Thursday, April 25, 2013

Whatever Happened to the Human Race?

In 1979, the modern Christian theologian Dr. Francis Schaeffer and the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C.Everett Koop co-authored a book titled, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?. Published within the decade that saw the legalization of abortion on demand through Roe vs. Wade, the book explored the premise that acceptance of abortion leads to a general devaluation of human life on at all levels.  Abortion leads to infanticide, which leads to euthanasia, which eventually leads to genocide.  Schaeffer and Koop wrote,
We are concerned that there is not more protest, outcry, or activism in regard to these issues of life and death. We can even recognize that there are people who are led to starve children to death because they think they are doing something helpful for society. Lacking an absolute ethical standard, they have only the concept of what they think is beneficial for society to guide them. But we cannot understand why other people, those with a moral base--and we know there are many of them--do not cry out. We are concerned about this because, when the first German aged, infirm and retarded were killed in gas chambers, there was likewise no perceptible outcry from the medical profession or from an apathetic population.  It was not far from there to Auschwitz.

I read Whatever Happened to the Human Race over twenty years ago, but I have been reminded of it in the last few days watching the events surrounding the Kermit Gosnell trial.  Anyone who has followed this trial at all knows that Gosnell is the 71-year old abortion doctor and proprietor of the "Women's Medical Center" in Philadelphia who is on trial for murder of infants born alive and at least one adult patient.  Various workers in the clinics have testified that when infants survived the abortion procedure, Gosnell snipped their spinal cords or in some cases slit their throats.  Jack McMahon, Gosnell's attorney, argues that although Gosnell did perform abortions past the 24 week limit written into the state's statute, not one of the babies he is accused of harming was over 24 weeks and there is no evidence that any of them was born alive.  His arguments persuaded the judge in the case to throw out three of the infant murder counts against Gosnell for "Baby A, "Baby B" and "Baby C" as well as five counts of corpse abuse. (Apparently, babies were kept in jars and their feet and sometimes entire legs were severed and preserved as well. Multiple babies appeared in photographs which showed their upper spinal columns had been cut in order to snip the spinal cords.)  Four remaining counts of infanticide and one count of murder of an adult remained against Gosnell on Tuesday, April 23 after the judge's ruling.

Yesterday, in an apparent about-face, the judge reinstated the murder charge for "Baby C".  "Baby C" survived its abortion procedure, and according testimony by clinic workers, was laid on a counter where it lived for twenty minutes and moved its arms.  Workers testify that they "played" with the baby by pulling on its arms and watching it pull back before killing it.

The outcome of this hideous trial and Gosnell's ultimate fate remain to be seen but the reaction to it by our society reveals a lot about how far we have fallen morally.  The mainstream press has remained silent on a trial that is one of the most grisly, scandalous, and shocking of my lifetime.  I have seen photos of the empty courtroom seats reserved for the press.  When Gosnell announced this week that he would not take the stand in his own defense, Huffington Post actually made that a headline.  But when the judge reinstated the murder charge for a baby brutally murdered after twenty minutes of life, I saw the update on my Twitter feed because had covered the story.  The disgusting, macabre details of this man's crimes are the stuff of nightmares, but in a society where grisly, bloody violence sells almost as well as sex, and people will pay high ticket prices to see slasher movies like the "Saw" series, nobody wants to talk about Kermit Gosnell.

Why?  I have seen some conservative commentators speculate that the media does not want to cover the Gosnell trial because it shows abortion for what it really is--murder.  That's part of it; but it really is only a part of media black out of this story.  The other part is that our society is rapidly morphing into the society that Schaeffer and Koop predicted and feared--a society without compassion, without empathy, without concern.  We are fearsomely close to pre-Nazi Germany in our attitudes about the value of human life.

In 1949, Leo Alexander, a psychiatrist from Boston who had been consultant to the Secretary of War and had served with the office of the Chief Council for War Crimes in Nuremberg from 1946-1947, wrote a paper titled, "Medical Science Under Dictatorship."  He writes that before Hitler became the German Chancellor in 1933, a barrage of indoctrination had already begun against, "traditional, compassionate nineteenth century attitudes against the chronically ill, and for the adoption of a utilitarian, Hegelian point of view."  This propaganda spread everywhere, from mass entertainment, as in a German film called, I Accuse in which the husband of a woman suffering from life-long multiple sclerosis finally euthanizes her while a sympathetic colleague plays the piano softly in another room, to the public education system which included high school textbooks such as Mathematics in the Service of Political Education, 2nd edition 1935, 3rd edition 1936, which included "problems stated in distorted terms of the cost of caring for and rehabilitating the chronically sick and crippled.  One of the problems asked, for instance,  is how many new housing units could be built, and how many marriage-allowance loans could be given to newly-wed couples for the amount of money it cost the state to care for 'the crippled and insane.'" In other words, the German people were fed a steady diet of a philosophy that some lives are not as important as others, and that the less worthy lives were draining funds which could be used for the happiness of those more deserving than they.

