Friday, December 20, 2013

Music of the Season

The news of the day has been about Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson being suspended from his own family’s reality show on A&E, because he answered a direct question about his opinion on the definition of marriage, in an interview to be published in GQ Magazine. There is a firestorm of response about that. A couple of my favorites are Shawn Rogers’ commentary (available on Not on This Watch Facebook page 12-19-2013 ) and PJ Media’s Bryan Preston. If you’ve read my Defense of Marriage collection, you probably know where I stand. Which doesn’t make me a hater either—just a civilized thinker.
So, rather than spend more time on that just before Christmas, I’m going to spend time sharing something much more pleasant: Christmas Music.
Music is a pretty big part of my life. I play piano and organ well enough for church purposes. I lead the church choir. I play mountain dulcimer, and taught that instrument in an adult education class through the community college this fall. The little jam group I attend weekly, which includes dulcimers as well as guitars, mandolins, a string bass, banjo, and flutes, has performed as a service several times this month. I also occasionally play guitar and recorder (wooden flute, soprano and alto). And I sing. To paraphrase Buddy the Elf, “Singing is my favorite!” Or lines from “The Holly and the Ivy”: “…The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.” It’s what I do. I sing at home and in the car. Sometimes in public.
Christmas is a music season. So I thought I’d put together a little online concert here—some of my current favorite Christmas pieces, for no other purpose that to feel what it is to feel the Spirit of Christ while we’re spending time celebrating His very special life.
This first one, is a capella, written by Aaron Edson. I first heard it in two places, in late 2005. Edson wrote it for a scripture video series called Liken the Scriptures (very fun series, with kids imagining how things must have been, with lots of music). This one is sung by the shepherds in The First Christmas. It was also included on BYU’s Vocal Point 2004 album, “Standing Room Only.” Vocal Point is BYU’s national award-winning men’s a capella ensemble. So I’ve been a fan since years before they became famous on the TV show The Sing Off.
In 2006 I contacted Aaron Edson to see if I could get the music for a concert I was conducting. He was at that time working to get it into print and sent me, at no cost, a pdf of the music along with permission to use it for our church concert. What a great guy! We had a group of eight or so perform the ensemble piece for our 2006 concert. This video is excerpted from The First Christmas.

Since we can’t get enough of men’s a capella, here’s a bonus of Vocal Point doing the perfect version of “12 Days of Christmas.” (Harvard and Indiana University men’s ensembles have done this as well.)

Do you know about The Piano Guys? Hurray for the internet making performances possible and sharable in ways they never were before! The Piano Guys is a combination of pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson and some other musicians who happen to also be extraordinarily skilled at video production. So these guys do videos of their music in various places. Once they airlifted a grand piano onto a dangerously high mesa in southern Utah, where they’re from. Recently they performed on the Great Wall of China. I’m a big fan—got to see them in concert last summer when they stopped in Houston on tour.
Their newest Christmas video is “Angels We Have Heard on High,” using the piano in ways you might never have seen—unless you’ve seen these guys before. I encourage you to go to the link. Watch everything they’ve done! But the video I’m including is from a year ago, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” a Mormon Channel video including them and their music in a beautiful depiction of the nativity and Christ’s life. (It looks like it was filmed on location in the Holy Land, but is actually a beautifully done media studio set.) I watched this every day for a month last year—well into January.

The year that Vocal Point was on The Sing Off, that year’s winner was Pentatonix. I was disappointed my heroes didn’t win, but I’ve come to really like this group. This year their version of “Little Drummer Boy” is my new favorite of that song. It’s no longer the same song I sang in elementary school.


Lindsey Sterling is another internet video star. She’s a violinist who dances (dubstep) while she plays. She’s a delightful elfin/pixie-looking young woman, and makes use of that, totally decked out as an elf in “Celtic Carol.” But the piece I'm sharing is her heart-wrenchingly beautiful version of “What Child Is This.”

Lindsey has done videos with both The Piano Guys (a very fun "Mission Impossible" spoof) and Pentatonix  (a post-apocalyptic looking "Radioactive.”) She grew up in Arizona, it turns out in the same neighborhood where Mr. Spherical Model’s brother lives. Her dad is a close family friend. I mentioned this to my son Political Sphere, who used to live there too, and he said, “Oh, yeah. I know who that is.” I was a fan well before I learned she was a regular person just down the street, except for when she’s touring the world.
There are others I’d like to share, but are less easily linked. So I’ll end with a new favorite I discovered this year. My dulcimer group introduced me to this one, and we’ve already performed it several times. I’ve gotten ahead for next year and ordered it for my church choir to sing. The link is for audio only, but it’s a heavenly three minutes, called “Shines the Light.”
May your Christmas be full of beautiful music! 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Knowledge, Power, Economy--and Civilization

