Soviet Union

Chatting with Igor Birman

Igor Birman

“I think the impressionable libertarian kids are going to save our nation.” — Igor Birman

Late last year, I ran across video of Igor Birman, who immigrated to the United States with his family as the Soviet Union was collapsing, warning against a more centralized government healthcare system. Birman, who now serves as Chief of Staff to Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), was explaining that the Soviet system relied on rationing of healthcare, which would be the end result of ObamaCare.

Earlier this week, I had the chance to sit down with Birman to discuss his story, the transformation of the United States into a police state, ObamaCare, the budget, and other destructive economic policies that are being pushed by the White House.

When asked about the recent filibuster in the Senate, Birman applauded Sen. Rand Paul and noted that it was refreshing to hear a politician be so passionate. He also compared the policies implemented as part of the “war on terror”  to life in the Soviet Union, where the government frequently searched homes of ordinary citizens without cause, which he called a “fact of life,” noting that “you just accepted it as much as you did the cold weather and the long lines for the basic staples of food and water.”

Birman experienced this first-hand. “A week before we left for the United States, we went to say goodbye to my uncle in St. Petersburg and when we came back, we found our apartment just absolutely ravaged,” recalled Birman. “The authorities must have been looking for whatever lame excuse they could find to either delay or disrupt our departure.”

Economic Depressions Don’t Exist Under Totalitarian Systems

So contends Lev Nazrozov. He writes:

Out-of-control predatory capitalists have perpetrated a worldwide economic depression. Capitalism’s degenerate character is now extraordinarily visible during this time of multiple crises.

On each side of the page there is a picture of a miserable emaciated proletarian who carries on his back a huge pack of money, with a bourgeois seated atop of the pack and smoking a cigar.

By simply allowing the government to dominate every sector of the polity, by embracing totalitarianism, we might be able to avoid the woes of economic recession? Historical study makes such a conclusion seem ridiculous. While totalitarian economies did not suffer from “depressions”, per se, one could argue that consumers and citizens lived under a system which continuously mimicked the effects of depression.

Bailing Out the Auto Industry: A Perspective

Thursday evening I posted on my Facebook profile the speech that Congressman Ron Paul gave on the House floor, opposing the auto industry bailout (the so-called “bridge loan”), along with the following comment:

“This speech on the auto bailout speaks for itself. Congressman Paul really puts it all into perspective. Were that there were more in Congress like him.”

What is America Becoming?

A few months ago, I was temporarily immersed in the recent history of Eastern Europe. I was devouring Ayn Rand’s We the Living, Michael G. Roskin’s The Rebirth of East Europe and Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde.

Communists close borders while the free world lets the walls fall

25thanniversary

This is a photo of the 300,000 people who gathered yesterday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The freedom to travel is an inherent right that libertarians and conservatives sometimes take for granted. Perhaps this is a result of the U.S. government conditioning us to view travel as a privilege, because without a license from the Department of Motor Vehicles we cannot legally drive on public roads, and without being cleared for air travel by the Transportation Security Agency, we can’t fly.

The right to travel freely does not stop at state borders and it should not stop at international borders. And yet many of us support immigration reform in the form of stricter border control. After all, we can’t have open borders with a welfare state, and an increase in the number of needy people would increase the size of the already-bloated welfare state, including entitlements like Social Security which began running a deficit in 2010 which will quadruple in the next 20 years.

The size of the welfare state is a huge problem. Since the Congress seems incapable of cutting welfare spending, many people focus on changing the number of people receiving benefits. The most palatable policy changes that can temporarily address the number of people receiving Social Security checks is increasing the retirement age and making Social Security means-tested.

Hey, Jay Carney, communism isn’t cool

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin is responsible for the deaths of at least 20 million people — through purges, famine, and other government policies — during his 30-year communist regime. The death toll on his watch put him behind only Mao Zedong as the most murderous dictator in history.

Despite the death toll under communist regimes, which were responsible for the deaths of 94 million people in the 20th Century, the ideology has been embraced, so to speak, in pop culture. Because cool, or something.

You’ve no doubt seen people wearing t-shirts featuring Che Guevara’s likeness. Known as the “Butcher of La Cabana,” this murderous thug oversaw the execution of some 2,000 people.

This author saw a tourist sporting apparel with a Soviet hammer and sickle outside the White House just this past weekend. You can even buy clothing with Mao’s image, lest you be without a shirt featuring a dictator whose regime killed 45 million people.

CA-07: #LibertyKaraoke to host fundraiser for Igor Birman

Igor Birman

Coming off successful events for Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY), DC-area liberty activists have announced a #LibertyKaraoke fundraiser for Igor Birman, a Republican running in California’s Seventh Congressional District (CA-07).

