The men who are not interested in philosophy need it most urgently: they are most helplessly in its power.
The men who are not interested in philosophy absorb its principles from the cultural atmosphere around them—from schools, colleges, books, magazines, newspapers, movies, television, etc. Who sets the tone of a culture? A small handful of men: the philosophers. Others follow their lead, either by conviction or by default.
On September 27, I tweeted that Conor Friedersdorf “does not understand the Left, at any level”. I did so on the grounds of this article by Friedersdorf, which included this line:
I don’t see how anyone who confronts Obama’s record with clear eyes can enthusiastically support him. I do understand how they might concluded that he is the lesser of two evils, and back him reluctantly, butI’d have thought more people on the left would regard a sustained assault on civil liberties and the ongoing, needless killing of innocent kids as deal-breakers. (Emphasis mine.)
I, who do understand the Left, immediately thought: *Why* would anyone ever think that?
Naturalist writers who don’t have the imagination to come up with new ideas run out of stories to tell. They make a big splash with a novel about their youth or their particular racial niche, and then they are pretty much done. They “write themselves out.”
Barack Obama’s speech at the 2012 Democrat National Convention was the work of a man who is written out. He has nothing new to say; he lacks even the energy to make it look like he’s trying. But that didn’t stop him from going on for 37 empty minutes. Stalin and Castro were famous for droning on for hours before a (literally) captive audience. I believe Obama and Clinton would do the same if they could. Standing before a large, adoring audience must be the peak experience for a collectivist.
Had H.L. Mencken been revived from his grave to watch the last night of the Republican National Convention, he would have recognized the scene. He would have heard the anecdotal, folksy speeches, the paeans to family and God, and he would have understood that the booboisie is alive and well in America. He would have said something wittier than even Mark Steyn or James Wolcott could come up with and then asked to be killed and returned to his grave.
I understand that the Obama campaign and their Democrat PAC’s have spent, according to one number I read, $120 million attacking Mitt Romney. (Obama has outspent Romney three to one so far, but that does not stop him from whining because Romney now has more money.) I understand that the American people, in our dumbed-down age, are susceptible to such an idiotic argument as Romney is mean because he ran a company that, in the course of restructuring businesses, fired people. (And that attack is the Democrats at their most intellectual. When you descend below that, you get nonsense about Romney being mean to his dog. Seriously. This is what the left has become.)
Mitt Romney chose Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconson to be his Vice-President running mate. This is the boldest and most impressive move of Romney’s political career so far. He chose his intellectual superior to run with him, the opposite of what Obama did when he chose Joltin’ Joe Biden, man of a thousand gaffes.
Let’s be clear up front: Ryan is not the perfect candidate. He has HUGE problems. He is a religious conservative, an enemy of abortion, and has voted for such statist power grabs as the prescription medicine bill and TARP. In other words, he is a Republican. He is most certainly NOT an Objectivist, although the left seems to think it will help them to pin that label on him.
Health care, like all goods and services, is a limited resource. Once it is removed from market forces by turning it over to the government and giving it away for “free*,” rationing is the inevitable consequence.
Do you know what “rationing” means in the context of health care?
The goal of the “liberals”—as it emerges from the record of the past decades—was to smuggle this country into welfare statism by means of single, concrete, specific measures, enlarging the power of the government a step at a time, never permitting these steps to be summed up into principles, never permitting their direction to be identified or the basic issue to be named. Thus statism was to come, not by vote or by violence, but by slow rot—by a long process of evasion and epistemological corruption, leading to a fait accompli. (The goal of the “conservatives” was only to retard that process.)
I’m fascinated by this notion that we do sometimes pass laws and therefore that means that we should pass laws. The resistance to passing laws is some nasty dysfunction caused by a nefarious interest group — here, the NRA — but good people want to do something.
Immigration is a hot issue for a number of Western nations, notably America and my country of origin, Sweden. The latter being a notable case is a fact that escapes many of those who don’t count themselves among its 9.5 million people. That is, at least for now; news stories of Sweden’s troubles are starting to trickle out with an accelerating frequency that mirrors the nation’s increasing instability.