I listened to another Uncommon Knowledge episode the other night; yet again it becomes clear how interrelated the economic, political, and civilization spheres are.
The interview was with George Gilder, most recently the author of Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World. He makes the assertion that wealth is essentially knowledge. Every trade is an exchange of knowledge.
George Gilder (right) being interviewed on Uncommon Knowledge
Gilder studies information theory. There are a lot of specific definitions, all worth hearing. One is that entrepreneurship and information are essentially surprise—in other words, contrary to expectation. In a radio transmission, for example, you have static, or white noise, which is the expected chaos, or what he refers to as entropy. Then there’s the message—something clear that comes through, unexpected among the white noise. That’s what we pay attention to; that is what surprises us by being different from the background noise. In a carrier, such as a radio transmission, there may be a certain amount of noise. Fiber optics might have less noise, or lower entropy. The lower entropy, the more clarity.
And he applies this noise vs. clarity idea to economics. Quite literally, socialist economic systems introduce noise into the market—and interference in the market muddies up the clarity. Here’s a portion of the conversation, starting at about 15 minutes in:
Peter Robinson: So in an economy you want a set of circumstances, government circumstances, tax policy, regulation, legal regime, property rights, which somehow or other permits the greatest possible pure information?
George Gilder: That’s right.
PR: So why does socialism impinge on pure information?
GG: What you want is a predictable carrier. Remember, the electromagnetic spectrum, all guaranteed by the speed of light. What you want in economy is predictable laws, predictable political leadership, a spirit of trust, which means contracts can be predictable. Property rights—which means that property rights don’t change from time to time. That entrepreneurs can launch their creations through a world that’s governed by predictable rules of law—the rules of the road, as Hayek said.
And where I diverge to some extent from pure libertarian views is that I don’t believe that these rules of the road, the Constitution, the, uh, trustworthy political leadership, contracts, courts that are reliable—that all these low-entropy carriers can emerge spontaneously. I think it takes heroic—it took George Washington and Jefferson and Madison and all these great men to achieve the low-entropy carriers that allowed the efflorescence of the American economy.
And it still requires both restrained and inspired political leadership, and sacrificial national defense, and reliable police, and the whole structure of the constitutional order is necessary in order to bear the unexpected, surprising creations of entrepreneurs—new goods and services, bearing new knowledge through the economy.
Right after this exchange, Peter Robinson puts up a quote from the book, which crystalizes the point:
In capitalism, the low-entropy carriers are the rule of law, the maintenance of order, the defense of property rights, the stability of money, the discipline of futurity of family life, and a modest and predictable role of government. These low-entropy carriers do not emerge spontaneously. They originated historically in a religious faith in the transcendent order of the universe.
Then, going on:
PR: George, there are moments when there’s a kind of cultural whiplash form reading this book, because here and here and here you’re talking about cutting-edge information theory. You even go into the mathematics of it. You talk about how the physics that I struggled with in high school transcend… You sound cool, and so cutting edge, and so high tech! And then you talk about sacrifice and thrift, and a “religious belief in the transcendent order of the universe.” And suddenly we’re not in Silicon Valley; we’re in small town Kansas or Iowa. How do these go together?
This is where I get really interested. It’s culture—the rules of civilization—that makes all the difference in economics, in entrepreneurial success, in real progress.
The culture discussion continues. This section is about 26 minutes in:
PR: [You talk about the ] “futurity and stability of the family,” which sounds pretty retrograde, if I may so in this year of our Lord 2013—but of course it’s not “our Lord”; that’s also retrograde. But, George, it even gets worse. I went back to the opening page of [Gilder’s book] Men and Marriage. Get ready; I’m going to quote this, and what I’m about to quote is so politically incorrect there will be a paddy wagon ready to take you away after this shoot. “The prime fact of life is the sexual superiority of women. Women transform male lust into love; channel male wanderlust into jobs, homes, and families; change hunters into fathers; divert male will to power into a drive to create.” Oh, George, you go from being cool to being unspeakable.
GG: Well, crucial to economic growth is a sense of the future. You have to be engaged in long-term activities, because knowledge is hard to achieve, and it takes determination and resolution, and sacrifice and persistence, and perseverance and imagination to pursue. And when families break—the way most of this society gains a stake in the long-term future is through children, who biologically extend our lives into the future, and give us a sense of a stake in the future. And when the family breaks down, just as when a stable money fails and the courts become capricious and unpredictable, when politicians gouge for power and money of their own—what happens is the horizons of the economy close in, and the whole society becomes increasingly engaged in short-term transactions. … Everything resolves to small little—seconds minutes and hours, rather than the long-term commitments that yield a great and growing economy.
How do we get a better, more prosperous economy? Live better, more civilized lives. Simple, but not easy.
I always like something hopeful, and Gilder had some positive, hopeful things to say about getting things turned around. Robinson quotes him again from the book: “An economy is not a process that is changeable only over generations. It can revive as quickly as minds and policies can change.”
The economy, Gilder believes, can turn practically on a dime—as soon as the policies change. I think he’s right. We saw that turnaround (over about two years, to get new budgets in place) when Reagan put in free-market policies following the malaise Jimmy Carter tried to convince us was a permanent new normal. So, as soon as we get rid of Obamacare, confiscatory taxes, income distribution from producers to able-bodied non-producers, and skyrocketing public debt—as soon as the policies change, recovery begins. Creative, hard workers are bound to succeed when roadblocks are moved out of the way.
However, the way to get the policy change is to get the people to believe and act differently than they have been doing. Gilder said,
In Men and Marriage I predicted that if the family collapsed the way it seemed to be doing, in the case of the inner city, that it would take a welfare state to care for the women and children and a police state to take care of the boys…. This society depends on a man and a woman taking care of children. And now we have a third of black young men either in jail or on probation or on the lam. This is the harvest of liberalism.
The culture problems are serious, and slower to respond to change, because, unlike economics, generations are set on a path that’s hard to correct. But policies are to blame, so change to appropriate policies can lead to positive changes in society.
I think, because the political, economic, and civilization worlds interrelate, you can’t really get anywhere without the right kind of living. But Gilder is hopeful that, because economics is easier to affect, mainly by changing political policy, that is a starting point. Make those changes. They require honesty, thrift, rule of law, consistency, family strength, and other things required of us in the Ten Commandments. So put those policies in place, and we're on the path to a recovery of civilization as well.
I say we give it a try.