This will be the third #LibertyKaraoke event for the 2014 cycle, but the first for a challenger. CA-07 is currently represented by Rep. Ami Bera, a Democrat.

#LibertyKaraoke: Igor Birman

Birman has a unique story. Born in the Soviet Union, his family immigrated to the United States when he was 13. He has related his experiences from living the then-communist country on issues like healthcare and domestic surveillance.

“Well, you could say that I was born into Obamacare,” Birman told United Liberty in a March 2013 interview. ”But what after all, what is Obamacare? Well, it is  government taking control of the decisions that rightfully belong to you and your doctor. The consequences of any government takeover [have] been shortages and rationing.”

“I was born into a system where government made the most intimate of healthcare decisions and ultimately decided what it will and will not pay for,” he added.

Birman’s background is one of the reasons #LibertyKaraoke decided to get behind his campaign.

“I have yet to find one crime that Stalin committed.”

The Young Americans for Liberty hosted a debate at Montclair State University. During the question and answer section, the debater representing the liberal position claimed that communist Russia was not responsible for any deaths.

Professor Grover Furr insisted in the face of student questioning that Joseph Stalin was not responsible for the genocide for which he’s infamous.

In college I remember running into supposedly enlightened Trotskyites who would timidly defend the Soviet Union through claims of bias in American history books. But this is taking it to a new level.

According to a Soviet weekly newspaper, Stalin killed roughly 40,000,000 people. Communism, with its disregard of the primacy of the individual, is a brutal, immoral philosophy leading to upwards of 100,000,000 deaths, according to the Big Black Book of Communism.

Furr, who has authored several books on the topic of Marxism, also insisted that the United States has the lowest standard of living among industrialized developed countries.

This should be a reminder as to why conspiracy theories and fringe voices must be ignored. The ability to think this way is a dangerous form of insanity.

Russia Provides Valuable Lessons In Privatization

Russia is an stark lesson in what not to do when transitioning from a command economy to a (supposedly) market economy, what not to do when (supposedly) liberating people from the boot of the state.

From that bastion of classical liberalism, the New York Times:

Gennady Veretelny was shot and wounded when he stepped forward unarmed 20 years ago to help stop a column of armored vehicles in central Moscow, one of the few casualties of the last, failed attempt to preserve the Soviet Union.

It was a moment when Russians, largely cowed and passive subjects of Soviet rule for 74 years, massed in the streets to support the future president, Boris N. Yeltsin, demanding democratic change.

“It is what it is,” said Mr. Veretelny, who has slipped from hope into passivity. “We just have to figure that this is what we ended up with.”

The writer Vasily Aksyonov captured the enthusiasm of many at the time when he called the 60-hour standoff “probably the most glorious nights in the history of Russian civilization.”

But almost 15 years after the standoff, the man who now rules Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, called the fall of the Soviet Union the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”

Recent opinion polls as the anniversary of the standoff approaches this Saturday come closer to the view of Mr. Putin than of Mr. Aksyonov. Few people said they viewed the events of 1991 as a victory for democracy.

[…]

Mrs. Komar, who works as a helper at a health club, still builds her life around the memory of her son. She echoes the view of Mr. Veretelny, saying, “If my son could have seen where the country was going, he wouldn’t have been at the barricades.”

Lech Kaczynski, A Martyr of Freedom

Solidarity

From the Heritage Foundation:

The death this morning of Polish president Lech Kaczynski and First Lady Kaczynska is a tragedy that will touch the heart of many Americans. President Kaczynski was a Polish patriot of the first order, whose life exemplifies the meaning of courage, sacrifice and commitment to his family, his country and the Polish people.

From his early days in the legendary Solidarity movement, President Kaczynski fought for the independence, sovereignty and self-determination of his country. And in the two decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, President Kaczynski has been at the forefront of his country’s transition from an impoverished and Soviet-dependent economy, to a bright and vibrant regional leader. Poland is now a key member of NATO and a serious player within the European Union. As Commander-in-Chief, President Kaczynski has also overseen deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan where Polish troops serve bravely alongside American and British servicemen and women in defense of liberty and freedom.

America is home to a large Polish Diaspora, who will feel President Kaczynski’s passing keenly. There were few others who worked as hard as he to maintain the Polish-American relationship, which President Kaczynski saw as integral to the future of his country. Tributes are pouring in from across the world, including a touching remembrance from The Prince of Wales who made a royal visit to Poland last month as guest of the President and First Lady. Americans will be looking to President Obama to strike an equally appropriate tone as Americans join with the world in mourning the passing of a Polish hero and patriot.


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