The Arizona Ministries of Truth

George Orwell
George Orwell Wikipedia

Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey, in cooperation with the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, allocated $5 million in the state’s FY 2017 budget for three “freedom schools” at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. The money will go to the U of A’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, ASU’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership, and ASU’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. These three schools were established with seed money from the Charles Koch Foundation, an organization that promotes a radical libertarian ideology. The billionaire Koch brothers provided millions in “dark money” support for Ducey’s 2014 election campaign.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, no other state has cut university funding more than Arizona since the Great Recession. Last year, for example, Ducey and the Legislature reduced state university funding by $99 million. This year’s budget restores just $32 million, but $5 million of it is earmarked for the so-called freedom schools – or about 15% of the increased funding.

Ducey’s spokesperson Daniel Scarpinato defended the earmark by saying the governor “believes it’s important that students in our university system are exposed to a broad range of viewpoints and academic views on a number of issues, including economics.”

Several Republican legislators also voiced their support. Representative Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, a former conservative radio talk show host, said the money represents “a wonderful opportunity” to fund conservative viewpoints, which he claims are lacking at the state’s universities.

But Arizona Republicans weren’t concerned about encouraging different viewpoints when the they passed HB 2281 in 2010. That law was used to stop Mexican-American studies classes from being taught in Tucson’s public schools. John Huppenthal, Arizona’s school superintendent at the time, helped get it passed because he claimed the classes taught Mexican-American students to resent Anglos.

If Republicans are so concerned about the quality of the information that’s being given to the state’s students, then why aren’t they concerned about what’s being taught at the freedom schools? Dr. William Boyes, for instance, the founding director of ASU’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty, is advocating for the elimination of public schools. He gave a speech last fall in support of the School Sucks Project in which he rejected the belief held by most Americans that public schools are a foundation of our democracy. He called for the end of public schools, saying they are our biggest obstacle to greater personal and political liberty.

Furthermore, Dr. Boyes in an advocate of the Austrian School of economic thought, which is promoted by the Mises Institute.  Austrian School economic theory advocates the concept of methodological individualism – that social phenomena result from the motivations and actions of individuals. It rejects the use of econometrics and macroeconomic analysis. Instead, it calls for the government to be dismembered so the free market can magically solve all problems.

If this doesn’t seem to make sense, that’s because it doesn’t. There aren’t any reputable economists that believe in it. But, not coincidentally, Austrian School economic theory can be used to justify a radical libertarian political ideology.

Updates

The FY 2018 state budget passed by Arizona Republicans gave another  $2 million to the state’s “freedom schools” at the U of A and ASU. This was in addition to their ongoing $5 million annual appropriation. Republican Rep. Anthony Kern, who pushed for the funding, claimed the schools are needed to counteract the widespread “liberal indoctrination” that’s going on at the state’s universities.

The FY 2019 state budget passed by Arizona Republicans included another  $2.5 million for the state’s “freedom schools.” This was in addition to the ongoing $5 million annual appropriation. Republican Sen. John Kavanagh said the money was needed to help balance “left-wing bias” at the state’s universities. The U of A and ASU will each receive $1 million more, and Northern Arizona University will get $500,000 to establish a new school there.

Total Appropriations to AZ Freedom Schools: $19.5 million

The New Four Freedoms

dead republican elephantOn January 6, 1941, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered the annual State of the Union address and it was especially memorable because he identified Four Freedoms that he believed all people should enjoy:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of worship
  • Freedom from want
  • Freedom from fear

WWII had been going on in Europe for fourteen months when Roosevelt gave the speech. Hitler’s armies had already conquered Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. And his air force was busy trying to bomb Britain into submission. On the other side of the globe, Japan was continuing its invasion of China.

Roosevelt’s speech was a response to this ongoing fascist aggression, and it identified what he believed was America’s responsibility to oppose totalitarianism and defend basic human rights throughout the world. It was well received because most people understood that freedom comes with responsibilities. But many Americans were wary of getting involved in the war, so the U.S didn’t enter it until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December. In the meantime, Roosevelt succeeded in getting the Lend-Lease Act passed in March. It allowed the U.S. to provide material support to the Allies, fulfilling Roosevelt’s earlier promise to make America the “Arsenal of Democracy”.

The majority of Americans considered the Four Freedoms important within their own country too. But conservative Republicans criticized Roosevelt’s speech as an attempt to justify government regulations and social welfare programs. The right-wing faction of the party wasn’t very successful then. But they never gave up, and today they’re holding their party and the entire United States hostage.

They are promoting a libertarian ideology that calls for a small government to allow individuals and businesses to have the freedom to do almost anything they want. It sounds good, but the problem is that it’s not practical. There’s no real world example where a large country in the increasingly complicated and competitive modern world has succeeded with little or no government. And the Great Depression of the 1930s and the recent Great Recession are proof that economic markets must be regulated to function properly.

Despite these facts, and with the help of large amounts of dark money, today’s conservative Republicans have succeeded in convincing a lot Americans to agree with them. The result is that too many people don’t believe that freedom comes with responsibilities anymore. Instead, it’s all about being able to do whatever you want – no matter how it might affect anybody else. This corrupt ideology has created a new list of Four Freedoms:

  • Freedom to buy elections
  • Freedom to demonize the government
  • Freedom to settle all grievances with a gun
  • Freedom to irrevocably damage the natural environment

The Danger of Fascism in the U.S.

franklin roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt – Wikipedia

On Monday, January 26th, 2015, the nonprofit organization overseen by billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch announced plans to raise $889 million toward promoting their right-wing political agenda in the 2016 elections. The announcement was made in in Palm Springs, California, to about 450 potential donors attending the annual winter meeting of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce,  the 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization that will oversee distribution of the money to a vast conservative political action network which is often referred to as the Kochtopus .

To put the $889 million goal in perspective, it’s estimated the Republican Party’s campaign committees spent just $657 million in the 2012 elections.

The amount of money spent on U.S. political campaigns has risen sharply since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FECC decision, which found that these types of nonprofit organizations can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money for political advertising while concealing the identities of their donors.

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism – ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 29, 1938

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