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.