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's That Time of Year

I’m sure you’re aware, this time of year is…just a couple of months before the primary election. That’s why this past Saturday, a week and a half before Christmas, a crowded roomful of people met at our local tea party meeting to hear from candidates.
In addition to local candidates, we heard from two more candidates for Texas governor: Republican Lisa Fritsch and Libertarian Kathie Glass.  A few months ago we heard from Tom Pauken, a long-time grassroots Republican activist. I’m not sure what the full slate of candidates will be. We may not get a personal visit from Greg Abbott in this statewide race, although I’m still leaning his direction. But I enjoy hearing the conservative message—the only message that is viable among the interested grassroots conservatives of Texas. It’s kind of like Texas barbecue—everyone’s entitled to their own favorite flavor of sauce, but it’s still the long-time roasted meat that people line up for.
However the vote goes down eventually, it’s worth noting a few things we heard from the candidates.
Lisa Fritsch had an interesting story. I’m including her photo, because, if you listen to the media, people like her don’t exist—and certainly wouldn’t show up at a tea party meeting. Yet we find that stereotypes don’t match reality. She fits in with us just fine. Her mother taught her some basic ideas that have stuck, and they're our ideas too.
Lisa Fritsch, GOP candidate for TX Governor
at Cypress Texas Tea Party
Fritsch says she became a Republican in second grade, although she didn’t know it for a while. She grew up with a hardworking single mom in a low income area—in “a sea of Democrats.”  But they never went on public assistance. Her mother said she would rather starve. At one point the young Lisa suggested her mother could give up her third job, which was paying for tap lessons she was willing to give up, but her mother refused.
In high school (if I’m getting the details right), she did less than stellar work in a class, and gave the complaint going around that the particular teacher graded blacks lower. Her mother called around, found another smart girl in the neighborhood in that class, and learned from her mother that the girl had gotten a 95% on the same test. And she told Lisa that being black would never be a good excuse for not succeeding.
In college at University of Texas, she tried to think of herself as a liberal, getting in arguments with her conservative roommate. The trouble was, sometimes her roommate’s line of reasoning seemed to make sense. So she got this idea that, if she could get a clearer idea of the opposition’s reasoning, she’d better be able to refute it. So she found the campus meetings for the Young Republicans, and sneaked in the back to listen, “as well as a six-foot-tall black woman can sneak in the back.” And the more she heard, the more it made sense. She has been an active Republican for the past fifteen years. She has been a radio show host, a writer and commentator. She occasionally appears on Fox News. Her opinions can be found on YouTube speeches and her candidate website
When asked about her ideas for Texas, her priorities were to secure the border before reforming immigration. She probably didn’t win over a lot of people even talking about the next step—finding a path to citizenship, especially for those here as no fault of their own (children of illegal immigrants). She wants to eliminate the underground economy, get them to pay taxes, play by the rules, stop them from getting benefits. All of this she insisted was completely separate from dealing with the drug and human trafficking elements of illegals, which should be shut down. It’s a difficult conversation to have, because both sides make negative assumptions about what the other side really means.
Kathie Glass is about opposite in looks—a short, blond, middle-aged woman. She’s fiery, with a down home Texas accent. She’s about taking back power to the state—power that’s there in the US Constitution and should never be ceded just because of unwillingness to stand firm. Sometimes with a bully all you have to do is say no. Sometimes you have to get more aggressive, but you don’t know that if you don’t even try to say no.
Kathie Glass, Libertarian candidate for TX Governor
at Cypress Texas Tea Party
She used the scary “N” word: nullification. The last candidate I brought that up with said he thought that was a settled issue back in the 1800s. I disagree. Kathie Glass doesn’t think it was settled either. And, while she’s not afraid to use the word, she actually refers to things we’re already doing. The states (including Texas) that refused to set up health care exchanges just because the federal government told them to—that is nullification. Whenever and wherever the federal government oversteps its constitutional limits, just say no. Don’t put all your eggs in the basket of the courts, risking that they might not agree with you; better to just act according to the way you read state vs. federal rights without asking permission.
Glass also talked about the border. She proposes using the Texas Guard on the border, which is already part of the state budget. I asked her, since protecting international borders is actually one of the few appropriate roles of the federal government, but they’re not doing it, what do we do about the money they’re taking and not using for that purpose when we have to spend it ourselves. She said to just consider sunk costs sunk. Referring to money already spent, in practicality I agree; we won’t get that money back. I’m looking for a pre-tax mechanism to divert federal tax money from ever getting to Washington, if we have to use it to protect our own border, or for any other misuse of Texas money. I thought that was something a libertarian might take on, but she didn’t go there.
Glass talked about public education being corrupt. We might not be able to fix it by tweaking it here and there; we might have to knock down the whole thing and start from scratch. I cheer along with that. But it would take more time from her to hear practical steps to accomplish something that drastic without depriving students of options during a year—or a few years—of total disarray. But in the meantime, we at least need to get everything locally controlled.
Both candidates subtly (maybe not so subtly) jabbed Attorney General Greg Abbott for fighting the federal government through lawsuit after lawsuit. While I agree that there are plenty of ways to stand up against the federal government, when your job is to advise the state on legal issues and represent the state in courts, you don’t say, “No, let’s not bother with the judiciary.” Abbott has been doing his job, and doing it well. Abbott describes his job as, “I go into the office in the morning, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home.” It makes me smile.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
photo from Wikipedia
They also jabbed him as a “career politician,” which I didn’t think was fair. Abbott was a private practice attorney from 1984-1992. He then served as a trial judge in Houston for three years before being appointed to the Texas Supreme Court by then-Governor George W. Bush. Judges are appointed in Texas only to fill openings, and then they are elected. But it’s not typical to refer to a judge as a career politician. He became Texas Attorney General in 2002—only the second Republican since Reconstruction to have that position—when John Cornyn went on to the Senate.
Abbott is probably best known for successfully arguing the case for displaying the Ten Commandments on the State Capitol grounds. The main argument in that case, as I recall, was about the culturally historic (rather than religious) tradition of the Ten Commandments monument, showing that the display did not “establish” a religion, nor a specific religious preference. It was an argument that worked, even though I personally didn’t believe it was the right argument—which is that we the people have a right to display whatever we want, religious or otherwise, on our own state property, without any interference from the federal government—so get out of our faces and leave us alone! Nevertheless, Abbott knew the practical argument that would win the day in the particular court where he was arguing. I don’t know of another time I’ve disagreed with him.
I’ve heard him speak a number of times—first time at the state GOP convention in 2004. He’s one of my favorites. From what I’ve seen, he’s a man of exceptional integrity. I want to hear more from him as a candidate for governor, but knocking him as a “career politician” because he’s the most prominent law advocate for Texas looks to me like there’s nothing else to knock him with.
That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate other candidates stepping up and giving it a good try, and taking the opportunity to spread the conservative message in the meantime. Let’s all keep doing that.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pretty Little Civilized World