What attracts immigrants to a country? The prospects of a better life – as defined and imagined by those immigrants. This last point becomes interesting when you turn the question around: What kind of immigrant does a country attract? [Read more →]
Yesterday was July 4th. The wife and I didn’t go to any picnics or BBQs. Good thing too. It was 101 degrees at Detroit’s Metro airport. So we decided to do the things for which our founding fathers created this country: to go forth into the marketplace to pursue our rational self interest and trade value for value with other people for mutual benefit. We went shopping. [Read more →]
The federal government long ago expanded its powers far beyond anything James Madison and his fellow framers imagined. The Constitution is in reality meaningless, but the Supreme Court, whose purpose is to make sure our laws conform to the Constitution, twists its reasoning to justify interventionist laws as the mixed economy marches toward fascism.
Yesterday the court upheld Obamacare as a tax increase, and sure enough, Congress has the power to levy taxes. It’s right there in the Constitution; you can see for yourself.
“Rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small,” says venture capitalist Nick Hanauer in a recent TED talk. His speech has gone viral in social media because Hanauer is a hipper version of Warren Buffet—he’s saying the same things but he invests in Amazon.com not GEICO.
The speech is light on details, but it’s actually an abridged version of an editorial he penned late last year. Both versions focus on the “rich getting richer” and how the key to making America great again is to just siphon off a small piece of their wealth—heck they won’t even notice it—and invest in the middle class.
The middle class, he claims, are the “real” job creators in the economy. How’s that? Because they’re the largest and highest-spending consumers. Businesses, after all, can’t have any revenue unless someone gives it to them. And that someone is most likely to come from the middle class.
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
– attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt
As many Objectivists, myself included, are the geeky sort, today’s XKCD has already become the subject of some discussion, particularly at Jenn Casey’s place. The following is a refined version of the comment I left there.
Randall Munroe is an extraordinarily sharp guy, whose geeky sense of humor I love. More than once he’s written about an idea or thought that I’ve had and never heard elsewhere; one of my favorites is the notion of using tranducers and a phase inverter to mess around with the idiots with big booming car stereos.
He has referenced Ayn Rand in the past here, in the mouseover text. I didn’t find that one particularly offensive; I saw that one as more of a good-natured sort of ribbing rather than the usual sort of gratuitous diss we normally get, in contrast to Trey Peden who was more offended. Disappointingly, Randall Munroe’s latest jab confirms that Trey’s call was right the first time.
However, in joining the cottage industry of garden variety Ayn Rand bashing, Munroe’s ultimate joke ends up on the others in that cottage.
If your actions are indistinguishable from a Jim Crow era lynching except for which color of skin is on which side of the mob, then you’re doing the whole anti-racism thing wrong.
Dr. King said that he had a dream where, “they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” He didn’t say that his dream was that they WOULD be judged by their skin, only the other way around because revenge.
(Same goes for just about anything that would be indistinguishable from the Jim Crow era except with the colors switched… which is just about everything that comes out of a certain camp…)
This LTE was printed in the Detroit News on March 7th.
Letter: Focus on nation’s founding values
“The Feb. 18 editorial brief “Appropriate driving law” is an example of a true statement that can be misleading in terms of the principle involved. The sentence: “This new legislation expands a smart law that rightly punishes drivers who have chosen to risk other people’s lives with their irresponsible decisions” can leave the impression that the purpose of law is to protect people from irresponsible decisions instead of violations of their rights. The question then becomes who decides what is responsible or irresponsible and according to what standards?
Is the mother whose child had her turkey sandwich, banana and apple juice confiscated by food police guilty of irresponsible decisions? Were all of us guilty of irresponsible decisions for wanting to use incandescent light bulbs or watch analog TV or put salt on our potatoes?
The tea parties exist to get our nation back to its fundamental, founding principles. They could really use the support of those on editorial staffs to identify those principles.
The above quote could ideally have read in part “… rightly punishes drivers who have chosen to risk violating other people’s rights.” Individual rights are a profound value. To consistently fail to mention primary values is to consider them unimportant.”
