Police in riot gear cleared several large crowds gathered around Fenway Park early Monday after the Red Sox won their second World Series title in four years.Let's get this right: the home teams win, so let's set a car on fire and mill about like a deranged alcohol-soaked mob. I'm sorry, but this creates about as much economic benefit as smashing a window. And worse, this is a broken window that is shattered because government theft makes it possible to do so. Rome had its bread and circuses to keep its citizens' minds off their troubles, and it seems so do we.
Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said 37 arrests were made in the city, mostly for disorderly conduct. No serious injuries were reported.
An unruly crowd flipped a pickup truck to its side near Fenway Park and at least one car fire was reported. Young people sprayed each other with beer and some climbed street signs or utility poles. [Source: AP]
I am a daily reader of your blog and have been for several years. My question is not philosophical, but I believe that you or your readers may be able to lead me in the right direction. I am looking for an economics and/or investing book which explains in laymen terms what the Federal Reserve does, what it purports to do, and the actual consequences of its actions from a free market perspective. Do you or your loyal readers have any suggestions for reading on this topic?I know almost nothing about the Fed. Does anyone have any suggestions? (Disloyal readers are welcome to chime in too.)
By Thomas Bowden
This month marks the tenth anniversary of Oregon’s pathbreaking assisted suicide law. But despite legislative proposals in California and elsewhere, Oregon remains the only state to have provided clear procedures by which doctors can help end their dying patients' pain and suffering while protecting themselves from criminal prosecution.
For a decade now, Oregon doctors have been permitted to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to a mentally competent, terminally ill patient who makes written and oral requests, consults two physicians, and endures a mandatory waiting period. The patient's free choice is paramount throughout this process. Neither relatives nor doctors can apply on the patient's behalf, and the patient himself administers the lethal dose.
Elsewhere in America, however, the political influence of religious conservatism has thwarted passage of similar legislation, leaving terminal patients with nothing but a macabre menu of frightening, painful, and often violent end-of-life techniques universally regarded as too inhumane for use on sick dogs or mass murderers.
Consider Percy Bridgman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who, at 79, was entering the final stages of terminal cancer. Wracked with pain and bereft of hope, he got a gun and somehow found courage to pull the trigger, knowing he was condemning others to the agony of discovering his bloody remains. His final note said simply: "It is not decent for society to make a man do this to himself. Probably this is the last day I will be able to do it myself."
What lawmakers must grasp is that there is no rational basis upon which the government can properly prevent any individual from choosing to end his own life. When religious conservatives enact laws to enforce the idea that their God abhors suicide, they threaten the central principle on which America was founded.
The Declaration of Independence proclaimed, for the first time in the history of nations, that each person exists as an end in himself. This basic truth--which finds political expression in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--means, in practical terms, that you need no one's permission to live, and that no one may forcibly obstruct your efforts to achieve your own personal happiness.
But what if happiness becomes impossible to attain? What if a dread disease, or some other calamity, drains all joy from life, leaving only misery and suffering? The right to life includes and implies the right to commit suicide. To hold otherwise--to declare that society must give you permission to kill yourself--is to contradict the right to life at its root. If you have a duty to go on living, despite your better judgment, then your life does not belong to you, and you exist by permission, not by right.
For these reasons, each individual has the right to decide the hour of his death and to implement that solemn decision as best he can. The choice is his because the life is his. And if a doctor is willing (not forced) to assist in the suicide, based on an objective assessment of his patient's mental and physical state, the law should not stand in his way.
Religious conservatives' opposition to the Oregon approach stems from the belief that human life is a gift from the Lord, who puts us here on earth to carry out His will. Thus, the very idea of suicide is anathema, because one who "plays God" by causing his own death, or assisting in the death of another, insults his Maker and invites eternal damnation, not to mention divine retribution against the decadent society that permits such sinful behavior.
If a religious conservative contracts a terminal disease, he has a legal right to regard his own God's will as paramount, and to instruct his doctor to stand by and let him suffer, just as long as his body and mind can endure the agony, until the last bitter paroxysm carries him to the grave. But conservatives have no right to force such mindless, medieval misery upon doctors and patients who refuse to regard their precious lives as playthings of a cruel God.
Rational state legislators should regard the Oregon law’s anniversary as a stinging reminder that 49 of the 50 states have failed to take meaningful steps toward recognizing and protecting an individual's unconditional right to commit suicide.
Mr. Bowden is an analyst focusing on legal issues at the Ayn Rand Institute and is the author of The Enemies of Christopher Columbus. A former attorney and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his Op-Eds have appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on the Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.
Wendy Kaminer had a great piece in the October 26th Wall Street Journal. In "The Return of the Though Police" she characterizes hate crimes as punishment of the thought or ideas that accompany a criminals commission of an act. That is, a "hate crime" is nothing more than a package of a crime and the thought that goes along with it. As such, it is a false concept, and leads to the politicization of crime.
Still, distinguishing hateful bias crimes from other hateful acts of violence punishes ideas and expression, no matter how scrupulously the legislation is crafted. When someone convicted of assaulting one woman is subject to an enhanced prison sentence or a more vigorous prosecution because his assault was motivated by a hateful belief in the inherent inferiority of all women, then he is being punished for his thoughts as well as his conduct.
Dear Supporter of Ayaan Hirsi Ali,If you can't donate, spread the word!
Last week, we sent out preliminary information about a fund that has been set up to privately finance Ayaan Hirsi Ali's security, now that it is no longer being provided by the Dutch government. Below and attached, please find more detailed information about how you can contribute to this fund. This is the most accurate and up-to-date information; please disregard the previous email you were sent.
This new information is ready to be widely disseminated and replaces any previous communications you may have received. Please feel free to share the details with anyone interested in helping Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Sincerely, Yael Levin Office of Ayaan Hirsi Ali American Enterprise Institute
Providing Financial Assistance for Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Security Detail
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Dutch parliamentarian and an outspoken defender of women's rights in Islamic societies, is at risk from a variety of extremist threats in both Europe and the United States. She has needed constant security protection since her life was originally threatened in 2002. Up until October 1, 2007, this protection was provided by the Dutch government.
Now a permanent resident of the United States and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Ms. Hirsi Ali must raise her own funds to finance her costly-but necessary-protection. In response to the numerous private citizens who have expressed interest in helping Ms. Hirsi Ali fund her security detail, the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust has been established.
The preferred and most immediate way to assist Ms. Hirsi Ali in the financing of her private security protection is through the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust. This private trust fund can accept non-tax deductible donations from within the United States and internationally, and is entirely dedicated to financing Ms. Hirsi Ali's security.
Checks should be made payable to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust and sent to:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust
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Washington, DC 20007
Ayaan Hirsi Ali Trust Tax Identification Number: 75-6826872
Thank you for your interest in assisting Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
For more information please contact: John Matteo
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mackenzie McNaughton
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Telephone: 202.457.1600 [minor edits]
By Thomas Bowden:
The Senate will soon decide whether to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty, which deems most of the earth's vast ocean floor "the common heritage of mankind" and places it under United Nations ownership "for the benefit of mankind as a whole.”
"This treaty vests monopoly authority over most of the world’s seabeds in a U.N. agency that issues licenses burdened by complex regulations, fees, royalties, and mandatory land transfers," said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute. "Licensees are required to give back half or more of the submerged land they explore, to be mined by the International Seabed Authority using the licensees' technology and know-how, with proceeds going to U.N. members such as Cuba, Uganda, and Venezuela, who contribute nothing to the productive process.
"The proposed treaty ignores the fundamental principle that unowned natural resources should become the private property of the people whose efforts make them valuable," Bowden said. "Although the ocean floor is full of potentially valuable minerals, they remain useless until some pioneer discovers how to retrieve them. Under this treaty, however, the deep-sea mining companies whose science, exploration, technology, and entrepreneurship are being counted on to gather otherwise inaccessible riches are treated as mere servants of a world collective.
"This treaty is an injustice that will hamper, if not halt, the exploitation of undersea wealth," Bowden said. "Because no self-respecting entrepreneur will work under such conditions, the U.N. regime will attract only the kind of lumbering state-owned enterprises that have historically failed to match the performance of private, profit-seeking companies."
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently held hearings on the treaty, which has the support of the Bush administration. The treaty, which President Reagan refused to sign in 1982, was submitted to the Senate by President Clinton in 1994 but never ratified. The treaty requires a two-thirds Senate majority for ratification.
"Governments have legitimate options regarding how to deal with undersea explorers' need to establish property rights in the deep ocean," Bowden said. "But it would be totally improper for America to declare eternal hostility to private property in the ocean floor by ratifying a treaty dedicated on principle to denying such rights."
Mr. Bowden is an analyst focusing on legal issues at the Ayn Rand Institute. A former lawyer and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his Op-Eds have appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on the Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.
Kant’s philosophical assault on man’s faculty of reason paved the way for the historical assault on Columbus by preventing a key avenue of development from ever occuring in Western historiography. By aborting the general study of abstractions as cognitive tools, Kant prevented historians from adopting the epistemological stance necessary to define and defend the most crucial instrument in the systematization of history: historical abstractions.
During the eighteenth century, history had been dominated by rationalism. The French Enlightenment thinkers had created the “philosophy of history,” which proposed to find in all historical developments a kernel of progress, driven by reason. Following the pattern of Christian thinkers who reduced everything to God’s will, or “providence,”they proposed to express all of history’s irregular gyrations in terms of a single determining principle. It was historical thinkers such as these, who advocated using historical abstractions to summarize the past. They used the expression “the Dark Ages”to capture an era where reason was suppressed, the “Renaissance” to propose a general reawakening of reason, and “the Enlightenment” to denote a period in history where the power of reason was widely manifested. To use these terms, however, required emphasizing certain facts at the expense of others, tracing certain causal progressions rather than others, and ultimately, viewing the whole story of man’s past as the variegated expression of one basic cause.
Empirical historians could not accept this apparent oversimplification. While progress might be occurring in one area, such as science, they reasoned, decline might be evident in another part of a culture, such as politics. Similarly, progress in one country, such as in late seventeenth century England, where parliamentary limitations on the monarchy reached new heights, might be paralleled by decline in another country, such as France, where absolutism evolved to new oppressive levels. Or, along a different vein, an element of progress–say a great invention like the steam engine–might propel men forward in one sense, but also contain a negative dimension, such as the rise of new hardships for laborers, social tensions, and political struggles. In the name of an allegiance to the facts in all their Heraclitean complexity, the empiricists of history rejected casting the past in abstract terms.
History was faced with the same basic dilemna as philosophy: to find the principle in the plethora.
But before historians could even begin to take the question seriously, Kant revoked their license to do so. He announced that even the “facts” were subjective–”phenomenal”–and that all efforts to build upon this foundation could never penetrate to “things in themselves.”
One major trend in subsequent historiography was to embrace subjectivity as a fundamental truth, and simply construct competing perspectives. The most influential exponent of this approach was Marx, who despite claiming a “scientific” status for his reasoning, basically cast history as a political weapon in the evolving class struggle. His followers would adapt this approach and use history as a means of promoting their own political agendas, such as feminism (”herstory”) or multiculturalism (e.g. “black studies”).
The other important trend was an epistemological retreat, sounded by the leading German historian of the nineteenth century, Leopold von Ranke. If abstractions were avoided, he and his followers hoped, then the problem of relating them to the concrete data of history could also be avoided. In this ostrich-like approach, the historian was to busy himself in historical archives, where he would find unprocessed, or “primary” sources. And from these, assiduously avoiding any mode of interpretation, he might craft an unbiased narrative. The past as it really was–”wie es eigentlich gewesen,” in Ranke’s words–could be channeled without distortion, if one simply avoided trying to use if for some purpose other than simply knowing it for its own sake.
That neither Ranke nor any of his followers could actually practice what they preached merely provided the first point of attack by Kant’s progeny, who were wont to point out that even if one were to allow the existence of “facts” in history, the act of organizing them into a narrative itself constituted an act of logical processing which created an “artificial” structure no less corruptive than sorting facts into periods, such as “the Renaissance,” or deploying them to support a thesis such as progress. Of course, on a deeper level, there were no “facts:” even “primary” sources involve human selectivity, and thus cannot be considered to represent “things as they were.” In the ultimate indictment, presented by Michel Foucault, both “primary” and “secondary” sources would be charged with being nothing more than the propaganda of whatever side happened to win each particular struggle in history.
In the context of such an epistemological debacle, it is hardly surprising that empirical historians progressively shyed away from the use of historical abstractions like “the Dark Ages” and “the Renaissance,” leaving the subjectivists room to attack them and concoct their own replacements, such as “the Carolingian Renaissance.” Nor is it surprising that abstractions of more limited scope, but ones enmeshed in a larger context of values, such as”the Discovery of America,” should also be besieged.
(Continued in Part 4.)
Religion has faced formidable foes in its history. But atheism hasn't generally been one of them -- until today. A recent string of bestselling books has put believers of all stripes on the defensive. Religion, say authors such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, is an unreasonable form of blind faith, often leading to fanaticism and violence. Reason and science, they contend, are the only proper foundations for forming opinions and understanding the universe. Those who believe in God, they insist, are falling for silly superstitions.That's from Dinesh D'Souza, unsurprisingly. He's the author of the just-published book, What's So Great About Christianity. (Yes, I do plan to read it.)
This atheist attack is based on a fallacy -- the Fallacy of the Enlightenment. It was pointed out by the great Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant erected a sturdy intellectual bulwark against atheism that hasn't been breached since. His defense doesn't draw on sacred texts or any other sources of authority to which people of faith might naturally and rightfully turn when confronted with atheist arguments. Instead, it relies on the only framework that today's atheist proselytizers say is valid: reason. The Fallacy of the Enlightenment is the glib assumption that there is only one limit to what human beings can know -- reality itself. This view says we can find out more and more until eventually there is nothing more to discover. It holds that human reason and science can, in principle, unmask the whole of reality.
Through a special arrangement with the publisher, the editor and the Estate of Ayn Rand, ARI has received exclusive permission to present The Ayn Rand Lexicon--now available in its entirety, free of charge, to Web visitors. Edited by Harry Binswanger, and with an introduction by Leonard Peikoff, this important book presents all of the key ideas of Ayn Rand's philosophy, in an encyclopedic reference of stunning breadth and depth.
From the back cover:
A prolific writer, best-selling novelist, and world-renowned philosopher, Ayn Rand defined a full system of thought--from epistemology to aesthetics. Her writing is so extensive and the range of issues she covers so enormous that those interested in finding her discussions of a given topic may have to search through many sources to locate the relevant passage.Browse The Ayn Rand Lexicon »
THE AYN RAND LEXICON brings together for the first time all the key ideas of her philosophy of Objectivism, organized alphabetically by topic.
Through excerpts culled from Ayn Rand's many articles, lectures, and books, this work presents the Objectivist view on some 400 topics in philosophy, politics, art, economics, and psychology. The Lexicon thus serves as a mini-encyclopedia of Objectivism, complete with a conceptual index and extensive cross-references.
The Lexicon is both an intriguing introduction for the newcomer and a comprehensive sourcebook for readers already familiar with Objectivist ideas. Begun under Ayn Rand's personal supervision, this unique volume is an invaluable guide to her philosophy of reason, self-interest, and laissez-faire capitalism--the philosophy so brilliantly dramatized in her novels The Fountainhead, We the Living, and Atlas Shrugged.
Given the religious rather than financial aim of Shari'a-compliant investing, it isn't surprising that Shari'a-compliant investments are little more than a word game. Paying lip service to the Koranic prohibition on interest-based transactions and risky investments, Mawdudi and Qutb invented various means to cover the fact that Shari'a-compliant investments involve both interest payments and risk. [bold added]... widespread Pragmatism (i.e., in the form of the rejection of broad abstractions and philosophic principles as irrelevant) in the West, ...
[T]he new trend in the West is for Western financial institutions to offer Shari'a-compliant investment opportunities. So excited is Britain, for instance about the financial benefit to be gained by attracting oil-rich Islamic investors that in January Britain's Treasury Minister Ed Balls announced his government's intention to turn London into the center of global Islamic finance.... and the general confusion our Commander-in-Chief has sown in a time of war ...
Many New York investment houses, banks and hedge funds have indicated their interest in expanding their services to include Shari'a-compliant investments. These organizations should carefully consider the likely moral and criminal implications of enabling Shari'a advisors associated with radical Islamic theologians and a foreign body on record for supporting terror, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism to determine both the composition of their investments and the utilization of 2.5 percent of the revenues stemming from those investments. [bold added; Glick notes earlier that, "[R]adicals, supported by jihad-supporting Islamic institutions constitute an effective cartel in Shari'a-finance.]
Perhaps the greatest problem with the term "war on terror" is that it confuses both the public and those charged with prosecuting the war on all levels about the nature of the enemy we face. The jihadists who seek to dominate the world in the name of Islam are not merely involved in violent activities. Organizations like Hamas, Hizbullah and al-Qaida devote the majority of their efforts to spreading the message of jihad by proselytizing fellow Muslims through propaganda, educational and welfare activities. These actions are vital for building popular support both for their terror activities and for their larger political goals.... have just come together to enable Islamic totalitarians to finance terrorism with our help.
Essential to the aims of the jihadists is the Muslim sacrament of zakat. Zakat, one of the pillars of Islam, requires Muslims to donate 2.5 percent of their incomes to charity. As the indictment in the Holyland Foundation case showed, most of the money that the five defendants transferred to Hamas was transferred through zakat committees in Palestinian cities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. These committees then transferred the monies to Hamas terrorists, their family members, political leaders and terror cells. [bold added]
Dr. James Watson made a strange statement.
In an interview published in the October 14, 2007 edition of the Sunday Times, Watson was quoted as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa". "All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really."
This is the kind of stupid statement scientists make sometimes when they talk about politics and economics. It reminds me of the liberal Isaac Asimov, who never made racist statements, but used to lose 100 points of IQ when he wrote about politics.
Dr. Watson further confused the issue by backtracking as if he didn't say what he said:
"I am mortified about what has happened," he told a group of scientists and journalists. "I can certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways they have.
"To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly.
"That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief."
There is no explanation of what Dr. Watson's original statement was supposed to mean. What IS the meaning of this statement?
All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really.
Our "social policies" consist of giving Africa handouts. These handouts don't seem to do any good, so Dr. Watson concludes from his testing that it is because the negro race lacks intelligence. I see no other way to read this statement. Dr. Watson gives no evidence to support his outrageous statement about "their intelligence" -- however, his statement gives plenty of evidence that he lacks intelligence in economics.
If he had thought his proposition through, he might have considered the Palestinians. We have given them billions of dollars over the years, none of which did a damn bit of good. Much of the money ended up in Arafat's Swiss bank account. The Palestinians are caucasian.