For book club this week we took a break from young adult post-apocalyptic tyrannies to spend some time in the lovely, civilized world of late 1800s Prince Edward Island (eastern Canada).
a postcard from our 1985 visit
Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, is the story of an exuberant little red-haired orphan. She is eleven when she comes to live with older, never-married brother and sister Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, at their home called Green Gables. They were expecting a boy, someone who could be of use to Matthew on the farm. Matthew was 60 and had occasional heart problems, so it seemed like a good solution. Anne Shirley was sent as a result of miscommunications. She was left on the railroad platform, and Matthew couldn’t think what to do except take her home for the time being. On the way, she chattered in a way that should have overwhelmed the taciturn female-fearing man. But he was charmed by her.
Marilla was stern and disgruntled about the mistake, and made plans to return Anne, and drove the next day to take her to the neighbors who had been the go-between. On the drive she learned a little of Anne’s history. She was the daughter of two poor school teachers. Her mother had died of a fever, shortly after Anne’s birth; her father succumbed to the same fever a few days later. There was no extended family.
She was taken in by various willing persons over the years, but not adopted. It wasn’t easy. She got very little schooling, although she read well enough to discover poetry to memorize and had a dramatic vocabulary. She had served as nursemaid to a woman with multiple sets of twins. When the father of that household died, she ended up in the asylum (orphanage), which wasn’t Dickensian grim, but it was pretty hopeless. As Anne would say, “No scope for the imagination,” which was an essential of life.
When they got to the neighbor’s house, they learned Anne could be sent on as a household helper to a family Marilla didn’t approve of. She had thought it was reasonable to send her back to the asylum (although Matthew was in favor of keeping her from the start), where she might have another opportunity for adoption. But to knowingly place her with a family where Marilla knew Anne would be ill used was beyond what conscience would allow.
So Anne goes back to Green Gables, on trial, but really with no chance of ever being sent away. She tries in amusing fashion to be a good child, but she’s not very good at it. Her troubles and trials are the subject of the amusing book. She always means to be obedient, but she’s heedless, headstrong, and often lost in a world of dreams.
What I love about this book (series of books, actually) is the beauty of the civilized world. It’s something we see so seldom in literature, I’m concerned a generation will grow up without exposure to what ought to be normal.
Even though the Cuthbert/Shirley trio is not a traditional family—married mother and father raising their own children—it is essentially a healthy family story. We see Marilla working through the challenges of balancing discipline and guidance with understanding and forgiveness. She becomes less stern as her love for Anne grows, along with her confidence in Anne and in her own decisions. Matthew always just adores Anne, but he lets Marilla do the raising. We see Anne being taught from scratch about God and prayer and church-going. We see her learn to love learning in school. We see her chattering and hyperactivity temper as she grows. Without squelching her spirit in any way, Anne becomes more civilized. It’s a very satisfying outcome—the kind of satisfaction parents hope for.
The neighbors are integrated into Anne’s world, with complaints that turn to eventual approval—because Anne is just irresistible. She’s less annoying that Pippi Longstocking. She’s less sickly sweet than Pollyana. She’s not as unreal as Little Orphan Annie. She’s just a lovable, vibrant little girl. And the story, while more episodic than dramatic, is totally believable.
There are no villains in this world. Not even in her past. She may have been overworked and unloved, but she was never beaten or otherwise physically abused. Because her world is made up of civilized people; some people are less kind or more selfish than they should be, but mostly these are people just going through life in a way they see as right. In just about every way that matters, this out-of-time-and-place story is much more real than the gritty “real world” stories we see so much today.
The setting is idyllic. Near the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but mostly semi-rural farmland, with tree-lined lanes, forests, flowery fields. Lots of green hills dotted with little white churches.
Here we are at the Green Gables House as tourists in 1985
Cavendish, PEI, Canada
We’ve been there. Mr. Spherical Model spent two years as a missionary in eastern Canada, with the first half year or so on Prince Edward Island. We took a trip there, when son Political Sphere was just about learning to crawl, and visited the families he had known there during his mission. We spent a day at Cavendish, where the Green Gables house is. The house itself was the home of relatives of author Lucy Maud Montgomery. So the meadows, forests, fields, and the house itself, are taken from this real place.
It’s cold generally. The tourist season for the beach is about a month. We got there in late August, and it was too cold to go in the water. There’s plenty of snow and cold and discomfort. But the book, nevertheless, is deliciously full of warmth and comfort.
It’s Christmastime, and cold—even here in Texas right now. Yet when you think of Christmas, you think of warmth and comfort despite the outer cold. That is what civilization can do—living in a way that values caring for others, strengthening families, and honoring God. It’s a kind of beauty and warmth we need to spread.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Southern Hemisphere Hero

Human beings can be a complex combination of good and bad. With that in mind, I want to take a brief look at the life of Nelson Mandela, following his death December , 2013.

He is known as the father of post-apartheid South Africa. This must mean that he was a great influence for good.
My real time memories of him are sketchy.  The 27 years he spent in prison ended when I was an adult, and his time as president of South Africa was something I certainly remember; that election was 1994. But I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to what was happening on the other side of the world. I was aware that many people refused to do business with South Africa during the last years of Apartheid, in an effort to pressure for change, which eventually worked.
Mandela’s tribal Xhosa name was “Madiba,” which he was often called with affection. He was born in 1918, about a month after my own father, so that gives me a view of his lifespan. Some of what I know of him is through media. I especially liked the movie Invictus, a rugby movie that was really about bringing people together. Morgan Freeman played President Mandela, and the photo on the cover of Friday’s Houston Chronicle looked surprisingly like the actor. I love the smile. It’s understandable why many people would have affectionate memories for that face and the apartheid-ending legacy.
I do recall bad media of his second wife, Winnie Mandela, during the latter years of his imprisonment, I think. She was known to beat and berate her personal servants. Looking at media now, I’m uncertain what to believe. But there are some other details about Mandela that are historic and worth considering. (The Wikipedia article, already updated since his death, is useful.)
He spent many years working as a lawyer, speaking for rights for black South Africans, as a leader in the ANC (African National Congress, an anti-imperialist pro-independence movement). He grew up Christian, was baptized a Methodist, and attended throughout his childhood, even though this was mixed with tribal practices; his mother was the third of four polygamist wives, in the royal tribal family. Mandela was among the royal family of his tribe, yet the first of his family to attend school.
While he was interested in Soviet support for wars of independence, he didn’t trust the idea of communism. And through WWII he supported British rule. So he was a skeptical communist. He seemed to favor the non-communist idea of freedom to vote for all citizens as paramount, but willingly accepted socialism as a way to rule.
Early on he was a follower of Ghandi’s nonviolent resistance, more for pragmatic than ideological reasons. Later he came to believe the ANC had “no alternative to armed and violent resistance.” At trial he pleaded guilty to 156 counts of public violence and terrorism. I don’t know how specifically guilty he was personally for murders that took place, but there are claims that he, as ANC leader, was behind multiple bombing plots in which women and children were killed.
He could be compared to Yasser Arafat of Hamas, a terrorist leader of a terrorist organization, who later became a “respectable” leader of a people. But I was aware enough of Arafat to never see him as other than a terrorist. I don’t know how much of Mandela’s reputation is media created, but he wasn’t—as was Ghandi—a political prisoner; he was imprisoned for crimes he admitted committing, which was why Amnesty International refused to advocate for him.
The outcome of overcoming the suppression of a people based on race is an important positive outcome.  There is no overstating that. I have no patience for tearing down a person because of disagreement over race. But that is not the only issue of his life, so I’m trying to see the full picture.
Pro-Communist/Socialist Mandela
photo from here
His other efforts, using socialist means to “fight poverty,” are all statist tyranny tactics. He worked for income redistribution, using the typical socialist approaches, apparently unaware that these tactics never create wealth but only prevent wealth creation by the “haves.” Granted, there was a lack of basic needs, like water and electricity, suffered by the black poor but not the white wealthy. So, without the thinking of American freedom, it’s unfortunate but not unlikely for socialism to appear persuasive. Socially, he was pro-abortion. He codified pro-sexual promiscuity into the constitution—in a country suffering from the devastation of AIDS (one f his sons died of AIDS).
Personally, he was known to be friendly, relaxed in the company of everyone, and humble—even making his own bed while president. Promiscuity, combined with the strain of political strife, ended his first two of three marriages. Still, he is reported to have enjoyed his private family time.
South Africa is much better off today than during apartheid. But think how much better off the people would be if their great leader had used his influence to lead the people to guarantees of God-given rights, free market economics, and the pro-religion and pro-family principles necessary for thriving civilization.
The title “southern hemisphere hero” does not refer to the location on the globe of South Africa; it refers to the southern hemisphere on the Spherical Model. North is freedom; south is tyranny. So much of world history has taken place in the southern hemisphere, where people believe the choices are between anarchic tyranny and statist tyranny. But there is an entire northern hemisphere of freedom they’re missing.
The decision to allow all people a vote was a movement northward. It might be that Mandela accomplished all he could, as a single individual, in a difficult time and place, without the right beliefs. And not every “hero” has as much moral integrity as Ghandi or George Washington. But I believe the struggles his country still suffers could be solved by significant movement northward on the sphere.
So this remarkable man is to be honored, but with limits.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Corporate Religious Freedom

