Monday, December 28, 2009

My New Year's Resolution

My New Year's resolution for 2010: I resolve to openly and aggressively pursue my own personal agenda.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Ramen & Rand.

Problem and solution

The problem: Congress has passed over the line into despotism.

The solution: Take away Congress's power to regulate commerce.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Why I voted no.

Put simply, I am profoundly opposed to the vision of governance epitomized by then-mayor Kirk Humphreys when he declared that the government was willing to "cut a deal" with any businessperson who came to him. When businesspeople have to come to the government to "cut deals", and government can pick and choose who will be allowed to take the risk of attempting to start a business and who won't be, we are not free.

To those who say that a vote against MAPS is a vote against progress in Oklahoma City:

BULLSHIT!

There is not one single proposed project in MAPS 3 - or in any of the previous versions of MAPS - that could not be done, probably much better, by a completely private effort. To those who would ask, "If that's true, why hasn't anybody done it?" I will simply ask what the government has done to obstruct such efforts.

I refer those who wish to know more about why an economy free from government interference is more effective to Principles of a Free Society.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

"He stood looking at the portrait of Nat Taggart on the wall of her office--the portrait of a young man with a lifted head--until she returned, bringing a bottle of brandy and two glasses. He filled the glasses in silence.

"You know, Dagny, Thanksgiving was a holiday established by productive people to celebrate the success of their work."

The movement of his arm, as he raised his glass, went from the portrait--to her--to himself--to the buildings of the city beyond the window."

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Socialism or Theocracy?

Last night's Senate vote to begin the debate on health care was made possible by the Religious Right, which pushed this country into electing a Democratic majority.

Let's not forget that one of the major reasons the federal government is currently controlled by Democrats is because the American people do not want the Religious Right to have the power to turn this country into a religious dictatorship. The results of the last election are due to the Religious Right's pursuit of their so-called "culture war" and their drive to remake this country as a "Christian nation" - which is something America never has been and never should be.

The battle for freedom can only be won by recognizing that it is only a secular government that can genuinely protect fundamental individual rights.

The battle against socialism can only be won by recognizing that when such things as health care are granted the status of rights, it destroys the concept of rights, which actually pertain only to freedoms of action, not to entitlements.

Ayn Rand described the true nature of rights in her essay, "Man's Rights".

Friday, November 20, 2009

Senator Coburn's newsletter

Here's the text of an email newsletter I received from Senator Coburn today:
The United States Senate regularly passes major legislation without even voting on it.

That disturbing fact caught my attention when I first arrived in the Senate, and frankly, it still bothers me.

The legislative process as it taught in eight grade civics class is logical, consistent, and most of all, transparent. The legislative process as it is practiced in the Senate today is nothing like that ideal.

Every week, the Senate routinely passes legislation that is never voted on, never debated, and rarely, if ever, read by the full Senate. Now surely, you say, this process is reserved for non-controversial bills like renaming post offices or honoring the Super Bowl champions, right?

Wrong. The “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” regularly passes major legislation that creates new programs and authorizes billions in new spending without you knowing until after the fact.

The game works this way: the leaders of both parties send an email and recorded phone message to each Senate office notifying them they would like to pass certain bills sometime that day by unanimous consent. If no senator calls his or her party leader to object, it usually passes at the close of business that day without a recorded vote. Sometimes, I am given just a few minutes to read lengthy bills, and unless I pick up the phone to object (“hold”), it is considered passed by the US Senate.

I would be willing to bet that few senators even take the time to read the request, let alone the bill. Worse, the decision is usually left to an unelected staff member.

And they expect you to find out by noting the bill’s passage in the congressional record on the day after passage.

They call this process “unanimous consent” when in reality it is consent by default.

You have probably heard or read numerous stories about how I am “holding” important legislation, and preventing it from passing. They say “Dr. No” is standing in the way of progress again.

The truth behind that growing mythology is simple. I object to the Senate passing major legislation behind closed doors, off the record, and out of sight of the American people.

When you hear the word “hold,” that simply means I am objecting to the Senate doing business in the dark. It means that I believe substantive legislation ought to see the light of day, senators should have the right to offer amendments (including cuts to lower priority or duplicative programs), and most important, you should be able to see how your senator voted on important bills.

Supporters of the current process describe my objections as “preventing the Senate from doing the business of the people.”

That is an interesting charge, but again it is false.

The United States Senate spends fully a quarter of its time—nearly 300 hours this year alone—in quorum calls. For those unfamiliar with Senate terminology, that is the Senate’s equivalent of a time-out. During this time, the Senate clerk periodically calls the attendance roll, though few, if any, senators are actually present in the chamber. In other words, the Senate is in session, the flag is flying over the Capitol building, senators and their staff are drawing a pay check, and yet, nothing is happening on the floor of the US Senate.

There is plenty of wasted time that could be put towards debating bills, and for senators to overcome objections I may have. I am beginning to think that some politicians would rather score a few cheap political points than actually fight for something they believe in.

We should never fear serious debate. Our Founders created the Senate precisely for this purpose, and if we will honor that great heritage, we will be a better country for it.

I thank you again for your willingness to stay informed, and for the many comments you have sent in response to previous newsletters.

Sincerely,

Tom A. Coburn, MD

Emailing my senators

I've just sent the following to my senators using the forms on their websites:
Dear Senators Coburn and Inhofe:

I expect you to fight the government takeover of health care all the way down the line. I expect you to vote against debating the bill. I expect you to stand your ground on having the bill read - no matter how many of your Republican colleagues weasel out of it. And should the bill itself ever come to a vote, I expect you to oppose it no matter how many "compromises" it contains.

No one makes my health care decisions for me but me. The voters of this state will hold everyone who fails to stand up for that idea accountable in the next election.

Rob Abiera

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Republican Capitalism

Great post by Gus Van Horn on the penchant of all political parties to hide whatever they are trying to put over by calling it something else:
Free Market Rhetoric, Indeed!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gangster government

I'm sure that I would disagree with Michele Bachman about abortion - I'm pro-choice - and the role of religion in government - I don't think it should have any - but I do share her concern over what she calls "the politicization of the allocation of economic rewards" in this column by George Will in today's The Oklahoman:
Some of her supposed excesses are, however, not merely defensible, they are admirable. For example, her June 9 statement on the House floor in which she spoke of "gangster government” has been viewed on the Internet about 2 million times. She noted that, during the federal takeover of General Motors, a Democratic senator and one of her Democratic House colleagues each successfully intervened with GM to save a constituent’s dealership from forced closure. One of her constituents, whose dealership had been in the family for 90 years, told her that the $15 million dealership had been rendered worthless overnight and, Bachmann said, "GM is demanding that she hand over her customer list,” probably to give it to surviving GM dealerships that once were competitors.
Bachman calls such actions "gangster government". I think that's an accurate description of what a government does when it oversteps its legitimate bounds and undertakes to do more than protect individual rights.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Coming Obama Alliance With Religious Conservatives

Dan Gilgoff reports that a Senate subcommittee is having a hearing on "faith-based perspectives on immigration reform".

As if the title of his piece isn't startling enough.

Oh dear. This one has me going just a little bit ballistic right at the moment:
Dear Senators,

Put a stop to this immediately! 'Faith-based perspectives' on anything are NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S DAMN BUSINESS!

Your constituent,

Rob Abiera
Maybe I should wait until I can think of something a tad less emotional.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine

Looking for intellectual ammunition against government-run health care? Editorials and articles by Lin Zinser, Paul Hsieh and others are now easier than ever to access at the website of FIRM.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thomas Paine on force and fraud

"When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for Nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honor and happiness of its character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon." - Thomas Paine in "The Rights of Man" (1791)

via Facebook

Gay marriage and socialism

Today I learned that a congressman in Iowa referred to Gay marriage as socialist. This is my initial response to that:

Dear Congressman King,

Yesterday, you said that same-gender marriage is a “purely socialist concept”.

