Friday, May 22, 2009

The morality of licensing

Paul Hsieh has a great post at NoodleFood of a discussion with Steve Simpson of the Institute for Justice about state licensing.

Check it out!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights has a new video website called ARCTV!

Check it out!

(via Twitter)

Tulsa World on Gov. Henry's signing of Ten Commandments bill

Holy Moses

Government: What good is it?

While at first glance I might be inclined to agree with this Tulsa World cartoon by Bruce Plante, I think the title will be construed by too many as a dismissal of government as such. In this I include those who are fond of equating any criticism of the growth of government power - or advocacy of restraining such growth - with the irrational hatred of government demonstrated by Timothy McVeigh when he blew up the Murrah Building.

Instead, I choose to take the title at face value: as an invitation to explore the true value of government, and answer that government is a value only when it restricted solely to the protection of individual rights.

Anytime government steps beyond that role, it becomes, instead, a destroyer of value. Plante's cartoon does an excellent job of illustrating this.

WSJ on California tax vote

Golden (State) Opportunity
EXCERPT: "Tuesday's vote was a voter cry that the state needs more such restraints, and now is the time to push them. First, California needs a sturdy cap on the rate of spending growth. Thirty years ago this November, when California's economy was in a similar rut, three-quarters of the voters approved the famous Gann Amendment. That limited the annual growth rate of spending to population growth and inflation.

The result was that California's annual average rate of spending growth after inflation fell to 2% through the 1980s from 9% in the 1970s. California's state per-capita expenditures fell to 16th in the nation in 1990 from 7th in 1979. The economy soared, growing by 121% -- 14% faster than the U.S. average. The Gann limits were effectively neutered in 1988 and 1990 by initiatives that exempted education and transportation from the cap."
Emphasis mine.

Objectivist Round Up

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reducing government creates jobs

Cutting the government's budget actually does wonders for the economy, according to Yaron Brook in this segment of Pajamas TV:
TERMINATED: California Voters Say "No More Spending!" - Will the State get a Bailout?
Brook mentions that more jobs were created in Texas last year than in all 49 other states combined, thanks to Texas' relatively freer economy - with no state income tax or sales tax - and a legislature that meets for only three months every other year.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

When Paulson said to the banks: "Sign the Gift Certificates or else."

Business Insider has actual documents from the October 13th meeting between former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and the heads of nine major banks. It was at this meeting that the bankers were "encouraged" to sign agreements to sell shares in their banks to the government.
Documents Reveal How Paulson Forced Banks To Take TARP Cash
Note the statement in the first document:
If a capital infusion is not appealing, you should be aware that your regulator will require it in any circumstance.
Here, then, are the actual "Gift Certificates" signed at that meeting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Will altruism destroy the private jet industry?

Thanks to a perception that private jets are a luxury corporations can do without during a crisis, the private jet industry is nose-diving as corporations get rid of their planes, according to a report on
Thanks to layoffs at Cessna, General Dynamics and Hawker Beechcraft, over 12,000 general aviation manufacturing jobs have been lost in recent months, but it's not just the plane makers that are hurting. Pilots, mechanics, dealers and others who make their living serving those planes are also feeling the heat. Jay Mesinger, who runs a corporate jet brokerage business in Colorado, says his sales plunged 50 percent in 2008 and he expects further drops this year. With orders for new planes being deferred and the market flooded with used aircraft, firms that supply the manufacturers with everything from seats to avionics are downsizing, too.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

“If you don’t understand the risk you’re taking, don’t take it.”

We’re Dull, Small Banks Say, but Have Profits

EXCERPT: In states like Indiana, where property values never soared, community banks have been rock solid. The last failure in the state was in 1992.

To spend time with these Indiana community bankers is to step into an alternate universe, where everything sounds a little strange because it makes perfect sense. You hear things like, “If you don’t understand the risk you’re taking, don’t take it.” And, “We want to be around for decades, so we’re not focused on the next quarter.”

Forget “too big to fail.” These banks consider themselves too small to risk embarrassment. They are run by people who grew up in the towns where they work, and their main fear is getting into a financial jam that will shame them in the eyes of their neighbors.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chavez seizes assets of Tulsa oil company

According to the Journal Record, the Venezuelan government has used a payment dispute as an excuse to nationalize assets of Tulsa-based Williams Company.

