Thursday, December 30, 2010

All the devils are in Washington

Here's an excellent editorial at Investors.com condemning the steady stream of books that seek to distract attention from the real cause of the financial crisis: government.

By providing a blow-by-blow summary of the government's role in the financial meltdown, the authors of the editorial provide a more substantial example of actual journalism than all too many news stories about the situation.
EXCERPT: The historical record is clear that Washington laid the groundwork for the financial crisis by trying to expand U.S. homeownership through private lenders and government-sponsored Fannie and Freddie.

The government was the buyer of two-thirds of the subprime and other bad loans that triggered the financial collapse.

Through Fannie and Freddie, the Federal Housing Administration, CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) and other programs, the government subsidized and in some cases mandated the extension of credit to high-risk borrowers.

This in turn propagated risks for financial firms, the mortgage market, taxpayers and ultimately the entire financial system.

Through banking regulations — enforced by HUD and several other federal agencies — the government directed investments into "affordable" mortgages and pressured the financial community to lower credit standards. Why?

Because Washington wanted more people to buy homes.
Unfortunately this editorial does not answer the question of why Washington wanted more people to buy homes. What is the missing piece of the puzzle? Altruism. So long as people are motivated to be their brothers' keeper they will continue to elect a government that reflects that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cities and towns should not be in the development business

Doug Enevoldsen, city manager of Bixby, Oklahoma, has an editorial in today's The Oklahoman about plans to address the scope and financing of municipal governments in the next session of the Legislature.
Cities and towns are the backbone of Oklahoma's economy, and the state's health is critically dependent on their well-being. Virtually all commerce, education, health care and government happen inside a city or town. Those institutions cannot fully achieve their respective missions if their host cities aren't healthy, functioning entities. We are all in this together.
Who really creates the economy? It's certainly not the government, though Enevoldsen pretends not to know that. Economies are created by the those who create the actual values traded in that economy: the business owners. If Oklahoma's economy is to thrive, Oklahoma's governments at all levels need to get out of their way.
Because they are so reliant on sales taxes to pay their daily bills, most cities and towns focus the bulk of their efforts on attracting retail sales instead of industries that feature higher-paying jobs, or adding rooftops.
This is why governmenmt at the municipal or any other level should NOT be in the economic development business. If Oklahoma doeas not have a more diverse economy, surely the acceptance of the truism that government should be involved in economic development has to be one of the reasons. Governments will go after businesses that bring in more taxes, so the more short-sighted the government, the more that government will pursue retail businesses if the bulk of its revenue comes from sales tax. Of course a more rational government could decide to pursue businesses which bring in employees and suppliers which end up generating more retail activity & thus more sales taxes.

Or a government could get out of the way and allow individuals to choose for themselves what kind of businesses they will start and invest in. Such a government might even be smaller and require less revenue to operate.

A government that did not have to maintain an economic development bureaucracy would certainly be at least that much smaller.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A comment

"Jim, Oklahoma city" posted the following comment to The Oklahoman's editorial, After GOP rout, voters expect new direction, cooperation in Washington, which ends with the words: "Having secured their place at the conference table, Republicans shouldn't let these words cross their lips: "We won.""
Jim, Oklahoma city

"We won". There, I said it.

I'm tired of this false propaganda campaign about "bipartisanship". Imagine how much nicer WWII would have been had we "cooperated" with the Japanese!

We have two opposed ideologies at war in this nation. The socialist idea that people are just cogs in the great machine, and that they do not have a right to property or to self-determination, and the individualist idea that each man is an individual, that he does not live for the benefit of the collective, that nothing should be taken from or required of him which he is unwilling to give or do, as an individual.

I don't want bipartisanship or cooperation in this battle. I want the wrong side to come over to the right side. I want the socialists to open their eyes and embrace the wisdom of individual liberty. To cooperate with an immorality is to commit an immorality. And chaining a man's aspirations, his productivity, his soul to his neighbor's is such an immorality, and should be opposed by all liberty-loving individuals.
To which I say, "THANK YOU, JIM!"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My mandate

Now the election is over. Now that you've won - now that you are no longer the candidate, but the office-holder-elect - I have something I want to say to you while you are waiting to be sworn in.

The first thing I have to say to you is: SHRINK THE GOVERNMENT OR ELSE. This is why I voted for you. This is what I'm sending you into office to do. If you don't do that - if you don't concentrate on that - if you don't focus on that - if you do not put that first before absolutely EVERYTHING else - I WILL NOT BE VOTING FOR YOU NEXT TIME.

I know that those who are in office to represent the party establishment will try to lure you into the big-government trap. They will show you all the lovely things that taxpayer money can buy for your constituents. They will entice you with perks like committee assignments and tell you that's how things are done. They want you to think that's the only way to get anything done. Don't believe them. There's always another way to get things done. Forget the party establishment. You don't need them. Use your imagination. If they try to block you, find a way to go around them. Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done.

And don't let anyone tell you it's never been done before. The Founding Fathers did it and so can you.

Think about it.

Remember, I'm not sending you to get the government to do things for me. I don't want to hear about all the things you can buy me with my own tax money. And no, I don't want to hear about all the things you can buy me with someone else's tax money, either. I'm sending you to get the government out of my way so I can do things for myself.

I don't need a savior.

I don't want a mentor. I don't want a friend. I don't want a teacher. I want someone who will stand up for my rights as an individual human being.

I'm not looking for someone who'll do my thinking and feeling for me. I'm looking for someone who will protect my freedom to act on my own thoughts and feelings.

So please keep your religion to yourself. I voted for State Question 755 because I don't want laws based on any religion, not just Islam. Laws based on religion - any religion - are a threat to my Freedom and everybody else's.

I did not vote for you to represent God. I voted for you to represent ME.

I could go into a lot more detail about how I think government can be cut down to size, but that's just it: they're details. It's the principle of cutting government which must come first. Less government means more Freedom and I do believe in Freedom for the sake of Freedom.

There is one detail I would like to touch on, however. I think it's ridiculous to just think of cutting spending back to 2008 levels. Seriously? 2008? Let's cut spending back to 2000 levels! 1990! Hell, why not 1790? Yes, I'm serious! That's how much government I'm willing to do without for the sake of my Freedom!