I never knew Andrew Breitbart, but I admired his courage. The left despised him; in fact, they still do, and they are now heaping scorn on his corpse, as one would expect from the tolerant and kindly left. They hate him because he was effective. He took down Acorn, their instrument for undermining elections in America, and so became a leading target of leftist bile.
Following his Twitter feed was a daily lesson in the frothing madness of the left. Breitbart always retweeted the insulting, hate-filled tweets he got; he was happy to let his enemies reveal themselves with their own vituperation. They are a seething, juvenile, mean-spirited lot, and not terribly clever, either.
(I gave up following Twitter because every week or so my password would not work and I would have to change it — most exasperating. Maybe my computer has a virus or something.)
Courage is important in our age. The increasingly totalitarian left depends on conformity of thought. This does not mean persuading those who disagree with them, but shutting them up. And the best way to shut someone up is make him afraid to speak his mind. Smears, intimidation and character assassination are the methods of the left. (How many people in Hollywood , publishing, government or academia remain silent because they know that speaking out is career suicide? How many women, minorities and gays toe the PC line because stepping over it means shocking decent people more than profanity did in the Victorian age?)
The main purpose of government schooling now is to mold young Americans into docile conformists. Political correctness is leftist thought control: these things you are permitted to say — those other things, no decent person must say. Independence is the virtue above all others that the left cannot abide.
When the left accepted the premise that the end justifies the means, they crossed a line. They are now the totalitarian left. This ain’t your father’s Democrat Party. These people are radicalized, and they mean war. Words are no longer tools of rational communication; they are weapons to be used in the political struggle.
With the left so far down the road to serfdom, good men need courage above all. Andrew Breitbart had it. We lost a brave fighter for freedom.
Sara Robinson of AlterNet is unhappy. Red states take more government money than blue states, which Ms. Robinson thinks is ironic, since the red states are full of right-wingers who admire Ayn Rand. She thinks the productive blue states should “Go Galt” against the parasitical red states.
Now, a state is a large political entity with all types of people in it. There are people who work hard and pay their taxes in every state. There are parasites in every state. So Ms. Robinson is pitting two collectives against one another in ways that have little meaning. A state might have two Republican Senators merely because they got 51% of the vote. Moreover, being Republican hardly means you stand for limited government, much less the laissez-faire capitalism advocated by Ayn Rand.
I had the following LTE printed verbatim in the Macomb Daily a countywide newspaper serving Macomb county which abuts Wayne County home of Detroit.
“We must return to basic principles
I applaud George Will’s Feb. 5 opinion column, pointing out the dictatorial desires of progressives from Woodrow Wilson to Franklyn Roosevelt and President Obama. Americans need to know that the Democratic Party is dominated by those who think brute force is the practical way to govern citizens.
But Will failed to take the next step: to ask why do progressives worship force instead of freedom, while our Constitution clearly calls for freedom? The answer is to be found in the Declaration of Independence with its principle of individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This principle is one of reasoned self-interest, that one can serve one’s own interests as long as one respects the same rights of others.
But progressives disdain these principles, believing that man is not capable of reasoned behavior and must be forcibly ruled by benevolent masters, a longing for something that has never been or will ever be. If America doesn’t return to the principles of the Declaration of Independence soon, the progressives will have the dictatorship they crave. Where reason and rights do not prevail, force does.”
Mr Will is a famous conservative pundit who is quite good at pointing out all the idiocies of progressive policies. But like so many of his colleagues, often fails to identify the principles underlying those policies thus leaving them unchallenged to continue birthing more such policies.
The Friday Jan 6th print edition of the Detroit Free Press carried an oped by Leonard Pitts Jr of the Miami Herald titled “Ron Paul is foolishly consistent in his extremism.” He starts it out with this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” I’ll skip the fact that there may be some debate over the contextual meaning of that quote in some circles and just focus on how Mr. Pitts uses it as received wisdom. I will quote a few passages with my comments in brackets. [Read more →]