According to The Advocate, what you said was:
“If relationships between individuals cannot be prohibited by the state legislature, then there’s no ban that can actually be constitutional that would ban group marriage, and it wouldn’t have to be for reasons of, let me say, love or lust, it could be reasons of profitability or avoiding taxes or accessing benefits,” King said.

“So in the end, this is something that has to come with a, if there’s a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together living collectively off one pot of resources earned by everyone; this is one of the goals they have to go through is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal,” he said.

“Not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis,” King said.
What is socialism? It is a system where relationships between individuals are determined by the government.
Socialism is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society, that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.

Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual
A society where relationships between individuals can be prohibited by the state legislature is a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined. What meaning does liberty have if individuals are not free to enter into any relationships they choose - personal, social, economic, political, whatever?

In a genuinely free society - that is, a laissez-faire capitalist society - individuals would be completely free to form their own relationships on whatever basis they chose. In fact, the sole function of the government would be to protect their right to do so.

What makes the right to marry a person of the same gender a legitimate one? Simply, it is the fact that what is being protected is the freedom to act, not an entitlement. No one's leg is being broken and no one's pocket is being picked when two men or two women marry each other. Their right to do so is a recognition of their freedom to act on their desire to spend their lives in the company of a person of the same gender.

I submit that it is the right to same-gender marriage that is the true hallmark of freedom, while it is your desire to prohibit relationships between individuals that is socialist.

Rob Abiera

Separating state and economics

Ayn Rand advocated separating state and economy "in the same manner and for the same reasons" as the separation of state and church.

Alex Epstein elaborates on that at Voices for Reason:
(EXCERPT)

Separation of state and economics: a new ideal for America

“Do you have a better idea?”

Some form of that question is directed at anyone who criticizes the Obama administration’s runaway spending and its plans to drastically increase government control over health care, energy, and the financial industry. Unfortunately, many of Obama’s critics have not offered a better idea, instead offering vague denunciations of “Big Government” and vague affirmations of “smaller government”–but without spelling out what this would mean in practice, and how it would address today’s economic problems.

At the Ayn Rand Center, we do have a better idea of what the government should do about the economy: establish the principle of separation of state and economics. This is the subject of a recent position paper I authored, “A Call for the Separation of State and Economics.” The paper explains what this principle means, why it’s proper, and lays out numerous examples of what this principle would mean in practice.

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by The Little Things.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MORAL KOMBAT!!!!!!

LOL! I almost wish I had chosen that for the name of my blog!

Could Tom Coburn possibly do more to undermine himself? How does he expect to be taken seriously when the people who work for him go around saying things like "all pornography leads to homosexuality"?

Here's The Daily Show's Jon Stewart's answer to Coburn chief of staff Michael Schwartz' assertion that 10-year-old boys have the least amount of tolerance regarding homosexuality:
Not to bust your bubble there, but you know there's one thing that 11-year-old boys like even less than homosexuality, and that's girls.
Via ERV

The Philosophical Roots of Nazism

It has long been de rigueur to assert that the ultimate cause of Nazism is some impenetrable mystery that either cannot or should not be identified.

One philosopher has dared to challenge this myth: Leonard Peikoff, in his book, The Ominous Parallels.

The Objectivism Seminar is currently examining Peikoff's work at http://www.objectivismseminar.com. Greg Perkins gives an overview of the seminars at this post at NoodleFood.

I consider The Ominous Parallels to be of profound timeliness and absolutely crucial reading for anyone who wants to understand the forces at work in the world today - including America's current political situation.

It is available at the Ayn Rand Bookstore and Amazon.

Today's letters

Several letters in today's The Oklahoman about the Tea Parties in Washington, DC on Sept 12th and Oklahoma City on Sept. 13th.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by ReasonPharm.

Altruism: intentions vs results

This is further proof that altruism is a morality of intentions and not of results; that actually helping people is irrelevant but going through the motions of helping people justifies anything and everything.
That's from a comment by Michael John Neibel to a post by Diana Hsieh about Americans United for Separation of Church and State director Barry Lynn's involvement in Obama's faith advisory council.

Hsieh's verdict?
I am not satisfied with AU's response here. Hence, although I've contributed to them in the past, they won't get another cent from me.
The Oklahoma chapter of AU is having its annual meeting tonight. It will be interesting to see what their reaction is to all this.

Monday, September 14, 2009

OKC 913 rally

Here's The Oklahoman's story about yesterday's rallies at the State Capitol.

According to the story, 5000 showed up for OKC Tea Party's 913 Rally and 300 showed up for the pro-health-care-reform rally.

As of 7PM, this story had 160 comments.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tulsa Tea Party

Here's a report from the Tulsa World about the 912 rally over there today.

No estimate of crowd size.

WTF

I love this picture.

It was taken at today's 912 rally in Washington, DC.

Hat tip: Nicholas Provenzo

2 million?

Yes, that's one of the estimates of the size of the crowd at the DC Tea Party today. I haven't had a chance to double-check or substantiate it yet, as I'm just now catching up with what's been going on today.

My letter in The Oklahoman

The Oklahoman has printed my letter in today's edition. You can read it online at NewsOK.com - it's the second letter in today's column.
An obvious limit

"Americans ready to debate cost, size of government” (Our Views, Sept. 6) failed to address the real roots of the out-of-control growth of government and government spending. Yes, Americans need to make a choice regarding the size of government, but by what standard are they to make that choice? This country was founded on individual rights. A government that does anything more than protect those rights is acting to destroy those rights. This sets an obvious limit for the size of legitimate government. Since our founding, however, generations of people have insisted that we be our brother’s keeper and sacrifice ourselves on the altar of altruism.

A government that we set as our keeper will have no boundaries. It will recognize no rights — such things will be swept aside as impediments to the goals of society. There will be no standard but that of service to an ever-increasing government that sees anything and everything as an object of sacrifice, even the economy and, ultimately, the country itself.

Rights are freedoms of action required for an individual to uphold the value of his life. What rights are needed for a life that holds no value as an individual? The answer to questions such as this will determine the choices Americans make regarding the size of their government.

Rob Abiera, Oklahoma City
Some further thoughts on this subject are at my original post about this editorial.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Four Important Articles

From Craig Biddle at Principles in Practice, the blog of The Objective Standard:
Four Important Articles for this God-Awful Date

“End States Who Sponsor Terrorism” by Leonard Peikoff

“Just War Theory” vs. American Self-Defense by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein

The “Forward Strategy” for Failure by Yaron Brook and Elan Journo

“No Substitute for Victory”: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism by John David Lewis

Our Self-Crippled War

Ayn Rand Center op-ed by Elan Journo
EXCERPT: If Afghanistan now seems unwinnable, blame Bush and Obama. Bush crusaded not to destroy the Taliban but to bring Afghans elections and reconstruction. Obama’s “new” tack is to insist we spend billions more on nation-building and bend over backwards to safeguard the local population. Both take for granted the allegedly moral imperative of putting the lives and welfare of Afghans first--ahead of defeating the enemy to protect Americans.

This imperative lies behind Washington’s self-crippled war--a war which could have worked to deter other jihadists and their state-sponsors, but instead encourages them to attempt further attacks.

How many more Americans must die before we challenge this conception of a proper war?

Americans United meeting

The annual meeting of the Oklahoma chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State will take place Thursday, September 17th, 7PM at Ryan's Buffet, 6500 SW 3rd in Oklahoma City.

911

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the attacks on September 11th, 2001.

I will never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NYC skyline - no room for risk?