I hope you're as serious about Freedom and about cutting government as I am, because if you're not, I'm going to keep trying until I find someone who is.

Sincerely,

Your constituent,

Rob Abiera

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Go Stephen Bailey!

Go straight to Washington!

Stephen Bailey is an Objectivist who is running for Congress in Colorado. Bailey is running against incumbent Jared Polis. Polis is Gay, and so am I, and under other circumstances I might allow that fact to have more influence on my opinion of his candidacy. But in the current situation there are far more fundamental issues that must be considered, such as Freedom and Individual Rights.

Since Bailey is running in Colorado and I live in Oklahoma, I do not have the opportunity to vote for him. So I will simply say that I think he is my idea of an ideal candidate, and I regret that there is no one running for office here in Oklahoma that comes close to him.

I offer this partial evidence of the basis of my enthusiasm: two quotes concerning welfare from his campaign website. I am indebted to Ari Armstrong for bringing them to my attention by posting them on his website.
. . . morality presumes a choice, the freedom of action. If someone steals from you and gives the proceeds to a charity, did their act of theft make you any more virtuous? No, you had no choice in the matter. Is the thief any less of a thief because he gave the stolen wealth to charity? No, he is still a thief.
A brilliant identification.
Our welfare state programs are called entitlements. The damage to our values and civility created by entitlement programs cannot be overstated. When people believe they are entitled to something, then they will demand that they get it. They will behave in an angry and belligerent manner as long as they perceive that their entitlement is being withheld. Instead of gratitude, the deliverers of entitlements are treated, at best, with indifference and, at worse, contempt.
Well, this explains the behavior of certain gangs of hooligans in Europe.

Almost makes me wish I lived in Colorado. I would love to be represented in Congress by Mr. Bailey!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bastiat and Hayek stand for rights, not religion

Kate Zernike, writing in the NY Times, seeks to perpetuate the smear that the Tea Party promotes the Religious Right when she conflates the work of Frédéric Bastiat and Friedrich Hayek - who promoted individual rights and espoused a view of government limited to protecting those rights - with books like The 5,000 Year Leap which AFAIK promotes an expressly religious view of government. In doing so, she promotes the old liberal canard that the only people who care about Capitalism and government intervention in the economy are theocrats. Note that while she does mention Atlas Shrugged in the article, she also fails to mention that Ayn Rand was an atheist and that the ideas presented in Atlas are at least implicitly anti-religion.

While it is true that some are trying to use the Tea Party to push an explicitly religious agenda - particularly here in Oklahoma - this remains at odds with the movement's original purpose. And I personally condemn those who seek to do so.

Tea Partiers are better served when they recognize that the separation of church and state is the ideal model for all government. If the Tea Party leads to a resurgence of interest in Austrian economics, so much the better.

And I do commend Zernike for doing us all a service by directly quoting Bastiat in the pages of the NY Times:
“If you wish to be strong, begin by rooting out every particle of socialism that may have crept into your legislation,” he urged. “This will be no light task.”

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dear Elizabeth Warren, get out of the way!

NewsOK.com has a story this morning about Obama's latest ploy to circumvent the Constitutional authority of Congress: rather than submit Elizabeth Warreen as a nominee to be confirmed by Congress, Obama has created a special position outside their scrutiny:
Oklahoma native Elizabeth Warren accepts job to launch consumer watchdog bureau

EXCERPT: "WASHINGTON — Oklahoma native Elizabeth Warren said this morning that she has agreed to get a new consumer agency overseeing financial products up and running.

In a White House blog post, the Harvard professor, who was raised in Norman and Oklahoma City, said President Barack Obama had asked her to serve as his assistant and as a special adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner while establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Obama is expected to make an official announcement today.

The president and other Democrats feared a tough Senate confirmation battle if Warren, an outspoken advocate of more consumer protection from lenders, were nominated as the first director of the bureau, which was her idea and was part of the financial regulatory reform legislation approved by Congress this year.

After several meetings with Warren, Obama decided to create a position for her that didn't require Senate confirmation."
Warren describes the approach she will take to her new job:
EXCERPT: "The new consumer bureau is based on a pretty simple idea: People ought to be able to read their credit card and mortgage contracts and know the deal.

"They shouldn't learn about an unfair rule or practice only when it bites them... The new law creates a chance to put a tough cop on the beat and provide real accountability and oversight of the consumer credit market. The time for hiding tricks and traps in the fine print is over."
Hmm . . . "They shouldn't learn about an unfair rule or practice only when it bites them. . . . The time for hiding tricks and traps in the fine print is over." What about the "traps and tricks" Congress hides in 1000 page bills, which they expect us to learn about only after they've been passed? Oh, sorry, wrong branch of government, you're in the executive branch, not the legislative, so I suppose that doesn't apply to you, now, does it?

And then there's this:
EXCERPT: And she told a story about her Oklahoma roots.

"When she was 16, my grandmother, Hannie Reed, drove a wagon in the Oklahoma land rush. Her mother had died, so she was up front with her little brothers and sisters bouncing around in the back.

"When I was growing up, she talked about life on the prairie, about marrying my grandfather and making a living building one-room schoolhouses, about getting wiped out in the Great Depression. She was hit with hard challenges throughout her life, but the moral of her stories was always the same: She would solve her problems one at a time by pulling up her socks and getting to work.

"It's time for all of us to pull up our socks and get to work."
Say, Elizabeth, do you want us all to pull up our socks individually, by our own efforts, or do you want the government to do it for us?

Because, if you want the government to do it for us - well, if I was your grandmother, I know how I would feel: I would definitely not approve.

If you really want us to pull up our socks, Elizabeth, get out of the way and let us do it!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11

On the anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, I remember that the United States of America stands for one thing above all else:

FREEDOM.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"The Objectivist Ethics" online

Ayn Rand's seminal essay, in which she explains the philosophical foundations of her code of rational selfishness - and, by contrast, exposes the fallacy of the ethical code of altruism, is now online at the website of the Ayn Rand Institute.