Or he might have considered the Soviet Union. In that communist country, run by white people in their brilliance, there were always shortages in the stores and the masses had a low standard of living, despite the fact that Russia has vast natural resources.
I bring up the Soviet Union because their problems were caused by the same thing causing Africa's woes: they lacked freedom. As Ludwig von Mises explained, it doesn't matter what race a people is, if their economy is planned, they will lack intelligence. Economic intelligence comes when free individuals in a free market use the pricing system to make rational calculations.
Our "social policies" lack intelligence. Following the morality of altruism, we throw money at Africa. The money does nothing but make altruists feel they have done their moral duty. To do the truly intelligent thing (and the truly moral thing), we need to shut off all foreign aid to Africa and demand that the socialist hellholes and thugocracies free their people and respect property rights. Any poor country that tries this soon looks like a country filled with brilliant people -- when they are only people using prices to pursue their self-interest.
Dr. Watson needs to read Ludwig von Mises. Perhaps then he would stop embarrassing himself with his economic ignorance.
Today, she said, more large firms want to take on animal cases pro bono and that an animal law conference held this spring at Harvard was sold out.Instead, this trend represents a disturbing manifestation of a fundamental failure to grasp the concept of rights by those whose duty it is to protect them on a day-to-day basis -- the legal profession.
"This decade, an attorney can go into court and not be laughed at for being an animal lawyer, when 10 years ago they would have been laughed at," said Alexander, who helps develop programs for law education and legal practices. "It's gone from the fringe to mainstream."
The recent headlines reflect the shift in society's views about animals and how to protect them, officials said.
"We're at the beginning of the coming of age in animal law," said Amy Bures Danna, an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center and an attorney who takes some animal cases.
"People are becoming more aware of animals and animal protection. Our social values are broadening and are becoming deeper and are accompanying animals in different ways." [bold added]
Got your attention? Think I'm going to talk about marijuana? Not on your life. I want to talk about real drugs; experimental cancer drugs to be exact. Earlier this year, a federal appeals court ruled that cancer patients cannot have access to experimental cancer drug therapies that have not been approved by the FDA.
For an agency supposedly chartered to protect the health and safety of the public, I can think of nothing more reprehensible than forbidding access to any medication to patients who may likely be dead before the medication is approved. Who's life is it, anyway? The state's? But then it's because the FDA ought not to exist as an agency, that the government has no business regulating healthcare or any other industry. Seeking justice after crimes are committed? Sure. Clogging up the system with bureaucratic red tape in the name of preventing as-yet-uncommitted crimes? That does one thing. It kills people. Literally.
Pharma companies are rued for making too much money on drugs, and cancer drugs are among the most expensive. As Stella Daily explains to us on ReasonPharm, that is due to very explainable reasons. Cancer is fragmented; it's not a single disease, but rather 300 separate individual, somewhat-related diseases. Compared to the market for cholesterol lowering drugs like statins, cancer is microscopic. But it still costs a fortune to develop any drug, and cancer is one of the tougher disease areas for which to develop. Most cancer drugs today are successful if they can extend a patient's life for a year or two, and most are targeted at late stage cancers. A cure is viewed as an almost unattainable holy grail. Compared to other diseases, cancer drug therapy is in the dark ages.
Pharmaceutical companies need one thing desperately to find new cancer cures: profits. Given small markets, large up front investment costs, and stunningly long approval times, rational companies seek greener pastures than oncology. That's not what I want. I want cancer to be profitable, because profits draws profit-seekers. And it is profit-seekers, the Atlases of the world, not bureaucrats, that discover life-saving medications. If people value their lives, they'll want the same thing.
This one is a matter of life and death, and also, it's personal. You see, I'm a cancer survivor. I'm a number in a box. 2001; Hit "Go"; Select "Incidence Counts"; white male; cancer type: testis. It was summer, so I'm guessing I'm around number 3,000 out of 6,596 diagnoses that year. 6,000 - 7,000 patients per year. That is hardly a market that will justify drug research. Luckily, early diagnosis, surgery, radiation therapy, and five years of monitoring have left me "cured". My chance of recurrence in my lifetime is probably less than 1%. But if it should happen, then between now and then I want drug companies working round the clock seeking huge profits on new cancer drugs. I titled this post "Legalize Drugs..." What I really meant was "Abolish the FDA"; it's the same thing really. I want the FDA gone, out of the way, so that these companies can work as quickly as possible and make as vast sums of money such that the best and brightest are drawn into the area of research. Any thing else is less than "life-saving".
TO: All CU-Boulder StudentsOh, how I do love the auto-parody!
FROM: Center for Energy & Environmental Security, University of Colorado Law School
SUBJECT: Famous Artist Lectures on Climate Change
What: The Art of Climate Change
Where: Wittemyer Courtroom, Wolf Law
When: Oct. 25, 7:00 - 8:15 p.m., Free Event
Dear CU-Boulder Students:
Climate change is arguably the defining environmental and social issue of the 21st century. You are invited to attend a special lecture by Ms. Lucy Lippard on the use of art to impact climate change. Ms. Lippard is an internationally renowned writer, activist, curator, and acclaimed art critic.
This is not a lecture about the science of climate change; nor is it a lecture about laws and policies dealing with climate change.
Rather, this distinguished lecture is about the use of conceptual art to illuminate our understanding of the environmental, social and political dimensions of climate change; and perhaps more importantly, the ability of art to substantially influence our response to the challenges posed by climate change.
Ms. Lippard's lecture, entitled "Weather Report: Art and Climate Change," will present imaginative and inspiring collaborations between acclaimed artists and world-class scientists designed to address, in a variety of ways, the issue of climate change. In a New York Times article published on Sept. 23, 2007, Ms. Lippard commented on these collaborations: "The critics used to say that conceptual art brings in too much other stuff, too many ideas. I love the idea that art can become something that acts in the world."
Please join us in welcoming and learning from our distinguished guest, Ms. Lucy Lippard.
For more information on this event, please visit: http://www.colorado.edu/law/eesi/Weather_Report.htm.
At the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention on August 22, President Bush spoke about the lessons of World War II, arguing that the U.S. occupation of Japan serves as a model for the current conflict in the Middle East. But the terrible state of the Iraq War makes it clear that he has not learned those lessons himself.
Here's what happened in WW II: On December 7, 1941, the United States was attacked by Japan, a nation of suicidal and religiously motivated warriors. Less than four years later, the Japanese Emperor Hirohito--his country in ruins and his people utterly demoralized--surrendered unconditionally. The subsequent U.S. occupation of Japan met little resistance, and state-sponsorship of the national Shinto religion was suppressed, allowing a smooth transition into a new government. The two countries have since become allies.
By contrast, it's now been over four years since the Iraq War began, and the death toll continues to mount. Judged by the standard of World War II, Operation Iraqi Freedom has been an abysmal failure. Our lack of success is underscored by the fact that our military is vastly superior to the Iraqi opposition. The Japanese were a much more formidable foe, and yet the U.S. was able to achieve complete victory against them in less than four years. What is the difference?
The difference lies in the moral philosophy guiding our nation's leaders. WWII was a war of self-preservation, waged to protect the lives and interests of U.S. citizens. It would have been considered treasonous to call the U.S. operations in Japan, 'Operation Japanese Freedom'. Securing freedom for Americans, not the Japanese or German people, was the purpose of the war. That purpose guided every American decision, from which weapons to use to which constitution to impose on the defeated enemies. Even the U.S. reconstruction efforts in Japan after the war were aimed at keeping the Japanese permanently non-threatening.
What is the goal of the Iraq war? Is it to secure American freedom and relentlessly punish those who threaten it? No: "Our men and woman are fighting to secure the freedom of [Iraqis]," Bush has declared. Bush's aim is not to secure American freedom, but to engage in a worldwide crusade for democracy.
The moral foundation of this goal is the ideal of altruism. Altruism is a moral code which judges an individual, or a nation, by the standard of how much one sacrifices to others. As an altruist, Bush believes that morality requires America to sacrifice for other nations. It requires that American soldiers be slaughtered in order reign gifts on the Iraqis.
One can see the stamp of altruism all over Operation Iraqi Freedom, from the publicly touted goals of the war, to the methods used to wage it. From the very beginning, U.S. forces have taken great care to minimize damage to Iraqi civilians, infrastructure, and even feelings. The rules of engagement forbid U.S. soldiers from attacking mosques--which our enemies often use as bases of operations--in order to avoid offending Iraqi religious sensibilities. New recruits must endure Islamic sensitivity training before they are deployed. All the while, American soldiers keep paying the price for these policies with their lives.
The U.S. military is functioning more like the Peace Corps than an occupation force. Allied soldiers build bridges, dig toilets, and secure public markets for Iraqi use. Many U.S. forces are engaged in protecting and supporting the impotent Iraqi government. As allied soldiers face daily attacks from insurgents, Iraqi politicians--some of which explicitly support the insurgents--bicker over which faction should benefit most from state-owned oil production.
These altruist goals and methods necessarily conflict with the goal of national self-preservation. Iraqi insurgents--and terrorists around the world--are emboldened by every sacrifice offered to the Iraqi people. They hide in mosques and disappear into the civilian population, knowing they will not be pursued.
The true lesson of WWII is this: in order to defeat a powerfully motivated enemy, a nation must fight proudly and openly for its own self-defense, doing whatever is necessary to secure victory. And we must understand what victory truly means: the unconditional surrender of the enemy and the destruction of his ability to wage war.
A nation can either fight to defend its own citizens (as we did in WWII), or sacrifice for the benefit of enemy civilians (as we are doing in the Iraq War), but not both. If America is to enter a war, it should be for one reason only: to eliminate foreign dangers to American freedom. We should identify any threat to our national security, annihilate it as quickly as possible, and then bring our soldiers home.--Dan Edge
As you read this, Ayaan Hirsi Ali sits in a safe house with armed men guarding her door. She is one of the most poised, intelligent and compassionate advocates of freedom of speech and conscience alive today, and for this she is despised in Muslim communities throughout the world.This puts it mildly. The Dutch have effectively issued a fatwa for the death of one of their own countrymen.
[After being persuaded to return to the Netherlands and winning public office there,] Hirsi Ali was immediately forced into hiding and moved from safe house to safe house, sometimes more than once a day, for months. Eventually, her security concerns drove her from the Netherlands altogether. She returned to the U.S., and the Dutch government has been paying for her protection here -- that is, until it suddenly announced last week that it would no longer protect her outside the Netherlands, thereby advertising her vulnerability to the world. [bold added]
Hello,As of this morning, I am unable to find a web site specifically pertaining to this new charity, nor does Hirsi Ali's blog make note of it. If anyone happens by who learns of any new developments on this before I do, please drop me a line so I can provide an update.
You are receiving this email because you have written our office before expressing admiration for Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her work. Thank you again for your support -- receiving such expressions from friends and strangers alike provides Ayaan with much strength and encouragement.
As most of you have probably heard, the Dutch government decided last week to stop funding her security. Effective immediately, she must now raise her own funds to finance her very expensive private security.
We are in the process of setting up different vehicles through which those of you interested in supporting Ayaan and her work may contribute to her security funding:
(1) The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust -- a private trust fund that will be entirely dedicated to financing Ayaan's security. This fund is able to begin accepting donations immediately. Check donations can be made out to the name of the trust, and sent to my attention at the American Enterprise Institute, 1150 Seventeenth St., N.W., Washington, DC. (Please note that this fund can only accept money from within the United States, and that donations to this fund will not be tax deductible.)
(2) A public U.S. charity (501(c)(3)) that will support Muslim dissidents around the world and, among other things, provide financial support for their security -- including Ayaan's. As we are still in the process of establishing this charity, tax deductible donations to it can, for the time being, be made out to American Enterprise Institute and mailed to the attention of Christopher DeMuth, president of AEI, with a cover letter stating the purpose of the donation. (Please note that this fund can also only accept money from within the United States.)
(3) Donations to Ayaan's security from outside the United States can be wired to Haweya, B.V., a special purpose vehicle managed by Ayaan's lawyers in Amsterdam. All funds received will be spent on Ayaan's security and to support her projects with Muslim dissidents. All receipts and expenditures by the company are being checked by public chartered accountants.
The banking details you will need to transfer money to this account are as follows:
P.O. Box 94 510
1090 GM Amsterdam
Account number: 4732822 with Postbank NV, Amsterdam
IBAN number: NL61PSTB0004732822
BIC code bank: PSTBNL21 Postbank NV, Amsterdam
With most sincere gratitude,
Office of Ayaan Hirsi Ali
American Enterprise Institute [minor edits, link added]
When I consider the role that ideas have in shaping human action, and consider the belief systems of others, I am basically indifferent to the choices others make as to what they believe. As I see it, it's their life, and if they want to screw it up, it's their business. I become concerned only when it becomes evident that such people, applying their beliefs to politics, act on their wish to end my political freedom (i.e., to endanger my ability to live by my own lights).Upon learning that the letter was a hoax, I added in an update that, "Based on personal experience, I can easily imagine some people being jealous that they hadn't thought of this missive on their own."
Thus, in exact opposite fashion to the the Christian epistle linked above, I never call for the political persecution of those whose beliefs differ from my own; when I criticize the beliefs of others such criticism is based on facts and logic; and I am comfortable in the knowledge that my ideas will win out in a free marketplace of ideas. This letter-writer obviously feels threatened by the fact that some people think for themselves and her expressed response is to act against them with force.
... Suck, for you thick atheists, is a slang word which means to make or to be really, really crappy (kind of like how our culture becomes anytime you guys mess with it). ...Not that I especially prize such vulgar terms as the ones in bold from the above passage, but unlike Christians, I do not regard their use as especially immoral. And yet here is a man who does, and who damns atheists for being immoral on the grounds that one must have religion to have morality -- using these very words! So much for religion as bringing about morality. I guess Giles "crapped on" himself there.
...prissy anti-Christs... pissy God haters... no-God numb nuts... comfortable and cocky atheist...
[E]verywhere I go and speak -- be it in conferences, on the radio, on television or in print -- I'm going to encourage the tens of thousands of Christians I address that every time and everywhere they get crapped on by an atheist with unfounded arguments to open their mouths and slam dance them with facts found in these two new brilliant books from Regnery [by Dinesh D'Souza and Robert Hutchinson]. [my bold]
[Those who take religion seriously] scare me for the exact opposite reason I scare them. They want to physically "stamp me out"; I simply remind them of all the questioning and thinking that they have shirked for their whole lives.I thank Doug Giles for expressing his views on reasoned debate and for providing such an excellent example, in the form of his essay, of how ugly the lack of intellectual confidence that comes with the abandonment of reason can be.
In the nineteenth century, historians were desparately in need of a champion to clarify the nature of reason, and to guide them in the challenge of making sense of man’s complex past. Newton’s genius had shown the power of man’s mind to penetrate nature’s inner workings, but no one had been able to articulate on a more abstract level the nature of the Newtonian triumph in science, and explain how in could be reproduced in other areas.
If historians were to pattern their work on the succesful model of the physical scientists, they would need to find a means of transposing the methods of physics into the domain of history. The way to do this, however, was unclear. The historian, for example, could not create the controled conditions of a laboratory to test his ideas, nor could the actions of human beings be reduced to mathematical principles. And yet, the challenge of deriving general knowledge from historical data is in some ways the same as that of finding general laws from observed physical phenoma. It is the challenge of transforming a plethora of concrete information, by some process of abstraction, into an intelligible system. The importance of this project was evident to the more philosophical historians. If natural science could find laws and a natural order in the physical world, could a social science not achieve the same for civilization (and thus derive the proper foundation of social systems)?
Unfortunately, in their quest to give history a Newtonian clarity, historians found no worthy ally among philosophers. In the wake of the clash between the rationalists and empiricists, philosophy was at an impasse. The former group believed human knowledge was imprinted by some ineffable, non-experiential means. And sadly–despite the example of disciplined Newtonian thinking and the best efforts of John Locke–the latter group had been unable to articulate a proper alternative. Empiricism had degenerated into the skepticism of Hume.
Finally, instead of a champion, the Western mind met with an insidious assailant, Immanuel Kant, in whose assessment philosophy’s aims were pronounced unattainable and the achievements of science inconsequential. Man, said Kant, is flawed by nature–he is formed of “crooked timber.” Human consciousness, he explained, is by its nature divorced from reality. It perceives reality by certain means, and because this apparatus processes the incoming information, it prevents us from gleaning reality as it really is. Any thinking we do based on such a foundation, including, for instance, the derivation of “natural laws,” is thus completely subjective, and any claim we make to actually understanding the essential nature of things is merely presumption–unless based on faith (for which Kant infamously made “room”).
What then of history? More next time.
Free millions of diabetes patients from daily injections. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? If there was a way to do this, then the replacement product would make a mint, right? Not so fast. Drug giant Pfizer announced this week that it was pulling it's groundbreaking version of insulin, Exubera. Launched little over a year ago, Pfizer and it's licensing partner, biotech Nektar therapeutics, had big plans for Exubera, projecting ultimate revenues of $2 billion. Both spent over a decade working on the drug, and pulling it from the market will come with a big write-off, almost $2.8 billion, one of the costliest drug failures ever.
Just another sign that finding blockbusters (the term for drugs that net over $1billion at maturity) is getting harder to do. Many pharmaceutical companies have begun targeting smaller niche indication areas because of reduced cost to develop and market such drugs. Most people look at market successes such as Pfizer aging Lipitor franchise, which earns the company $13 billion in revenue, and flush with envy. But this does not count the cost and risk that companies face in bringing drugs to market. All of those successes must pay for drug development and for the failures, such as Exubera, and still yield the next generation of winners.
The irony is that Exubera is a technical success. It works. But it was also a big risk. Diabetes is a widespread chronic disease, and therefore treatments for it must undergo very large clinical trials to understand their effects on such a broad target market, and over the long periods of time that the drug must be taken. Exubera failed due to a number of factors, all market driven, which illustrates the tricky nature of making decisions to launch new products like these.
First off, it costs too much. Insulin is not a particularly cheap drug to make, and because much of the drug is broken down in the lungs before it reaches, Exubera requires ten times the normal dosage for injected insulin! The normal rule of thumb for daily therapies such as diabetes or cholesterol treatments are that they are affordable at a rate of about $2-3/day. Exubera costs $5/day.
Secondly, it is somewhat complex to administer. One would think that a diabetes patient might to anything to avoid giving himself daily injections, but the reality is that companies have made injected insulin therapy fairly straight forward. Such innovations as pen injectors, and insulin pumps have taken much of the difficulty out of administering an injected therapy. Exubera's inhaler is a wieldy device that takes some time to learn and is used very differently from traditional injected therapy.