I generally regard NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff as a real life Ellsworth Toohey, so I'm pleasantly surprised to see him expressing dismay over a New York City Planning Department’s ruling that limits the height of a skyscaper proposed by Jean Nouvel for midtown Manhattan:
But the greater sadness here has to do with New York and how the city sees itself. Both the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, built during the Great Depression, were celebrated in their time as emblems of the city’s fortitude. The Freedom Tower, our era’s most notable contribution to the skyline, is a symbol of posturing and political expediency. And now a real alternative to it, one of the most enchanting skyscraper designs of recent memory, may well be lost because some people worry that nothing in our current age can measure up to the past. It is a mentality that, once it takes hold, risks transforming a living city into an urban mausoleum.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama's faith-based office

Here's a piece by Dan Gilgoff at US News & World Report reviewing the Office of Faith-based Initiatives under Obama:
Obama Has Dramatically Changed Role of Faith-Based Office

EXCERPT: Such access has upset some on the left, who say religious leaders shouldn't be shaping government policy, and some on the right, who say the work amounts to politically inspired religious outreach. "We would have gotten killed for doing that," says Jim Towey, who directed Bush's faith-based office and notes that religious outreach in the previous administration was handled by the White House Office of Public Liaison, which reported to Karl Rove. "It looks like a political office now."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What determines the size of government?

Here's an editorial in today's The Oklahoman that asserts that Americans are ready to debate the cost and size of government.

While this - if true - is welcome news, it fails to address the underlying cause which guides the choices people make in such areas. That cause, of course, is morality, and Americans' choices regarding the size and cost of our government will be influenced by their views regarding morality: are individual human beings capable of living their own lives by their own efforts, or must human beings sacrifice their individuality to be their brother's keeper? Should individuals be free to discover and create their own value, or is that value something to be imposed on them by outside forces?

Political freedom implies an individualism that at least acknowledges the possibility that selfishness could be a value. It is an ethical regard for individual life that leads to individual rights in politics, and the proposition that government is legitimate only when it is limited to protecting those rights.

Altruism holds that the self must be sacrificed, which leads to collectivism. A society which recognizes no ethical boundaries between individuals has no need for rights - and no boundaries on the size of government. If an individual won't sacrifice his self voluntarily, what's to stop anyone from forcing him to do so?

What Americans desperately need to consider - and, yes, to debate - today is not merely the cost and size of government, but which is the proper morality: altruism or rational selfishness?

I have written a letter in response to The Oklahoman's editorial.

Dueling rallies

NewsOK.com/The Oklahoman has an article this morning about the health care rallies at the State Capitol on September 13th.

Friday, September 4, 2009

All property is intellectual

Is it?

I found this fascinating essay via Twitter - I've never heard of the author before and therefore cannot vouch for him beyond what I've read in this essay.

The idea that intellectual property is somehow fraudulent as a concept is something which all too many people seem to take for granted these days. Too many of them seem to be able to see that intellectual effort is every bit as real as physical effort and just as capable of creating value, yet not be able to get from there to the idea that the product of intellectual effort can be just as much property as the product of physical effort. Even when the product of intellectual effort - such as a novel or computer program or symphony - is given physical form - as a book, disk or sheet music.

So is all property intellectual? What do you think? Post your thoughts in the Comments section.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I am not my brother's keeper.

From Nicholas Provenzo on Facebook - where he invited those who agree with it to post it as their status for the rest of the day.
No one is his brother's keeper--or healer. If we are forced to keep our brother, we'll all be kept by Big Brother.

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Rational Jenn.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Whole Foods coming to OKC

Here's the report at News9.com:
Whole Foods to Open in Oklahoma City

Posted: Aug 28, 2009 11:15 PM CDT
Updated: Aug 31, 2009 9:05 AM CDT
News9.com

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Whole Foods Market has plans to open a location in Oklahoma City in the near future.

A Whole Foods employee confirmed a store should be open within the next 16 months, but a location has not yet been revealed.

Whole Foods already has a location in Tulsa.

Learn more about Whole Foods at their Web site.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Reality Talk.

In Defense of Oil

The Ayn Rand Center has a new page on its website devoted to Oil.

And here's a blog post about it at Voices for Reason.

Conservatism: an obituary

Now online at the Ayn Rand Center website:
Conservatism: An Obituary

Ayn Rand discusses the appalling spectacle of conservatives trying to defend capitalism - while scurrying to evade its actual meaning; also, why conservatives are an impediment to laissez-faire capitalism.

The original alternative energy market

Here's a good article by Mr. Epstein on the origins of the oil industry which posits - among other things - that oil was originally considered to be as esoteric - and as unlikely to be a candidate for financial success - as solar or wind power today.
Energy at the Speed of Thought: The Original Alternative Energy Market
What made it possible for oil to be so successful?

Freedom.

(No, the market was nowhere near completely free in the 19th century, but it was much freer than anything that exists today.)

Happy Oil Day, everybody!

I received this press release from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights yesterday:
Celebrate Oil Day!

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 26, 2009--Tomorrow, August 27, marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the oil industry in the United States.

According to Alex Epstein, an analyst with the Ayn Rand Center, “Nearly every item in your life would either not exist or be far more expensive without oil; there is simply no comparable source of practical, portable energy.

“Yet today people increasingly label oil a pollutant that damages rather than enhances our lives and, even worse, an addiction--likening our consumption of oil to a junkie’s self-destructive heroin habit. This is profoundly ignorant, not to mention unfair to the petroleum industry that tirelessly innovates, year after year, to find more oil and extract it more efficiently.

“In previous generations, the birth of the oil industry was celebrated, and deservedly so. Oil has sustained and enhanced billions of lives for more than 150 years by providing superior, affordable, ultra-convenient energy--and is as vital today as ever.

“Today, though, we should be celebrating petroleum and the industry, past and present, that uses it to work miracles in our lives.”

###

Mr. Epstein is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on business issues.

Mr. Epstein’s op-eds and letters to the editor have appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Canada’s National Post, and the Washington Times. He is also a contributing writer for “The Objective Standard,” a quarterly journal of culture and politics. Mr. Epstein has been a guest on numerous nationally syndicated radio programs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Virtual Objectivist Club

The following is an excerpt of an email from Keith Schacht:
I helped start the Objectivist Club Network (OCN), an organization dedicated to helping all Objectivist Campus Clubs. OCN is not affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute, although we support them and regularly communicate with them to ensure our respective organizations are not duplicating efforts.

Recently we've expanded our efforts to solve a new problem: there are students interested in joining an Objectivist club where no club exists. Some of these students start their own club, but others don't have time to start a club or do not find enough participants on campus to form a club.

We've created the Virtual Objectivist Club (VOC) for these students -- a phone-based discussion group dedicated to the study of Objectivism. Meetings will be weekly, beginning this September, each moderated by an experienced Objectivist. The group is open to any current students who would like to learn more about Objectivism.

My request: Please help spread the word to any students you know who may be interested in learning more about Objectivism. The deadline for applying to the VOC is August 31st. Students can learn more and apply at: http://www.oclubs.org/voc

Please let me know if you have any questions and we greatly appreciate you sharing this with others!

Keith & the OCN Team

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

9-13 Tea Party

I received this yesterday:
www.okcteaparty.org -- Contact okcteaparty@fastmail.fm or teapartynews@gmail.com
“The Original Oklahoma City Tea Party Folks”
Post Office Box 94851, Oklahoma City, OK 73143

PRESS RELEASE
August 21, 2009

Oklahoma City – The OKC Tea Party has announced their next event, the 9-13 Solidarity March and OKC Tea Party, will be conducted the afternoon of September 13, 2009 at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Solidarity March will begin at 3:00 p.m. on the east side of the Oklahoma History Center at the intersection of Northeast 23rd Street and Kelley Avenue across from the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion. The OKC Tea Party Rally will begin 4:30 p.m. at the North steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The march and rally coincides with the Taxpayer March on D.C. scheduled in the Nation’s Capitol the same weekend.