The essay, originally delivered by Rand as a paper at the University of Wisconsin Symposium on “Ethics in Our Time” in Madison, Wisconsin, on February 9, 1961, is also included in her collection, "The Virtue of Selfishness".

Via DianaHsieh, Paul Hsieh, TOSjournal, et al., on Twitter.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Free markets and monopolies

Here are some real-life observations from a Wired.com story about Indy racing that seem to give the lie to the notion that every capitalist is eager to eliminate as much competition as he can get away with:
You would think Honda's guys would be happy being the only game in town, but that's not necessarily the case.

When you're the only one supplying the engines, the lack of competition reduces the brand value.

"How do you get people excited about Honda products when you win every week?" asked Erik Berkman, president of Honda Performance and Development. . . .

But the most telling comments came from Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard, who said, "We compete with all types of entertainment. The biggest movie out there tomorrow will compete with us on ticket sales." Bernard understands motorsports must compete for attention in a world obsessed with gadgets and technology.

Which is why the future looks bright for IndyCar.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dear Mr. Lankford,

Congratulations on winning your run-off against Kevin Calvey. It is my fervent hope that as many candidates as possible win their elections to the House of Representatives who will stand up to the tyrannical depredations of the likes of Pelosi and Reid.

HOWEVER: I do want you to know that if you devote your time and energy in Congress to making my moral decisions for me rather than cutting the size of government, I WILL work to have you replaced in the next elections. I have no intentions of merely replacing a tyranny of the Left with a tyranny of the Right.

Sincerely,

Rob Abiera

Monday, August 9, 2010

China closing 2000 factories

This is definitely a wake-up call for anyone who thinks China has moved beyond communism in any substantial way:
In Crackdown on Energy Use, China to Shut 2,000 Factories

HONG KONG — Earlier this summer, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China promised to use an “iron hand” to improve his country’s energy efficiency, and a growing number of businesses are now discovering that it feels like a fist.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology quietly published a list late Sunday of 2,087 steel mills, cement works and other energy-intensive factories required to close by Sept. 30.
How many people will be out of a job thanks to this?

Looks like a new version of Mao's "Cultural Revolution", only this time the goal is a "culture" of "energy efficiency".

Friday, August 6, 2010

Who lacks faith in the American people?

At Chicago Ford Plant, Obama Says Critics Lack Faith in Americans
Really, Mr. President? Who has more faith in the American people: the government who treats them as incompetents incapable of running their own lives without government intervention, or those Americans fighting to keep the freedom to live their lives by their own decisions?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Running instead of shrugging

George Will has a great op-ed out today spotlighting the impact of Atlas Shrugged:
EXCERPTS: Before what he calls "the jaw-dropping” events of the last 19 months — TARP, the stimulus, Government Motors, the mistreatment of Chrysler’s creditors, Obamacare, etc. — the idea of running for office never crossed Ron Johnson’s mind. He was, however, dry tinder — he calls Ayn Rand’s "Atlas Shrugged” his "foundational book” — and now is ablaze, in an understated, upper-Midwestern way. This 55-year-old manufacturer of plastic products from Oshkosh is what the tea party looks like. . . .

The theme of his campaign, the genesis of which was an invitation to address a tea party rally, is: "First of all, freedom.” Then? "Then you’ve got to put meat on the bones.” He gets much of his meat from The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages. And from a Wisconsin congressman, Paul Ryan, whose "road map” for entitlement reform Johnson praises. Health care? "Mitch Daniels has the solution.” Indiana’s Republican governor has offered state employees the choice of consumer-controlled Health Savings Accounts, and 70 percent of Indiana state workers now choose them.

"The most basic right,” Johnson says, "is the right to keep your property.” Remembering the golden age when, thanks to Ronald Reagan, the top income tax rate was 28 percent, Johnson says: "For a brief moment we were 72 percent free.” Johnson’s daughter, now a nurse in neonatal intensive care, was born with a serious heart defect. The operations "when her heart was only the size of a small plum” made him passionate about protecting the incentives that bring forth excellent physicians. . . .
Here's the comment on the piece that I posted on NewsOK.com:
THANK YOU GEORGE WILL!!!

The message of Atlas Shrugged is: Altruism doesn't work. Human beings ARE individuals and have the right to live their own lives for their own sakes AS INDIVIDUALS.

And human beings are capable of living their own lives and getting what they want without hurting others. They are not incompetent monsters by definition who need to be controlled and cared for by the government. Reality IS intelligible and human beings ARE capable of understanding it by means of their own minds - by using Reason.

This means human beings are capable of moral reasoning and can decide for themselves how to live their lives - to survive and even thrive - without the help of any outside agent, supernatural or otherwise.

It is rational self-interest - properly understood - that is the truly benevolent way for human beings to live with each other. NOT altruism.

THAT is the message of Atlas Shrugged and the ultimate meaning of Freedom.

Rob Abiera

Monday, May 17, 2010

The United States of America is the crowning achievement of the Enlightenment

If you want to read the truth about the role the Enlightenment actually played in our country's founding, my highest recommendation goes to Leonard Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels.

Religious Right declares war on Thomas Jefferson

It had to happen eventually: religious conservatives who want to promote government involvement in Christianity would want to re-write history to edit out those Founding Fathers who don't fit their contention that the US was founded as a "Christian nation". Of course they would start with Thomas Jefferson - author of the Declaration of Independence, deist, and writer of a certain inconvenient letter to a church group in Connecticut.

According to American Atheists, a Religious Right faction on the Texas Board of Education wants to adopt standards for history textbooks that would downplay the role of the Enlightenment in our country's early development - including figures such as Jefferson - and focus more on the "positive contributions" of religion by spotlighting people such as John Calvin.

And according to a story in the Dallas Morning News, a member of the Board wants to take direct aim at the doctrine of the separation of church and state:
AUSTIN – A leading social conservative on the State Board of Education will push for further doubt to be cast on separation of church and state when the board goes back to work on proposed curriculum standards for social studies next week. . . .

The GOP-dominated board shot down an earlier attempt by Democrats to have high school students study the reasons the Founding Fathers barred the government from promoting any religion.