Finally, even though Exubera was shown safe to the lungs over long periods during its clinical trials, FDA was fairly tough on Pfizer and required warnings on the drug label. Doctors, continued to have concerns over the long term use of the therapy. This is again, not so much a technical issue as one of market acceptance, and consumer preference.
The outcome at the intersection of all of these factors are difficult to predict, but the investment required to go through clinical trials is not. This means that someone had to make a call on whether to invest the money to prove the drug worked, before they knew if the drug would sell. Sometimes those decisions succeed, and sometimes they fail, and the people who make them, instead of being reviled for making too much profit as the pharmaceutical industry is, should be allowed to make more profit.
Spiritual neuroscience studies also face the profound challenge of language. No two mystics describe their experiences in the same way, and it is difficult to distinguish among the various types of mystical experiences, be they spiritual or traditionally religious. To add to the ambiguity, such feelings could also encompass awe of the universe or of nature. “If you are an atheist and you live a certain kind of experience, you will relate it to the magnificence of the universe. If you are a Christian, you will associate it with God. Who knows?
...Moreover, no matter what neural correlates scientists may find, the results cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. Although atheists might argue that finding spirituality in the brain implies that religion is nothing more than divine delusion, the nuns were thrilled by their brain scans for precisely the opposite reason: they seemed to provide confirmation of God’s interactions with them. After all, finding a cerebral source for spiritual experiences could serve equally well to identify the medium through which God reaches out to humanity. Thus, the nuns’ forays into the tubular brain scanner did not undermine their faith. On the contrary, the science gave them an even greater reason to believe.
By Alex Epstein
In January the FCC will auction off the prized 700 MHz spectrum of wireless bandwidth. But instead of offering the spectrum to the highest bidder to employ it however he judges best (for example, a mobile video-on-demand service), the FCC will force the winner to employ a specific business model--an "open access" Internet network that forbids the spectrum-holder from controlling which devices and applications use its network, regardless of how much bandwidth they eat up. Why? Because the FCC and sundry lobbyists claim, "open access" is necessary for the "public interest."
Wireless companies have rightly criticized "open access" rules as restrictions on free competition that unfairly favor certain business models--namely that of leading lobbyist Google. But the injustice of "open access" is just a symptom of the deeper injustice used to justify it: FCC's control of the "public airwaves" in the "public interest."
In today's discussions of FCC policy, it is taken for granted that airwaves are "public." But it shouldn't be. As philosopher Ayn Rand argued in a landmark 1964 essay, "The Property Status of Airwaves," airwaves should be private property.
Observe that the broadcast technology that makes the so-called public airwaves a value does not exist in nature. It is the creation of individuals--and, like all human-created values, its creators earn by their effort a right to their creation. When inventors and engineers first unlocked nature's potential to carry radio waves, and entrepreneurs began developing the commercial value of radio, the government had a responsibility to define property rights in this sphere--so that these innovators could own and utilize portions of the spectrum without interference by others.
There is an exact parallel here to property rights over newly available land. When the western frontier was opened in the 19th century, the government did not declare it public property. Rather, it parceled out the unowned land on a first-come, first-served basis, and then recognized a property right for those who made use of the land for five years. The same type of procedure--enabling pioneers to earn a property right to that which they render valuable--applies to any newly usable portion of spectrum. And, like land rights, once a property right to the use of a given frequency band in a given region is earned, it belongs to the owner unconditionally; he may use it to offer whatever content or services he judges best, or sell it to someone else to do the same.
If the government recognized airwaves as private property, the wireless industry and broadcast media would be transformed. Entrepreneurs would compete freely for ownership of spectrum, and over time, those who sold the most valued product would win out. We would see innovations at a pace undreamed of today--the pace of entrepreneurs and inventors, not the pace of central-planning bureaucrats.
Unfortunately, our government does not recognize airwaves as private property, and never has. In the 1920s, its response to the development of radio was not to define and protect property rights for the field's creators, but to nationalize them as "public property." Consider the injustice of this: the pioneers who envisioned the potential of radio technology, and took the risk of bringing it about, had no more right to their creation than we do, who created nothing.
Under the "public" airwaves regime, businesses do not own but merely "license" portions of spectrum--which the government has total authority to control in the "public interest." The use of spectrum is determined, not by the business that has purchased and earned it, but by the FCC--by whatever it feels is in the indefinable "public interest." In the realm of media, FCC bureaucrats can effectively censor viewpoints they dislike by revoking broadcast licenses or imposing huge fines. In the realm of wireless data, FCC bureaucrats and Congress can impose more onerous terms on a paying licensee anytime they wish--such as Google's proposal that licensees be forced to sell large portions of their bandwidth to competitors at FCC-dictated "reasonable" rates, no matter what it does to their business.
In all such cases, the creators with the best ideas and the willingness to prove them in a free market are throttled by lobbyists and government officials who can wheel and deal in Washington--and innovation suffers accordingly.
Americans need to start recognizing airwaves as the private property they really are, and demand the abolition of the FCC. Then the government can hold a fair and just auction for the 700 MHz spectrum, and the others, in which each spectrum is not licensed but sold--no strings attached.
Alex Epstein is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, CA. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."
Romney took 27.6 percent of almost 6,000 votes cast, just ahead of Mike Huckabee, the folksy former governor of Arkansas, who gained 27.1 percent at the conference organized by the Family Research Council.Apparently, Romney's campaign encouraged his supporters to register online with the Family Research Council to vote for him. So Huckabee might well be the man to watch.
Maverick Texas Congressman Ron Paul was third with almost 15 percent while former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson got under 10 percent, a major disappointment for his campaign.
Giuliani was eighth with 107 votes -- under 2 percent.
Huckabee has made a habit of performing well at straw polls like these; there did seem to be a fair number of FairTax supporters, and they may have helped. But Huckabee's victory -- without much organizing -- suggests that his powers of persuasion are mighty and that the social conservative activists have come to know who he is and what he's about.It's hardly surprising that Huckabee appeals to evangelicals. On his issues page, the first item is "Religion and Politics." The summary says: "My faith is my life -- it defines me. My faith doesn't influence my decisions, it drives them. For example, when it comes to the environment, I believe in being a good steward of the earth. I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives." In other words, "I, Mike Huckabee, plan to govern as President of the United States of America based on my delusions about the will of God, as opposed to based on any kind of rational evaluation of the facts."
Unlike modern historians, I am a huge fan of Christopher Columbus. I would rank him as one of the ten most important men in history–and for the good! So Powell History is going to celebrate not just Columbus Day, but as a small measure of justice for a man so wrongly villified in our modern culture, a week of Columbus-related posts highlighting his achievements and his significance in world history. [my bold]So stop by Powell History Recommends for sculpture, paintings, and poetry commemorating this great man of independent vision, and to learn how to begin mounting an intellectual defense of his place in history.
Freedom of education, being an essential of civil and religious liberty ... must not be interfered with under any pretext whatever.... We are opposed to state interference with parental rights and rights of conscience in the education of children as an infringement of the fundamental ... doctrine that the largest individual liberty consistent with the rights of others insures the highest type of American citizenship and the best government.As you've probably guessed by now, that would be the 1892 Democratic platform. Later, Jacoby adds the following:
Wondrous to relate, the platform also warned that "the tendency to centralize all power at the federal capital has become a menace," blasted barriers to free trade as "robbery of the great majority of the American people for the benefit of the few," and pledged "relentless opposition to the Republican policy of profligate expenditure."The rest of the Jacoby article is worth reading, too, although it would have been a far better case for the end of public education had it also dealt with the gross violation of property rights used to fund this travesty. But I suspect that this is because Jacoby is more concerned with the fact that non-Christian values are being transmitted through public education than he is with individual rights in general.
A teen-ager was airlifted to hospital and his father had his nose broken when gatecrashers went on the rampage at a 16th birthday party after details were posted on YouTube, police and media reports said Friday.As with the episode of massive theft and vandalism I blogged back in April (which was conveniently attributed to Craig's List) , there is no rational connection between a simple listing of a home address and an event that is to occur there with what ended up happening.
More than 100 uninvited teenagers descended on the family house, stole whisky and champagne, smashed windows and started fighting, according to reports.
Rand's inversion of biblical norms had predictable results: Scott Ryan, who wrote a book on Rand's philosophy, called objectivism a "psychologically totalitarian personality cult that allowed Rand . . . to exercise personal power over [her] unwitting victims." He cites, for example, the way she manipulated "her own unemployed and dependent husband" to get him to agree for her to have "an adulterous sexual affair."Obviously, that characterization of Ayn Rand's actions is completely wrong. (Thank you, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, yet again!) Yet the critical point is that the author merely quotes Ryan's assertion of a strong connection between her philosophy and that supposed behavior -- without even hinting at the nature of that actual connection. One can only suppose that the author regards respecting other people as a form of self-sacrifice.
We're not talking here about personal flaws or merely human weaknesses. As Ryan puts it, these abuses are "demonstrably connected to Rand's own 'philosophical' premises"--that is, her worldview.
Rand and her followers, you see, lived in a way consistent with her worldview. But you can hardly regard a philosophy that exalts selfishness and condemns altruism as the basis for a good society.
Religious movie star Mark Wahlberg struggled with the script in director M. Night Shyamalan's new movie The Happening - because his character was required to blaspheme. Wahlberg has no problems swearing in his often gritty movies, but he tried not to use God's name in vain. So, when his latest director asked him to blaspheme, Wahlberg admits he had a real dilemma.Wahlberg was apparently born again while in prison. Blech!
He explains, "I had to say 'G' 'D' in this new movie and that was extremely difficult... He (Shyamalan) asked me if I would say it and I did, and I asked for forgiveness that night when I got home."
If we would launch an energy independence program with the intensity of a Marshall Plan for Europe, or a man-on-the-moon project, to liberate ourselves from the petroleum despots by developing synthetic fuels and finding new energy sources closer to home -- especially nuclear power -- we could strike a blow against the Islamofascists more damaging than bombs and bullets. [bold added]I have written about this before. Much of the oil in Venezuela and the Middle East was stolen from American and British firms when the various kleptocracies there nationalized their property. Even without the numerous other acts of war many of these regimes have perpetrated before or since, we would be fully justified in "waging war for oil". In fact, in not doing so, we lose more than just oil. We lose freedom and prosperity.
If we would launch an energy independence program with the intensity of a Marshall Plan for Europe, or a man-on-the-moon project, to liberate ourselves from the petroleum despots by developing synthetic fuels and finding new energy sources closer to home -- especially nuclear power -- we could strike a blow against the Islamofascists more damaging than bombs and bullets. [bold added]Oh. My bad. He already answered that charge a moment ago. Thomas is merely following the fashion of his fellow conservatives by adopting big government solutions for everything, as Brad Thompson has already explained far better than I could. If alternative fuels were an economically viable alternative, there would be cutthroat competition to develop the first one. But there isn't, and Cal Thomas knows this. This is why "Father Free Enterprise" is advocating a huge government program to develop an "alternative" to oil that we don't really need.
Might it be possible for the [Church of Global Warming] crowd and the Church of Free Enterprise (CFE) to come together for the common purpose of reducing our reliance on foreign oil? CGW fundamentalists would get what they want -- a reduced carbon footprint and supposedly lower global temperatures (go ahead and let them believe it) -- while CFE parishioners would rejoice that Saudi Arabia's hold on us (not to mention its use of our money to underwrite terrorism) could be broken.Yes. Cal Thomas wants to join forces with uber-leftist Al Gore to impose massive government regulations on the American economy in order to start a massive federal welfare program!
[W]ould Al Gore bring his legions with him to the table? [bold added]
By Yaron Brook and Don Watkins
As part of his universal healthcare proposal, John Edwards would make doctor visits and other forms of preventive care mandatory. In a similar proposal in England, a Tory panel suggested that Britons should be forced to adopt a government-prescribed "healthy lifestyle." Britons who "cooperate" by quitting smoking or losing weight would receive Health Miles that could be used to purchase vegetables or gym memberships; those who don't would be denied certain medical treatments.
These paternalistic proposals are offered as solutions to the spiraling costs that plague our respective healthcare systems. It is unrealistic, states the Tory report, for British citizens "to expect that the state will underwrite the health implications of any lifestyle decision they choose to make."
But any proposal that expands the government's power to control our lives--to dictate to us when to go to the doctor or how many helpings of veggies we must eat--cannot be a solution to anything. Instead of debating what coercive measures we should be taking to lower "social costs," we should be questioning the healthcare systems that make our lifestyles other people's business in the first place.
Both the American and British systems, despite their differences, are fundamentally collectivist: they exist on the premise that the individual's health is not his own responsibility, but "society's." Both Britain's outright socialized medicine and America's semi-socialized blend of Medicare, Medicaid, and government-controlled, employer-sponsored health plans aim to relieve the individual of the burden of paying for his own healthcare by coercively imposing those costs on his neighbors.
When the government introduces force into the healthcare system to relieve the individual of responsibility for his own health, it is inevitably led to progressively expand its control over that system and every citizen's life.
For example, in a system in which medical care is "free" or artificially inexpensive, with someone else paying for one's healthcare, medical costs spiral out of control because individuals are encouraged to demand medical services without having to consider their real costs. When "society" foots the bill for one's health, it also encourages the unhealthy lifestyles of the short-range mentalities who don't care to think beyond the next plate of French fries. The astronomical tab that results from all of this causes collectivist politicians to condemn various easy targets (e.g., doctors, insurance companies, smokers, the obese) for taking too much of the "people's money," and then to enact a host of coercive measures to control expenses: price controls on medical services, cuts to medical benefits--or, as with the current proposals, attempts to reduce demand for medical services by forcing a "healthy lifestyle" on individuals.
Properly, your healthcare decisions and expenditures are not anyone's business but your own--any more than how much you spend on food, cars, or movies is. But under collectivized healthcare, every Twinkie you eat, doctor's visit you cancel, or lab test you wish to have run, becomes other people's right to question, regulate, and prohibit--because they are paying for it. When "society" collectively bears the costs of healthcare, the government will inevitably seek to dictate every detail of medical care and, ultimately, every detail of how you live your life.
To protect our health and our freedom, we must reject collectivized healthcare, and put an end to a system that forces us to pay for other people's medical care. We must remove government from the system and demand a free market in medicine--one in which the government's only role is to protect the individual rights of doctors, patients, hospitals, and insurance companies to deal with one another voluntarily, and where each person is responsible for his own healthcare.
Let's not allow the land of the free and the home of the brave to become a nation of dependents looking to the nanny-state to take care of us and following passively its dictates as to how we should live our lives.
Yaron Brook is the president of the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) in Irvine, CA. Don Watkins is a writer and research coordinator at ARI. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."
One of the greatest acts of human altruism is the near-total devotion of parents to their children, which can be at least partly explained by the kin-selection idea. Most people show the greatest kindness to their own children, followed by the children of their closest relatives.Since animals, unlike human beings, do not possess rational faculties, and thus lack spiritual values, I submit that the above explanation is completely wrong (no matter which definition of "altruism" one cares to use). Humans do not act on instinct, and can profit on an egoistic, psychological level by raising children. While it can and does make sense to apply findings from biological studies (below the behavioral level) on animals to humans, it would be hard enough to make this leap at the behavioral level even if the term "altruism" weren't so common.
When it comes to establishing democracy, a me-first attitude isn't such a bad thing. In fact, it might be a necessity, according to Northern Illinois University anthropologist Giovanni Bennardo.How tough?
Bennardo spent the tail end of the summer in Tonga, the only remaining Polynesian monarchy. Budding democratic movements there have failed to take firm root, and Bennardo says the problem can be traced to a culturally ingrained way of thinking that always puts groups before individuals.
"Democracy puts the rights of the individual first, but Tongans are trained from birth to do the opposite," Bennardo says. "In their society, the extreme importance is attributed to the group over the individual. The ego is highly constrained. That doesn't mean they can't understand freedom and democracy, but putting individuals ahead of the group is a tough task for them." [bold added]
For example, a Westerner might describe a building location as "in front of me," whereas a Tongan would describe it as being "toward the church." In experiments, Bennardo asked test subjects to draw pictures of their island. They typically placed the major town in the center of the island, even when in reality it was at or near the coast.Granted, the term "democracy" is itself as ambiguous in today's sloppy political discourse as "altruism", but Bennardo is closer to describing a free society through the term than unlimited majority rule. Clearly, his finding shows that certain cultural attitudes are a prerequisite for a political system that protects individual freedom, something he even explicitly states has applications to the current situation in Iraq.
Working with researchers in Germany and at UCLA, Bennardo demonstrated that this way of thinking also applies to concepts of time, kinship and social relationships, the latter of which is closely tied to the political realm.
"One person, one vote is difficult to implement," he says. "Tongans aren't accustomed to viewing themselves in terms of equality of individuals." [bold added]
Some writing becomes outdated as fast as a newspaper. There must be millions of books and magazines from the 1970's that are now of interest to no one but scholars and perhaps the mothers of those who wrote them. But Ayn Rand, because she thought in philosophic principles, actually becomes more interesting as time passes.
Take the speech she gave at the Ford Hall Forum in 1977, "Global Balkanization," which can now be found in The Return of the Primitive. When I read it in the '70s, I could see her point, but tribalism in America was still somewhat theoretical to me. I could not imagine that things would get as bad as the Balkans or Belgium or the Basques in Spain and France. 30 years later we have seen the growth of multiculturalism in our culture and Rand's speech seems remarkably prescient. We have seen blacks relabeled "African-Americans" because definition by ethnicity is so important to the New Left. Now we see immigrants from Latin America who spend their lives in the USA without bothering to learn English.
I believe OJ was acquitted in large part because of the influence of multiculturalism on the jury. The jury's stultified minds had been trained to think of everything in tribal terms. OJ was a black man against racist white cops; the facts of the case were not as important to the jury as the fact that OJ was part of their ethnicity, part of their tribe.
Now we see the Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival worried about the ethnic makeup not just of his actors and playwrights but his audience. Now children get pious lectures about different "cultures" -- asians are supposed to have certain traits, African-Americans other traits and Hispanics another set of traits. Now we see politicians elected because they're the first woman/black/hispanic/fill-in-the-blank to run for an office.
I was inspired to reread "Global Balkanization" by the Jena 6 incident. The case is about six black kids who jumped a white kid and beat him unconscious. It's not a civil rights case, and comparisons to Selma, Alabama strike me as laughable. However, to leftists and people such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton the facts are unimportant; it only matters that this is a case of "our tribe vs. their tribe." Black kids are on trial in the South; they must be defended by other blacks, regardless of the facts of the case. Multiculturalism has spread so far through our culture that many can only think of this case through its distorting lens.