In light of our last post, on heroically standing up to tyranny, I would like to recognize the heroes at Hobby Lobby who are standing up against the HHS mandate infringing on their religious beliefs.
The Hobby Lobby case is one of two 2014 Supreme Court cases relating to the mandate for providing insurance to employees that includes contraception—including abortifacients. (The other is Conestoga Wood Specialties, Mennonite cabinetmakers in Pennsylvania.) The misnamed Affordable Care Act details what must be included in various health insurance policies, and birth control is among the requirements—for everyone, of every gender, age, and circumstance. Under pressure, exceptions were carved out for religious institutions, dithering over a fair amount of minutia deciding things like whether a parochial school run by a church could be exempted, or if only employees of the actual church could be exempted.
A Hobby Lobby store front
photo from here
The government’s knee-jerk response is based on its perceived interests first and foremost, regardless of the effect on individuals and their beliefs. The first attempt at appeasement to church employment was, “You don’t have to pay for contraceptives, if that is against your beliefs; you simply have to pay for policies that will offer it.” Um. That’s still paying for it.
We think the decision is more or less settled for churches, which have a declared religious purpose. But religious institutions aren’t the only places you find religious people. And where you find religious people, you may encounter those opposed to paying for someone else’s pregnancy avoidance. And you’re especially going to find opposition if the pregnancy “avoidance” products include after-fertilization-of-the-egg types, which can be considered abortion.
Such people are among the founders and leadership of Hobby Lobby, the large, national craft store chain out of Oklahoma. They are self-declared religious people. Their stores are always closed on Sundays, in honor of their belief in keeping the Sabbath day holy. (The Hobby Lobby story is recounted in founder David Green’s book More than a Hobby.)
So the question arises: Do persons lose their right to religious freedom when they enter into commerce? Since pretty much everyone does enter into commerce, we probably need to narrow that down to those who do business as an entity, rather than as they themselves individually—which is still pretty wide reaching: DBAs, limited partnerships, nonprofit organizations, companies, firms, privately held corporations, and publicly traded (stock selling) corporations. Plus probably other business structures I’m not thinking of.
The opposition chooses to word this question a little differently: How can a corporation have religious beliefs? It’s not a person. They’re just trying to dodge their responsibility to pay for full health care coverage. (And LA Times editorial titled it “The Hobby Lobby Dodge.”)
So I’m looking at my personal experience, which is very small scale, to see if it translates. Several decades ago I had a writing and editing business that, for various reasons, worked better if I incorporated, had clients pay the corporation, then had the corporation pay me as a contractor. The corporation required three principals: that was me, my husband, and my dad. We met the requirements of the law to be a corporation, but in every respect that was important, I was the corporation: I was the one doing the work, making the decisions, and earning the money that passed through the corporation to me as a contractor. Was the corporation something other than me? On paper, but not in reality. If the corporation had been required to write things I wasn’t willing to write, like porno scripts for example, the corporation would have turned down such work, because I was unwilling to do it.
Suppose there were a government requirement to take on work I found morally objectionable. There isn’t; it seems ridiculous to contemplate—but then having government tell any business what it must buy for its employees seemed ludicrous just a few years ago. So, let’s suppose there were such a requirement of my little corporation. Would I have to do it? My religious beliefs and personal moral code prohibit me from doing so. Under government coercion, I still couldn’t do it. Having government say, “You don’t have to do the work that goes against your beliefs; it’s only required of the corporation, which doesn’t have religious views,” doesn’t help me.
Hiring some other contract writer to do the work wouldn’t even solve the issue for me; I couldn’t have such work produced by the corporation that I control.
When government coerces a commercial entity, the people with controlling interest in that commercial entity have two options: comply, or shut down. Hobby Lobby has already said that, if there is no other recourse, they will shut down rather than comply.
First, of course, comes the question of whether the government can coerce. It (which is supposed to be “We the People,” but sure seems to have become some other monstrous entity) can and does coerce—unless prevented. Government is power. Our Constitution places limits on the federal government, delineating the specifically allowed powers—but those limits have been stretched beyond the point of elasticity. We are left to rely on a hope that unelected judges will say, “No, you can’t do that.”
The Supreme Court is the last resort for Hobby Lobby. They already won in federal appeals court, but the Obama administration isn’t satisfied with the result, so Hobby Lobby must fight on. I appreciate their heroic willingness to do so. Personally, I see Hobby Lobby as my favorite “toy” store; I adore using the 40% off coupon I can make appear on my phone every time I shop there. Having them shut down would be tragic for me, but more so for the thousands of employees, and the additional thousands making products sold there.
In the case of Conestoga Wood, they lost in appeals court on grounds very similar to Hobby Lobby. So the Supreme Court was looking at split decisions, as well as additional dozens of similar challenges to the mandate, when they decided to take on the role of final arbiter.
Back in January 2012 the SCOTUS ruled unanimously in favor of religious freedom in the Hosanna-Tabor case.  But the ruling included recognition that it was a church making its hiring decisions. It’s less certain this time. There is the question of whether a commercial enterprise is comprised of people with religious and other guaranteed rights.
Remember back during the last presidential campaign, in 2011, when media had a jolly time laughing at Romney for stating that a corporation was its people? The Supreme Court had already agreed with him concerning political donations in the Citizens United case, in 2010, which has left the tyrannists gnashing their teeth ever since.
So the Supreme Court has found that businesses have political speech rights. If they find that businesses also have religious rights, then the government can only supersede those rights with a compelling reason. (An example of a compelling reason might be that, if a religion believed in punishing rape victims with death for allowing themselves to be made “unclean,” the government would see that as a violation of murder laws and punish accordingly, regardless of the religion’s beliefs.) That seems to me a high burden in this case. They must convince, not only that there is a compelling interest in the government’s protecting all rights to the use of all contraceptives, including abortifacients; they must convince that there is a right to have such products paid for by whomever the government burdens with the assignment. If we didn’t find ourselves in this parallel Obama-verse, we would shrug off such arguments as piffle.
The Court will hear arguments in spring 2014 and make their ruling probably in June. Let us all pray that the justices have the wisdom to recognize that entering into commerce is not a forfeiture of our God-given right to make moral choices.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Moral Dilemmas