McLeroy now wants to include a requirement that eighth-grade history students study the issue from a different perspective.

Under his proposal, students would "contrast the Founders' intent relative to the wording of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause, with the popular term 'Separation of church and state.' "

The language reflects the opposition of social and religious conservatives to the legal doctrine of separation of church and state, which has been upheld multiple times by the U.S. Supreme Court, including one far-reaching decision that outlawed school-sponsored prayer.

McLeroy and other board members contend that separation of church and state was established in the law only by activist judges and not by the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
Who's next? James Madison?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Yes, government prayer is unconstitutional

Shame on the Tulsa World for claiming "There is nothing unconstitutional about the National Day of Prayer."

Prayer is a religious exercise. When the government calls for a day to recognize a religious exercise, that DOES qualify as establishing a state religion.

Karl Sniderman's letter in today's Tulsa World quotes Thomas Jefferson on the subject:
"I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. . . . Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the general government. . . . Everyone must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the president of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents."

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Erosophia.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Baptists then and now

Bruce Prescott contrasts the support of early Baptists for church/state separation with the attitudes of current Baptists who tend to favor government intervention in, and welfare for, religion:
Atheists More Conscientious than Baptists in Oklahoma

EXCERPT: When the U.S. Constitution was circulated among the thirteen original colonies for ratification, Baptists in Virginia refused to vote to ratify it until an amendment was added to secure liberty of conscience for every citizen. In a letter to George Washington, written on behalf of Virginia Baptists, evangelist John Leland explained why Baptists refused to ratify the Constitution until the First Amendment was added. He wrote:
When the Constitution first made its appearance in Virginia, we, as a society, had unusual strugglings of mind, fearing that the liberty of conscience, dearer to us than property or life, was not sufficiently secured. Perhaps our jealousies were heightened by the usage we received in Virginia under regal government, when mobs, fines, bonds and prisons were our frequent repast. (The Writings of John Leland, ed. L.F. Greene. New York: Arno Press & the New York Times, 1969, p. 53).
For early Baptists conscience was something sacred and inviolable.
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Theocracy in Oklahoma

Hmmm . . .

The National Day of Prayer rally at the State Capitol last Thursday drew 300 people.

The OKC Tea Party rally held on April 14th drew at least 10 times that many.

You would think that people who really support theocracy would show their support by attending a prayer rally at the Capitol. It's interesting that more people didn't turn out for the NDP rally.

Which leaves me wondering just how much support there really is for theocracy here in Oklahoma.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

The political will to stick to a diet

Just came across this on Facebook:
Tom Cole helps launch task force to limit federal power
This could be huge: while far from perfect, it at least is a start, and certainly demonstrates that there are actually some legislators in Washington who may actually have the guts to stand up to the power-mongers.

The imperfection comes from an emphasis on the false issue of "states rights" versus "federal rights". Neither the states nor the federal government have rights: only individuals can have rights. BUT it's a place to start a genuine dialog about reigning in the federal government.

This should be interesting.

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Objectivist Round Up

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

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

YES: eminent domain is wrong!

This article about a victory against eminent domain in San Pablo, California says all the right things:
EXCERPTS: The San Pablo City Council this week dropped plans to extend its eminent domain authority, bending to a raucous groundswell of mistrust and resentment of city government that included threats of a recall. . . .

The officials contended that they need eminent domain, and only as a last resort, to assemble sites for commercial and residential development. Opponents, supported by the Virginia-based libertarian law firm Institute for Justice and its advocacy arm, the Castle Coalition, called eminent domain a cruel and brutal tool and accused the city of a secret agenda to kill working-class people's American dream of homeownership to accommodate out-of-town developers' vision of a gentrified San Pablo.

On Monday, several residents elaborated on that theme,

"Instead of being for the people, you are for the developers," said resident Adolfo Sanchez.

Handing the agency the power of eminent domain would be like "having your chicken house guarded by a pack of very hungry wolves," said resident Jai Sun.

"I want to live in a San Pablo where I feel safe and my home is safe," Sun said, imploring the council to "cease your hostile tactics." . . .

"It's absurd to think that any of these homeowners would take heart in the fact that the city is willing to sign a contract that says nothing more than that it will obey state law," said Christina Walsh, director of activism for the Castle Coalition. "The strongest guarantee is for eminent domain to not be on the table." . . .

By and by, council members acknowledged an underlying issue of communication and trust; residents agreed.

"We definitely have a trust issue," resident Pat Ryan told the council. "We just don't trust you." . . .
Via Institute for Justice on Facebook

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The Last Battleground

Is Jack Shepard meant to be an indictment of altruism? That seems to be the direction the writers of LOST are going with him. Unless of course, I'm reading my own wishful thinking into what I'm seeing.

But of course the response to altruism is that people have the right to choose their own form of happiness. The altruist argument against that is Original Sin: even if people do have free will they cannot be allowed to follow it because they will always choose evil. So much for free will.

Which leads us into the circular argument that if people must depend on other people to make their choices for them, how are they to rely on other people who are just as limited by Original Sin?

And this is where mysticism comes in to say, "You don't have to rely on other humans who are just as flawed as you are. You can invent your own fantasy to rely on."

But what if there was no such thing as Original Sin, and human beings are not monsters by definition? What if achieving your own selfish happiness here on Earth did not have to bring pain or suffering to anybody?

What then?

If Mankind is to have a future, if the battle against altruism is to be won, it is the right of individual human beings to choose the form of happiness that they will pursue which must be redeemed.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Ideas and the Coming Election

Excellent post by Sylvia Bokor, who participated in organizing the Albuquerque Tea Party:
EXCERPT: But when one stated that the growing intrusion into American lives shows that "we must demand a restoration of individual rights," political party officials and political candidates declared that "Voters are turned off by that philosophical stuff." One candidate said, "The only way you can get elected is to talk about fiscal accountability and transparency. Talking about ideas is a waste of time. Philosophical ideas are too abstract. People don't understand them. What they understand is their pocketbook."