There are many quotable passages in "Global Balkanization," not the least Rand's immortal observation of folk dancing, "if you've seen one group of people clapping their hands while jumping up and down, you've seen them all." Here she looks at the nature and causes of modern tribalism:
Philosophically, tribalism is the product of irrationalism and collectivism. It is a logical consequence of modern philosophy. If men accept the notion that reason is not valid, what is to guide them and how are they to live? Obviously, they will seek to join some group -- any group -- which claims the ability to lead them and to provide some sort of knowledge acquired by some sort of unspecified means. If men accept the notion that the individual is helpless, intellectually and morally, that he has no mind and no rights, that he is nothing, but the group is all, and his only moral significance lies in selfless service to the group -- they will be pulled obediently to join a group. But which group? Well, if you believe that you have no mind and no moral value, you cannot have the confidence to make choices -- so the only thing for you to do is to join an unchosen group, the group into which you were born, the group to which you were predestined to belong by the sovereign, omnipotent omniscient power of your body chemistry.
This, of course, is racism. But if your group is small enough, it will not be called "racism": it will be called "ethnicity."
Rand explains the function of the word ethnicity:
Observe that ever since World War II, racism has been regarded as a vicious falsehood and a great evil, which it certainly is. It is not the root of all social evils -- the root is collectivism -- but, as I have written before (in The Virtue of Selfishness), "Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism." One would think that Hitler had given a sufficient demonstration of racism's evil. Yet today's intellectuals, particularly the liberals, are supporting and propagating the most virulent form of racism on earth: tribalism.
The cover-up that makes it possible lies in a single word: ethnicity.
Today multiculturalism is held as an unquestioned ideal. Using such words as culture and ethnicity as a cover, schoolchildren are indoctrinated with racist ideas.
The tragedy of multiculturalism is that instead of helping people be color blind so that they judge others by "the content of their character," it forces people to categorize everyone by race. I get the sense that race consciousness is spreading among whites. Whites are beginning to judge policies and candidates on how they will benefit the caucasian race. If racism spreads among whites as well as among all minorities, the consequences could be disastrous.
Multiculturalism poses as a force for tolerance and brotherly love, when it really leads to the opposite -- to civil strife, hatred and violence. Multiculturalism places everyone into a pressure group by race that looks to the government for preferences at the expense of all the other groups. The now reviled "Melting Pot," in which people were encouraged to forget their ethnicity and be an American like everyone else, did lead to dignity, peace and respect; it was an individualist policy in a country that had a freer market than today. But when the state intervenes in the economy and people divide into pressure groups hoping to get a bigger piece of the handout pie than other groups, the result is group conflict and hatred.
Freedom cannot last when any form of collectivism dominates a culture. For our children and our children's children to grow up in a free country, we need to return to individualism. Instead, our children are being indoctrinated with racism in government schools -- and this might be the greatest scandal nobody cares about.
"Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicized, said instead that a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures - related to the amount of salt in ocean water - is responsible for global warming that he acknowledges has taken place....However, he said, that same cycle means a period of global cooling will begin soon and last for several years."Countering another of Gore's assertions, that man-caused global warming has caused an increase in hurricanes, the article reported that Gray "cited statistics, showing there were 101 hurricanes from 1900-1949, in a period of cooler global temperatures, compared to 83 from 1957-2006, when the earth warmed."
"Hollywood has been credited for playing a major role in the efforts that led to Gore's [Peace Prize] award Friday." Laurie David, apparently a power behind putting Gore on a studio blue screen, "saw Gore's slide show on global warming at a private Los Angeles presentation in 2004. She immediately asked Pulp Fiction producer Lawrence Bender to get involved. They approached Burns [Scott Burns, a producer of An Inconvenient Truth] and director Davis Guggenheim, then set up a pitch session with Gore at a hotel in San Francisco in spring 2005....Participant Productions - founded by EBay pioneer Jeff Skoll - came onboard with financing, and Guggenheim immediately went to work.....John Lesher, the newly installed head of Paramount Pictures' specialty film division, made the documentary one of his first purchases."That figures. Leave it to West Coast, anti-American lefties to help a failed politician perpetrate a fraud, a big lie. It is also noteworthy that Laurie David immediately contacted Bender, producer of Quentin Tarantino's 1994 Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction, an episodic collection of stories about Los Angeles low-life criminals. Who better, she must have thought, to help pull off a celluloid non sequitur?
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as "bad luck."
Blog for Immigration Voice, striving to a) reform the broken employment-based Immigration System for the United States to maintain a competitive edge b) safeguard the interests of legal, English-speaking, skilled Global professionals waiting for their employment-based Green CardsWhen will the Malkins, O'Reilly's and Lou Dobb's of the world speak up for these people, who spend years squeezed into the pipeline called legal immigration? I've lived in that pipe, and it was so unnecessary. How can anyone look at the stuff on this site and think that these people are somehow going to undermine America!
A chart at the Economist compares the average job tenure of developed countries. At four years, the United State has the shortest average tenure by far, with the British working more than double that duration, and the Greeks working over 12 years at the same job. No doubt that many will use these numbers to condemn the U.S. for not protecting “the rights of workers.” In most Western European countries, employers can only fire workers under certain legally-defined conditions, and only after a lengthy disciplinary process subject to independent appeal. Putting the morality of coercing employers into lifetime contracts aside, do such “protections” really help workers?
The official French unemployment rate is roughly double America’s, with unemployment among young Frenchmen at about 20%, and lasting much longer on average. The correlation of high levels and prolonged periods of unemployment with laws meant to protect against unemployment might seem surprising to someone who advocates fixing social problems with legislation.
The glaring problem with the socialistic attitude that society can be improved by replacing voluntary economic activity with a coercive regulatory state is that human beings are not cogs in a machine. They do not passively follow new regulations, but proactively respond to incentives. Faced with the practical impossibility of firing unproductive workers, employers would rather not hire them in the first place. They can hardly be blamed for this, for their alternative is to play a game of Russian roulette and risk being bankrupted with unproductive or even counter-productive employees. They must try to find people who are passionate about their jobs because once hired, they will earn a salary whether or not they work for it.
I am personally grateful to live in Texas, an “at will employment” state, where either party can terminate employment with no liability. My career success would not have been possible if I weren’t so easy to fire.
As I was nearing the end of my master’s degree, I managed to obtain an exclusive internship that promised to jumpstart my career. Due to a combination of a lack of social skills and planning, I had failed to network with employers, peers, or professors, and managed to swing the internship on the basis of my technical skills and/or academic record. However less than two weeks before my internship was to start, the company suddenly reneged on the internship offer. With just a few months until graduation and no personal connections or offers on the table, I started to wonder whether I was any better off than my friends and classmates who went back to their parents with useless liberal arts degrees. In a similar situation, most young Europeans continue living with their parents for decades and accumulating more useless degrees.
I was not in Europe, and so I was able to do contract work during college, and offered to do a six-week long unpaid “internship” for a think tank I had done some work for. I’m not familiar with European labor laws, but somehow I doubt that it would be as easy to simply offer one’s services in exchange for room and board with no paperwork or commitment whatsoever. During that summer, I brushed up on my skills, and was offered a low-paying, but very promising opportunity for a small startup near Austin, Texas. I had nothing but a degree and a recommendation behind my name, but there was little risk from the perspective of my employer, and so I had my first opportunity to prove my worth. A year later, I used that experience to get a better position in Dallas. Exactly a year after that, I changed jobs once more, and then once again seven months after that. I now work as a month-to-month contractor with no job security whatsoever, but a solid resume and 360% more income than that first job. Had my employers been bound by French labor laws, I doubt I could have gotten that first chance to prove my worth.
I am currently employed by a French-owned company, and my coworkers who visit the French headquarters like to joke that their associates there all have good looks but don’t seem to shower or change their clothes. I don’t know whether it’s true, but it makes sense – without job mobility, superficial characteristics like appearance become much more important when getting that first and only job, and after getting it, there is little incentive to keep up appearances.
There is nothing unreasonable about the idea of a personal God creating the material universe. A Big Bang needs a "big Banger," it seems to me. A complex set of instructions (as in DNA) needs an author. A blueprint requires an engineer. A moral law needs a moral law giver. This is not a leap. This is a step of intelligent reflection. [bold added]Well, no. Actually it's not just one "step", but the first of an infinite number of steps. Aristotle, whom Koukl cites earlier knew such a series as an "infinite regress". A five year-old could ask in reply, "Well. Who created God?" His age would be no grounds for dismissing such a perceptive question.
From Dr. Yaron Brook:
Belmont, California, recently passed a measure banning smoking in, among other places, multiunit dwellings and outdoor restaurants in order to protect people from secondhand smoke.
"But those who don't wish to be exposed to cigarette smoke do not need a coercive ban to protect them," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. "No one is forced to inhale cigarette smoke against his will--if property rights are protected.
Rather than protecting individuals from unwanted smoke, this measure tramples on the rights of property owners.
"Property owners, including restaurant proprietors and apartment landlords, should be free to decide whether or not smoking is allowed on their property and under what conditions. If a potential diner or tenant does not agree to the policy, he is free to take his business elsewhere. But he should not be free to impose his smoking preferences on others, at the expense of their use and enjoyment of their property, or the profitability of their business.
"Clearly, this is not an attempt to protect people from unwillingly inhaling smoke--it is an attempt by the city council to impose its anti-smoking views on Belmont citizens. But no habit could be as destructive as granting the government the power to dictate what we can and can't do on our own property.
"Those who value freedom and property rights should oppose this ban."
Copyright © 2007 Ayn Rand® Institute
The grumbles from the religious right about leaving the party if the pro-choice Giuliani is the nominee remind us that the Republican Party is a "Big Tent" of various factions -- neoconservatives, social and religious conservatives, free market Republicans -- who are united for little else than that they are not Democrats. To be more accurate, they are united in not being socialists.
The Republican Party is a union riddled with contradictions. Some Republicans want open borders; others want jackbooted police raids of illegal immigrants. Some Republicans think it's fine if gays marry; others quote the Bible and condemn homosexuals as immoral. Some Republicans want to withdraw to Fortress America; others want to pursue neoconservative nation building to spread "democracy" while a few others would like America to assert its national interest and destroy states that sponsor terrorism. A few Republican dinosaurs still long for the Goldwater days when the party seemed to be for laissez-faire capitalism; most are happy with the welfare state, they just want a bit less than the Democrats in order to pretend they're for freedom.
Compared to this the Democrats are united and orderly. All Democrats know what they want: more government. All Democrats adhere to the ideologies of the New Left -- multiculturalism, environmentalism, feminism. When a Dem such as Joseph Lieberman goes off the reservation, he is scorned as a pariah. When a Democrat gently criticizes his own side, he is rebuked for giving the Republicans ammunition.
The conventional wisdom has it that the Republicans are the party with strict discipline, whereas the Democrats are chaotic. The old line goes, "I don't belong to an organized political party -- I'm a Democrat." This might be true in superficial ways, but at root the Republicans are a party full of ideological conflict and the Democrats are a party of ideological conformity. Political correctness comes from the left and is inescapable on the left. A politically incorrect Democrat is not long a Democrat; soon he becomes a neoconservative.
The Republican Big Tent is, I believe, a reaction to Marxism. When the Industrial Revolution was young, the conservatives hated it. They romanticized the middle ages and despised factories, smoke stacks, the division of labor, etc. They longed for the old order, in which everyone knew his place, when God was on his throne in Heaven and all was right in the world. J.R.R. Tolkien was such a conservative; his Shire is a happy, pre-capitalist English town, whereas Mordor is a twisted view of an industrial nation with regimentation and belching smoke stacks. The conservatives were the first enemies of capitalism.
Then came along one Karl Marx, who secularized the conservatives' arguments against capitalism and created dialectical materialism and communism. Marxism was a tremendous success that spread like wildfire through the west. The conservatives had no choice but to band together with their enemy, the pro-capitalist liberals, against their greater enemy the socialists. In America the anti-socialist party accepted the term conservative and gave up liberal, which was immediately claimed by the socialists.
By the mid-20th century it was obvious to all but those blinded by Marxist ideology that capitalism worked and communism did not. The 20th century was a long series of laboratory experiments demonstrating capitalism's productiveness: where people were free, they thrived; where people were not free, they were poor.
Capitalism's productivity presented a problem to the anti-capitalist left. The Old Left's claims of outperforming capitalism because the communists had a planned economy were nothing but a joke by mid-century. They solved the problem by finding an ideology that held productivity itself to be bad. Thus was environmentalism born. Scientific socialism could be thrown overboard -- or at least put on the back burner -- as long as the left could continue pursuing the destruction of capitalism. The left is essentially nihilist: what replaces capitalism is not as important as its destruction.
Capitalism also presents a problem to the religious conservatives -- a problem they are still struggling with and have yet to resolve. Religion upholds the morality of altruism, the idea that the strong must sacrifice for the weak. Capitalism is plainly based on selfishness and greed, what Jefferson called the pursuit of happiness. If one adheres to the morality of altruism consistently, one is led to support the welfare state with the Democrats. This is a contradiction the religious right must resolve.
But the contradictions between capitalism and mysticism go even deeper. If Augustine could be resurrected and set down in midtown Manhattan, his mind would be horrified once he understood what he saw. He would be repulsed by a civilization that is focused on pursuing happiness in this Satanic realm of existence instead of focusing on the Kingdom of God that one enters after death. He would hate a civilization that values science and reason more than blind faith. Modern Christians have been able to evade or plaster over these contradictions so far, but crises have a way of forcing one to act in accordance with what he really believes. Will future crises tear the Republican Big Tent apart?
It might be a testament to the Republicans' vaunted party discipline that the coalition of religionists, individualists, country clubbers and others has held together so well. Or perhaps it is the way a two-party system works: factions are forced by their greater enemy to come together with lesser enemies. Currently, there are calls for James Dobson and the religious conservatives to support Giuliani in order to defeat Hillary Clinton in '08.
Perhaps the greatest challenge to the Republicans' Big Tent will be the spread of Objectivism in American culture. At some point, when a large enough percentage of Americans believes that selfishness is a virtue, the religious right will be galvanized into choosing what they really believe. They will have to decide between religion and capitalism. I believe they will choose religion and forge an alliance with the anti-capitalist left. The mystics will be happier then without having to pretend they value freedom. For the first time in several centuries the conservatives will be home again where they should be -- on the side that opposes capitalism.
To my knowledge Immanuel Kant never expressed any interest in Christopher Columbus. Certainly he is not known for having done so or considered influential regarding the debate over the question of Columbus’s place in history or the discovery of America. (There was, of course, no debate on this question until the twentieth century.) Nonetheless, it is Kant who, on the most fundamental level, stands between Columbus and the historical acclaim he rightly deserves.
Evidently, egalitarianism and multiculturalism are the ideologies driving attacks on Columbus. When people assert that Leif Ericson “discovered America,” they are obviously not claiming that his landing in Vinland is anywhere near as significant to history as Columbus’s voyage of 1492. They cannot, because Ericson’s efforts were absolutely barren of historical results. What Ericson proponents are really asserting is that no individual–and no discovery–is more historically significant than any other. Similarly, it would be ludicrous to claim that the Iroquois Confederacy or the Aztec Empire were bastions of individual rights, comparable to the United States. Multiculturalists do not assert this. Instead, they evade the fact that political freedom is an objective standard of value, and present Indian social systems as merely variants within a “spectrum,” “pageant”, or “kaleidoscope” of different civilizations.
The intellectual roots of egalitarianism and multiculturalism in Kantianism are complex and difficult to trace, but they are there. One important aspect of Kant’s philosophical system that underlies both of these views is the idea that a man’s consciousness necessarily distorts his perception of reality. This premise empowers attackers of Western civilization against any emphasis of certain individuals and civilizations in history, by allowing them to claim that these are merely expressions of a “Eurocentric” cultural prism through which Westerners view the world. Kant’s “deontological” theory of ethics also plays a part, because it damns any valuing activity–including the valuing of historical changes–that reflect one’s interest (regardless of whether that interest is objective or not).
There are other related ideas that Kant provided which underpin modern attacks on Columbus and the West, but his role in Columbus’s fall is far greater than merely the empowerment of Columbus’s enemies. Kant’s most nefarious part in the anti-Columbian intifada is his work to disarm of the defenders of civilization who should have stood at the ready to repel the anti-Western onslaught–the scientists whose job it is to define and promote the value of the agents of progress in time–i.e. professional historians.
(Continued tomorrow, in part 2).