Hitler did not issue the first euthanasia order until 1939, after the German people had received a sufficiently steady diet of this philosophy to no longer object.  The organization that he established to kill children under the Third Reich was called Realm's Committee for Scientific Approach to Severe Illness Due to Heredity and Constitution.  Patients who were being killed were transported by "The Charitable Transport Company for the Sick" which billed their relatives for the cost of their extermination while falsifying the death certificates so that they would not understand how their loved ones had actually died.  Leo Alexander tells us, "It all started with the acceptance of the attitude that there is such a thing as a life that is not worthy to be lived."  From there, Hitler was able to kill more than 9 million people in Europe.

What does all of this have to do Kermit Gosnell?  Very simply, I believe that the media black out of the Gosnell trial has less to do with protecting the abortion industry than it does with an overall move to retrain our society away from respect for life and the sanctity of life and towards an overall apathy and callousness toward the deaths of others.  We are now seeing our own media propaganda in this direction.  In the last twenty four months, I have seen an episode of  The Mentalist in which a regular character who is dying of cancer decides to commit suicide and asks the show's main character, Patrick Jane, to stay with him while he dies so that he will not be alone.  Although Jane is at first very uncomfortable with this request, he does stay and performs sleight of hand coin tricks to distract the dying man until his life ebbs away.  Criminal Minds last year featured an episode in which the ex-wife of one of the main characters also finds out that she is terminally ill and decides to commit suicide and asks that her ex-husband stay with her while she is dying.  Again, he is uncomfortable, but she has already consumed a fatal dose of some toxin, and so he compassionately holds her while she expires.  I want to note that in neither one of these shows did the principle character do anything to actively kill the person who died or to actually assist in the suicide, but the overall message was that they were compassionate good people by respecting the other person's right to die and by being a friend and not interfering.  This is the first step in saying that death can be preferable to life.

There are going to be a lot of other steps.  Next year many parts of The Affordable Care Act  will be fully implemented.  This coverage was supposed to provide every American with full access to health care regardless of health issues or pre-existing conditions.  Are we still so naive that we really think that a government who can't manage to pay the air-traffic controllers in order to avoid long delays at the airport will be able to cover the cost of every American's healthcare?  Even Democrats like Max Baucus are now calling the Affordable Care Act a "train wreck".  What the Act will do is force Americans to think in terms of which lives are worth saving.   The oft mocked "death panels" are a necessity when a society of finite resources takes it upon itself to make health choices for every person. As Alexander points out, "It is important to realize that this infinitely small wedged-in lever from which all this entire trend of the mind [the German mass euthanasia program] received its impetus was the attitude towards the nonrehabilitable sick."  When we as a society have to start making these decisions what will we choose?  Should healthy young people not be able to get as many benefits from the government because public resources are being used to treat people with chronic illnesses, or seniors with cancer?  How many scholarships could be given to our best and our brightest if the money were not being spent caring for the "crippled and insane"?  And so it begins.

Whatever happened to the human race?  The Germans could have chosen not to listen to the propaganda.  They could have chosen to reject Hitler and his social engineering and ethnic cleansing in favor of respect for all life and protection for all people.  They didn't.  The choice is now ours.  Will more of us stand against Kermit Gosnell, not just for the sake of the 8 original infants he was charged with murdering and the many, many more who died as the course of his normal practice, but because we understand that more is at stake than the life of a 71 year old abortion doctor in Philadelphia and his victims?  Will we allow ourselves to be lulled into apathy ("Those babies weren't wanted anyway.  Who would have taken care of them if they had lived?")  Hitler succeeded in his genocide in large part because German people from every walk of life supported him and furthered his goals.  If the Germans had refused to participate, they could have stopped the Holocaust before it began.  What will we do?

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her newest novel, The Chosen, about one small group of Americans' fight to restore the Constitution and end indefinite detentions without trial, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sustainable Development, Agenda 21 and how the Obama Administration is Using Housing Policies to Shape America

The big story this week, besides the threats of imminent annihilation from North Korea, is the apparent push from the White House to encourage banks to loosen the current mortgage credit restrictions.  So much media attention has been given to this that an uninformed observer would believe that the federal government is really working to expand homeownership back to pre-2008 levels.

