops, atolls, sandbanks and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal.



  • Why are they worth arguing over? Although largely uninhabited, the Paracels and the Spratlys may have reserves of natural resources around them. There has been little detailed exploration of the area, so estimates are largely extrapolated from the mineral wealth of neighbouring areas. The sea is also a major shipping route and home to fishing grounds that supply the livelihoods of people across the region.



  • China claims by far the largest portion of territory – an area defined by the “nine-dash line” which stretches hundreds of miles south and east from its most southerly province of Hainan.


        1. At the heart of the dispute are eight uninhabited islands and rocks in the East China Sea. They have a total area of about 7 sq km and lie north-east of Taiwan, east of the Chinese mainland and south-west of Japan’s southern-most prefecture, Okinawa. The islands are controlled by Japan.

        2. They matter because they are close to important shipping lanes, offer rich fishing grounds and lie near potential oil and gas reserves. They are also in a strategically significant position, amid rising competition between the US and China for military primacy in the Asia-Pacific region.


  • What is the role of the US? The US and Japan forged a security alliance in the wake of World War II and formalised it in 1960. Under the deal, the US is given military bases in Japan in return for its promise to defend Japan in the event of an attack.
    This means if conflict were to erupt between China and Japan, Japan would expect US military back-up.



  • Korean War



  • When did it happen?


      • While Americans were busy enjoying the July Fourth holiday, news broke that North Korea had crossed another military milestone: its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
      • President Donald Trump and South Korean president Moon Jae-in strutted up to two podiums in the White House Rose Garden with two major objectives. The first—to reassure Americans, South Koreans and the rest of the international community that the U.S.-South Korea alliance is as solid as a rock, even with Trump at the helm—was for the most part successful. The second, which entailed warning North Korea that it better behave soon or else certain options would be taken in response, was more of a public-relations show than anything else.


  • Why did it happen?


      • The North Korean crisis is even scarier than you think. That isn’t because the country’s supreme leader, 33-year-old Kim Jong Un, is totally irrational — a “crazy fat kid,” as Sen. John McCain once termed him.
      • The impoverished North Korean regime is deeply insecure, so worried about its own survival that it is willing to go to dangerously provocative lengths to scare the United States and South Korea out of any potential attack.
      • Given North Korea’s massive conventional military and unknown number of nuclear weapons, conflict on the Korean Peninsula would cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives.
        • That’s not to say that war between the US and North Korea is likely, even after the new missile test. It isn’t. Rather, it’s that the risk of a catastrophic conflict is much higher than anyone should feel comfortable with, arguably more likely than anywhere else in the world.


  • What solutions are available?


      • Diplomatic Options: China’s gone back to pushing its idea of ‘a cap for a cap’: a freeze on North Korea’s programs in exchange for a freeze on US – South Korean military exercises. To be frank, that idea’s unappealing. While there’s some residual value in ‘freezing’ programs that have already demonstrated a considerable measure of success, staying in a freeze isn’t a long-term option.
      • Pyongyang has stated bluntly that it has no intention of denuclearising. (Indeed, it has written its nuclear status into its Constitution.) Not to mention that US – South Korean exercises are a necessary part of ensuring the effectiveness of the alliance.
      • Economic Options: Sanctions could surely be tightened. But they are so blunt, slow and uneven that it would take years to ensure they exercised decisive leverage upon Pyongyang’s policy choices.
      • North Korean economy’s in relatively good shape today—comparatively speaking, of course. It’s absolutely no match for the South Korean economy, but nor is Kim Jong-un’s regime under real economic duress. Meanwhile, Pyongyang has developed considerable skill in sanctions-busting, especially through the judicious use of front companies.


  • Military Options: One option would be to return US tactical nuclear warheads to South Korea. But Washington is reluctant to do that, not least because it would suggest that it’s ‘balancing’ North Korea as a recognised nuclear power.



  • Similarly, notwithstanding Donald Trump’s remarks on the election hustings last year, Washington isn’t keen to see South Korea and Japan construct their own indigenous nuclear arsenals. That would open a Pandora’s box of proliferation worries both in Asia and elsewhere.


      • A second option would be to take direct steps against the North’s missile program, for example. A concerted effort of cyber warfare, electronic warfare and ballistic missile defence could slow the program. Slowing it beyond that might require provocative steps, such as pre-emptive attacks on launch facilities. But that option will become steadily more difficult as the North ‘hardens’ potential cyber targets and moves towards the greater use of mobile missile launchers—something it’s already doing.


      • A direct military attack on North Korea to degrade its nuclear and missile programs would be the most serious of all military options. In the long run, it’s probably the surest path to the end goal—but in the short run, Pyongyang would have available to it a set of response options that would do serious damage to both Seoul and, perhaps, Tokyo.
      • Some analysts have their fingers crossed that the situation can slide—however ungracefully—into a long-term relationship of nuclear deterrence between North Korea and the US. But is that really a tolerable outcome? During the Cold War, the Soviet Union endured a relationship with France under which Paris threatened to ‘rip the arm off’ the USSR and leave it a one-armed superpower.
      • Would the US be prepared to endure a similar relationship with North Korea? To be honest, it’s a doubtful proposition. North Korea is not France. It’s a pariah state. Even leaving it as a long-term nuclear-armed actor is bad enough—because Pyongyang might eventually decide to sell key weapons technologies or actual devices to others.
      • The latest missile test can only sharpen worries in Seoul about a potential decoupling of the US from security on the peninsula. The South Koreans have long worried that the development of a North Korean ICBM capability would make Washington more hesitant to come to the South’s aid in any possible nuclear showdown with the North.