1. I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did. (Sharm el-Sheikh August 2003)Some of those quotes are more interesting and relevant than others, of course. Two points:
2. I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job. (Statement made during campaign visit to Amish community, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Jul. 9, 2004)
3. I'm also mindful that man should never try to put words in God's mouth. I mean, we should never ascribe natural disasters or anything else to God. We are in no way, shape, or form should a human being, play God. (Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2005)
4. God loves you, and I love you. And you can count on both of us as a powerful message that people who wonder about their future can hear. (Los Angeles, California, Mar. 3, 2004)
5. I tell people all the time, you're equally American if you're a Christian, Jew, or Muslim. You're equally American if you believe in an Almighty or don't believe in an Almighty. That's a sacred freedom. (Washington, D.C., Mar. 10, 2006)
6. Well, first of all, you got to understand some of my view on freedom, it's not American's gift to the world. See, freedom is God -- is God given. (Interview with TVR, Romania, Nov. 23, 2002)
7. I'm sure there is some kind of heavy doctrinal difference, which I'm not sophisticated enough to explain to you. (Explaining the issues involved in his switching from attending an Episcopal church to attending a Methodist one, around Jul. 1, 1994)
8. I don't think you order suiciders to kill innocent men, women, and children if you're a religious person. (Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Jul. 14, 2004)
9. And there's nothing more powerful in helping change the country than the faith -- faith in Dios. (National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C., May 16, 2002)
10. We believe in an Almighty, we believe in the freedom for people to worship that Almighty. They don't. (Martinsburg, West Virginia, Jul. 4, 2007)
11. The spirit of our people is the source of America's strength. And we go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose, and faith in a loving God who made us to be free. (5th anniversary of the Sep. 11 attacks, White House, Sep. 11, 2006)
12. Churches all across the country are reaching out -- synagogues, people from different faiths understand that it makes sense to help their parishioners realize the benefits of this plan. (Sun City Center, Florida, May 9, 2006)
13.We can never replace lives, and we can't heal hearts, except through prayer. (Enterprise, Alabama, Mar. 3, 2007)
14. God bless the people of this part of the world. (Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aug. 4, 2007)
15. I believe there's an Almighty, and I believe the Almighty's great gift to each man and woman in this world is the desire to be free. This isn't America's gift to the world, it is a universal gift to the world, and people want to be free. (Manhattan, Kansas, Jan. 23, 2006)
16. I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah. (White House, Dec. 10, 200117.)
17. I see an opportunity at home when I hear the stories of Christian and Jewish women alike, helping women of cover, Arab American women go shop because they're afraid to leave their home. (Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2001)
18. It's a sign from above. Comment made when television light caught fire above crowd. (Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Mar. 9, 2001)
19. I did denounce it. I de- I denounced it. I denounced interracial dating. I denounced anti-Catholic bigacy... bigotry. (Responding to attacks on his visit to ultra-conservative Bob Jones University, Greenville, South Carolina, Feb. 25, 2000)
20. We are grateful for the freedoms we enjoy, grateful for the loved ones who give meaning to our lives, and grateful for the many gifts of this prosperous land. On Thanksgiving we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come not from the hand of man, but from Almighty God. (Washington, D.C., Nov. 30, 2002)
21. We say in our country, everybody matters, everybody is precious in the sight of an Almighty. (Northern State University, Aberdeen, South Dakota, Oct. 31, 2002)
22. We love the fact that people can worship an almighty God any way they see fit here in America. (Phoenix, Arizona, Sep. 28, 2002)
23. And I just -- I cannot speak strongly enough about how we must collectively get after those who kill in the name of -- in the name of some kind of false religion. (Press appearance with King Abdullah of Jordan, Aug. 1, 2002)
24. We are commanded by God and called by our conscience to love others as we want to be loved ourselves. (Ohio State University, Jun. 14, 2002)
25. By being active citizens in your church or your synagogue, or for those Muslims, in your mosque, and adhering to the admission to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself, that's how we can stand up. (Remarks to the cattle industry annual convention and trade show, Denver, Colorado, Feb. 8, 2002)
26. And we base it, our history, and our decision making, our future, on solid values. The first value is, we're all God's children. (Washington, D.C., Jul. 16, 2003)
27. One of the great things about this country is a lot of people pray. (Washington, D.C., Apr. 13, 2003)
28. And there's no doubt in my mind, when the United States acts abroad and home, we do so based upon values -- particularly the value that we hold dear to our hearts, and that is, everybody ought to be free. I want to repeat what I said during my State of the Union to you. Liberty is not America's gift to the world. What we believe strongly, and what we hold dear, is liberty is God's gift to mankind. And we hold that value precious. And we believe it is true. (White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Feb. 9, 2003)
29. This great, powerful nation is motivated not by power for power's sake, but because of our values. If everybody matters, if every life counts, then we should hope everybody has the great God's gift of freedom. (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jan. 29, 2003)
30. The short-term objective of this country is to find an enemy and bring them to justice before they strike us. The long-term objective is to make this world a more free and hopeful and peaceful place. I believe we'll succeed because freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world. (Portsmouth, Ohio, Sep. 10, 2004)
31. And if you choose to -- if you believe in the Almighty, you can -- you're equally an American. If you're a Jew, Christian or Muslim or Hindi or whatever. It is one of the great traits and traditions of our country, where people can worship the way you see fit. (Interview on Larry King Live, CNN, Aug. 15, 2004)
32. By the way, to whom much has been given, much is owed. Not only are we leading the world in terms of encouraging freedom and peace, we're feeding the hungry. We're taking care of, as best as we possibly can, the victims of HIV/AIDS. (Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jul. 20, 2004)
33. Faith-based is an important part of my life, individually, but I don't -- I don't ascribe a person's opposing my nominations to an issue of faith. (Prime time press conference, White House, Apr. 28, 2005)
34. I believe liberty is universal. I don't believe it is just for the United States of America alone. I believe there is an Almighty, and I believe the Almighty's gift to people worldwide is the desire to be free. (Fort Irwin, California, Apr. 4, 2007)
35. What a powerful statement to the world about the compassion of the American people that you're free to choose the religion you want in our country. (Washington, D.C., Sep. 29, 2006)
36. The United States of America must understand that freedom is universal, that there is an Almighty, and the great gift of that Almighty to each man and woman in this world is the desire to be free. (Nashville, Tennessee, Aug. 30, 2006)
37. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research. ...Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale. (2006 State of the Union Address, Jan. 31, 2006)
38. One of the most -- I think one of the most important and interesting domestic initiatives, which I agree has created an interesting philosophical debate, is to allow faith-based programs and community-based programs to access federal money in order to achieve the results we all want. I mean, for example, if you're trying to encourage people to quit drinking, doesn't it make sense to give people somebody an alternative -- he can maybe go to a government counselor? Or how about somebody who calls upon a higher being to help you quit drinking? All I care about is the results. (Sterling, Virginia, Jan. 19, 2006)
39. Every new citizen of the United States has an obligation to learn our customs and values, including liberty and civic responsibility, equality under God and tolerance for others, and the English language. (Tucson, Arizona, Nov. 28, 2005)
40. We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom, and America will always be faithful to that cause. (Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2005)
41.Secondly, it's really important, Pete, that people not think government is a loving entity. Government is law and justice. Love comes from the hearts of people that are able to impart love. And therefore, what Craig is doing is -- he doesn't realize it -- he's a social entrepreneur. He is inspiring others to continue to reach out to say to somebody who is lonely, I love you. And I'm afraid this requires a higher power than the federal government to cause somebody to love somebody. (Summit on School Violence, Washington DC, October 10, 2006)
42. We don't believe that freedom is America's gift to the world. We believe freedom is the God Almighty's gift to each and every person in the world. (California, Oct. 15, 2003)
43. I believe that, as I told the Crown Prince, the Almighty God has endowed each individual on the face of the earth with -- that expects each person to be treated with dignity. This is a universal call. (Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Jun. 3, 2003)
44. All of you -- all in this generation of our military -- have taken up the highest calling of history. You're defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope -- a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To the captives, 'come out,' -- and to those in darkness, 'be free.' (Aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, a couple of miles away from San Diego May 1, 2003)
45. It's so inspirational to see your courage, as well as to see the great works of our Lord in your heart. (Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 10, 2003)
46. As Dick mentioned, we mourn the loss of seven brave souls. We learned a lot about them over the last couple of days, and Laura and I learned a lot about their families in Houston, because we met with them. My impressions of the meeting was that there was -- that Almighty God was present in their hearts. (Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2003)
47. It's also important for people to know we never seek to impose our culture or our form of government. We just want to live under those universal values, God-given values. (Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2002)
48. Yet we do know that God has placed us together in this moment, to grieve together, to stand together, to serve each other and our country. (Ellis Island, New York, Sep. 11, 2002)
49. The reason I'm -- asked [these AmeriCorps workers] to join us here is because I want you to know, America can be saved one person at a time. (Green Tree, Pennsylvania, Aug. 5, 2002)
50. Government can hand out money, but it cannot put hope into people's hearts. It cannot put faith into people's lives. (West Ashley High School, Charleston, South Carolina, Jul. 29, 2002)
3-Time UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture retired Thursday, officially ending his reign over a sports empire he was instrumental in building. As Mixed Martial Arts becomes more prominent in the news (the UFC was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this year) and more profitable at the bank (the UFC had the highest pay-per-view ratings in 2006), only one man could accurately be described as "the face of MMA" in America.
Randy Couture will be remembered as MMA’s greatest champion and ambassador. An Olympic athlete, an honorable sportsman, an intelligent spokesman, an unconquerable warrior -- these are the traits used to describe a superhero. The moniker "Captain America" is truly fitting.
As a 3-time Heavyweight Champion of the UFC, Randy Couture is unarguably the Baddest Man on the Planet. A tougher human being literally could not be found. Yet he charmed an entire generation of sports fans with his pride, his professionalism, and his perspicacity. In a country riddled with spoiled, belligerent, and criminal athletes, a true sportsman like Couture is a breath of fresh air.
I have no doubt but that the healthy UFC will continue its meteoric success after Couture's departure. But he will be sorely missed by his fans, his promoters, and especially by those he inspired to compete in an exciting new sport. One can only hope that out of the next generation of fighters, some elite few will approach the sport as Couture did.
Football gave us men like Dan Marino and Brett Favre. Basketball has Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. Boxing’s greatest include names like Rocky Marciano and Muhammed Ali. Now “The Natural” Randy Couture joins Royce Gracie in the group of Mixed Martial Arts’ founding members and greatest heroes.
Thanks for the ride, Randy, and best wishes in your future endeavors.--Dan Edge
Note: It was not the intention of this experiment to make any particular group look bad, reinforce stereotypes nor to further a hidden agenda of any kind. The actions of a few members in a group should not, of course, be used to judge the whole group.Of course, there's plenty of online discussion, questions, and ranting about the meaning and significance of the results.
Hamline University has suspended a student after he sent an e-mail suggesting that the Virginia Tech massacre might have been stopped if students had been allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus. Student Troy Scheffler is now required to undergo a mandatory "mental health evaluation" before being allowed to return to school. Scheffler, who was suspended without due process just two days after sending the e-mail, has turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.Un-freaking-believable.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand was published on October 10, 1957, 50 years ago today. It is my favorite novel. I believe it is the greatest novel ever written.
The book is a publishing phenomenon. Last year it sold 130,000 copies, more than the year it came out. How many other novels published in the 1950's can boast such sales figures? (And how many of those have yet to be made into a movie?) These sales come despite the contempt the novel has gotten from tastemakers on the left and right since it was first published. Whittaker Chambers in National Review made the novel sound like the second coming of Adolph Hitler, an outrageous smear. (Could there be a worse person to review Atlas Shrugged than a communist who had become a Christian?) The conservative Andrew Ferguson recently dismissed Rand's novels as "preposterous" and the leftist maverick Christopher Hitchens has sneered at them as "transcendently awful."
If you accept the standards of naturalism, to which most serious novels conform, then Tolstoy's War and Peace is the greatest novel and Atlas Shrugged is indeed preposterous and awful. It has an interesting plot with suspense and an exciting climax; characters who are not statistical averages but heroes; a style that is at once clear and poetic, rational and passionate; and worst of all, it has a theme. Moreover, the theme contradicts the morality of both the left and right, undercutting both socialism and religion! Not only does it do all that, but it introduces a radical new philosophy in a 57-page speech. How on earth did such a book ever get published in an age of naturalism, an age in which your typical novel is a dreary, pointless, plotless story about some hapless professor suffering a midlife crisis?
As the venom from conservatives suggests, Atlas Shrugged is in no way conservative. It is radical. It is a revolutionary tract that introduces the philosophy of Objectivism, a philosophy of reality, reason, rational self-interest, capitalism and romanticism. (And it does this while also being a dramatic page-turner, a love story, a mystery and science fiction. To me it's not just the greatest novel, it's the most astonishing and most ambitious. Rand set her purpose high and she fulfilled it.)
Objectivism is now in a race with modern philosophy to determine the fate of Western Civilization. If modern philosophy continues to spread subjectivism, moral relativism, altruism, egalitarianism and collectivism, then statism will continue to grow and America will continue to lose its freedom. The nihilistic black hole of modern philosophy paves the way for religion to fill the value vacuum; as history shows, religion also leads to dictatorship. The enlightenment, of which America is a product, was the historical lowpoint of religion. If Objectivism spreads the morality of rational self-interest and individualism, then the march toward dictatorship will be halted and turned around.
That last paragraph probably baffled all but those who already agree with it. Any discussion of the effects of philosophy on politics and culture is highly abstract and hard to make real. I can't do it in a blog post, but what I can do is point the reader to the book that does make it real, that concretizes the philosophical struggle of Western Civilization. That book is Atlas Shrugged. It shows what altruism-collectivism-mysticism are doing to America -- and it provides the solution.
I can't do the novel justice here. All I can do is suggest you try it, you might like it. Or you might not. I have pushed the book on many family members and friends, none of whom read it. I think people are more likely to read a book they find and buy themselves than one they get as a gift. People seem to think, "You're giving me 1,000 pages to read? As if I didn't have enough work to do!" So I won't give you the book; but if you should see it in a bookstore someday and recall this review... go for it.
A doctor in Tennessee I talked to publishes his low prices, such as $40 for an office visit.Aside from the fact that this column, like the others in this series, focuses exclusively on the economic side of the question of whether we should socialize medicine, one flaw is that Stossel, although he made it clear why health insurance is a mess in an earlier installment, sounds too much like he blames health insurance companies for the current economic mess in the medical sector.
Most doctors would say you can't make money this way. But Dr. Robert Berry told me you can. "Last year, I made about the average of what a primary-care physician makes in this country," he said.
Berry doesn't accept insurance. That saves him money because he doesn't have to hire a staff to process insurance claims, and he never has to fight with companies to get paid.
His mostly uninsured patients save money, too. Unlike doctors trapped in the insurance maze, Berry works with his patients to find ways to save them money.
"It's coming out of their pockets. And they're afraid. They don't know how much it's going to cost. So I can tell them, 'OK, you have heartburn. Let's start out with generic Zantac, which costs around five dollars a month.'" When his patients ask about expensive prescription medicines they see advertised on television, he tells them, "They're great medicines, but why don't you try this one first and see if it works?"
Sometimes the $4 pills from Wal-Mart are just as good as the $100 ones.
The following excerpt is from the Columbiad, an epic poem by Joel Barlow, a member of the Connecticut Militia in 1776, and later diplomat and poet. It is the closest thing I have ever found to an objective assessment of Columbus’s place in history, and it is beautifully written:
I sing the Mariner who first unfurl’d
An eastern banner o’er the western world,
And taught mankind where future empires lay
In these fair confines of descending day;
Who sway’d a moment, with vicarious power,
Iberia’s sceptre on the new found shore,
Then saw the paths his virtuous steps had trod
Pursued by avarice and defiled with blood,
The tribes he foster’d with paternal toil
Snatch’d from his hand, and slaughter’d for their spoil.
Slaves, kings, adventurers, envious of his name,
Enjoy’d his labours and purloin’d his fame,
And gave the Viceroy, from his high seat hurl’d.
Chains for a crown, a prison for a world
Long overwhelm’d in woes, and sickening there,
He met the slow still march of black despair,
Sought the last refuge from his hopeless doom,
And wish’d from thankless men a peaceful tomb:
Till vision’d ages, opening on his eyes,
Cheer’d his sad soul, and bade new nations rise;
He saw the Atlantic heaven with light o’ercast,
And Freedom crown his glorious work at last…
The full text of the epic poem, can be found at Project Gutenberg on-line.
By Elan Journo:
Some people fear that Washington is taking overly aggressive steps in an attempt to stop Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. is lobbying the UN to impose yet more, putatively tougher, sanctions on Iran. And the U.S. Senate has urged the White House to brand Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization--a designation that will allegedly enable Washington to deter Teheran's nuclear quest.
But according to Elan Journo, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, "in reality these supposedly tough measures are hollow; they cannot deter, let alone intimidate, Iran. That these measures are in fact a pretense at confronting Iran was underscored by Mahmoud Ahmedinijad's visit to New York City this week."
"The U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran several months ago were mere inconveniences that taught Iran that it has nothing to fear from us. More pinprick-sanctions, if they ever materialize, cannot stop Iran from waging its proxy terrorist war against us, nor from killing more U.S. troops in Iraq, nor from developing nuclear weapons. The notion of singling out the Revolutionary Guard Corps--an organ of Teheran's militant regime--as a terrorist organization is as ludicrous as narrowly declaring Hitler's SS as an enemy force. In reality our government has abdicated its responsibility to protect us from the threat of Iran.
"Far from confronting Iran, Washington is utterly meek--a fact highlighted during Ahmedinijad's flamboyant speaking tour in New York. Ahmedinijad is the head of a regime stained with the blood of hundreds upon hundreds of Americans, victims of an Iranian-backed terrorist war that began in 1979. Our leaders busily draft word-splitting sanctions and hollow declarations, but they cannot stir themselves sufficiently to reject the diplomatic protocol allowing world leaders visiting the UN to enter America--and to forbid Ahmedinijad from setting foot on U.S. soil.
"Why do our leaders behave like timorous, submissive lambs? Because they do not believe we have the moral right to stop Iran's nuclear quest. To do that would mean putting America's interests first, which today's prevailing ethical standard condemns as selfish, and immoral. Washington's moral premise rules out as illegitimate U.S. self-assertion; it rules out the dedicated pursuit of American self-defense. This does not mean we should launch another Iraq-like crusade to bring them elections; it means asserting ourselves in self-defense; it means protecting U.S. lives by destroying Iran's militant regime.
"Who could seriously believe that Washington is being 'tough' on Iran, when the Islamist Ahmedinijad is permitted to swagger into New York City?"
By Elan Journo:
What does Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged have to do with a current debate over U.S. foreign aid? More than you might think.
The New York Times reports about the latest dispute over how U.S. foreign aid should be spent. One faction claims that, because the rising cost of food reduces how much can be bought, the government should reserve some money in a "safe box" designated to feed people facing chronic hunger--while others insist that U.S. aid money remain liquid enough to enable us to respond quickly to food emergencies.
But there's one crucial question that no one is asking: While there's much debate over the means of providing aid and while some critics fault our government's aid agency for inefficiencies--no one challenges the basic goal of doling out billions in foreign aid. The notion that Americans have a moral duty to sacrifice their hard-earned wealth to fund such a global welfare schemes is taken as self-evident.
But Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged levels a fundamental challenge to that widely accepted moral premise.
The startling view dramatized in her book is that welfare schemes such as foreign aid are profoundly unjust--and that we have no duty to sacrifice our wealth to feed and clothe the poor, regardless of whether they live across the globe or across the street. On the contrary, on Rand's view as projected in her novel and nonfiction works, those who earn their prosperity by production and trade have an absolute moral right to every penny of their income. Her revolutionary conception of morality holds that self-sacrifice is a vice and that pursuing one's rational self-interest is a virtue.
As for the 'have-nots' in Africa and across the world, their plight is a result of not having freedom and individualism; they are miserably poor because of their bloody tribalism and superstition--ideas that kept the Western world dirt poor for centuries. If Westerners were truly interested in helping them, they would teach them to embrace reason, individualism and capitalism--precisely the values responsible for the West's prosperity, but which are today being eroded through endless altruist policies.
It is high time Americans learned to question not merely the means, but the very goal of foreign aid--and understand the truly destructive nature of the altruist morality that justifies it.
By Alex Epstein:
If you ask any hundred successful businessmen chosen at random to name the book that has most inspired them, you will undoubtedly hear one title repeated over and over: Atlas Shrugged--Ayn Rand's epic novel, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. Why do businessmen love Atlas Shrugged?