Such fatuous remarks reveal the magnitude of the speaker's ignorance. Bookstores are doing a booming business selling books that deal with ideas. For example, "Total sales of Ayn Rand's novels reached 1.1 million in 2009. . . . Nearly half of those total sales were Atlas Shrugged," a novel that deals with philosophical ideas. During the first quarter of 2010, sales had not slowed. Her non-fiction work, such as the Virtue of Selfishness, is also reaching new highs in sales. Libraries have long wait lists for books that deal with ideas. Bloggers dealing with ideas have good-size followings. Articles posted on the net by columnists who deal with ideas generate hundreds of comments. Talk radio has grown large, with steady audiences. The questions phoned in are predominately thoughtful.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Think about it.

Jayemel at CulturEsponse begins his slide for home:
All You Need to Know for the Last Four Episodes (of LOST)

EXCERPTS: Locke was a sucker because he bought into Jacob’s game hook, line, and sinker the same way Jack currently is. You see, Jacob creates the same (false) dichotomy that Lindelof explicated in the quote in the introduction. He makes it seem as if you believe in him, or the world will be evil--as without him there is nothing. The problem with that position is it’s observationally false and metaphysically dishonest.

Nothingingness doesn’t mean there is nothing; it means there’s nothing more. Observationally, there is something. We see it around us every day. It’s called existence. Metaphysically, what that means is the meaning of our lives is to live them. It’s a really simple idea, I know, but one we never hear. Why is that? Because people like Jacob perform a metaphysical conceit on us. They tell us the searching for “the meaning of life” will never be complete because there must be more than existence, there must be more than us. They then subtly twist this statement and tell us, if there is something more, that is what’s really important, and thus what is and what we know is nothing. Notice how Jacob does the same in his conversation with Richard in “Ab Aeterno.” He essentially convinces Richard “if you don’t choose me, evil will corrupt everyone” or, in other words, “if you don’t choose my something, everyone will become nothing as their souls will be lost to sin.” It’s a very deft rhetorical tactic, except that it's not true . . .

* * *

Before you can properly exist in the world, you must accept that the world exists independently, that you can understand it, and then attempt to understand it. Only when you do that can you begin to properly be self-interested because you have a proper sense of context in order to differentiate yourself from the rest of the world in order to best understand yourself.
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Erosophia.

I love the title of Doug Reich's entry: "Celebrate Exploit the Earth Day with some Recycled Posts". Perfect!

And the painting of Prometheus isn't bad, either.

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Religion vs. Morality

Wish I could be in New York for this talk being given by Andrew Bernstein:
Conventionally, most people believe that morality can only be based in religious faith and that in a world without God no principles of right and wrong could exist. Related to this, philosophers have long held that no objective, fact-based, rational code of values is possible.

Regarding both points, this talk shows that the exact opposite is true. The purpose of morality is to guide human life on earth and religion is utterly incapable of it. Flourishing life requires a code of secularism, rationality, egoism and freedom. Religious faith clashes with every principle of a proper moral code, and, as such, has led, and can only lead, to hell on earth.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

The health care ramparts

Gena Gorlin at The Undercurrent provides a clear-headed view of the new frontline in the battle over health care:
Amid the intellectually hollow group-think of today’s rivaling political parties, there exists an opportunity as well as a desperate need: questioning minds are starved for answers grounded in objective, independently observable evidence. This need became palpable as multitudes of indignant Americans spoke out in furious (but, for the most part, intellectually empty) protest against the passage of the health care law. If those enraged Americans would speak out, not in blind fury, but in clear-sighted, solidly reasoned intellectual protest against the health care law and all it implies, they would be unstoppable—for they would have no real opposition.
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Freedom for the sake of Freedom!

I agree with, applaud and encourage everyone who has the sense and the guts to stand up for Freedom for the sake of Freedom!

NOT religion.

NOT militias.

NOT racism.

Rob Abiera

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Free speech scarier than loaded gun

Here's a good letter in this morning's The Oklahoman:
Ridiculous idea

Regarding "Tea totaled: Militia idea good way to lose support” (Our Views, April 15): The Oklahoman’s position on the formation of a militia in Oklahoma is right on. This is a bad idea. Most Oklahomans are pretty conservative in our political views and we’d like to see federal spending lowered and the erosion of our rights ended, but advocating the taking of arms against the government at this time is ridiculous. We still have the right to speak freely. We also have the right to vote. That scares politicians more than does a loaded firearm.

Bill Garrison, Tuttle
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Wish I was in Grove

The title of this article makes me wish I had been in Grove yesterday. Notice that the article makes NO mention of religion whatsoever! Contrast that with the reports of the Tea Parties in Oklahoma City and Tulsa last week!
Grove tea partiers focus on freedom

(EXCERPT) Tables filled with political material lined the lawn as chants of "USA, USA” reverberated through the crowd. Homemade signs opposing taxes and spending, health care legislation, President Barack Obama, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shared space with the umbrellas.

Glenn and Polly Sharp, of Grove, said the American people have lost confidence in a government they said is taxing and spending its citizens into poverty.

"This tea party is not Republican or Democrat,” Glenn Sharp said. "It’s about everyday citizens, the people that walk down Main Street in Grove, Tulsa or Oklahoma City.”
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Sacred Ego.

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Proving my point in Tulsa

Tulsa tea partiers rally at separate events
Mike Kurtz, whose group USAPatriots sponsored the Expo Square event, said his organization’s priority is bringing Christian morals to government. One of Thursday night’s featured speakers was Rick Scarborough, a self-described “Christocrat” best known for his book “In the Defense of Mixing Church and State” (and no relation of ex-Congressman/TV host Joe Scarborough).
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

My strategy going forward

From here on out, I'm going to (try to!) focus on morality: specifically the principle that an individual human being is an end in him- or herself.

That this is where the right to life comes from. That the right to life means the right to one's own life, and pertains only to actual, individual human beings.

That individual rights must never be subject to majority vote.

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Proving my point

Oklahoma tea partiers at Capitol protest taxes, intrusion
The Rev. Paul Blair, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, said he brought two busloads of his congregation who typically would be worshipping at Wednesday night services.