As I was writing the last post, on being good citizens even in difficult times, I recalled a book I read some years ago, for a homeschool book club. I’m uncertain of the name, but I can give you the basic story, and several books that tell it.
Back in WWII Germany there were three teenage Mormon boys, approaching the age when they were required to join the Hitler Youth. Their religion had taught them about the value of freedom, which became at odds with their nation and the tyrannical pressure there during the war. They also found that what the government was telling them wasn’t true.
The boys learned from BBC radio—which was forbidden to listen to, but they heard it nevertheless, over a short-wave radio—that the war wasn’t going the way the government was telling the people. There were a lot of things the German news was saying that the outside world knew wasn’t true. The boys were troubled by the dissonance between their beliefs and the laws and actions of their country.
Helmuth Hübener, center, with Rudolf Wobbe, left,
and Karl Schnibbe, right
photo from Wikipedia
It was not policy for Mormons to be encouraged to rebel against their government, even under tyranny. But still they were taught the value of freedom and God-given rights. So it was a dilemma.
German Mormons were not condemned for fighting in the war, even if they believed their country was in the wrong; they were obliged to do as directed, and the blame would be on the hands of the nation’s leaders. However, if they could find ways to do good to their fellow man, or to find nonviolent ways to seek freedom, they were not forbidden by the Church. In other words, they were taught the principles and allowed to make their best decisions—just the same as today. (A similar situation comes up in the movie Saints and Soldiers, when Mormons fighting on opposite sides find their common religion important enough to help one another. Also, I told my Dad’s story of an encounter with a German Mormon soldier here. )
So here were three boys, in a Mormon congregation in Nazi Germany. Their congregation’s leader was strictly obedient to Hitler and insisted that was the right choice. But the boys felt directed to act differently. They listened in to the BBC, copied what they heard, typed it up, and distributed flyers to let the German people know the truth.
It was dangerous—and illegal. But it wasn’t violent. It was definitely brave. The boys were eventually caught. The main leader of the three, Helmuth Hübener, was tortured and beheaded, even though execution of youth for such crimes was rare. He wrote from prison: "I know that God lives and He will be the Just Judge in this matter. I look forward to seeing you in a better world!"
Here’s a quote from one of his treasonous pamphlets:
German boys! Do you know the country without freedom, the country of terror and tyranny? Yes, you know it well, but are afraid to talk about it. They have intimidated you to such an extent that you don't dare talk for fear of reprisals. Yes you are right; it is Germany—Hitler Germany! Through their unscrupulous terror tactics against young and old, men and women, they have succeeded in making you spineless puppets to do their bidding.
The other two friends, Rudi Wobbe and Karl Schnibbe, survived, with 5-10-year prison sentences. Wobbe told his personal account in Before the Blood Tribunal, published in 1989, and Three against Hitler, with Jerry Borrowman, 2002. Schnibbe wrote his version of events in When Truth Was Treason, published in 1995. Other book versions include the biography Hübener vs. Hitler, by Richard Lloyd Dewey, 2003; Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow, 2005, and The Boy Who Dared, 2008, both by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Her first one, a Newbery Honor book, includes Hübener’s story among others, while the later one is a fictionalized novel of the boys.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell which one I encountered. I think it might be The Boy Who Dared, but the date on that makes it barely fit as a possibility, so I’m uncertain. I only know that the remarkable story of these boys is something that sticks.
What is my conclusion about the dilemma? The boys were right, and heroic, to act as they did, because the tyranny surrounding them was wrong. Nevertheless, they did commit treason in the eyes of the law, such as it was, and they acted with the full knowledge that they would face punishment if caught. It would not have been sinful for them to have followed their adult leaders’ advice, keep their heads down, and make no waves. But it would not be a dilemma if there weren’t two competing positions. Since they were old enough to know their own conscience, and know what God was personally leading them to do, it was right for them to act.  
When Sir Thomas More faced the dilemma between supporting King Henry VIII and remaining loyal to the Catholic Church, he scrupulously remained silent. Nevertheless, his silence was interpreted as treason, and he was convicted. Before execution, he went ahead and voiced his true beliefs. (The story is beautifully told in the movie AMan for All Seasons.)
Most of us will not be in a position where we face death if we act according to conscience. But it’s something to think about ahead of time, to know ourselves well enough to know what is most important—eternally important, beyond comfort and life. Because if we don’t stand up for the important things while we are able, freedoms slip away, leaving us at greater risk when we do stand up to stronger tyranny.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Good Citizenship in All Times and in All Places

Our Sunday School lesson this week was on good citizenship. A little background: in our worldwide religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), there are more members outside the US than inside. The same Sunday School lessons are taught in every congregation around the world, within a week or so of the same schedule. So this wasn’t a lesson on being a good American, although it applies here as well.