Because, in the form of a thrilling novel with inspiring heroes, it does something no other book has ever done: it presents the pursuit of profit, the essence of business, as a profoundly moral activity.
Observe that while profit-seeking is widely recognized as economically indispensable, it is also widely regarded as morally tainted, if not outright immoral. This applies, not just to attempts to "profit" via theft or fraud, but to the pursuit of profit as such. For example, pharmaceutical companies who successfully develop and sell life-saving drugs, oil companies who explore the ends of the earth to extract a vital resource, and financiers who efficiently invest wealth through our dynamic financial markets are all routinely castigated for their high profits. And those who defend profit-seeking do so, not on moral grounds, but as an amoral means to a noble end: the "public good"--i.e., the good of everyone besides businessmen themselves.
To the extent honest, productive businessmen absorb this view of their profession--and most do, to some extent--they experience unearned guilt over their work, and are unable to morally challenge the ever-increasing taxes and regulations foisted on them for the "public good." Atlas Shrugged rocks their world.
The heroes of Atlas Shrugged are a group of great achievers, mostly businessmen, who, like businessmen today, live in a world that damns, shackles, and drains them. But these achievers refuse to accept this treatment; they fight back. They go on strike, refusing to work in a society that at once depends on their achievements but brands them immoral for seeking to profit from those achievements. They let the world see what happens when their "immorality" is removed. "We are evil, according to your morality," the leader of the strike, John Galt, tells the world in a radio address, "We have chosen not to harm you any longer. . . . We are dangerous and to be shackled, according to your politics. We have chosen not to endanger you, nor to wear the shackles any longer."
Without the great, profit-seeking industrialists, what remains is, as Galt puts it, "a world without mind"--a world without the thinker-creators who forge steel by the megaton, direct intricate transcontinental train networks, and bring new inventions to the masses--a world that quickly spirals downward into poverty and destruction.
As readers witness how the world treats the Atlases who carry it on their shoulders, and what happens when Atlas shrugs, they gain a new appreciation for these "dollar chasers," and begin to question the premise that the profit motive is immoral. Readers are joined in this moral-intellectual journey by one of the leading characters in the story, metal magnate Hank Rearden, who is one of the last to learn about the strike.
We meet Rearden at the triumphant culmination of his 10-year-quest to revolutionize the industrial world with Rearden Metal: an alloy far lighter, stronger, and cheaper than steel. When he succeeds, he expects to profit handsomely from sales to grateful customers eager to buy his magnificent new product. Instead, he is punished for his efforts--first by slander and denunciation from a society that damns Rearden Metal as a fraud ("a lethal product of greed")--then by the destruction of his profits by regulations that dictate, in the name of the "public good," how much he can produce and whom he must sell to--and finally by outright nationalization of his product. As his business is destroyed, the world suffers destruction with him--yet his critics still mindlessly damn his pursuit of profit, and demand "wider powers" for the government to curb it.
As Rearden suffers through all this for the sin of trying to make money by creating incredible value, he is led, with the help of the strike's leaders, to a profound moral realization. The selfish pursuit of profit that he so excels at--pursuing his own well-being by his own independent thought, production, and trade--is the essence of what human life requires, and therefore, the highest of moral virtues. "They had known," says Galt of Rearden and the other strikers, "that theirs was the power. I taught them that theirs was the glory."
Armed with, as Galt puts it, "the knowledge of [his] own moral value," Rearden is able to defend himself from government predations like never before. In response to accusations that he "works for nothing but his own profit," Rearden responds defiantly, "I work for nothing but my own profit--which I make by selling a product they need to men who are willing and able to buy it. . . . I do not sacrifice my interests to them nor do they sacrifice theirs to me; we deal as equals by mutual consent to mutual advantage--and I am proud of every penny that I have earned in this manner. . . . I refuse to apologize for my ability--I refuse to apologize for my success--I refuse to apologize for my money."
Unfortunately, while Rearden experiences a lifelong moral transformation from the story of Atlas, most of the readers of Atlas Shrugged do not. While many businessmen derive lasting inspiration from Atlas, they do not attain or pursue an enduring understanding of the moral virtue of profit--and certainly do not proudly defend their right to practice it freely. Thus, many of Atlas Shrugged's most vocal admirers at once proclaim adoration for the novel, while simultaneously attempting to justify their existence by appealing to some "higher cause" ("the environment," "diversity," "the community")--and certainly do not proudly stand up for their right to pursue profit in a free market. They engage in the same tried-and-failed tactics of behind-the-scenes lobbying and appeals to the "public good" that have led to the shrinking of economic freedom in the last 50 years, just as they did in the 50 years before Atlas Shrugged.
On the 50th anniversary of Atlas Shrugged, businessmen should make a point of rereading the novel. But this time, in addition to being inspired to greatness by its heroes, they should pay special attention to the book's radical moral philosophy--a philosophy that has the potential to truly change how they look at their lives and enable them to fight successfully for their freedom.
Alex Epstein is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."
A non-interventionist foreign policy is not an isolationist foreign policy. It is quite the opposite. Under a Paul administration, the United States would trade freely with any nation that seeks to engage with us. American citizens would be encouraged to visit other countries and interact with other peoples rather than be told by their own government that certain countries are off limits to them. [bold added]So if your neighbor's hippie son converts to Islam and becomes interested in waging jihad against America, he would be "encouraged to visit other countries and interact with other peoples ", even if the "other countries" harbor terrorist training camps for useful idiots who would blend in well with American society, and their "other peoples" are in fact waging war against the United States.
Bush: 'I make a lot of decisions'
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
Wed Oct 3, 5:34 PM ET
Give the man a microphone and he'll talk about anything. For 76 minutes, President Bush prowled the stage Wednesday in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, giving a speech and answering questions about everything from his opposition to tax increases to his veto of a bill to expand children's health insurance.
But he covered a lot of other ground, too.
Bush gave an intriguing description about what happens when businesses expand, as was the case here at a company run by a woman.
"You know, when you give a man more money in his pocket ? in this case, a woman ? more money in her pocket to expand a business, they build new buildings. And when somebody builds a new building, somebody has got to come and build the building.
"And when the building expanded, it prevented (sic) additional opportunities for people to work. Tax cuts matter. I'm going to spend some time talking about it," the president said.
He offered a pointed description of his job.
"My job is a decision-making job. And as a result, I make a lot of decisions," the president said.
He elaborated on that point later.
"I delegate to good people. I always tell Condi Rice, `I want to remind you, Madam Secretary, who has the Ph.D. and who was the C student. And I want to remind you who the adviser is and who the president is.'
"I got a lot of Ph.D.-types and smart people around me who come into the Oval Office and say, `Mr. President, here's what's on my mind.' And I listen carefully to their advice. But having gathered the device (sic), I decide, you know, I say, `This is what we're going to do.' And it's `Yes, sir, Mr. President.' And then we get after it, implement policy."
Bush, known for his impatience when fellow leaders rattle on, acknowledged he was doing the same himself in his opening remarks.
"I'll be glad to answer some questions from you if you got any," he said. "If not, I can keep on blowing hot air until the time runs out."
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Ridley Scott film “The Conquest of Paradise.” The movie falls prey to the modern fixation with realism, and thereby loses sight of the power of art to dramatize the abstract meaning of history rather than relate its purely concrete chronology.
That said, I am a big fan of the Vangelis Soundtrack, and especially its title track, “The Conquest of Paradise.” In this work, the full significance of Columbus’s life’s work rings out with an uncommon grandeur. It’s the kind of music that inspires you to go that extra mile, when you’re a struggling “philopreneur.”
The above images link to Amazon, if you’d like to listen to a sample, and pick it up for yourself. Enjoy!
P.S. I also like the versions of this track by Origen and the Pan Flute adaptation by Santiago J, both of which can be found on iTunes.
It may seem bizarre that [he] could go so wrong. After all, wasn't it his job to express the scientific consensus? But that was the problem. [He] was expressing the consensus. He ... went wrong by listening to everyone else. He was caught in what social scientists call a cascade.No, the article isn't about global warming, although it indirectly makes a good point about the current global warming debate.
We like to think that people improve their judgment by putting their minds together, and sometimes they do. The studio audience at “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” usually votes for the right answer. But suppose, instead of the audience members voting silently in unison, they voted out loud one after another. And suppose the first person gets it wrong.
Church/State Separation Endorsed by Colorado VotersAri also wrote up a version for individual voters, with the following note: "Voters have permission to reproduce and distribute the following declaration. The document may be signed by individual voters and sent to the candidates for whom they will have an opportunity to vote. The names and addresses of candidates generally can be found through regional newspapers and Secretaries of State." Those names and addresses can be even more easily found on Congress.org.
The signatories offer the following announcement as a non-exclusive letter to the editor.
As advocates of individual rights and free markets, we are deeply concerned about attacks on economic liberty and property rights. However, we also believe that the greater modern threat to individual rights is the attempt by some religious groups to make politics conform to their faith.
In coming election cycles, we will vote against any candidate who does not explicitly and unambiguously endorse the separation of church and state. We ask that candidates declare whether they:
1. Endorse the separation of church and state.
2. Oppose the spending of tax dollars on programs with religious affiliations, such as "faith-based" welfare.
3. Oppose the spending of tax dollars to teach creationism and/or intelligent design as science.
4. Oppose efforts to restrict the legal right of adult women to obtain an abortion.
5. Oppose bans on embryonic stem-cell research.
Ari Armstrong, Westminster
Tom Hall, Louisville
Diana Hsieh, Sedalia
Paul Hsieh, Sedalia
Mike Williams, Denver
Leonard Peikoff, Colorado Springs
Richard Watts, Hayden
Cara Thompson, Denver
Hannah Krening, Larkspur
Erika Hanson Brown, Denver
Bill Faulkner, Broomfield
Cameron Craig, Denver
Bryan Armentrout, Erie
Dear Candidate,My hearty thanks to Ari for organizing this small effort for the separation of church and state.
I hereby add my name to the following declaration:
As an advocate of individual rights and free markets, I am deeply concerned about attacks on economic liberty and property rights. However, I also believe that the greater modern threat to individual rights is the attempt by some religious groups to make politics conform to their faith.
In coming election cycles, I will vote against any candidate who does not explicitly and unambiguously endorse the separation of church and state, whether on his or her web page or in direct correspondence. I ask that candidates declare whether they:
1. Endorse the separation of church and state.
2. Oppose the spending of tax dollars on programs with religious affiliations, such as "faith-based" welfare.
3. Oppose the spending of tax dollars to teach creationism and/or intelligent design as science.
4. Oppose efforts to restrict the legal right of adult women to obtain an abortion.
5. Oppose bans on embryonic stem-cell research.
The young man sits perched on a mooring post, looking out to sea, with a thoughtful gaze that suggests it isn’t the objects before him that truly have his attention, but rather a vision of something that others, if they were present, would not perceive.
This young man is not, however, merely day-dreaming. His is not the unfocused, introspective look of a boy wrapped up in an inner world, or the wistful expression of an unfulfilled adolescent hoping for a new prospect. Nor is his the complexion that of a deeply troubled philosopher. His mind is not wandering, nor contemplating, but rather seeking.
The purposeful quality of the young man’s stare can be seen in the fact that his focus is not straight ahead, but rather slightly to the side. It is the look of a mind that had been considering an idea, but then veered suddenly towards a new possibility, like a hunter who, without moving, catches sight of his prey on the edge of his field of view, or a warrior measuring the full aspect of an adversary before battle.
His finger marks a passage in the book he has been reading, which must have excited this new state. Unlike for Vermeer’s Geographer, however, whose penetrating stare this young figure recalls, the material of past thinkers is not a foundation to support one’s independent grasp of reality, but more of a spur to new thinking.
The young man’s furrowed brow invokes a certain dissatisfaction with regards to the context it represents, or at least the challenge of exceeding its limitations. Still, he retains a link to this past as he seeks a new possibility. The crux of the moment is the sighting of a difficult new truth, which his reading has made possible.
And what a difficult new truth it is!
The young man is Christopher Columbus, and by the power of his own independent perception, he has just gleened the possibility of a westward voyage to the Indies for the first time.
This is the historical theme of the work, Young Columbus, expertly rendered by sculptor Giulio Monteverde. In capturing this moment, however, Monteverde has accomplished a rare thing. He has himself penetrated to the both essence of a man, and the philosophical roots of his ability to change the world.
The man who changes history is always an independent thinker . Like Aristotle and Newton, Columbus had the ability to see all that others had seen before him, and then, of his own volition, by his own unique capacity, to see what other had not.
As a final note, one of the things I find most delightful about this sculpture is that Monteverde has chosen as his subject a young Columbus, rather than a mature man. When one usually thinks of Columbus, one thinks of an established cartographer making his case before Isabella and Ferdinand, or a confident mariner on the deck of his carrack at the climax of his career. What is great about this image, by contrast, is that it sees past this usual idea to that which necessarily underlies it: the moment that truly defines the independent man, and the source of his ability to bring a “New World” into view, his conquest of reality through penetrating, rational thought.
For those who have the chance, I highly recommend a viewing of this work live, which, amazingly is possible to Americans on both coasts. The original work is located at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. A very fine copy is on display at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Columbus Day!
For more images visit the Powell History Columbus Gallery.
In her novel Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand set forth a new morality, which she called rational egoism. In contrast to altruism--the idea that one should self-sacrificially serve others--rational egoism holds that one should selfishly pursue one's own life-serving values. Against predation--the practice of sacrificing others for one's own ends--Rand's egoism holds that sacrificing others is immoral and impractical. In contrast to hedonism--the idea that pleasure is the standard of value--Rand's egoism holds that the long-range requirements of one's life and happiness constitute the standard of value. And against moral relativism--the notion that "anything goes"--Rand's egoism holds that morality is absolute: Nothing "goes" except that which promotes one's life while respecting the rights of others.Craig Biddle is an excellent speaker, so I definitely recommend his lectures.
Rand's egoism is a system of observation-based principles regarding the requirements of human life, personal happiness, social harmony, and political freedom. In this talk, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Atlas Shrugged, Craig Biddle presents the basic principles of rational egoism, contrasts them with the alternatives, and shows why everyone who wants to live happily and freely needs to understand and embrace them.
Craig Biddle is the editor and publisher of The Objective Standard and the author of Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It. He is currently writing a book on the principles of rational thinking and the fallacies that are violations of those principles. In addition to writing, he lectures and teaches workshops on ethical and epistemological issues from an Objectivist perspective. He has spoken at Tufts, Johns Hopkins, NYU, and Lawrence University, among others.
More information is available on the LOGIC website.
We know that emotions are the psychosomatic form in which one experiences his automatized value judgments. So if a particular emotional response is a reaction to a false judgment, is it a “bad” emotion? Should one judge himself negatively for habitually experiencing “bad” emotions? These questions recently came up in a conversation with a friend, and I want to share my thoughts on the issue here.
Consider some examples of people whose emotions are responses to irrational value judgments:
A man is taught at a very young age that pleasurable sex is dirty and immoral. He later discovers a rational philosophy and begins to integrate it into his life. He meets a woman who shares his new values, and he falls in love. But when she gives him pleasure, he feels ashamed and angry without knowing why. His lover senses this, and it causes negative tension in the relationship.
Or: a bright young woman discovers Objectivism in middle school, and begins to feel alienated from her peers. She develops a Malevolent People Premise, which she carries into adulthood. She constantly rages against the irrationality in the world. When she receives poor customer service at Walmart one day, it puts her in a bad mood for a week.
In both of these examples, a person’s emotions are reacting to false or inaccurate judgments. And in both cases, the problem is difficult to identify and may continue to exist for many years. The man who feels ashamed during sex is operating according to a false principle: that sexual pleasure is immoral. The woman who rages against poor customer service is also reacting to a false principle: that irrationality is of primary importance in her life. Are these “bad” emotions? Should these two judge themselves negatively for continuing to experience these emotional reactions, even after the problem is identified?
My answer to the former question is “no.” Emotional reactions are automatic -- not volitional -- and as such they are exempt from moral judgment. One cannot judge himself for things which are not under his direct control. Those who condemn themselves for their feelings only compound their psychological confusion. There is no such thing as a “bad” emotion. All emotions are good, in that they provide one with evidence about his automatized value judgments.
Nor is it immoral to retain irrational principles from childhood. A child’s mind is like a sponge, soaking up everything it comes in contact with. Children are not fully volitional in the adult sense. It is not until young adulthood that one gains the ability to sort through his mind’s contents and discard any false premises he may have absorbed.
This principle – that there are no “bad” emotions – is an important one for young Objectivists to recognize. Deeply ingrained contradictions do not disappear the moment one discovers a rational philosophy. It can take years of introspection and self-training to overcome these issues. I have seen too many young people ignore their emotional reactions because, according to their explicit philosophy, that’s not how they should feel. They are ashamed of their “bad” emotions and sweep them under the rug. This compounds their confusion, and the problem persists.
These people fail to identify the root of their psychological problems. It is not the emotion that is wrong, but the automatized judgment associated with it. It is only immoral if one pretends the problem does not exist.
For instance, if the man in the earlier example talks to his lover about his feelings, starts a journal, and ruthlessly introspects about the issue -- then his actions are perfectly moral. His emotional response to sex may not change immediately, but he has nothing to be ashamed of. He is working towards a solution. However, if he represses the emotional reaction because he doesn’t think he should feel it, and ignores the evidence his emotions provide about his automatized values -- then his actions are immoral. He is evading a contradiction.An adult is certainly responsible for clearing up any false principles in his mind that may exist from childhood. But he cannot hold himself responsible for the emotional reactions to these contradictions. He must fix the problem at the root, and eventually his emotional life will fall in line with his chosen values.
Social conservatives and Fiscal Conservatives, that's who's staying and leaving the Republican Party. Some of us pointed to this trend after the last elections, but now it's front page news on the Wall Street Journal.
Already, economic conservatives who favor balanced federal budgets have become a much smaller part of the party's base. That's partly because other groups, especially social conservatives, have grown more dominant. But it's also the result of defections by other fiscal conservatives angered by the growth of government spending during the six years that Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress.
The most prominent sign of dissatisfaction has come from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, long a pillar of Republican Party economic thinking. He blasted the party's fiscal record in a new book. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he said: "The Republican Party, which ruled the House, the Senate and the presidency, I no longer recognize."
The debate about which political party best serves our interests has been ongoing in Objectivist circles since before the start of the Iraq War. Many claim that we, and those who at least nominally think like we do are too small a population to make a difference, and that since the Republicans still have the business vote, they will serve our interests best. Look again. When the Republican party loses the business vote, what will it have that is of interest to anyone with Objectivist leanings? Answer: nothing.