I think this narrative, and the conservative furor/backlash being heard on conservative news shows like Hannity, is exactly the story that the White House wants the press reporting.  By having this narrative in the media, the White House can make a case for a populist push to force "bad greedy banks" to make more loans to deserving Americans who have had their credit damaged during the recession, and they can make conservatives who oppose them out to be heartless bad guys.  In reality, the true story of mortgage lending is very different than either side of this issue is reporting. 

The truth is that the qualified mortgage standards being implemented next year will shut between 15% (according to the CFPB's estimates) and 40% (according to the QM critics estimates) of potential homeowners out of the market completely.  Much is being made of the fact that FHA allows credit scores as low as 500, and down payments as low at 3.5%.  In fact, most banks will not make an FHA loan without a credit score of at least 600 and many require 620 or 640. But new guidelines expected to be released in the next few months will raise downpayment guidelines for qualified residential mortgages up to 10%.  While Fannie, Freddie and FHA have a seven year exemption before the loans they make have to qualify under the new guidelines, many mortgage professionals are looking ahead to the end of the seven years at a massive mortgage and housing constriction when the new guidelines are fully implemented for all lending types.  And in the immediate future, the implementation of the Qualifed Mortgages and the Qualified Residential Mortgages and the 3% cap on points and fees next year is going to cut off access to mortgage credit and to mortgage credit providers. 

So why is the Administration talking out of both sides of its mouth on this issue?  Very simply, the Obama Administration wants to discourage private ownership, especially in the suburbs, and wants to encourage "sustainable development"--densely packed urban areas reminiscent of Manhattan.  The problem is that Americans like homeownership, we like cars and we like suburbs.  So the Administration does not want to say in a public forum that they are actively working against these aspects of American life.  Instead, they have pushed through massive pieces of legislation such as Dodd Frank that contain thousands of pages of still to be written regulations that endanger private homeownership while they publicly claim to want to help Americans buy their own homes.

On March 18th, the National Review Online's Stanley Kurtz wrote an opinion piece entitled "Obama's Plans for the Suburbs: And How to Stop Them."  On March 15, President Obama spoke at the Argonne National Laboratory and proposed $2 billion on an energy security trust fund for renewable fuel research and as part of the speech he promised "to shift our cars oil"  As Kurtz noted in his column, even the New York Times was skeptical since the President did not provide any real details as to how he would accomplish this.

On that same day, however, the Department of Energy released a series of reports called "Transportation Energy Futures" which outline a plan to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80% by 2050.  Part of this report includes "the effects of the built environment on transportation."  This report is a blueprint for restricting development in suburbs.  Proponents of "smart growth" and "sustainability" hate the suburbs because they represent individual housing and private transportation, both of which are at odds with the United Nation's Agenda 21,an aggressive environmental blueprint to dramatically change the living conditions of the world.  Agenda 21 has been in various stages of implementation on the local level for over 20 years as cities and communities embrace Smart Growth, but the Obama Administration is dedicated to using federal resources to stop suburban development, to limit private automobile ownership and to force Americans into small tightly packed apartments to and from which they will either walk or use public transportation. 

To achieve this, the Department of Energy report recommends two policy options which are most likely to encourage dense development without exceeding the federal government's current authority.  The first requires eliminating the home mortgage interest deduction, which is perceived to incentivize many people to purchase homes who would not otherwise do so.  The second is to tie future federal aid, federal grants, and federal funding to "Smart Growth" projects.  The DOE suggests that federal funding for schools and roads could be forced to pass a population density litmus test which would mean that suburbs would not qualify for these funds. 

Kurtz also notes that on March 15th--the same day of Obama's speech at Argonne and the DOE report-- Bloomberg reported that the Obama Administration has announced plans to order all federal agencies to consider global warming before approving large projects.  As the Bloomberg report notes, this strategy could block highway construction and suburban development projects.