OKC Tea Party spokesman Dan Ward describes the group as one made up of strictly volunteers that are committed to organizing rallies that allow as many Oklahomans as possible to get together and see that they are not alone in their disgust with the rapid growth of government. “Contrary to what’s been alleged, we are not controlled or funded by any political group. We don’t endorse candidates, political parties, or political activist organizations. We merely point out bad behavior and let the people decide what they need to do as individuals.”Ward said.

The crowd at the group’s last rally was estimated at between 6 - 7,000 Oklahomans and others attending from out of state. That first large Tea Party protest in Oklahoma City was conducted on April 15th (“Tax Day”) in response to the Fall 2008 bank bailout, the federal government’s ‘Stimulus’ legislation passed this Spring, and the pending takeover of General Motors and Chrysler by federal authorities. It was organized after a call was made on the air by CNBC business correspondent Rick Santelli on February 27th. As a result, over 700 other Tea Parties were conducted around the country in response to Santelli’s impromptu call for action.

According to OKC Tea Party director Margie Drescher, “Oklahomans actually have more reason to show up on September 13th. For our original rally in April, we had only perhaps two major issues that were greatly disturbing average Oklahomans. Now we see a pattern that seems relentless.” The pattern she described included the actual government takeover of GM and Chrysler, the pending Cap and Trade energy legislation and the current Presidential and Congressional effort to completely take over America’s health care system. “All of this only a select few seem to want. And when Americans find out the details, they know in their hearts and minds it is inimical to our founding principles and will greatly lower our standard of living.” she said.

The September 13th event was previously scheduled for September 12th before a conflict developed between an already scheduled event the same day, September Fest. Because the Oklahoma Highway Patrol cancelled all other scheduled events that day due to manpower concerns, the OKC Tea Party Rally and March was moved from Saturday to Sunday.

POINTS OF CONTACT FOR THIS RELEASE:

Margie Drescher, Director, OKC Tea Party – (405) 595-7622, teapartynews@gmail.com
Dan Ward, Deputy Director, OKC Tea Party – (405) 470-4756, okcteaparty@fastmail.fm

The Mission of the OKC Tea Party/Patriots In Action is to conduct premier rallies to call, educate, and inspire and motivate to action all Oklahomans and our elected representatives in order to restore out of control governments at all levels to governments that are operated according to the precepts and principles of our Founders and the limits imposed by our Founding Documents.

GOP Health Care Reform Is More of the Same

Press release from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights:
GOP Health Care Reform Is More of the Same

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 25, 2009--In a Washington Post editorial yesterday, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele offered his principles for reforming health care. While he rightly condemned the Obama plan for expanding government control over health care, Mr. Steele vowed to preserve the existing government policies and programs that are responsible for today’s health care crisis, such as Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center, writes, “If the government guarantees health care to people, costs have to skyrocket. When someone else is footing the bill for health care costs, consumers demand medical services without having to consider their real price. The artificially inflated demand this creates sends expenditures soaring out of control. It is irrelevant whether the government finances this spending spree directly, as it does with traditional Medicare, or indirectly, as with Medicare Advantage. In the end, the results are the same.

“The only way to fix the problems caused by government interference in medicine is to eliminate government interference in medicine. By returning to a truly free system where each individual is responsible for his own health care costs, we would unleash the power of capitalism in the medical industry, leading ultimately to high quality, affordable medical care for Americans. Let’s start looking at ways to phase out government interference in medicine.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Morality of Health Care

Paul Hsieh has a post at NoodleFood which is a good resource for advocates of a free market in health care.

He contends that the focus in the health care debate is shifting from economics to morality:
This is good news for free market reform advocates. . . . Most Americans want to "do the right thing", but they are sometimes mistaken as to what that right thing is. Fortunately, more and more people are raising the point that universal health care is wrong because there is no such thing as a "right" to health care.
Paul surveys some recent op-eds on the morality of health care, and includes a look at Leonard Peikoff's classic essay, "Health Care Is Not A Right".

Rights are guarantees of freedom of action. There is no such thing as a right to the product of another person's effort. This includes medicine.

Yes, we do need to reform the government's policy on health care: government needs to get completely out of the health care business and let the free market do its job.

As Anders Ingemarson put it in a letter in the Denver Post, this
. . . will result in an abundance of health care options for people of all means.

Friday, August 21, 2009

D'Souza in OKC

As a commenter reminded me, Dinesh D'Souza - author of The Enemy at Home and What’s So Great About Christianity - will be coming to Oklahoma City on February 18th. No doubt he'll be preaching to the choir. Surely he must be one of Sally Kern's favorite authors.

Elan Journo exposes D'Souza's theocratic agenda in this series of posts at Voices for Reason:
D’Souza’s Trojan Horse

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 2

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 3

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 4

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 5

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 6

WTF? Coburn to Obama: "Jump right in"

Okay, this is just downright strange: Tom Coburn telling Obama that the way to get health-care legislation moving is for Obama to get more involved in the debate?

Huh?

Did I miss something? Obama hasn't exactly been holding himself back as far as I can tell.

And Senator Coburn, just whose side are you on, anyway? Are we about to see a replay of your performance on the bank bail-out?

Tea Parties and recess rallies

"Recess rallies" will be be held across the nation tomorrow to protest Obamacare. I don't know how much response there will be to the one taking place at the Capitol tomorrow - I've only seen a couple of emails about it.

If response to recent local town halls - such as the "double-header" conducted in Oklahoma City by Mary Fallin to accomodate some 2000-3000 people - is any indication, turnout might be sizable.

I do know that the local rally is being organized by the same group of theocrats and Birchers who organized the Sooner Tea Party on July 4th. I didn't attend that rally, but videos of the speakers have been posted on YouTube.

The Sooner Tea Party group is not to be confused with the OKC Tea Party group behind the Tax Day Tea Party rally on April 15th - or are they? At the time, the OKC group was at least willing to distance itself from overt theocrats such as Sally Kern.

Since then, they shut down their discussion forums for awhile - both on Facebook and their website - but now the forums on their Facebook page are back up.

They also aligned themselves with the so-called "912" movement and they're gearing up for a "912" rally on the afternoon of Sunday, September 13th at the Capitol.

This is part of a nationwide event in which even some Objectivists are participating as speakers and even organizers in some locations. The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights is even listed as a co-sponsor of the Washington, DC rally. I wonder what Oklahoma City's theocrats and Birchers think of that?

It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine

The blog of FIRM - which stands for Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine - provides a wealth of information on the current health-care debate from a secular, free market, individual rights perspective.

It's where I found the post by Radley Balko about the Whole Foods boycott - among other things.

Check it out at http://www.westandfirm.org/blog/index.html

Balko on Whole Foods

Radley Balko had a recent post which pretty much demolishes the boycott of Whole Foods.

Mandates and real income of real people

There's an interesting post on NoodleFood about how much Obamacare will actually cost an average person.

Here are a couple of excerpts:
If the House of Representatives proposal passes, I expect that my premiums will be right at the legal maximum of 12% where subsidies kick in... assuming that my income doesn't rise past the threshold where a single man is ineligible for help! It averages around $40K, so 12% is $400 a month. I know I can't afford to pay that; I used to pay that much for Blue Cross, and it left me under chronic financial stress. So I'm planning to pay the penalties; 2.5% is $1K a year, which will hurt me, but it won't completely wipe me out. On the other hand, I can't see how it's supposed to help me maintain my health.
and
All income redistribution strikes me as ethically dubious, but income redistribution from the young and poor to the old and nonpoor seems hard to justify in terms of the values the Democratic Party claims to support.