Political dynamics in the US are much like swings in commodity pricing, where demand and supply is usually very balance, and small shifts in either cause huge swings in prices. So too, the country is split roughly 50/50 Republican/Democrat and that means that the swing vote calls the shots, so fewer voters need be of moderate persuasion to significantly impact election results. Witness the 04 election results. So it is that the so-called "fiscal conservative" or "libertarian" wing of the Republican party is a large faction and the Republican party cannot stay dominant without them, and the Democratic party would love to have them. And when factions are courted, one has an opportunity to try to make fundamental change.
I have no illusions that politics will change overnight, but it is the continued exercise of political will based upon rational principles, and the continued communication of those principles that will ultimately see shifts in both parties for the better.
Marion Jones has admitted to using steroids. Her statement was forthright and sincere without any passing of the blame -- everything an admittance of guilt should be. Her medals should be taken from her and that should be an end to it.
(A more complicated question: should her teammates in the relays also lose their medals?)
She probably could have fought the accusations of performance enhancing drug use and won, given the idiocy of your average jury. Instead, she admitted everything, and she deserves credit for that. These days being honest and repentant seems like an act of heroism.
I would guess she was tired of living a lie, which takes a psychological toll. I believe OJ Simpson's book, If I Did It, was written out of the psychological need to tell the world (sort of) the truth. Being a weasel and a moron, sort of telling the truth is enough for OJ's psychology.
Like Michael Vick, Marion Jones has done the inevitable in these situations and "found God." To this atheist, finding God is the last dismal twist to these stories of disgrace. After destroying her integrity by cheating and lying about it, now Marion Jones is further destroying her mind by believing in a metaphysical fantasy.
And why do the disgraced and fallen always find God? Because it is the easiest way to get most people to forgive them and think they are good people. They turn to a supernatural creature for whom there is no evidence in order to get people to like them. Now, that's pathetic.
Cindy Sheehan promised to go away, but she continues to torment the world with her deep thoughts. Here she waxes eloquent about John Lennon's "Imagine".
Imagine no possessions: This is the crux of our problem. Going back to my brothers and sisters at the slot machines in Vegas, pulling almost catatonically on the lever of the One Armed Bandit, for what? To win the “jackpot” of course! How nice is it of the State of Nevada to allow gambling machines in their airports, so we can perchance live the American dream of buying higher stacks of stuff! On a day that George vetoed the health of over six-million children here in America, 16,000 children around the world died of starvation. In a week that we saw murder on a horrendous scale in Burma, more Iraqis were killed or forced from their homes by violence: to wander in the desert, or probably off to Syria where their daughters may be forced into prostitution to help support the family which should be able to live in peace and relative prosperity in their own country. Imagine that.
It was hard for me to imagine or envision peace when I am terrified because BushCo is contemplating even more slaughter in the Middle East in Iran and when Congress, Inc is busy supporting a murderous status quo that hurts humans within all borders, even our own.
Peace will only happen when every member of humanity is guaranteed prosperity, health and security which will not happen when we here in the US can’t even get off our asses to protest a war that is four and a half years and hundreds of thousands of bodies old, now.
We can imagine peace all we want but until each and everyone of us is willing to sacrifice some of our prosperity (because we have already had our security robbed from us by the rotten Republicans and complicit corporate Democrats) true peace—not just the absence of war—will be as elusive as a morsel of truth or modicum of courage coming out of Washington, DC.
Voluntary sacrifice is truly a revolutionary concept here in the United States of America.
So you say you want a revolution? Imagine that.
Why does she hate George Bush so much? He is for voluntary sacrifice also. Bush and Sheehan should spend a weekend working out their differences, then create a bipartisan fascist dictatorship and show us selfish Americans what happens when we do not sacrifice voluntarily. Imagine that.
It was around this time that I read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Rand preached a philosophy of radical individualism that she called Objectivism. While I didn't fully accept its tenets, her vision of the world made more sense to me that that of my left-wing friends. "Do your own thing" was their motto, but now I saw that the individualism implicit in that phrase was superficial and strictly limited. They thought, for instance, that it was going too far for a black man to do his thing by breaking with radical politics, which was what I now longed to do. I never went along with the militant separatism of the Black Muslims, but I admired their determination to "do for self, brother," as well as their discipline and dignity. That was Daddy's way. He knew that to be truly free and participate fully in American life, poor blacks had to have the tools to do for themselves. This was the direction in which my political thinking was moving as my time at Holy Cross drew to an end. The question was how much courage I could muster up to express my individuality. What I wanted was for everyone -- the government, the racists, the activists, the students, even Daddy -- to leave me alone so that I could finally start thinking for myself. [via Glenn Reynolds, bold added]Thomas's appreciation for Rand seems genuine. Rather than dropping her name at every opportunity for attention, like some former associates of Rand (not including Greenspan to my knowledge -- but see Note 2), or implying more agreement with her than actually exists, like many libertarians, he acknowledges both his differences with her and debt to her. Most importantly, he has shown a lasting appreciation for what it was about Rand's thought that appealed to him the most:
Evidence of these leanings can be seen in the influence of libertarian [sic] icon Ayn Rand on Thomas. In Rand's work, Thomas saw a model for independence and self-sufficiency. Dating back to his days at the EEOC, and continuing once he got to the Supreme Court, he would require staffers to watch the 1949 film version of Rand's best-selling book The Fountainhead. The plot centers on an architect's struggle to preserve his integrity against the voices of conformity.His judical philosophy has shown the mark of Rand's thought, although his view that Roe vs Wade should be overturned probably shows an inconsistency. (Although, to be fair, this ultimately depends on why he thinks this should be the case, a question I do not feel qualified to speculate upon.)
Harry Watson, director of the Center For the Study of the American South and a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said it was a surprise to see The Middlebury Institute conferring with the League of the South, "an organization that's associated with a cause that many of us associate with the preservation of slavery."But is this really a surprise? The Middlebury Institute sees the United States as an evil empire "imposing its military might on 153 countries around the world" while the League of the South regards (and seeks to preserve) Christianity and Anglo-Celtic culture -- not individualism -- as essential to the character of some great Southern collective whose goal it is to protect above all else.
He said the unlikely partnering "represents the far left and far right of American politics coming together."
If allowed to go their own way, New Englanders "probably would allow abortion and have gun control," Hill said, while Southerners "would probably crack down on illegal immigration harder than it is being now."Secession appeals to each group for two reasons: (1) They can't make a convincing case for their particular flavors of tyranny, so they wish to wall themselves off with those they see as like-minded; and (2) to the extent that the federal government still protects individual rights by thwarting their tyrannical impulses, it is Enemy One.
I am writing with respect to your coverage of Dr. John Lewis' April 24 talk at your University. John Grimsley's article in the Broadside Online of May 4, 2007, titled "No Substitute for Conflict - 'Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism' Met with Protest" refers.I find it deeply disturbing that Mr. Ogunshola was ejected from the Lewis talk under such circumstances, particularly when the people who were actually disrupting the talk were allowed to stay and continue with their disruption. I hope that the Mason community continues with its soul-searching over the importance of free speech and intellectual freedom on campus, and resolves to never surrender that freedom again.
Mr. Grimsley wrote: "One audience member was kicked out over a dispute with another person."
This "dispute" was far more substantive than is suggested by the write-up. I am the person who was asked to leave, and my eviction by the school authorities was absolutely unjustified.
I am not a student at GMU but a visitor: a 33-year-old software engineer who attended the event in order to hear Dr. Lewis speak. I was seated at the back of the room before the talk began and moved to the front only because the unruly "protesters" were obscuring the vision and hearing of the rest of us in the audience. In my new seat, I happened to be in the second row, behind some of the College Republicans, and four seats to the right of three individuals who were noticeably antagonistic towards Dr. Lewis' remarks.
In the very tense and inhospitable atmosphere engendered by the "protesters," I asked a young woman two seats away from me why the (University) policemen present couldn't remove the "protesters," since they were so disruptive and obviously did not want to listen to the lecture. As she nodded in agreement, the antagonistic individuals to my left chorused, unsolicited, "Free speech!" My response was to ignore them, softly noting under my breath, "Not in here," for I am well aware that one cannot invoke free speech out of context. To invoke free speech on behalf of these "protesters" would be akin to doing so on behalf of a person who shouts "Fire!" in a crowded theatre for no reason.
As soon as I turned away from them, these individuals got up from their seats and went towards the back of the hall. Since I did not turn my head completely, I do not know what transpired there.
They returned about fifteen minutes later and proceeded to seat themselves *directly* around me. There was a large, heavily-bearded man in a suit behind me in the third row; another man in glasses in a longish shirt to my left; and a third fellow next to the large man behind me. The bespectacled fellow made menacing faces at me as he sat down. In the near-riot atmosphere, I wondered about my physical safety.
During the talk, which I found powerful in its identification of many truths, I and others stood up several times to applaud Dr. Lewis.
The lecture ended, and the question-and-answer period began. Two lines were formed on the floor, to the left and right of the stage, upon which the speaker, Dr. Lewis, stood. The heavily-bearded individual behind me stood up and joined the line on my left in order to ask a question. When his turn came, he identified himself as a Moslem and posed his questions. Dr. Lewis responded to his questions. The next person in line, a woman, asked her questions. While Dr. Lewis was delivering his answers to those questions, the heavily-bearded fellow, who was now back in his seat behind me, began to shout objections at Dr. Lewis' remarks. This effectively drowned out the speaker, especially for me, as I was so closely seated to the objector.
Acting on the assurances made by the leading university official present [the Director of Student Life for Multicultural Affairs, if I recall correctly] that disrupters would be warned and removed, I asked the man behind me to join the line if he wished to ask another question. When he bluntly refused, I warned that I would ask the authorities to remove him. In a most histrionic manner, he stood up violently and exclaimed, "Is that a threat?!!" This had the effect of drawing attention to both of us, especially as his bearing and tone implied that I had threatened him physically. As one security officer (male, dark-haired, medium-build) approached, I told him and all who cared to listen that I had not threatened my accuser in the way he had suggested. I then repeated what I had said to my accuser. The officer politely told me he would like to have a word with me by one of the lines formed near the stage. Because of my respect for the law and for lawful conduct, I stood up and followed the officer.
When we got to the stage, I stood there quietly, waiting for a calm investigation, as befits proper law-enforcement, to commence. One of the other security officers (bald, medium build), walking towards the doors, signaled to the man who had asked me to stand up. The dark-haired officer then asked me to walk out of the room with him. I asked him why. Gesturing toward the stage where the Director stood, he said a university official had asked that I be escorted out.
Not wishing to cause any commotion, I walked out, hoping to state my case more easily once in the lobby. To my amazement, I was accused of threatening to "break [my accuser’s] neck"!!
Did my accuser allege this, I asked? No, said the bald officer, who then maintained that *he* had heard me threaten my accuser. This lie was delivered with a straight face – without any moral compunction. I maintained my innocence, over which he bluntly ordered me to leave. I left quietly, stating "for the record" that his charges were false.
The above is my honest recollection of that evening’s events.
One can see that, in spite of my total, civilized co-operation, no benefit of the doubt was accorded me. I was judged without any hearing whatsoever. It is a mystery how the officer who said he had heard me could have done so, since no officer was seated in the audience and since even people seated two or three seats away from me have reportedly said they did not know anything was going on until my accuser raised his voice. Yet, the disruptive "protesters," who seemed on the verge of effecting bodily harm on the speaker, were allowed to operate freely.
It is a terrible shame that this injustice could have taken place at George Mason University, or at any American university for that matter. As an immigrant to the United States, I hold this country in the highest esteem, as the nation which symbolizes the very best of Western Civilization: the unimpeded use of man’s reason to seek truth by analyzing the facts of reality. American universities are the bastions of free inquiry, and American law and law-enforcement are centered on the protection of this inalienable individual right.
These university policemen did not seek to gather, much less analyze, the facts of a narrow situation such as occurred inside Johnson Cinema that Monday. They did not even attempt to question witnesses or bother to have my accuser repeat his charges to my face in the lobby. Civility was met with force, while the mob mentality prevailed.
If this is how George Mason University protects the rights of the individual, one can only wonder about the safety of its members.
By Yaron Brook:
On the 50th anniversary of its publication, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's epic about a group of businessmen who rebel against a society that shackles and condemns them, is everywhere. Hardly a day goes by without a mention of the novel in the media or by some prominent celebrity or businessman as the most significant book he's read. Meanwhile, Ayn Rand's novels, including Atlas Shrugged, are being taught in tens of thousands of high schools. And last year sales of the novel in bookstores topped an astonishing 130,000 copies--more than when it was first published.
As executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, I see the impact of Atlas Shrugged on a daily basis. I'm continually amazed by how many people, from every walk of life and every part of the planet, from high school students to political activists in countries from Hong Kong to Belarus to Ghana, eagerly tell me: "Atlas Shrugged changed my life."
Scores of business leaders, from CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, say they have derived great spiritual fuel from Atlas Shrugged. Many tell me that the novel has motivated them to make the most of their lives, inspiring them to be more ambitious, more productive, and more successful in their work. And many of America's politicians and intellectuals who claim to fight for economic freedom name Atlas Shrugged as the book that has most inspired them. I have no doubt that the novel has played a considerable role in discrediting socialism as an ideal and in making discussion of capitalism intellectually legitimate.
If you have read Atlas Shrugged and entered the universe of Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, and John Galt, you can understand why the novel has inspired so many in this way. Atlas Shrugged portrays great businessmen as heroic, productive thinkers, and it venerates capitalism as the only social system that leaves such minds free to create and produce the material values on which all of our lives depend. It gives philosophic and esthetic expression to the uniquely American spirit of individualism, of self-reliance, of entrepreneurship, of free markets.
But while many people appreciate these elements of Atlas Shrugged on a personal, emotional level, they are often uncomfortable on a moral level with the novel's arguments in support of business and capitalism.
Ayn Rand's ethical philosophy of rational selfishness--on which her admiration for successful businessmen and her impassioned defense of capitalism rest--constitutes a radical challenge to the dominant beliefs of our culture. Rejecting the prevailing ideas that morality comes from a supernatural being or from a societal decree, Rand holds that morality is a science that can be proved by reason. Rejecting the altruistic idea that morality consists of selflessly serving something "higher"--whether the Judeo-Christian God or a collectivist society--she maintains that the height of moral virtue is to rationally pursue your own selfish ends.
Socialism as a political ideal is dead. But the morality that spawned it--from each according to his ability, to each according to his need--still haunts us. So long as need and the "public interest" are regarded as moral claim checks on the ability of the productive, the continued growth of the government's control over the economy and our lives is inevitable.
Those who have read Atlas Shrugged are often struck by the similarity of the events in the novel to the disastrous events reported in the daily news--from the government's attempt to take over medicine to decaying infrastructure and collapsing bridges to the shackles on businessmen inflicted by Sarbanes-Oxley. The similarity is no accident: the justification for these government programs is the needs of the uninsured, the so-called public interest, and the necessity to curb the selfishness of businessmen. Without a moral revolution, we cannot win true economic or political freedom.
So while Atlas Shrugged has provided millions with inspiration and with some level of appreciation for the virtues of capitalism and the evils of statism, it has not had nearly the influence it could have had, had its underlying ideas gained wider understanding. Though it has changed individual lives, it has not changed the world. But I believe it could--and should.
Imagine a future America guided by the principles found in Atlas Shrugged--a culture of reason, where science is cherished and respected, not banished from biology classrooms and stem-cell research labs--a culture of individualism, in which government is the protector of individual rights, not its primary violator--a culture in which markets are not just regarded as the most effective option of an imperfect lot, but in which laissez-faire capitalism is recognized and venerated as the only moral social system--a culture in which business innovators understand that ambition, productive effort, and wealth creation are not just practical necessities, but moral virtues--a culture in which such innovators, proudly asserting their right to their work, are fully liberated and their productive genius fully applied to the generation of unimaginable economic progress.
This is the world that Atlas Shrugged challenges us to strive for. But in order to get there, the novel's full philosophic meaning must be grasped. This is precisely why the Ayn Rand Institute exists: to convey Rand's profound message. And her message is getting out, all the way to professional intellectuals, on campuses and elsewhere across America, who are taking up Ayn Rand's ideas with a seriousness that they never have shown before.
With more and more thinkers giving it the attention it merits, I am confident that the real influence of Atlas Shrugged has yet to be felt.
By Thomas Bowden:
Columbus Day, observed this year on October 8, will celebrate the 515th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America.
"Although in recent decades Columbus Day has fallen out of favor in many circles, it is vitally important that we continue to celebrate this holiday with pride," said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute.
"Columbus Day is, at root, a celebration of the worldwide spread of Western civilization--a value that is under attack from multiculturalists at home and Islamic totalitarians abroad.
"Multiculturalism, which rejects the idea that some cultures are superior to others, makes it possible for American Indian activists to get away with castigating Columbus as a 'cultural imperialist,' calling for abolition of his holiday and replacing it with 'Indigenous Peoples Day.' This is outrageous. Contrary to the multiculturalist position, it is possible to demonstrate objectively that one society is superior to another--by the standard of what benefits human life. By this standard, modern industrial society is incomparably superior to the barbaric, tribalistic Stone Age culture of the Indians who predated Columbus.
"Those who attack Columbus Day are attacking the distinctive values of Western civilization that America so proudly embraces--reason, science, individual rights, and capitalism. This is especially dangerous at a time when those exact values are under assault from Islamic totalitarians who terrorize us as part of their quest to destroy our civilization and replace it with a worldwide Islamic theocracy.
"Americans need to understand that their lives and happiness are at stake in the struggle to uphold the core values of Western civilization--a struggle that is epitomized by the continuing controversy over Columbus Day.
"We need not evade or excuse Columbus's flaws--his religious zealotry, his enslavement and oppression of natives--to recognize that he made history by finding new territory for a civilization that would soon show mankind how to overcome the age-old scourges of slavery, war, and forced religious conversion," Bowden said. "On Columbus Day, we must continue to celebrate that civilization, and declare our resolve to defend it against both its intellectual and political.
Read more here.
... Around kindergarten was the first time Z mentioned God. I think he suddenly made some type of matter-of-fact comment that God was listening to us, because He is everywhere...
By Elan Journo:
Irvine, CA--In the wake of General Patraeus's report, the Iraqi government has come under fire for failing to govern and police the country. Sectarian death squads, for example, fearlessly slaughter their victims, and in one town Islamists set up a Taliban-like theocracy--all under the nose of the local authorities and national government. President Bush himself signaled his dismay at how Iraq's government has performed, and implored it to do more.
"But the deplorable conduct of Iraq's government should not be surprising," said Elan Journo, analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute.