"We’re having church at the Capitol tonight," Blair said.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why I'm not going to the Tea Party

When the Tea Party movement first began over a year ago, I shared the concern of many over the threat to liberty represented by the expansion of government pursued by both Democrats and Republicans. I was wary, however, of religious conservatives who had a history of hiding behind free market rhetoric to put over their theocratic agenda. While I hoped that those involved in the movement would realize that the cure for excessive government is to uphold the principle of liberty, I feared that the movement could be misused by those who are, in fact, the enemies of liberty.

Across this nation, there are many - including Objectivists - who have worked inside the Tea Party movement to advance the cause of liberty by upholding the principle of individual rights. Unfortunately, here in Oklahoma the Tea Party movement now appears to have been completely co-opted by the Religious Right. There will be two Tea Party rallies at the Oklahoma state capitol building today and tomorrow. Though the two rallies are being organized by two different groups, both will feature, as speakers, candidate for governor Randy Brogdon and Fairview Baptist Church pastor Paul Blair.

As a member of the state senate, Randy Brogdon has been intimately involved in all too many efforts to incorporate religious dogma into state law.

Paul Blair is the founder of Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ and the current national director of Reclaiming America for Christ, both organizations devoted to injecting religion into politics and government.

I refuse to support a Tea Party movement which chooses to be represented by those who I consider to be a direct threat to my freedom. This is why I will not be attending either of the rallies.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Greenspan continues to betray freedom

Once again Alan Greenspan is in the news, providing ammunition for all those who seek enshrine the government's power over the market at a time when the Fed is under attack: not for having too much power, but for having too little.

As those people can be counted on to point to Greenspan's history with Ayn Rand, it will be necessary to point out yet again that Greenspan spent his entire career at the Fed betraying everything Ayn Rand ever stood for.

Alan Greenspan is not a defender of freedom, but its destroyer.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

John Lewis' speech at the Charlotte Tea Party

Here's my post from April 23rd, 2009. It was Dr. Lewis' speech that inspired me to adopt the description of myself as "An autonomous individual with an independent mind."
"We need to regain the vision of ourselves held by the American Founders. We need to stand up, and assert ourselves as autonomous moral beings, with the right to our own life, liberty and the pursuit of our own happiness. We need to reject the claim that we are weak and dependent beggars, and to assert our own competence to run our own lives.

It is going to take as great a commitment to destroy this cancer as it took to build it. We’re going to have to be strong, we’re going to have to be independent in our thinking, and we are going to have to reject handouts when they are offered to us. And we’re going to have to speak out."
More John Lewis

Here's a link to the complete text of the speech given by Dr. John Lewis at the Charlotte, NC Tax Day Tea Party.

AND here are a couple excerpts:
The government has, once again, become a ruling aristocracy, set up as our masters, disposing of our lives. . . .

This is an attempt to seize your life, to destroy your sense of self as an independent human being, and to replace it with a being with no self-esteem and no capacity for individual action — a being doomed to beg for sustenance from an all-powerful ruling elite.
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tea time

Yes, it's getting to be that time again - I will be devoting several posts between now and April 15th to the subject of the Tea Party movement.

So to kick things off, here's where it all begain: Rick Santelli on CNBC, February 19th, 2009.



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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Force and good

It struck me, as I was watching the latest episode of LOST, that one of the points being made in this episode was that human beings can be good only when it is of their own free will.

If this is true, then whenever the government attempts to force people to be good, that doesn't make them good: it just makes them robots.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

America's free market in religion

Ayn Rand maintained that state and economy should be completely separate, in the same manner and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

A letter in this morning's Tulsa World illustrates perfectly what a free market looks like:
The reason there are so many churches is because not every one can agree on doctrine and definitions.
The First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom - which means: freedom from government interference in religion - enables people who follow different religions and even those who disagree about the interpretation of a single religion to go their own way and even start their own churches if they so choose. And the Amendment's prohibition against government interference forces them to stand or fall on their own two feet and by their own effort. This also leaves believers free to pick and choose which interpretation they will accept and which church they will go to.

Make no mistake: this is a market and there is competition. I can't help but wonder if it's this competition between religions and denominations that's kept this country from being more religious than it already is - in concert with the freedom to choose not to be religious, of course.

And no, I haven't forgotten that government support for religious charities is muddying the waters, and, increasingly, more than that. Religion is not immune to cronyism, protectionism, socialism and worse: which is why the Founders wrote the First Amendment.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tulsa World: eminent domain

This morning, the Tulsa World published an editorial in favor of eminent domain. I believe author David Averill evades the central fact of eminent domain: the taking of a private owner's property by government force:
The eminent domain process, in fact, was established to protect citizens from losing their property to the crown — the government — without being justly compensated.
Averill's evasion is his contention that all opponents of eminent domain really care about is compensation. No, Mr. Averill, that's not all we care about. What we care about is our right to invest our effort in something we can decide for ourselves how we want to use. A person's home is almost always the result of years of effort and is something most people expect to spend the rest of their lives in. If people have no right to that, do they actually have a right to anything?

The Constitution of the United States is a magnificent achievement on the part of the Founding Fathers: it established for the first time in history a government based on individual rights. But it is not perfect and contains a few significant flaws which have built up over the past 200-some years into a situation which could see the downfall of everything the Founders fought for. Government control of commerce is one of these flaws. Eminent domain is another.

Eminent domain must be abolished.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eminent domain bill doesn't go far enough

The eminent domain bill passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday is a non-starter that doesn't go nearly as far as it needs to.

The bill - HB3053, authored by Rep. Pat Ownbey - would allow owners of land taken by eminent domain the opportunity to buy back after 10 years the portion that hasn't beeen used for the purpose it was originally taken for - or some other public use. That's a lot of lee-way there. And the original bill called for 5 years, not 10 years.

I'm glad to see any restrictions placed on eminent domain, but this was a weak bill to begin with that has been watered down to make it even weaker. I can't help but wonder if it's just window dressing to appease the "property rights crowd".

Well, consider me one member of the "property rights crowd" who is not appeased. There is no such thing as a "legitimate use" of eminent domain and I wish some legislator had the guts to call for its abolition. Yes, I'm aware this would require amending both the state Constitution and the US Constitution. Where do I sign up?