What the health care bill actually says

Here's John David Lewis with his thoughts on the actual text - as of August 10th - of sections of HR3200, the "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009" bill.

Want to read the entire bill?

Here ya go.

It's intervention that has failed

Yaron Brook tweeted that he and John Allison will be making a presentation at New York University. They're calling it:
A Failure of Government Meddling -- Capitalism is the Cure for the Financial Crisis
PERFECT!!!

Now if I could just figure out how to get these guys to come to Oklahoma City . . .

Sports and selfishness

Here's an interesting article that is sure to generate discussion among Objectivists and other sports fans alike:
Allen Iverson and the Virtue of Selfishness
I especially appreciate how the author, Roger Pimentel, points out that selfishness and cooperation don't automatically and necessarily conflict.

Though Pimentel contrasts the career - and character - of Allen Iverson with that of Howard Roark in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, referring to Iverson as one of the great 'creators' of basketball, he doesn't mention what Iverson himself thinks of Rand, or if Iverson is even aware of Rand.

Sports strikes me as being a natural venue for the promotion of Objectivist morality, due partly to the overwhelming popularity of sports as well as its being an area where the pursuit of the best is on display. Personally, I think the emphasis on selflessness in sports is misplaced, especially in those sports where athletes compete as individuals, and has always struck me as being unnatural, forced and unconvincing. It played a major role in turning me off of athletics when I was younger.

Via Randex

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Capitalism is an ideology - and there's nothing wrong with that

I'm glad to see that there has been an ongoing discussion - in the letters section of the Oklahoma Gazette - of the issues raised in a story about 'urban foraging' in the Gazette's July 8th issue ("Foragers and 'freegans'" by Heide Brandes). My own contribution to this discussion appeared in the July 22nd edition.

There's an excellent letter in this week's Gazette by Scott A. Eden of Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, the Gazette does not post letters online, so you'll have to pick up a paper copy to read it.

The letter refers to the 'freeganism' espoused by Matt Zitterkob in the original July 8th story - specifically Zitterkob's condemnation of Capitalism (which Zitterkob reiterated in a letter in the July 29th issue).

Eden largely concerns his letter with the issue of how much actual Capitalism actually exists in this country (not nerely enough) and whether Capitalism is actually to blame for the ills Zitterkob ascribes to it (No).

Eden goes on to correctly identify the government as the true cause of the ills cited by Zitterkob.

Here's the last paragraph of Eden's letter:
Fancy yourself a hero for the oppressed if you wish, but when karma comes calling, don't say capitalism was to blame.
Great stuff, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, the letter is not perfect - earlier it seems to veer into pragmatism by disparaging ideology:
Capitalism is not a political philosophy, unlike a half-baked, coffee house notion of Marxism.
If Capitalism is not a political philosophy, what is it? Eden does not answer this question, and further on asserts that Zitterkob's condemnation of Capitalism is
. . . nothing more than ideology masquerading as serious theory.
Why is ideology a bad thing? Eden doesn't say: he simply uses the word as a smear.

Any system of ideas may be referred to as an ideology - there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Some ideologies actually are, in fact, serious theories. But attacking your opponents for having an ideology is attacking them for taking the trouble to think about their ideas enough to see how they relate to each other and interact with each other to form a system. This is a swipe at systems, at intellectual effort - and ultimately at philosophy itself.

To attack your opponents for having an ideology is to attack them for taking ideas seriously - and to suggest that you do not.

It's a shame such a thing has to mar such an otherwise excellent letter.

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Rule of Reason.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whole Foods CEO opposes Obamacare

I wonder what the people who want to bring a Whole Foods market to Oklahoma City think of this?
The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Commercial speech should be free, too

Here's a column from Jack Willis that stands up for commercial speech. It's from the Oklahoma Gazette - somehow I managed to overlook it when it was printed a couple of weeks ago.

While I applaud Willis' stand in favor of freedom in this realm - particularly his recognition that commercial speech is still speech and should be entitled to protection under the First Amendment - the quote from Mark Thomas of the Oklahoma Press Association makes him look appallingly naive considering how oppressive restrictions on commercial and political speech are already.

Yes, the American people do need to stand up for themselves and demand the repeal of those restrictions.

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Titanic Deck Chairs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More on town halls

Here's a story in today's The Oklahoman that includes video of a town hall with Tom Cole yesterday in Moore.

According to the story, 500 people showed up. Check out the comments, as well.

Tulsa mayoral candidate says putting creationism display in zoo is top priority

Falling says putting Christian creationism display in the Tulsa Zoo is top priority

Republican mayoral candidate Anna Falling said Tuesday that putting a Christian creationism display in the Tulsa Zoo is No. 1 in importance among city issues that include violent crime, budget woes and bumpy streets.

“It’s first,” she said to calls of “hallelujah” at a rally outside the zoo. “If we can’t come to the foundation of faith in this community, those other answers will never come. We need to first of all recognize the fact that God needs to be honored in this city.”
Right.

Well, I guess that has to go right up there with Sally Kern's assertion that homosexuality is a greater threat to the country than terrorism.

So much for the rationality of the religious right.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

OK town halls OK so far

(Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

The Oklahoman has a story this morning on town hall meetings being conducted across the state by members of Congress.

According to Frank Lucas' press secretary, Leslie Shield,
. . . about 250 people showed up for the meeting in Altus, "which is huge."

"In general, people have been more frustrated than usual," she said. "They don’t seem to be as angry as some of the (town hall crowds) you see on TV. People are just frustrated right now and they don’t think their government is listening to them."
Why isn't the government listening? A commenter - Amber, Norman, 9:05 AM - provides a clue in the form of a her interpretation of a letter by Tom Cole:
While I appreciate your opinion, I believe that you sent me to Washington so that I can decide what is best for you and vote accordingly.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

White House calls for 'tracking' of health-care critics

Well, I wonder how Obama is going to deal with this one. Here it is - straight off the White House website:
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

(Emphasis mine)
Sure looks to me like he's asking private citizens to monitor each other's private conversations.

Via Rational Jenn & ChristineMMTTM on Twitter.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Allison, Rand and Objectivism in the New York Times

While it's difficult to judge the impact such exposure could have, I personally think that the fact that the paper considered to be the premier bastion of liberalism in the country would print, not just a detailed, but a genuinely honest appraisal of Objectivism's current impact on the culture, could safely be described as huge.

The article, printed in today's edition, describes John Allison's leadership of BB&T Bank in the context of the current cultural impact of Objectivism in light of the meteoric rise in sales of Atlas Shrugged this year.

Here are a few nuggets from the piece, which quotes, not just Allison, but figures such as Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute, as well:
Give BB&T Liberty, but Not a Bailout

"To say man is bad because he is selfish is to say (he's) bad because he’s alive."(Emphasis mine)

. . .

"For his part, Mr. Brook is encouraged by the new interest in Ms. Rand’s work, but feels that it has yet to have much impact on the political debate. He’s also struggling to change a popular perception that the financial crisis was caused by deregulation and the fiscal policies of a top Rand disciple: Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman.

Mr. Brook argues that the problem wasn’t deregulation, but “misregulation.” He also says it’s unfortunate that Mr. Greenspan continues to be associated with Ms. Rand. While the two were close in the 1960s and ’70s, Mr. Greenspan abandoned objectivism decades ago, he says. Through a spokesman, Mr. Greenspan declined to comment."

. . .

"Fiscal conservatives . . . find much to praise in Ms. Rand’s economic views. Yet even for that crowd, her social views are a tougher sell.