I agree with much of Kurtz's article, but I think he is overlooking some key factors.  First, he states that he does not believe that the mortgage interest deduction will be done away with.  That may or may not be true--but after spending 15 years in the housing industry I believe that tax exempt interest is a secondary consideration in whether people purchase homes.  Homeownership is the American dream, and for many Americans being able to write the interest off their taxes is not a primary incentive to buy--it is an added perk of doing so.  However, Obama already has a cadre of weapons in his legislative arsenal to stop the growth of the suburbs.  The new qualified and qualified residential mortgages are going to ultimately have such a great effect on who can purchase and who cannot and how much they can purchase that additional disincentives to purchasing single family homes will probably not be necessary.  Smart Growth and Sustainable development policies tend to make housing much more expensive. In Portland last year, the new "affordable housing" urban project was a one-bedroom condo selling downtown for around $160,000. The new qualified mortgage guidelines state that a borrower's total debt cannot exceed 43% of his or her total income.  What many do not seem to realize is that lenders, who are afraid of punitive government actions, have already placed serious limits on how much income they will consider for a borrower.  For instance, last Christmas I was working on a loan for a man who had been a self-employed attorney for 30 years.  Because he was retiring, his income was declining from year to year, although he still earned more than enough money to more than meet all of his current obligations and buy a small investment property.  But the lender did not want to be accused of making a mortgage loan to a person who did not "qualify" so they had a rule that if the income were declining for two years in a row, regardless of the current income filed on the taxes or the overall ability of the person to meet his financial obligations--they would not allow us to consider any of his self-employment income.  In the case of the attorney, the only income the underwriter would consider was just his fixed Social Security monthly income. 

Such practices are going to cause many self-employed or under employed Americans to not qualify to purchase housing period.   Americans who have had their hours cut due to the economy or Obamacare or who are working more than one job to make ends meet are going to have an increasingly difficult time qualifying.  Millions of others are going to qualify for such low loan amounts that all they will be able to afford is a small urban condo.  The Obama Administration does not have to make controversial public policies regarding housing--they just have to continue writing regulations which make it impossible for average Americans to afford homes.

The other part of this "carrot and stick" approach to implementing Smart Growth is also already happening through federal grants for sustainable projects.  Kurtz points out that House Republicans blocked funding for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants in 2012.  However, as he also mentions, there are a lot of grants out there now that builders and developers can use to build "Smart Growth" projects.

Consider "Block 21" in Aurora Colorado, a new mixed use urban housing project being built for the low, low price of $160 million through a joint partnership of Waveland Ventures LLC, Jackson Street Holdings LLC, and Arrival Partners LLC.  The project includes a six story 200 room four star hotel (the brand will be announced later this month) with a pool and fitness center and a 30,000 square foot meeting room.  It also features a four-story apartment complex with 100 units, a club house and a swimming pool, and 10,000 square feet of ground level retail space. Like all "Sustainable" communities, Block 21 will also feature the "Quadrangle" a heavily landscaped urban park.

The developers tell us that "Block 21" is named for Army hospital 21, a World War I hospital that once stood at the medical complex adjacent to the new development.  Perhaps that is true, but it is an amazing coincidence that the name invokes images of Agenda 21, the United Nations aggressive environmental initiative which calls for "human settlements" very much like Block 21.  

The most interesting part of Block 21 is the financing source.  According to RE Business online, Waveland Communtity Development, a wholly owned subsidiary of Waveland Ventures, has received $312 million in tax credits since 2007.  In addition to tax credits for Block 21, Waveland has also secured a commitment for the senior debt via the Federal EB5 program to finance the project.

That's exactly how this works--starve funds from the projects the government wants to kill and supply funds to the projects the government wants to promote.  As Smart Growth projects are incentivized with tax credits and federal funding we are going to see more Smart Growth developments and less and less financing for suburbs.  And as individual borrowers can no longer qualify to purchase homes in the suburbs, we will see more and more of these homes and ultimately more suburban communities going first into foreclosure, and then descending into "blight" only to be ultimately bulldozed and destroyed just as happened last year in Ohio with homes that could not be sold.

In his article, Kurtz recommends that Americans get involved in the process and let their Congressional Representatives know that they need to block funding for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants.  That is a good start.  Another good start is to support candidates who are informed about Agenda 21 and the threat that it poses to American freedom and the American way of life and to support only those candidates who stand against it.  A third is to stop falling into the trap of pretending that lending and mortgages are evils of the 21st century.  As long as Americans continue to pretend that cutting off access to credit is doing our country a favor, we are playing right into the hands of the politicians who are remaking our society into one in which private property and single family home ownership no longer exist--a society where everyone lives and works exactly where the government tells them to. That is not the future that I want to leave to the next generation.  What about you?

Find out more about Agenda 21, what it means, how it implemented, and what you can do about it by watching Alexandra's presentation: Agenda 21: Bankrupting Us into Utopia--One City at a Time

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at