This year’s class curriculum is on church history (the history of this religion, what led to its founding in 1830, and mainly what happened in the first few decades). The book of study for this year is the Doctrine and Covenants, a set of statements of revelation guiding the early leaders, often in answer to particular questions and circumstances, but also, as other scripture, applicable in our lives today as well.
So this week’s lesson was on Doctrine and Covenants Section134, written August 17, 1835. It is a declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general, twelve verses long, about two pages. I’d like to first share some highlights:
1.      We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
So, two things: governments can be a blessing for a society, for our good and safety; and we are accountable for the making and administering of laws to meet that purpose.
6        …[leaders are] placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men show respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror…
In Spherical Model terms, laws protect us from the tyranny of anarchy—the southern (tyranny) hemisphere, the western (anarchy) quadrant. Include the limitation of government’s purpose, and we can avoid the southeastern (statist tyranny) quadrant as well.
There is another item of Mormon doctrine, from a list of beliefs called The Articles of Faith, referring to our status as citizens of nations in the world. This is Article 12:
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
As a people dedicating our lives to God, we are submissive to the governments where we live—even tyrannical governments, while striving to bring about as much freedom as we can.
The next verse of D&C 134 refers to the free exercise of religion, which I plan to spend a full post on soon, because of cases before the Supreme Court this year.
7        We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.
So there is a two-part expectation of governments: they must protect the free exercise of religion, and they must not deprive citizens of the free exercise of religion. In return, religious persons will not hide behind their so-called beliefs to commit sedition or conspire against the government or the people.
This sounds very much like the two-part religious freedom included as the very first words in our Constitution’s First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” So there must be freedom to believe as we choose, without special privilege toward any state-sponsored religion; nor can there be government interference in our religious practices.
One more verse, in case you wondered about the 2nd Amendment:
11    …we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in time of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.
If you’ve submitted to a government for protection, you have not relinquished your right to defend yourself at times when the protectors can’t get there. Someone breaks into your home, you don’t have to wait for the police to arrive.
Latter-day Saints force out of Illinois
cross frozen Mississippi
image from
It’s interesting to look at the times when these things were written. The Church was founded in upstate New York—in the area of Palmyra (which you can visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood of Niagara Falls). Persecution there soon led to a move to the area around Kirtland, Ohio. In just a few years, persecution there led to a move to Missouri. Persecution there soon led to a move to Missouri counties on the other side of the state. Persecution there—including an extermination order, which made it “legal” to murder Mormons in Missouri, not rescinded until just a few decades ago—led to a move to a swampland near Quincy, Illinois. The swamps were drained, and the city of Nauvoo was built, where the Mormons, in some isolation, thrived for a few years. (Some of my Mormon ancestors date to this period.) But persecution grew (are you seeing a pattern?) including the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his Brother Hyrum. Promises of protection from the governor were broken, and by 1846 the Mormons were forced out of their homes yet again, in winter, across the Mississippi to Iowa and Nebraska, where they gathered in tents and dugout homes to survive until they could ready themselves to cross the plains, which they did in 1847, eventually arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, where the isolation for a longer period of time, in a place no one else wanted, allowed them to thrive.
The sesquicentennial of that trek across the plains was celebrated in 1997. There was a reenactment of people making all or part of that trek. A family (a mother and daughters—her husband stayed home on their farm) near where we lived in eastern Washington did the trek, experiencing as much reality as they could. She sewed her own tent. She dried her own buffalo jerky. She learned to drive a team of horses. (The originals drove mainly oxen, but for various reasons, sturdy horses were used in the reenactment trek.) I was asked to write about her and send her story to the media.
Pioneer Trek reenactment
photo from
Sometime after that I got a call from a reporter at Germany’s Der Spiegel newspaper. The question the reporter had for me was about freedom of religion. This was America, where we had freedom of religion guaranteed in our Constitution since its beginning. How could the Mormons be treated this way? And all I could say was that this was the frontier, and a lot of wild things happened on the frontier that might not have been tolerated in the more settled parts of America.
It was at that time, while suffering persecution for their religion, with government entities failing to do their duty toward them, that the people declared their support of the principles of limited government to protect our God-given rights. The principles are true, regardless of whether the government is “true” to its proper purpose.
Back to the question of how to be good citizens:
·        Vote—if you’re a citizen, you are obligated to vote.
·        Attend precinct meeting—the grassroots meeting where you decide on what to contribute to the party platform and delegates for the next level. I believe that if we had a God-respecting person familiar with the Constitution at every precinct meeting, that would be very powerful for good.
·        Contact your leaders. For every contact, the legislator assumes there are 10 constituents who hold that opinion; for an in-person visit they estimate there are 100 others who hold that opinion. Be the one to do the contacting.
·        Help in campaigns.
·        Work at the polls.
·        Volunteer as a poll watcher.
·        Share information with your friends, in person or through online media.
This list is just participation in the world of government. Being a good citizen also includes respecting the law, living a moral life, and volunteering and serving in the community.
One way to prevent government from stepping in to “do good” is to be doing the good that needs to be done, using our free will, rather than government coercion. If we want to live in the northern freedom/prosperity/civilization part of the sphere, we need to live according to those principles.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanks and Things

I am not a recreational shopper. It is not what I do for fun; it is what I suffer through to get needed items, like food and, when absolutely necessary, clothing. I will not be shopping on Thanksgiving Day. It’s hard to imagine myself shopping on Black Friday either, although an unanticipated circumstance may arise. But I will not seek that torture. Do people really go out into the crowds on purpose? What commodities could be worth it?
In short, I guess I’m thankful that my needs are not so great that I must fend off hordes to supply the family with what we need. If you have needs that take you out into the melee, you have my sympathies; it must be hard to feel thankful under such deprivation.
If you shop under those circumstances for recreation, I do not understand you; we are of a different substance. But the stores are out there, so you go for it, and may you enjoy yourself.
I am thankful that much shopping (and shipping) can be done by internet. What a relief! Shipping is less expensive and a lot easier that way. I’m all for that. Isn’t innovation and free enterprise a wonderful thing!
Speaking of Thanksgiving, I came across a piece worth reading, about the Pilgrims. It was a piece on The Imaginative Conservative, called “Mayflower Compact or Plymouth Combination?” It was about the renaming of the agreement, some 173 years afterward. Neither “compact” nor “combination” are often used or understood the same way today. But I think the point is that it was a simple document declaring the Pilgrims’ right to self-government. The word covenant is used in it, a two-way promise, between each other, combining in their efforts to honor God. It’s a beautiful document, and precedence setting. In itself it is a declaration of the basic right to self-rule, which continued as a practice on this continent.
image from here
These good people didn’t start off getting everything right. As the story goes, they nearly starved the first year, but then things got better. What changed was their approach to property ownership. John Stossel recounts the situation in a piece this week called “Thankful for Property.” Good intentions from good people aren’t enough to ensure good behavior. Self-interest in managing personal property—in other words, enjoying your life, liberty, and the use of them—results in more moral behavior than common ownership.
So, if were making a list for Thanksgiving, we can be thankful God granted us life, liberty, and the right to pursue our own happiness. That includes the physical things we need as well as the more immeasurable things, like love, and family (same thing, really).
I came across a few quotes for the day worth sharing. I hope these help you celebrate a heartfelt and memorable Thanksgiving Day:
Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.—A. A. Milne

Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.—Alfred Painter

I would maintain that thanks is the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.—G. K. Chesterton

A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontent.—David A. Bednar

Monday, November 25, 2013

Economic Schools of Thought

The Q&A session for this past week’s Economics 101 class (free online from Hillsdale College) included some definitions of three basic economic schools of thought. I refer to these fairly frequently, so I thought maybe it would be useful to have a short lesson defining them. We’ll look at these: Keynesianism, the Chicago School, and the Austrian school.
When we say “school,” we aren’t referring to a brick-and-mortar institution; we’re referring to a way of thinking. Those who agree with and follow those ideas “belong to” that school of thought. The schools aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Two of these three are proponents of the free market.
John Maynard Keynes was a British economist who put forth a theory in the 1930s, purporting that government intervention could accomplish full employment and reduce the impact of business cycles.
There’s a 3-minute video intro to lecture 7 of the Hillsdale Econ 101 course, which explains the Keynesian model.

In the actual lecture Professor Gary Wolfram charts out the theory on a supply and demand curve. In the real world, there’s typically a gap between the number of potential employees and the number actually hired. Even in full employment, that’s around 3-4% (which was declaimed as too high all the way through the Bush administration, but has been double to triple that—or worse, depending on your measures—all the way through the Obama administration, while the same people keep claiming the economy is improving. So, one thing about statist/Keynesians is that government intervention is a good thing, to be taken on faith, regardless of measurable evidence.) Keynes’s theory is contained in his main work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936.
Keynes's magnum opus
Keynesianism claims that government spending—any government spending—results in economic growth. (Read my Glass Breaking Fun.) That’s why you see such “growth” in Washington, DC, the past few years, while the rest of the country struggles. The DC growth is because government is literally trying to grow the economy by hiring people to do whatever (metaphorically digging holes and filling them in)—without noticing that any money for that purpose is taken from what could be spent to innovate or invest in the non-government real economy. It is Keynesianism that claims the way we got out of the Great Depression was by spending our way out because of WWII.
Keynesianism is most popular with people who want increased government power, so it’s not surprising that it was championed by such politicians over the past near century. However, as Keynesian theories have been implemented, empirical evidence of their failures has led more and more economists to leave that school of thought and take another look at the free market schools. However, Keynesianism resurged in 2007-2008, with what is now referred to as the Great Recession, which continues apace with ongoing government interference. Hmm.
One of the most prominent Keynesian economists still claiming Keynes was right is Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, who is widely published and consistently wrong.
The Austrian School
Contemporary with Keynes were Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, who are usually considered the two main Austrian economists. Ludwig von Mises, who is generally considered the original Austrian theorist, immigrated from Europe in 1940, ahead of the advance of the Nazis, landing in New York; he taught at NYU for most of the remainder of his life. He considered himself a classical liberal—that is, “liberal” in much the way our founders were; he believed in limited government and free markets among a moral people. Mises is often cited by libertarians today, although I’m not sure he completely fits in their world.

Ludwig von Mises
photo from Wikipedia
My personal view is that, on the Spherical Model, Mises is western hemisphere (most local control that can be managed for any given issue), but also northern, where laws protect people’s God-given rights to life, liberty, and property. Libertarian theory tends to encompass the entire western hemisphere, including the below-the-equator belief that government should have no role, and free market should rule, even including addictive drugs and sex trade. (See Why I’m Not Quite a Libertarian.)
Friedrich Hayek, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974, wrote The Road to Serfdom, which should be required reading for any educated individual. Hayek was a follower of Mises. While friendly with Keynes personally, Hayek disagreed with his theory. (Meanwhile, Keynes read Hayek’s book and said he agreed with it entirely.) When he left Austria, Hayek taught  in Britain for some time before ending up at the University of Chicago. Much of his work describes business cycles. Some of what he demonstrated was that government interference actually causes business cycles—both lengthening and intensifying the pain. Without the interference, the market serves to correct itself, with just minor dips and quick corrections. When there is a shortage of labor, the economy self-corrects by raising pay rates, until there is equilibrium. When there is a surplus of labor, the economy self-corrects by lowering pay rates, until there is equilibrium. He favors trust in the free market and government restraint.
Friedrich A. Hayek
photo from Wikipedia
Henry Hazlitt, another Austrian commentator, wrote a point by point rebuttal of Keynes’s The General Theory, called The Failure of the New Economics. The Austrians looked more at innovation and various movements from equilibrium, accepting that those are not necessarily negative things to be avoided.
The Chicago School
The Chicago school of economics usually refers to Milton Friedman, and also his wife, Rose Director Friedman. Thomas Sowell, a former Marxist who later studied in Chicago under Friedman, is probably included.
Friedman is a free-market economist. He is against government intervention. The difference between his work and the Austrians is more a matter of focus than disagreement. The Austrians look at movement from one cycle to the next. The Chicago school examines the conditions that exist at equilibrium. They look at government intervention, what it does, and why it always goes wrong: the information needed is unknowable, the timing will always be late. And government interference obscures the market signal: producers get incorrect signals about whether to produce long-term capital products or short-term consumer products—or producers fail to get a signal, because of uncertainty in the market, and therefore hold back production until there is clarity (what we’re seeing in the market now). Some of the “interference” is control of the money supply, and the Chicago school looks closely at that.
Milton Friedman
photo from Wikipedia
All of these theories deal with macroeconomics—the movement of the economy as a whole—rather than microeconomics, which is the study of why individuals make the economic decisions they do. If there is a basic macroeconomic principle for government it should be “first, do no harm.” The argument “Well, we have to do something,” is wrong; doing nothing is always an option and often the best one. Government is not responsible for the economy; government’s only economic role is preservation of rights—enforcing contracts, protecting property rights, settling disputes over property claims, and possibly standardize monetary units (although Wolfram actually discusses the suggestion of privatizing money supplies, which is an interesting idea).
Less government interference, beyond its limited role, always leads to greater prosperity. Imagine the economic prosperity we would be experiencing if government had refrained from interfering this past century.