Ms. Rand was an ardent atheist who considered the cross a symbol of how "a man of perfect virtue" sacrificed himself for a bunch of losers. "It is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors," she said."

. . .

"The last 50 years have been an orgy of placing need above wealth creation, above personal pursuit of happiness," Mr. Brook says. "I think we are seeing the consequences of that today."

. . .

"Mr. Allison says the government forced BB&T and some other healthy banks to accept TARP money to obscure that they were simply trying to save several large banks like Citigroup.

"Everyone thinks we got some kind of subsidy," he says, noting that his company paid the money back in June, with interest. "It’s going to cost us about $250 million for money we didn’t want.""

. . .

"Mr. Allison cites two examples in which the bank’s philosophy guided its real-world decisions.

After the Supreme Court upheld the right of local governments in 2005 to condemn private property and hand it to someone else for commercial development, he says, BB&T refused to make loans to developers who obtained property that way.

He also says BB&T decided not to offer the controversial "pick a payment" mortgages that got so many of its competitors into trouble. Such loans, also known as "option A.R.M.’s" or "negative amortization loans," allow borrowers to make payments that don’t even cover the interest on the loans, which causes the amount they owe to grow."

. . .

""We believe Rand’s concept of the ‘trader principle,’ where life is about trading value for value, where both parties benefit from the transaction," he says."

. . .

"In some ways, Ayn Rand filled in the ideas of Aristotle. It’s a whopping competitive advantage," he says. "I personally believe objectivism will be the dominant philosophy in this country in 25 years."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Town halls gone wild

Constituents dissatisfied with the performance of their representatives in Congress appear to be turning increasingly to their Congressperson's town hall meetings to make their feelings known, according to this story on Yahoo!

It will be interesting to see how the town hall meetings of Oklahoma's Congressional delegation go during the August recess.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Are conservatives going to save socialism again?

This title of a post at Ego sums up my sentiments regarding the so-called health-care "debate" exactly.

Some debate. Conservatives are scrambling over themselves to offer the same health-care industry take-over as Obama - and they have the nerve to call it an "alternative". Yes, that includes "true-blue" (or maybe I should say "true-red"?) conservatives such as Coburn and Fallin - even Jim DeMint!

Oh wait - it was a conservative who started this current craze in the first place: the "ultra-conservative" Mitt Romney in Massachusetts (as pointed out in the post I linked to).

The hypocrisy of conservatives would be laughable were it not for the fact that it's MY FREEDOM that's at stake.

They're ALL addicted to government.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Antitrust rears its ugly head

What appears to be a massive offensive by the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, which could have every potential to further hobble an economy already battered by governmental mismanagement from the Obama administration and its predecessors, seems to have been stalled - thank goodness! - by politics-as-usual.
NY Times: Antitrust Chief Hits Resistance in Crackdown

The right to health care

Here's a letter in today's The Oklahoman from a person who seems to have a better-than-average grasp of the actual nature of rights:
The only one

I’ve heard a lot lately that health care is a right. I thought about that and reflected on the rights that the Founders determined needed to be clearly defined, in the Bill of Rights. Obviously, health care wasn’t mentioned, but there was something that struck me about the rights enshrined. When you think of the more commonly defined rights — speech, religion, assembly, bearing arms — think of this: While all these are protected from the government, none can be compelled upon you. You can’t be forced to speak, read or write a paper, join a religious group, participate in a rally or carry a weapon.

Apparently, though, this "right” of health care is so vital that the federal government must mandate and require, under penalty of law, that you participate.

Steve Curry, Oklahoma City
It's one of several letters printed today from people opposed to Obama's health care plan.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who creates your value?

Here's that letter I wrote to the Oklahoma Gazette, in response to the letter by Brett Thomasson in last week's edition. My letter has been printed in this week's - July 22nd - edition.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT

While I find much to agree with in Brett Thomasson's letter ("'Free' advice") in the July 15, 2009 Oklahoma Gazette, I do take exception with his assertion that Matt Zitterkob is more dependent on capitalism "as a parasite than as the low-level worker he was before, since he now contributes nothing to society."

A person's capacity to support himself has nothing to do with his "contributions to society". Such an idea fosters the impression that your value is somehow tied to or ultimately determined by society, leading to the notion that "society owes me" - which leads to such ideas as "freeganism" and "urban foraging" in the first place.

Supporting yourself by productive work, on the other hand, is an expression of your capacity to uphold your own value - which is bestowed upon you, not by society, but by your own judgement. While capitalism recognizes that a free society makes it possible for people to trade their efforts for the values they need to sustain their lives - and to determine for themselves the terms of that trade, including price - productive work to create those values would be required to survive even if you were alone on a deserted island. For if your food could not be "foraged" in such a place, then it would have to hunted or grown before you could eat it.

That is, it would have to be created by your own effort. And not merely physical effort, but thought as well.

Rob Abiera
Oklahoma City
I didn't come up with the title "Food for thought", the editors at the Gazette did. But it strikes me that it conveys one of the main points of my letter perfectly: thought is required to create food, and thought is the 'coin' which pays for the food - the thought required to choose the specific physical efforts which will result in the production of the food. In a very real sense, one does trade thought, itself, for food.

So: "food for thought", indeed!

An observation

Something just occured to me as I was re-reading my last post. I'm sure the same thing has occured to other readers, as well.

It has to do with this line:
"The government can create coalitions of private companies, . . . "
Now, it occured to me that when private companies form private coalitions, that's a trust and it has to be busted. Hence, the antitrust laws. It would also be considered anti-competitive, as well. As such, it would attract the attention of the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, as well as the SEC, the FTC, and who knows what other agencies - including various and sundry Congressional committees, who would consider such a thing an unmitigated evil (which it is not, of course).

But when the government does it, suddenly it is - somehow - not so evil.

Hmmm . . .

Will Obama's health care plan outlaw private insurance?

From IBD:
Still Not An Option

EXCERPTS: "Not fully trusting our own interpretation, we asked for confirmation from the House Ways and Means Committee. Sources there agreed: The bill would indeed shut down the individual private health care insurance market.

Our impression was further confirmed Monday when Rep. Dave Camp, the ranking member on Ways and Means, told us that "any existing plan will not be able to enroll members." There will be "a prohibition," the Michigan Republican said, "on enrolling individuals in private health plans" after the bill becomes law in 2013.

It was also confirmed by Ways and Means staff director Cybele Bjorklund, who, in response to questions from Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin during a committee markup session, admitted last week that insurance providers "cannot create new policies outside of that window outside of the exchange.""

. . .

"In trying to prove the exchange will be a private market, the bill's own supporters actually prove our point. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., complains in a letter on the next page that last week's editorial is "factually incorrect and highly misleading" yet admits three paragraphs later that outside the exchange, providers "can't continue to market" existing "policies to new customers."

Waxman, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also claims the legislation "will create a transparent insurance marketplace," apparently unaware that government cannot create a market. The government can create coalitions of private companies, which are eventually co-opted by the state. And it has given itself the power to seize private companies, as with General Motors.

But it cannot fabricate a market. Anyone who thinks it can, does not know how markets work."
IBD's evidence looks pretty damning to me.
"The government can create coalitions of private companies, . . . "
Isn't that what fascist states do?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Did church newspaper commit forgery?

Did the Baptist Messenger, the newspaper of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, deliberately attempt to mislead people into thinking that Governor Brad Henry and Secretary of State Susan Savage signed Sally Kern's "Morality Proclamation"?

That's what The Lost Ogle alleged today - and the Messenger has apparently taken the allegations seriously enough to believe they are worth apologizing for.

The Messenger, in a "Message from the Editor" claims "oversight and error" but the evidence presented on The Lost Ogle seems to be pretty damning.