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No Welfare for Religion!

The Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate have both passed their respective versions of bills to create standards for teaching the Bible. When first introduced, these bills were represented as being a non-sectarian way for Oklahoma students to learn about the Bible's impact on literature and history - something many schools already do, by the way, and have done for years.

Unfortunately, the bills' authors and supporters have since made it clear that their intention all along has been to use the power of government to promote a very specific interpretation of Christianity.

According to an editorial in the Tulsa World, the Senate version of the bill, SB1338, has been amended to authorize course materials that teach a narrow view of the Bible that includes the teaching of events such as the flood as historic fact. The constitutionality of these materials have been called into question in more than one court case.

According to a story in The Oklahoman, Rep. Todd Russ, the author of the House version of the bill, HB 2321, said that "the classes are needed to preserve America’s Christian heritage instead of allowing other countries’ religious beliefs to take over."

Rep. Russ, why are you afraid of other countries' religious beliefs? If Christianity is so good, what's there to worry about? Don't you think Christianity could hold its own in a free and open market of religions?

Now, if it was other moralities you were worried about, I'd say you have good cause to be worried. Because there is a morality that is better than Christianity and in a free and open market of moralities it will win out given time.

Because this morality teaches human beings not only that they have a right to live for their own sakes but that it is possible to live as a human being in reality. Or as Ayn Rand would put it: in this life on this earth. And to do it without sacrificing anyone to anyone.

Because the human mind works.

It's called Objectivism and the only way to stop it is by giving Christianity the power of government force. And that is exactly what people like Todd Russ and his cohorts are after.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Can the Moral ‘Narrative’ of ObamaCare Be Defeated?

Paul Hsieh reminds us that it is crucial that Obamacare be opposed on moral grounds - and then proceeds to show how to do just that in this brilliant essay:
Can the Moral ‘Narrative’ of ObamaCare Be Defeated?

EXCERPTS: As Leonard Peikoff once wrote, “So long as people believe that socialized medicine is a noble plan, there is no way to fight it. You cannot stop a noble plan — not if it really is noble. The only way you can defeat it is to unmask it — to show that it is the very opposite of noble. Then at least you have a fighting chance.”

Hence, one must challenge ObamaCare not merely on the economic or procedural levels but on the moral level. . . .

The government should not rob men to pay their neighbors’ medical bills. Instead, it should protect each man’s right to his hard-earned wealth, including respecting his right to decide whether and how he should save it, spend it, or give to others as charity. That’s “the right thing to do.”

And as with domestic security, in the end there is no fundamental conflict between freedom and health care. The only way we preserve our ability to receive quality affordable medical care is by respecting core principles of freedom and individual rights.

If we violate those principles in a vain attempt to guarantee “universal health care,” we will violate the moral principle that each man is entitled to the fruits of his labor, instead enslaving each man to pay for his neighbor’s medical care. We will destroy the prosperity and innovation that make modern medicine possible. We will give the government control over how doctors may practice, and which treatments patients may or may not receive. Our lives will no longer be ours, but rather the government’s. The end result will be, in Leonard Peikoff’s words, “the very opposite of noble.”
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

The American System Is Not a Democracy

Press release from the Ayn Rand Center:
The American System Is Not a Democracy

March 5, 2010

WASHINGTON--Today marks the 66th anniversary of the German Nazi party’s rise to power--not through a bloody coup, but a democratic vote. It achieved 44 percent of the vote, enabling it to join with the Nationalist Party and achieve a parliamentary majority. No one would accept that a democratic vote justifies Nazi atrocities, yet today many people believe that the U.S. government is entitled to do anything the majority pleases, regardless of whose rights are violated--from forcing individuals to buy health insurance to stripping unpopular financiers of their bonuses to banning incandescent light bulbs.

But, said Dr. Leonard Peikoff, founder of the Ayn Rand Institute and author of "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand," “The American system is not a democracy. It is a constitutional republic. A democracy, if you attach meaning to terms, is a system of unlimited majority rule; the classic example is ancient Athens. And the symbol of it is the fate of Socrates, who was put to death legally, because the majority didn’t like what he was saying, although he had initiated no force and had violated no one’s rights.

“Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom . . . .

“The American system is a constitutionally limited republic, restricted to the protection of individual rights. In such a system, majority rule is applicable only to lesser details, such as the selection of certain personnel. But the majority has no say over the basic principles governing the government. It has no power to ask for or gain the infringement of individual rights.”
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Capitalism and utilities

The Oklahoman ran a letter on February 27th by Thomas S. Price, Jr, senior vice president of corporate development and government affairs for Chesapeake Energy, extolling the virtues of a bill by Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge which would - among other things - "encourage" public utilities to "pursue the construction and expansion of natural gas-fired facilities".

Chesapeake, based here in Oklahoma City, is one of the country's major producers of natural gas.

I wrote a response to Mr. Price's letter which was published in this morning's The Oklahoman:
End the monopoly

In response to Thomas S. Price Jr. (Your Views, Feb. 27): House Speaker Chris Benge’s bill creating a separate energy standard for natural gas is an obvious and egregious example of corporate welfare. Rather than directing public utilities to pursue more gas-fired plants, why not end the government’s monopoly of utility market regulation? Yes, this would require closing the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, among other things; that’s how a free and open market works. Companies such as Chesapeake, where Price works, could then enter the market and prove their worthiness by providing customers with the best product and service at the best price — in competition with other companies, of course. Companies would then be free to earn every dollar of their profits cleanly and honestly, and to take genuine pride in doing so.

Rob Abiera, Oklahoma City
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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Supreme Court to Legislature: "Stop wasting time and money on unconstitutional laws."

Wow! I'm loving this!
Oklahoma Supreme Court Tells Legislature: Stop Wasting Money on Unconstitutional Laws

EXCERPT: In a strongly worded "excoriation" of the Oklahoma state legislature, according to Stephanie Toti, a staff attorney at CRR, the Supreme Court ruling calls the passage of these laws "a continuous failure to abide by the Oklahoma constitution."

