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.