A Great Achievement

Today is the 40th anniversary of the day when human beings first set foot on the moon - one of the all-time great events in human history.

An excerpt from Ayn Rand's article on Apollo 11 is online at the website of the Ayn Rand Institute:
. . . Apollo 11 enacted the story of an audacious purpose, its execution, its triumph, and the means that achieved it—the story and the demonstration of man’s highest potential.
A recording of her lecture, "Apollo and Dionysus" is also online at the Institute's site.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Induction

NoodleFood contributor Roderick Fitts has a new blog which could be of interest to everyone interested in Induction and its place in Objectivism.
Inductive Quest
(via Objectivist Round Up!)

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Titanic Deck Chairs.

Even trash must be created before it can be re-distributed

Good letter in this week's Oklahoma Gazette:
'FREE' ADVICE

Regarding the Heide Brandes story "Foragers and 'freegans'" in the July 8, 2009 Oklahoma Gazette:

Matt Zitterkob overlooks several important points in his analysis of his lifestyle. He is, of course, still dependent upon the capitalism he disdains, since the free food he scrounges was produced, processed, packaged, shipped and so on by persons who are part of that system. He is perhaps more dependent on it as a parasite than as the low-level worker he was before, since he now contributes nothing to society - unlike all of those involved in the production of the thrown-out food he eats - and earns nothing with which to navigate within it.

The entire "freegan" movement is based on the idea of, "You work, I don't, and you can feed the both of us whether you want to or not." I suspect that many people in Third World nations who forage for food because no other option exists would marvel at a society where such actions are unnecessary but which produces people who choose to do them anyway.

After they got done laughing at them, that is.

- Brett Thomasson
Newcastle
Good, that is, except for the part about 'contributing to society'.

I'm not going to post my thoughts on that here because I like what I came up with so much that I sent it in as a Letter to the Editor to the Gazette! I'll post it when (& if) it gets printed!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Diana Hsieh on altruism

The Demanding Altruist
It's always good to remind people that
It is the egoist, not the altruist, who values other people.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ed Cline's Tea Party speech

In addition to his columns at The Rule of Reason, Mr. Cline is also the author of the Sparrowhawk series of novels about the American Revolution.
The New Tea Parties: An Overture to Reclaiming Our Lost Freedom

EXCERPT: "It is time for Americans to understand that it is not merely a political fight they have on their hands, but a moral one. They must reject the moral code that asks them to live for the sake of other men -- what else could TARP, or the takeover of General Motors, or of the tobacco industry, or of the energy industry, of the insurance industry, or of the health care business mean, but for you to sacrifice your right to your life and your money and property for the sake of others -- and proudly, loudly proclaim the selfish virtue of individual rights, which has been the source of all the wealth and prosperity that we enjoy but which Obama and Congress seek to destroy through socialist redistribution."

(Emphasis mine.)
Sally Kern and her cohorts are wrong when they claim that the United States of America was founded on Christianity. Where in the Bible does it say that every human being has the absolute right to pursue his or her own happiness in this life on this earth? Every time they assert that this country was meant to be governed by the Christian morality of selflessness and sacrifice they are aiding and abetting the enemy.

The Founding Fathers were acting on a profoundly selfish desire to live their own lives as they saw fit when they created this country. They saw that true freedom was gained not by anarchy and the complete elimination of government, but by recognizing that government has only one legitimate function, which is the protection of individual rights, and that those rights protected men's freedom by restricting the government to that sole purpose.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Twittering OCON

Some interesting tweets at #OCON this morning:

Apparently, Objectivist historian Eric Daniels holds that the slaves weren't freed by Christianity. I've seen quite a few claims from religionists here that it did. Daniels says they are misreading the historical data.

Daniels also says the way to respond to claims of the Constitution being a religious document is to look at what ministers of the time thought of it.

(via KendallJu - apparently not all tweets tagged #OCON are showing up in searches this morning)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by One Reality.

In addition to commentary and analysis from an Objectivist perspective, this week's edition features several Independence Day Tea Party reports.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Objectivists at the Boston Tea Party

Makes me wish I had been in Boston yesterday: not only would I have missed yesterday's thunderstorms and gotten to see some spectacular fireworks, but the July 4th Boston Tea Party had a major Objectivist presence, including no less than 3 Objectivist speakers: John Ridpath, John Lewis and Yaron Brook. Guess it helps when the Objectivist Conference is taking place there at the same time!

And according to their Facebook page, 1000 copies of the Objectivist student newspaper, The Undercurrent, were handed out at the event!

Here in Oklahoma I've seen no mention in media reports of the speakers at yesterday's Sooner Tea Party here in Oklahoma City. Maybe the organizers don't want the identities of the speakers to be known for some reason?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Boycotting the Tea Party

Ayn Rand always maintained that capitalism's alleged friends, the conservatives, were doing more to undermine it than its avowed enemies.

This is why I will not be attending the July 4th Tea Party being held in Oklahoma City tomorrow. I have learned that Charlie Meadows, chair of OCPAC - Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee - will be a "featured" speaker. Mr. Meadows is an avowed theocrat and no friend of freedom: he is one of those who uses free market rhetoric to put over a religious agenda.

The fact that Mr. Meadows has been chosen for such a position seems to substantiate my concerns that the the Tea Party movement in Oklahoma is being taken over by the Religious Right. The Tulsa Tea Party has allowed itself to be used by openly theocratic candidates to promote their campaigns and the OKC Tea Party organizers are promoting the 912 groups of religious conservatives.

On top of this, the OKC Tea Party organizers have shut down their discussion board at okcteaparty.org and removed the discussion forums from their Facebook page.

The organizers of the July 4th event have not even announced a program for their event tomorrow.

These people are not friends of freedom and I want nothing further to do with them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Objectivist Round Up - Independence Day Edition

Hosted by Rational Jenn!

You might also want to check out Jenn's The Toddler: A Case Study - particularly if you're the parent of one!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rebutting Sally

Tyler Douse, a research assistant at the US Senate, offers the following rebuttal to some of the quotations used by Sally Kern in her "Oklahoma Citizen's Proclamation for Morality":
FACT CHECK:

John Adams
"It is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.”
• The quotation says nothing about the powers of the federal government to influence religion
• Furthermore, the U.S. Senate ratified, and John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli, in which Art. 11 states: As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

James Madison
"We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."
• This statement appears nowhere in the writings or recorded utterances of James Madison and is completely contradictory to his character as a strong proponent of the separation of church and state. (http://web.archive.org/web/20030620063744/http://www.au.org/press/pr4401.htm) (http://web.archive.org/web/20020215050032/http://www.au.org/churchstate/cs3014.htm)

Benjamin Franklin
"Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God.”
• Franklin was never as outspoken on this issue and Jefferson or Madison, but he did leave behind a quote that lets us in on what he thought: Writing to his friend Richard Price on Oct. 9, 1780, Franklin expressed his dismay with government-imposed religion. Observed Franklin, “When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are obliged to call for the help of the Civil Power, ‘tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
• Long known as a deist and a champion of the European enlightenment, Franklin was also famous for his religious tolerance and his desire to see all faiths live together in peace. “I have ever let others enjoy their religious sentiments without reflecting on them for those who appeared to me unsupportable and even absurd,” he wrote at age 84. (http://blog.au.org/2006/01/17/happy_birthday_/)

Thomas Jefferson
"God who gave us life gave us liberty and can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God.”
• The quotation says nothing about the powers of the federal government to influence religion. The quotation is taken out of context. Yes, Jefferson said this, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of separation. This quotation is taken from a famous letter in which he argues against slavery; Jefferson believed that slavery violated a person's God-given freedom. This does not imply that Jefferson thought that the state had the power to aid religion.