Williams sent Venezuela state oil company, Petroleos, a default notice
after what a Williams press release called “a long period of non-payment by Petroleos de Venezuela,”

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

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

My latest letter in the Gazette is one of the entries!

Government wants more power

The FDIC's Sheila Bair wants to use the "too big to fail" excuse to expand the government's control over banks:

“Part of the problem is nobody really has a mandate for the whole system right now,” she said.

. . .

Ms. Bair also said that Congress should create incentives to shrink the size of the nation’s too-big-to-fail institutions, perhaps by demanding that they set aside far greater capital reserves or contribute more money to insurance programs that would help in closing them if they stumbled again.

. . .

She advocated giving the F.D.I.C., or some other entity, the legal authority to quickly manage the closing and resolution of “systemically important institutions” — in addition to giving the F.D.I.C. the power to shut down bank holding companies — just as it now has with individual troubled banks.
And of course, politicians will decide who is too "systemically important" and who isn't.

Victim withdraws sanction

One of Chrysler's creditors is refusing to submit to Obama's fascism:
A Hero Speaks Up for Hedge Funds

EXCERPT: "One businessman has finally said NO. Cliff Asness, hedge fund manager at AQR Capital Management, has declared in an open letter that he is “entitled to [his] voice and to speak it loudly.” Despite intimidation from the Obama administration and the general public, he has refused to “intentionally ’sacrifice’” his clients’ money without their permission.

A particularly good line from Asness’s letter:

“The President’s attempted diktat takes money from bondholders and gives it to a labor union that delivers money and votes for him. Why is he not calling on his party to “sacrifice” some campaign contributions, and votes, for the greater good? Shaking down lenders for the benefit of political donors is recycled corruption and abuse of power.”

He concludes: “I am ready for my “personalized” tax rate now.”"

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tea Parties and selfishness

I have a letter in the latest issue of the Oklahoma Gazette , just out today, May 6th.
Wanda Jo Stapleton, in her letter in the April 22 Oklahoma Gazette ("Selfishness to a 'Tea'"), accused those organizing and attending the Tax Day Tea Parties of being motivated by selfishness.

I cannot speak for the other attendees - nor was I an organizer - and will not pretend that I can read their minds and tell you what their motives were. But I will stand up, speak for myself, and proudly declare, "You're damn right I'm motivated by selfishness!"

As an "autonomous individual with an independent mind" (to borrow the words of John Lewis from a speech he gave at a Tea Party rally in Charlotte, N.C.), I am proud that - by using my own rationality - I can identify and choose my own values and discover the means to achieve them.

This makes it possible for me to live my own life. I don't need a brother to keep me and I certainly don't need a Big Brother in the form of the government pretending to do that. If it's possible for me to live without a brother to keep me, it's possible for other human beings to live that way, as well.

Nor is it necessary for me to hurt anyone else to get what I want out of life, since I create or trade for my values. Further, I believe that if I can get what I want out of life without hurting anybody, it should be possible for everyone else to get what they want without hurting me and each other. I hold that dealing with such harm when it does happen is the only legitimate reason for any government to exist.

Unfortunately, conventional morality rejects all of that. Altruism assumes that reason is inherently flawed, that human beings are incapable of surviving on their own two feet, and worse: that human nature is inherently destructive. Is it any wonder that both liberals and conservatives always end up pushing for an ever-expanding government to be our brothers' keeper?

Under such circumstances, the budget of that government will keep growing and growing - along with taxes - because no one will have the courage to stand up and say "NO!" And what society under the influence of altruism will want them to? Members of such a society will consider it their duty to pass along their unpaid bills to future generations, until reality steps in and pulls the rug out from under them, plunging them into a downward spiral of recession, unemployment, inflation, depression and worse.

All of this was made clear by Ayn Rand in her novel, "Atlas Shrugged," which is probably why it is currently enjoying unprecedented sales. While many of those who participated in the Tea Parties across the country are aware of Rand's ideas, not all of them are in agreement with her ideas about morality - in fact, most probably aren't. And this is a shame, for without an understanding of the underlying reasons for our leaders' actions and the resulting economic crisis, those who know only that it frustrates them won't know what to do about it. Without that knowledge to sustain and guide them, the Tea Party movement and the thoroughly justified anger which caused it will simply fade away.