"A proper government is one that protects individual rights; it ensures your freedom from the initiation of physical force by others. The principle of such a government--the principle of individualism--holds that every man is an independent, sovereign being, that he is not an interchangeable fragment of the tribe; that his life, liberty, and possessions are his by right, not by the permission of any group. But so many of Iraq's politicians are ethnic or religious collectivists, who regard the individual as subservient to the clan, tribe, sect. To them government is not the means of protecting individual rights, but of arrogating power to their group and wielding their sword over others. And as part of its suicidal crusade to bring Iraqis the vote, Washington avidly encouraged Iraqis to believe that their tribalism and devotion to Islam were legitimate foundations for a new government.
"So, Iraqis brought to power Islamists who are vehemently anti-American--an outcome that Bush had blessed in advance ('democracy is democracy' he explained). The current prime minister, like several of his predecessors, owes his job to the Islamist warlord-cleric Moktadr al Sadr, whose Madhi army has fought against American forces. Indeed, many politicians are little more than stooges for the various clans, sectarian groups, and private militias that operate their own death-squads with impunity. Little wonder that Iraq's leaders have neither enacted rational laws, nor enforced the rule of law, while armed tribal and sectarian gangs savagely eradicate their rivals.
"If Iraqis are ever to achieve a proper government they must learn that their current ideas and practices are incompatible with freedom and peace. They must recognize that they need to adopt the ideal of individualism."
The Pharmaceutical Industry is one of the last industries where high value innovation occurs (the other being the IT industry). While Pharma is more regulated than IT, it has relative freedom within the U.S. to capture value for its product and in turn to fund development. This is evidenced by the strong Venture Capital market for young pharma companies, where it is still a viable financial bet to invest in companies whose products won't come to market for a decade or more. The only way this sort of investment is viable is if the possible payoff is huge and in Pharma, a successful blockbuster makes billions for its parent.
But witness a string of healthcare legislation, proposals from political candidates, and ongoing debates, all of which, if they make it to fruition will serve to continue to decimate pharma's long term prospects. Here's a round-up:
Drug Re-importation: under the guise of the government acting as an "efficient purchaser" of drug proposed legislation is nothing more than riding piggy back on European socialism. I had a whole post on this, and ARI's great op-ed beat me to it. Europe doesn't get better drug prices because they have access to volume discounts or to some magic to make pharma producers more efficient. They have them because they dictate the prices in their countries. Re-importing drugs through those countries is nothing more than adopting the same dictates, only in a seemingly "squeaky clean" Mafioso money-laundering style.
Post Vioxx increase in FDA's regulatory powers. From a recent Forbes.com article, "The Biggest FDA reform in a Decade", new legislation, quietly moving through congress, and attached to appropriations legislation would increase FDA's powers to meddle in pharmacuetical companies development programs. This includes dictating drug label claims to pharma companies, directing pharma companies to do post launch clinical trials, and forcing drug companies to make public all clinical trial results. All of these measures will serve to bottleneck and already too lengthy clinical trial process, increasing development costs even further.
Hillary Care 2.0. Another veiled attempt at socialized medicine. How many times must we see this kind of crap. ARI's again takes these to task, in both a letter to the editor (which I'll post when available) and a great op-ed by Noodlfood's Paul Hsieh.
Cats do not have conceptual consciousness; they don't have language and do not think in universals or concepts. By human standards their minds are terribly limited -- and yet, as limited as their minds are, no cat is exactly the same as other cats. Each cat has a style of doing things and little quirks of behavior that make him unique.
Cats form their personality early and then never change. For this reason, it's good to be careful when selecting a kitten. When you visit a litter, if a kitten comes to you, that is the one you want. It is friendly, unafraid and outgoing -- and will remain so until its death. The kitten that cowers in the corner and hisses when you approach will always be that way; you might establish some understanding with it, but it will never be friendly and outgoing.
A screenwriting teacher of mine at UCLA used to say, "Your hero can kick a cat, but not a dog." We recoil from abusing dogs, but we think abusing cats is funny. Why is this? In large part I think it comes down to the noise each animal makes when it is hurt. Dogs make a human-sounding YELP! and then they whine or moan. We sympathize with the dog's suffering. But as anyone who has stepped on a cat knows, they make an inhuman Satanic screech. That screech is just funny, especially on film. It's hilarious when the cat chews the Christmas lights cord in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
That teacher also said that having a hero pet a dog is one of the quickest ways to establish that he is a good guy. In a movie that one image of petting a dog is worth more than a thousand words from other characters testifying that a character is nice.
Much of our enjoyment of pets comes from projecting our humanity onto them. We think they love us the way we love them. I usually call this the "pathetic fallacy," but looking the concept up on the web, I see that it comes from a confusing essay by John Ruskin about art. We'll set the concept of the pathetic fallacy aside for now.
The behaviors we think of in human terms come from one major difference in cats and dogs: cats are territorial, whereas dogs are pack animals.
As pack animals that roam across large distances without regard to territory, it is vitally important that dogs maintain contact with the pack. This is why a dog will run to his master when he whistles. The dog sees humans as leaders of the pack and he wants to make them happy in order to fit into the pack. The pack has a pecking order that the dog respects.
As territorial beasts, cats do not have the need to run to the master when called. Some cats will run to you if they are trained to think they will get food for it, but many will ignore a call or respond with a meow, as if to say, "I'm here in our territory, as I should be." My cats do not like it when I approach them; they prefer me to be stationary so that they can approach me on their terms and when they want.
The old joke, "Dogs have a master, cats have staff," reflects the pack/territorial distinction. Dogs need a leader of the pack to whose dominance they submit. Cats can be more aloof as long as they know you're there. Cats can also be more egalitarian, if you will, although some cats are certainly bossier than others.
As pack animals, dogs can go to new places without blinking. They will walk happily on leashes into any strange territory. To a cat, a new place can be traumatic. The cat hides beneath a bed or behind some appliance and can take days to explore a new territory.
Introducing a new cat into the territory of another cat can be traumatic and if the two cats get off to a bad start they might never be happy together. The way to do it is to put the new cat in a bedroom or bathroom with food, water and a litter box, then close the door. Let the other cats in the house smell the new cat under the crack in the door for a few days. Then leave the door open a crack and let the cats explore one another on their own terms. The worst thing you can do is throw a new cat into the midst of other cats, because then you get hissing and spitting and fighting. Dogs, of course, can become friends in minutes. Compared to cats, they're like, "Dude, let's party! Whoo-hoo!"
When cats rub your legs, even that is a manifestation of territoriality. Cats have glands in their cheeks that they rub on your legs to mark you as theirs. And you thought they were just being affectionate. If you'll notice, they also do it to the legs of coffee tables and other furniture. (Now, dogs humping your leg is a mystery to me and I'm not sure I want to know why they do that.)
As rational animals, humans think in concepts. We form values that we act to gain and keep. Do dumb animals have values? I think on some low, limited level you could say they do. My cats follow me from room to room because they know I'm their meal ticket. They like to crawl all over me and curl up on my lap. They purr when I pet them, which is a communication of affection. But what is petting to a cat? They think I'm grooming the parts of their head that are hard for them to reach.
I suspect that we project values onto our pets far more than they actually have. Cats and dogs are incapable of loving the way humans love. They can know fear, but not envy or hatred. If they know love or anger, it is within their very limited, perceptual context of knowledge. The rest of their behavior comes from their nature as a pack or territorial animal.
UPDATE: Slight revision.
The next question is thus whether sacred texts are sacred in any other sense than that they're God's handiwork. I say they are. Sacred means not only related to God, but also set apart in a particular way, worthy of uncommon respect, not open to easy violation. Here comes the twist on "Are Sacred Texts Sacred?" How atheists react to sacred texts, I submit, properly belongs as much to the history of etiquette as to that of philosophy or theology. Let me explain. [bold added]Important, yes, but "sacred"? No.
sacred - - (4) reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object. ... (5) regarded with reverence.I will add that one's feelings arise from how one's most deeply-held ideas affect his evaluation of the facts of reality. One must have some conception of the good to feel such emotions as "awe" and "veneration". I do not have time to discuss why here and now, but I will add that one need not be religious to have a conception of the good or to feel reverence.
reverence -- a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.
I will ask you to project the look on a child's face when he grasps the answer to some problem he has been striving to understand. It is a radiant look of joy, of liberation, almost of triumph, which is unself-conscious, yet self-assertive, and its radiance seems to spread in two directions: outward, as an illumination of the world -- inward, as the first spark of what is to become the fire of an earned pride. If you have seen this look, or experienced it, you know that there is such a concept as "sacred" -- meaning: the best, the highest possible to man -- this look is the sacred, the not-to-be-betrayed, the not-to-be-sacrificed for anything or anyone. ["Requiem for Man", Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 303]I regard religion, consistently held, as a systematic attempt to snuff out that spark Ayn Rand described. I regard it thus as thoroughly immoral and profane. My moral judgement does not necessitate that I browbeat others with it all the time, nor does courtesy preclude me stating it openly when appropriate.
One can, of course, line up the bolstering high-culture quotations on this side too, against the belligerent atheists ...[, including] Eric Hoffer's lovely line that "rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength." [bold added]America's tradition of religious tolerance and her Enlightenment heritage of reasoned debate permit people of even diametrically-opposed views to air them for evaluation by others. To the extent that someone respects this tradition and is open to rational debate, one should treat him politely even if one finds that he must express disagreement with his views.
This Christian laments that because Christians are ignorant they are easy targets for an ignorant atheist like Christopher Hitchens. She wishes Dostoyevsky were on the shelves of Christian bookstores. "Dostoyevsky exposed the evils of pride and self-devised 'justice.'"
Atheist characters such as Ivan Karamazov and Stavrogin are chilling portraits of nihilism. Only a Christian, with that religion's twisted and repulsive view of pride as sin, could think these self-destructive, dishonest characters have anything to do with the virtue of pride.
As an atheist I have read Dostoyevsky with great interest. He is a novelist of the first rank, who draws the reader into a world of moral drama and keeps him turning the pages with an exciting plot. It is true that Dostoyevsky was a Christian and his villains are atheists, but I don't see how anyone would be inspired to become a Christian from the example of his tormented Christian characters. Perhaps his novels are not in Christian bookstores because he serves Christianity straight and Americans want all that vale of tears stuff watered down with happy talk and "Jesus loves you." It's hard to sell Christianity to Americans by saying, "Accept Jesus as your savior and be miserable for the rest of your life."
Consistent Augustinian Christians are in a bind. They look down their nose at American Christianity, which is indeed shallow, sugary and idiotic. But this is the only Christianity that Americans, with their heritage of capitalism and individualism and their belief in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will accept. Worldly, happy Americans pick what they want to believe out of the Bible, a vast book full of contradictions. They choose to hear "Go forth and prosper" rather than all that stuff about rich men not getting into Heaven.
Pursuit of happiness is the opposite of how Jesus lived and how famous Christians such as St. Francis of Assisi lived. Consistent Augustinian Christians renounce this world and live in a cave. They wear hair shirts and drink dirty laundry water. They live lives of sacrifice and misery because this world is the realm of Satan, a fleeting illusion, and they will be rewarded for their sacrifice with happiness in the next world. By Augustinian standards the American dream is a Satanic dream. It's a damn hard sell to materialistic Americans.
I would advise Augustinians to look to the left for converts, especially to environmentalists. There they will find Americans who already hate prosperity and capitalism. In many ways they will find comrades in spirit. All the Augustinians have to do is persuade the leftists to destroy the remnants of reason they have and accept the Christian mythology of the big guy in the sky who sent his son to Earth to suffer for our sins.
With normal, happy Americans, the Augustinians must tread with care. Overplaying their hand will scare Americans away from Christianity entirely. It is a burden, but the Augustinian Christians can comfort themselves that this is the cross they must bear. In their suffering they shall know their savior.
I have really enjoyed Cox and Forkum's work, and found just knowing that there was a such pair of cartoonists out there and on my side more than comforting. It was also bracing.
John and I have done pretty well over the last six years. We're fairly well known on the Internet, we have a few newspaper and magazine clients, we've self-published four books, and we've made some money, if not a living. But lately, for reasons I won't go into here, I can no longer afford to divert so much time and attention away from my publishing business and other personal concerns, such as my family.
I also want to stop focusing so much of my creative energy on negative aspects of daily life. There's still an ideological battle to be fought, not to mention an actual war, and I will stay engaged in some form and medium. But at this point, anything seems more appealing than immersing myself in the sewer of daily politics.
That said, I imagine we won't be able to resist creating an occasionally editorial cartoon. And if we do, we'll post it here.
HeroicLife posted a photo:
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.
My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.Then spiraling over that same domain again but in a different and more detailed way, there is a little single-page summary of the essentials of Objectivism by her, and the people at the Ayn Rand Institute also have a one-page discussion of what is important and distinctive about the philosophy.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, caused a stir at a Senate hearing this week when he repeated his view that gay sex is immoral and should not be condoned by the military.Folks, that's outright theocracy: government policy at the highest level is determined by appeal to Scripture.
Pace, who retires next week, said he was seeking to clarify similar remarks he made in spring, which he said were misreported. "Are there wonderful Americans who happen to be homosexual serving in the military? Yes," he told the Senate Appropriations Committee during a hearing Wednesday focused on the Pentagon's 2008 war spending request.
"We need to be very precise then, about what I said wearing my stars and being very conscious of it," he added. "And that is, very simply, that we should respect those who want to serve the nation but not through the law of the land, condone activity that, in my upbringing, is counter to God's law."
...Pace noted that the U.S. Military Code of Justice prohibits homosexual activity as well as adultery.
By Don Watkins:
Across the country, state and local governments are banning smoking on private property, including bars, restaurants, and office buildings. This is just the latest step in the government's war on smoking--a coercive campaign that includes massive taxes on cigarettes, advertising bans, and endless multi-billion dollar lawsuits against tobacco companies. This war is infecting America with a political disease far worse than any health risk caused by smoking; it is destroying our freedom to make our own judgments and choices.
According to the anti-smoking movement, restricting people's freedom to smoke is justified by the necessity of combating the "epidemic" of smoking-related disease and death. Cigarettes, we are told, kill hundreds of thousands of helplessly addicted victims a year, and expose countless millions to unwanted and unhealthy secondhand smoke. Smoking, the anti-smoking movement says, in effect, is a plague, whose ravages can only be combated through drastic government action.
But smoking is not some infectious disease that must be quarantined and destroyed by the government. Smoking is a voluntary activity that every individual is free to choose to abstain from (including by avoiding restaurants and other private establishments that permit smoking). And, contrary to those who regard any smoking as irrational on its face, cigarettes are a potential value that each individual must assess for himself. Of course, smoking can be harmful--in certain quantities, over a certain period of time, it can be habit forming and lead to disease or death. But many individuals understandably regard the risks of smoking as minimal if one smokes relatively infrequently, and they see smoking as offering definite value, such as physical pleasure.
Are they right? Can it be a value to smoke cigarettes--and if so, in what quantity? This is the sort of judgment that properly belongs to every individual, based on his assessment of the evidence concerning smoking's benefits and risks, and taking into account his particular circumstances (age, family history, profession, tastes, etc.). If others believe the smoker is making a mistake, they are free to try to persuade him of their viewpoint. But they should not be free to dictate his decision on whether and to what extent to smoke, any more than they should be able to dictate his decision on whether and to what extent to drink alcohol or play poker. The fact that some individuals will smoke themselves into an early grave is no more justification for banning smoking than that the existence of alcoholics is grounds for prohibiting you from enjoying a drink at dinner.
Implicit in the war on smoking, however, is the view that the government must dictate the individual's decisions with regard to smoking, because he is incapable of making them rationally. To the extent the anti-smoking movement succeeds in wielding the power of government coercion to impose on Americans its blanket opposition to smoking, it is entrenching paternalism: the view that individuals are incompetent to run their own lives, and thus require a nanny-state to control every aspect of those lives.
This state is well on its way: from trans-fat bans to bicycle helmet laws to prohibitions on gambling, the government is increasingly abridging our freedom on the grounds that we are not competent to make rational decisions in these areas--just as it has long done by paternalistically dictating how we plan for retirement (Social Security) or what medicines we may take (the FDA).
Indeed, one of the main arguments used to bolster the anti-smoking agenda is the claim that smokers impose "social costs" on non-smokers, such as smoking-related medical expenses--an argument that perversely uses an injustice created by paternalism to support its expansion. The only reason non-smokers today are forced to foot the medical bills of smokers is that our government has virtually taken over the field of medicine, in order to relieve us inept Americans of the freedom to manage our own health care, and bear the costs of our own choices.
But contrary to paternalism, we are not congenitally irrational misfits. We are thinking beings for whom it is both possible and necessary to rationally judge which courses of action will serve our interests. The consequences of ignoring this fact range from denying us legitimate pleasures to literally killing us: from the healthy 26-year-old unable to enjoy a trans-fatty food, to the 75-year-old man unable to take an unapproved, experimental drug without which he will certainly die.
By employing government coercion to deprive us of the freedom to judge for ourselves what we inhale or consume, the anti-smoking movement has become an enemy, not an ally, in the quest for health and happiness.
Don Watkins is a writer and research coordinator at the Ayn Rand Institute (http://www.aynrand.org/) in Irvine, CA. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead." Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IRVINE, CA--The 50th anniversary of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged on October 10 is an occasion to celebrate her legacy of defending reason and freedom, according to Michael S. Berliner, former executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
Although she was born and raised in Russia, she became a truly American writer and philosopher. Her philosophy of reason and individual liberty is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the mysticism and tyranny that permeated her country of birth.
In 1926 she managed to escape the oppression of the USSR. Inspired by the skyscrapers in American films and taking the United States as her symbol of civilization, she came to America that year to stay. Sales of her first film scenario, play and novel in the 1930s launched her career. Her first best-seller, The Fountainhead, was published in 1943 and has become an American classic.
In 1957, her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged was published. In it she dramatized her philosophy, soon to be named "Objectivism." Her philosophy of reason, egoism and individual rights has changed many people’s lives: a survey by the Library of Congress placed Atlas Shrugged as second only to the Bible as the most influential book in readers’ lives.
Ayn Rand was unique. Writing best-selling novels with inspiring characters and intriguing plots, or creating a new philosophic system would justify anyone's fame. Ayn Rand did both. With virtues that matched the individualistic heroes of her novels, she emerged as a thinker who did not fall into any of the traditional categories. She was not a conservative, a liberal, an anarchist or a libertarian. Politically, she was a radical for capitalism; in fundamental philosophy, she was a champion of reason, selfishness and the individual's happiness on earth.
Copyright © 2007 Ayn Rand® Institute.