Joseph Story
"Whether any free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of Religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state.”
• The quotation says nothing about the powers of the federal government to influence religion and is taken completely out of context. Story did believe in support of religion on the state level, but he rejected federal power over religion; this quote leaves the opposite impression.

Patrick Henry
"This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians"
• Another spurious quotation. These words appear nowhere in the writings or recorded utterances of Patrick Henry.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A call for the separation of economy and state

Excellent piece by Alex Epstein at ARC's Voices for Reason blog.

Alex identifies the reason why I have no use or patience for Sally Kern and the religious right, much less conservatives in general:
Some will say that separation of economy and state is too radical a goal. To be sure, this goal will take time—and a roadmap—to reach. But it is the only valid destination. Where liberty is concerned, “moderation” is suicide. Patrick Henry did not say “Give me a small rollback in government or give me death.” He said: give me liberty. So should we.
A radical reduction in the size of government is long overdue. Government needs to get out of the way of the freedom it was created to protect: laws need to be repealed, regulations need to be eliminated and government agencies need to be closed.

Yet, conservatives from Sally Kern to Randy Brogdon to Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe have done little more than tinker with details. The dirty little secret of the religious right is that they have a miserable track record when it comes to actually shrinking the government. They complain about a lack of "political will" to reduce the size of government while exalting "the will of the people" over individual rights. That they have done so little while government grows by leaps and bounds tells me that they are no real friends of freedom.

The spirit of the Tea Party movement is the exact opposite of what the Religious Right really wants.

Indeed, the efforts of such as Sally Kern to use government force to impose her moral values on all of us leads me to believe that theirs is a lust for power every bit the equal of the most dyed-in-the-wool communist.

What we need now are not milquetoasts such as Kern, Brogdon and Coburn, but candidates who have the guts to fight for freedom for the sake of freedom, and who know that the only way to achieve that is to uphold individual rights and cut away everything the government does to infringe those rights. If you want to know what that kind of a candidate might look like, watch Yaron Brook at the Virginia Republican Convention.

Sally Kern tells a whopper

Forget Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Forget the Federal Reserve - and Alan Greenspan. Forget Countrywide. Forget everything else you've been told about the true cause of the economic crisis.

Sally Kern's here to tell us what really happened! According to her "Oklahoma Citizen's Proclamation for Morality", the economic crisis was caused by abortion and homosexuality and other well-worn religious right straw men - supposed manifestations of a "downturn of morality", not by the government's efforts at forcing altruism on all of us.

The cause - as well as the solution - is morality alright, but which one? Poor Sally dares not question her own Christian version of altruism because if she did she'd find it was merely the same anti-self code practiced by the liberals she loves to hate. But the fact remains that it was the government's efforts to promote home ownership without the responsibility to go along with it - including coercing banks into giving loans to people who would not be able to repay them - that is the direct cause of the housing collapse which led to the crisis.

And while Sally seems eager to pin the blame on Obama, the fact remains that much of the fault for creating this crisis lies with people who were motivated by their own Christianity to attempt - suicidally - to put selflessness into action.

Sally, doesn't the Bible say something about not bearing false witness?

No, Sally, this crisis was not caused by abortion or same-sex marriage. It was caused by altruism in all its variations, religious and secular.

And the only real cure is not more mindlessness, selflessness and sacrifice.

The only real cure is rational selfishness. It is people who are rationally motivated by selfishness to reject a government that would coerce them into practicing values they have not chosen for themselves. People who accept the facts of reality and understand that responsibility is only possible to those who are free to accept it and act on it.

There is no such thing as "responsible freedom" or any other kind of conditional freedom. Responsibility is possible only under freedom for the sake of freedom.

That is the only kind of moral revolution that will make the future of the human race possible.

Atlas Shrugged on display

According to a recent email from the Ayn Rand Center, Borders and Waldenbooks will soon have floor displays featuring Atlas Shrugged in several hundred of their stores. This is undoubtedly in response to the explosion in sales of Atlas, which have tripled this year. Barnes and Noble recently did the same thing at many of its stores.

This being the case, I may have to consider amending my personal policy considering Borders and Waldenbooks, which I have been boycotting ever since they refused to carry the April/May, 2006 issue of Free Inquiry for publishing the so-called "Mohammed cartoons". Their craven act of cowardice showed them to be no friends of the freedom of speech and press.

I may actually get around to dropping in at the Borders on NW Expressway to see if they have a display, and it will be interesting to see if there is a display at the Waldenbooks in Penn Square Mall - it doesn't even have a philosophy section!

The First Amendment and the Supreme Court

Wow! Campaign finance laws are the biggest threat to freedom of speech today, and it looks like the Supreme Court may be getting ready to do something about it.

According to a press release by the Institute for Justice:
The U.S. Supreme Court today ordered a new round of oral arguments in Citizens United v. FEC, the “Hillary: The Movie” case. The Court wants parties to address whether Austin v. Michigan, a case that bans certain political speech by corporations, including nonprofit corporations such as Citizens United, should be overturned. The Court also wants to consider whether part of McConnell v. FEC, upholding the so-called “electioneering communications” ban in McCain-Feingold, should likewise be overturned and the ban struck down entirely.

“The Court has set up a blockbuster case about Americans’ First Amendment rights to join together and speak freely about politics,” said Steve Simpson, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Citizens United v. FEC. “A majority of the High Court appears to recognize the grave threat to free speech posed by both the electioneering communications ban in McCain-Feingold and the ban on corporate political speech. This case could mark a significant advance for First Amendment rights and will have major implications for state laws nationwide.”
(Via NoodleFood)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The freest city in the freest country

Brian Phillips explains why he thinks Houston, Texas is the freest city in the country.

The metaphysical versus the man-made

Excellent post by Brian Phillips on the Texas Open Beaches Act.

Apparently some of TOBA's supporters want the government to be treated as the "metaphysically given": something which has always existed, cannot be changed and must not be judged.

Universal Health Care

Good cartoon in today's The Oklahoman.

It brings to mind the passage in Atlas Shrugged where Dr. Hendricks explains his reasons for going on strike to Dagny Taggart:
"I have often wondered at the smugness with which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind - yet what is it that they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands?"

Improve visa system to keep smart foreigners

Editorial in today's The Oklahoman on immigration reform.

The editorial refers to issues raised in An Irreplaceable Individual.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An Irreplaceable Individual

In my post, "Who do you think you are?", I wrote of individuals who are so good at their jobs that not just anybody could come along and replace them.
If you quit and disappear, who will come along and replace you? Will that person have the same value to your employer as you do? Will he or she be able to do your job as well as you can?
I was attempting to express the point that an individual is an end in himself.

Today's The Oklahoman has a story which seems tailor-made to illustrate this point: Tatyana Golubeva was the first employee hired by Oklahoma City's PL Studios. According to CEO Piyush Patel,
"She is really the foundation of our company,” Patel said. "The technology that’s locked up in her head — it would take five years to transfer that technology to someone else.”

PL Studios even considered opening an office in Russia because of Golubeva’s presence there, Patel said.
Golubeva lived in the US for 13 years but has been forced to return to Russia because of a visa issue.

Here is an example of the uniqueness of the individual: Golubeva seems so indispensable to PL Studios that the company might not even be able to exist were it not for her.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sooner Tea Party

Apparently I spoke - or wrote - too soon when I said the July 4th Tea Party in Oklahoma City had been canceled.

Another organizer has stepped in and has reserved the State Capitol grounds for the morning of July 4th, from 10AM to noon. There is a Facebook page for this event as well as a website: www.soonerteaparty.org.

The website features a link to the John Birch Society. If they are involved, I may be staying away from this event.

We'll see.