Rob Abiera
Oklahoma City
My letter, which is the second one in this week's column, is followed by a letter from Jim Telcocci of Oklahoma City:
Who is John Galt?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Economic wealth creation

Just found out the Unversity of Oklahoma actually has a "Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth".

I wonder if they teach Ayn Rand there?

Developers and infrastructures

Today's Journal Record has a story about the impact fees cities collect for building infrastructures to connect to new neighborhoods.

Imagine if developers owned and built their own such infrastructures. Or if they could hire companies that had to compete with each other to construct and maintain such systems.

Apparently, the benefits of privately owning such systems, or developing innovative strategies for privately funding such systems, is too much for some developers to bother with. But in a free market, such developers would be able to sell their infrastructures to somebody who does want to bother.

In today's mixed economy, cities maintain monopolies on utilities and infrastructures, and collect fees from those who use them. But in a free market, the possibilities would be endless.

Take that, economic development authorities!

" . . . individual freedom is the cause of economic prosperity."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Faith uber alles?

If, in the collapse of philosphy, skepticism is the last step before religion rushes in to fill the void, Stanley Fish's column in today's NY Times is the trial baloon signaling to the religious left that they can begin their assault on the tattered remains of rationality, with all that implies in the political realm:
Belief in science could be more superstitious than belief in religion.
Tellingly, among the targets of the column are those atheists who have recently trumpeted their own skepticism, such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, but who have also admitted their own impotence to answer just the kind of questions that the religionists are now proclaiming as the historical province of faith: the ultimate nature of man and existence, and the implications for his life on earth, which are to be found in morality.

Those who claim that religion has a monopoly on morality are, of course, wrong. Morality, as well as metaphysics, were at one time the province of philosophy. The first time philosophy abdicated its resposibility to provide human beings with the means to live their lives, the result was the Dark Ages.

But, then, there was no one to answer the skeptics by standing up for Reason. Now the situation is different. Dawkins and Hitchens are not the true defenders of Reason: there is another.

Her name is Ayn Rand.

And it is not religion that will be reborn, but philosophy: the philosophy of Objectivism.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pro-science candidate

Thanks to an email from Vic Hutchison, I came across this amazing statement by Joel Walker, a socially conservative Republican running for his local school board.

In Texas.

Walker's defense of the teaching of evolution in science classes is one of the best I've ever seen. He addresses the ID/creationist tactic of "teaching the controversy" with:
It is inappropriate to ask our high school students to sit in their judgment; we must first simply educate them as to what has been learned.
Read the whole thing here.

Engineering club expells biologist

Wow, I'm floored by this: the Oklahoma City Engineering Club has apparently been infiltrated by creationists - who objected so strongly to the pro-evolution activism of Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education that they canceled the speaking engagement of OESE board member, former OU professor Vic Hutchison.

Here's a link to a blog post about this by Abbie Smith at ERV.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The dark side of corporate welfare

The Oklahoman reports today on an economic developement project that went sour in Hinton, Oklahoma: $8 million on a plant that remains unused, a promoter under investigation, and Hinton Economic Development Authority members and "community leaders" accused of conspiracy.

What are the possibilities that the people of Hinton will now be open to offering more economic freedom as an incentive to developement and abolishing the Hinton Economic Development Authority and the opportunities for abuse that go along with it?

Peace Through Business

Is Capitalism the key to world peace? The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women seems to think so.

Let's see: Capitalism forbids the use of force - except in self-defense - against citizens who must must be free to pursue their own interests.

Makes sense to me. Wouldn't it be in the interest of Capitalist countries to pursue trade rather than conquest?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Yaron Brook on Pajamas TV

TWO new interviews!
The End of 100 Days; Lurch Left Reversing Reagan?

Yaron Brook on Islamic Totalitarianism

Thank You!

. . . to Abbie Smith, local science blogger, for posting a link to The Morality War on her site, ERV.

Actually the link was to my April 17th post on the Oklahoma Republican Party platform, which since then was ratified at their state convention with minor changes. You can read the final platform here.

Since Abbie posted the link a week ago, that page has been visited almost 600 times!


BTW, Abbie will be speaking at an upcoming event by the Oklahoma chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State about the current session of the state's legislature. I'll be there!