  • Important Questions:


What is foundation or principle in question? State sovereignty, Humanitarian implications, Authority to maintain global order

      • How did we get here?
      • What do the North Koreans want?
      • What does the United States want?
      • What concessions would the US have to make to China to get them to step in and put an end to this for a while?
      • Who would such concessions anger? Japan
      • Why? The still yet to be resolved situation in South China Sea between Japan and China.


  • What historically relevant lessons exist? How so?


      • To understand why North Korea is so unstable, we need to start with something counterintuitive: North Korea is really weak.

        Pyongyang is one of the world’s poorest countries. Its GDP per capita is estimated at about $1,000, about 1/28th of South Korea’s. It faces chronic shortages of food and medical supplies, depending on Chinese aid to meet its citizens’ basic needs. There’s a real risk that the Kim regime collapses under the weight of its own mismanagement.

        Nor is the North secure from military attack. While its army is extremely large personnel-wise, with about 1.2 million soldiers, it uses antiquated Cold War technology while its neighbors to the South are equipped with top-of-line modern gear.
      • Moreover, the presence of 23,500 US troops in South Korea means any war between North and South Korea would draw in the world’s only superpower, though with potentially enormous American casualties.
      • Facing the twin dangers of domestic instability and foreign attack, the North has devised a strategy for survival that depends (somewhat counterintuitively) on provoking the South and the United States.

        The North will do something that it knows will infuriate its enemies, like testing an intercontinental ballistic missile or shelling a South Korean military base. This limit-pushing behavior is designed to show that the North is willing to escalate aggressively in the event of any kind of action from Washington or Seoul that threatens the regime, thus deterring them from making even the slightest move to undermine the Kim regime.
      • It also sends a signal to the North Korean people that they’re constantly under threat from foreign invasions, and that they need to support their government unconditionally to survive as a nation.

        The problem is that this strategy is inherently unstable. There’s always a risk that one of these manufactured crises spirals out of control, leading to a conflict that no one really wants. This is especially risky because the North Korean government is deeply insular.


  • Washington doesn’t have the kind of direct line of communication with the North that it had with the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, which was vital in preventing standoffs like the Cuban Missile Crisis from escalating.



  • Are there a moral implications?


      • What about the citizens trapped in North Korea under a tyrannical dictator?
      • Is there a moral balance in justifying lives lost on humanitarian pursuits (military and non-military)?
      • By relying on the Chinese, another dictatorial regime, on civil and social issues, is it preferable in reality despite accepting moral relativism in reality?


    • Relevant Lessons or Related Ideas (Mentally unpack the topic by explaining and referencing the historical setting and philosophically driven divide behind the reasoning of the opposing left / right / libertarian divide):


  • What caused the rift between the US and North Korea? Karl Marx and his writing of the Communist Manifesto.


    • At the Potsdam Conference in 1945, the Allies decided to split Korea into two parts at the 38th parallel. North Korea became a Soviet-supported communist regime under the leadership of Kim Il-sung; South Korea became a U.S.-supported democratic state under Syngman Rhee.
    • When Japan fell during the Second World War, Korea was suddenly free, and hoped to finally be able to decide the fate of their own country. Most Koreans campaigned for a unified state.
    • However, the United States and the Soviet Union had different ideas. The Soviets wanted to expand the sphere of communist influence into Korea. The United States countered by encouraging the establishment of democracy. Additionally, the United States stressed the importance of containment, which is a foreign policy used to prevent the spread of communism.
    • The Cold War was an important cause in the Korean War. Relations between the two occupying powers were bad and when China became Communist in October 1949, the President of the USA, Harry Truman, was very worried that other countries around China may also become Communist, such as Japan.
    • The American Army was about one twelfth the size of five years earlier and Joseph Stalin had recently lost a Cold War dispute over the Berlin Blockade and subsequent airlift. This disagreement would eventually lead to the Korean War. The Korean War was the first battle of the Cold War.
    • On 17 October 1926, a teenage Kim Il-sung, who would later become North Korea’s first leader, set up the “Down-with-Imperialism Union”. It was founded, so the propaganda goes, to fight against Japanese imperialism and to promote Marxism-Leninism.
    • Kim Il-sung was something of an urban legend known for a daring raid on the town of Pochonbo in 1937 where, at the age of 24, he is said to have led a military unit to capture a Japanese-held town on the Korean border. It was seen as a major military success, even if it only lasted for a few hours.
    • The Soviets put him very much at the centre of the strange coalition that became the North Korean Workers Party. This included Chinese Korean activists, members of the ethnic Korean diaspora from Russia, South Korean Communists who migrated North and Kim’s guerrilla fighters.
    • Songbun “caste system” was adopted by the Communist Party. It was effectively a massive political purge of North Korean society through social classification.
      There are few definitive guides to the Songbun and it is known to be both complex and opaque but in essence people were divided into three main groups:


  • Core class
  • Wavering class


      • Hostile class: essentially those deemed a political threat, and had no hope of any personal or career advancement.
    • The North Korean propaganda machine would like to celebrate this as the anniversary of the Party’s foundation. For others, the true foundation is 1949, when South and North Korean Communists finally came together in a coalition that aimed to lead one unified Korea.
    • But 1945 saw the establishment of the North Korean Bureau of the Communist Party of Korea. This became the body which rules today.

