Friday, October 17, 2008

My latest LTE

I noticed the following letter in Wednesday's Oklahoman:
The root cause

The political mantra during Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign is the same today: It’s the economy! Everyone’s focus is on the economy and returning stability and confidence to our financial markets and institutions. The economy is the issue that will determine the November election and the candidates are feeling its power and prominence.

The truth, however, is that our economic crisis is the result of moral decline and compromised values. Greed on Wall Street and in corporate offices, unscrupulous lenders, self-serving politicians and a lack of personal self-control have brought about our financial implosion. The government bailout that was full of political payouts that had nothing to do with the crisis, and new legislative regulations won’t solve our problems because it’s a matter of the heart. Until the moral issues
within our country and institutions are addressed, the stability of our nation will always be in peril.

The chant shouldn’t be "It’s the economy” but rather "It’s the morality.”

Mark Hiehle, Norman
Upon reading this letter, I thought his identification of morality as the base of economics was an opportunity to say something about which morality is more accurate that I just couldn't pass up - especially since I had passed the 42 day mark since my last LTE!

So here's what I sent:
Mark Hiehle, in his letter of October 16th, is correct when he says that morality is the underlying cause of our current economic crisis, but he is incorrect as to which morality is to blame. Western civilization was founded on reason, which, consistently applied, leads to freedom, individualism and a morality of rational self-interest.

Was it selfishness which led lenders to give mortgages to people who didn't qualify for them under any rational standard? If you say that the only reason they did it was because the government twisted their arms, what motivated the government to do that?

It was selflessness - as represented by the Community Reinvestment Act - which led the government to force banks to loan money to people who couldn't afford it, to buy homes they can't pay for. If a government motivated by selflessness caused this mess in the first place, how can we trust it to control the economy?

It is selflessness which motivated our political leaders and the media to ignore the public's response to the bail-out, which ranged from "No!" to "Hell No!"

Closing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - no, they can't be "reformed" - repealing the Community Reinvestment Act and firing Henry Paulson would be a good start on resolving the current crisis, but it would only be a start, and so long as selflessness is accepted, we will always end up right back in the same place: notice that on Monday when Paulson ordered the leaders of the 9 largest banks in the country to allow themselves to be taken over by the government, not one of them had the "selfishness" to stand up and say "NO". Their acquiescence gave the sanction of the victim to Paulson's takeover of the banking industry.

The time is long past to recognize that selflessness is an empty fantasy based on no factual evidence whatsoever. Giving in to selflessness will lead not just to the destruction of our economy but of our civilization.

Selflessness is a sacred cow which deserves to be exposed as such. It is the actual requirements of human life which lead to a morality of rational self-interest. Even those who can't afford to buy their own homes can benefit from this.

To those who wish to know more, I strongly encourage you to read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.

Rob Abiera
I sent it Thursday. Today I got an email from J. E. McReynolds, chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman - it consisted of my letter and this message:
Returned unread. Does not follow guidelines. Second notice. Do not resend.
I assume that "Returned unread" refers to The Oklahoman's policy of not considering letters which do not fit its guidelines, one of which is a limit of 225 words. I had hoped that, if my letter was too long, they would simply edit it down to fit. Guess I was wrong and they won't even consider letters that aren't already under 225 words.

Or do they? After all, the guidelines do say:
Why we edit letters
Editing is done for the benefit of our readers. We make every attempt to preserve the writer's essential meaning. Editing for length allows us to accept a greater number of letters. Letters most likely to be edited are those that are twice as long as needed to make a point and those that try to make too many points.
which certainly seems to imply that they will accept letters that are longer than the 225 word limit and edit them down.

Then again, there could always be another reason.

And I don't get the part about a "second notice", either, because I never got a first one.

Oh well. It will still make a good blog post. And I will send it to the usual email lists.

And I might even submit it for the next Objectivist Round Up!

Oh, and if anyone else wants to repost it, feel free!

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