      • 1945 – Japan’s colonial rule over Korea ends with its World War II surrender.
      • 1948 – Korea is divided between the Soviet-backed North and the US-backed South. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea proclaimed, with Kim Il-sung installed as leader. Soviet troops withdraw.
      • 1950-1953 – Korean War: South declares independence, sparking North Korean invasion and the Korean War.
      • June 25, 1950: North Korea invades South Korea across the 38th parallel and takes most of South Korea. The South Korean Army retreats to Busan. China starts to feel threatened with the war happening so close to them and tells the UN Army and the South Korean army to return to the border and that they have no business to fight so far into North Korea.
      • October 1950: The warning given by the Chinese is ignored by the UN (led by an American general, Douglas MacArthur) and so the Chinese army, called the People’s Liberation Army, invades North Korea and helps the North Koreans fight the UN until the UN forces are pushed past the border separating North and South Korea.
      • 1953 – Armistice ends Korean War.
      • 1968 January – North Korea captures USS Pueblo, a US naval intelligence ship. A political bloodbath took place between 1967 to 1971 when 17 senior officials were purged.
      • Purges targeted members of Kim Il-sung’s own original guerrilla faction and set up his control over the army as well. The military leadership in place when the USS Pueblo spy ship was captured by North Koreans in 1968 – a huge coup – were taken out. In contrast to other purges, some of them returned to power years later.
      • And after the 5th Party Congress in 1970, the party completed its transformation from a typical Marxist-Leninist political party to one that venerated Kim Il-sung and became responsible for implementing his will.
      • 1972 – North and South Korea issue joint statement on peaceful reunification.
      • 1974 February – Kim Il-sung designates eldest son, Kim Jong-il as his successor.
      • 1985 – North Korea joins the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, barring the country from producing nuclear weapons.
      • 1986 – Research nuclear reactor in Yongbyon becomes operational.
      • 1991 – North and South Korea join the United Nations.
      • 1993 – International Atomic Energy Agency accuses North Korea of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and demands inspectors be given access to nuclear waste storage sites. North Korea threatens to quit Treaty.
      • 1993 – North Korea test-fires a medium-range Rodong ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
      • 1994 July – Death of Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il succeeds his father as leader. After the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994 and because of the wider social impact of the North Korean famine, known as The Arduous March, the Party became somewhat moribund. Its Central Committee did not hold a meeting, one they publicised anyway, from 1993 until 2010. Key vacancies remain unfilled. It still had administrative duties but as a political entity it was diminished.


  • But in 2010, Kim Jong-il revived the party as a political institution to cope with his declining health and to boost the succession of his son Kim Jong-un.


      • 1996 – Severe famine follows widespread floods; 3 million North Koreans reportedly die from starvation.
      • 1996 April – North Korea announces it will no longer abide by the armistice that ended the Korean War, and sends thousands of troops into the demilitarised zone.
      • 1998 August – North Korea fires a multistage long-range rocket which flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific Ocean, well beyond North Korea’s known capability.

      • 2000 – First-ever Inter-Korean summit
      • 2002 – US names North Korea as part of an “axis of evil”
      • 2003 – North Korea withdraws from Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
      • 2006 – North Korea conducts first underground nuclear test
      • 2011 – Kim Jong-il dies, succeeded by his youngest son Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-un, the party has thrived as a political institution. He has been involved in the party’s revival since 2007, and as supreme leader, like his grandfather, he has used the party’s Political Bureau to publicly dismiss wayward officials as he did with former military chief of staff Ri Yong-ho and even his own uncle Jang Song-thaek. He is also building his power base through the party’s Central Military Commission.
      • 2016 November – UN Security Council further tightens sanctions by aiming to cut one of North Korea’s main exports, coal, by 60 per cent.

      • 2017 January – Kim Jong-un says North Korea is in the final stages of developing long-range guided missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

      • 2017 February – Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother Kim Jong-nam is killed by a highly toxic nerve agent in Malaysia, with investigators suspecting North Korean involvement.

      • 2017 April – The US warns North Korea off nuclear and ballistic missile tests after several months of North Korean tests and rhetoric.



  • Different Perspectives (Individual Co-Host Opinion and Analysis)


  • Application to Libertarianism:



  • What would a libertarian approach to US-North Korean relations look like?

Topic 2: President Trump meets Vladimir Putin for their first face to face meeting

Topic 3: Free State of Jones

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