The Supreme Court ruling released on March 2, 2010, confirmed the lower court ruling on SB 1878, the 2008 law requiring mandatory ultrasound viewing. This was part of a bill that included a veritable menu of other anti-choice provisions including mandaes for the posting of signs in abortion clinics stating that a person may not be coerced into having an abortion procedure and for the information physicians provided to their patients about RU-486. The ruling states:
"We are growing weary of admonishing the Legislature for so flagrantly violating the terms of the Oklahoma Constitution."
The Oklahoma Supreme Court goes on to state that violating the OK Constitution over and over again in relation to the single-subject rule ("Over the last two decades we have addressed the single subject rule at least seven times") is:
"...a waste of time for the Legislature and the Court, and a waste of taxpayer's money."
Thus is exposed the hypocrisy of those who support such laws, who tend to style themselves as "constitutional purists".

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Goliaths: Afraid to Compete in the Reason-and-Persuasion-Only Zone

From the blog of Ilyn Ross. Reposted by permission.
This is a video from the bipartisan healthcare summit on February 25, 2010.

Guarded by the Secret Service and backed by the most powerful police force on Earth, Government-Goliath bashes health insurance companies and touts that looters and moochers have the right to dictate to private insurance companies and the right to extort healthcare services.

Cowards! Shed your coercive power and compete in the free market using reason and persuasion. That you do not is crystal evidence that what you crave to impose on producers would be rejected by a free people.

Power-lusters! Loathe to admit that your whims would be defeated in a free market, you hide behind coercive power. Shed your goons! Compete in the reason-and-persuasion-only zone: the coercion-free market. No? Afraid to compete with honor?

When the government, mandated by the Declaration of Independence to protect equal inherent inalienable rights, is of thugs, by thugs, for thugs: the Secret Service and the police force become the protectors of Goliaths bashing citizens.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Georgia's Liberty Act

Here is the text of the press release issued by the Georgian government on October 12, 2009, outlining the Liberty Act:
Following President Saakashvili’s speech at Parliament on October 6, the Georgian Government submitted the drafts of Constitutional Amendments and Constitutional Law on Liberty, Opportunity and Dignity (the Liberty Act) to the President of Georgia to initiate the legal process.

The Liberty Act seeks to constitutionally enshrine the key economic policies Georgia has successfully pursued since the Rose Revolution. Its highlights are as follows:

Fiscal Responsibility
  • Budget expenditure capped at 30% of GDP (FY 2012)
  • Budget deficit capped at 3% of GDP (FY 2012)
  • Public debt capped at 60% of GDP (FY 2012)
  • Extrabudgetary funds are limited
  • Budget earmarks are limited

Freedom from Bureaucratic Discretion and Interference

  • An increase in the overall number of licenses and permits is capped
  • Establishment of new Independent National Regulatory Bodies (in addition to the currently existing regulators in the financial services, utilities and communications sectors) is banned
  • Price controls of any kind (including on the interest rates) are banned
  • The state ownership of banks and other financial intermediation institutions is banned
  • Any restrictions on the full currency convertibility (which Georgia has enjoyed since the mid-1990s) are banned
  • Any kind of control of capital movement are banned, including on the repatriation of profit and capital

Empowering Citizens by Ensuring Choice in Social Programs

  • The Liberty Act advances the long-standing policy of delivering targeted social assistance by funding citizens through vouchers and cash benefits (healthcare coverage, education, poverty benefits, etc) rather than funding directly the institutions engaged in the provision of healthcare, education and other services. It provides for the freedom of choice of the beneficiaries to select the service providers

Returning the Power to Tax to the People

  • No new taxes or increase in the tax rates may be imposed other than following an affirmative vote in a nationwide referendum

“The government is delighted to have worked with President Saakashvili on this ground-breaking initiative. The Liberty Act seeks to limit severely the discretion of the executive branch of government and ensure that the government remains small and limited and taxes (other than through the sovereign will of the people) low and flat. Since 2004, as our economic advancement gained momentum, we have gained many admirers and supporters among the international investor community. However, given that our policies increasingly stand out, even our admirers sometimes could not help but be skeptical about the irreversibility of our reforms in the medium term. The Liberty Act addresses these concerns, by constitutionally enshrining our key policies and thus making them immune to policy drift and reversal”, commented Nika Gilauri, Prime Minister of Georgia.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Georgia acts to limit government

Whatever else may be said about Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia, he's got guts. Here's what he announced at a dinner on Wednesday:
However, the main function of the evening was for the President to outline plans for one of the most sensible pieces of legislation enacted since the United States' Constitution: The Liberty Act. This seeks to constitutionally enshrine the economic reforms pursued since the Rose revolution, by imposing a strict cap on the remit and size of any future government. Under the Act, government spending is not permitted to exceed 30% of GDP, while the budget deficit is capped at 3% and public debt at 60%. Price controls and state ownership of financial institutions are banned, and no new taxes or increase in tax rates can be imposed without a referendum.

. . . One question in particular elicited a marvelous response. When asked why he was seeking to bind his successors, the President promptly replied, "I don't trust any government, including my own".

(via Michael Labeit!)
BRAVO, PRESIDENT SAAKHASHVILI!

If only more of America's politicians had that kind of back-bone!

Hmmm . . . I may have to forward this to all of my elected officials.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No free market for liquor in Oklahoma

The Senate's Committee on Business and Labor voted down a proposed constitutional amendment that would have created a freer market for wine and beer in two Oklahoma counties, according to this story in The Oklahoman.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

The Oklahoman jumps on the Tea Party bandwagon

Well, this is certainly an interesting development:
Palin, Tea Party movement should be taken seriously
It's the lead editorial in this morning's The Oklahoman.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Oh, really?

A story in this morning's The Oklahoman discusses reactions from Democrats to bills currently in the Oklahoma legislature to counter any federal takeover of health care.

Here are some quotes from the Democrats. The question I ask myself when reading such things is, do these people expect anyone to actually believe such statements?

Governor Brad Henry: "States don’t have the ability to impact the cost of health care . . . " Really? Since when? "It’s not healthy to create these battles between state and federal government . . . " Uh, excuse me, wasn't it the federal government that created this battle?

Senate Minority Leader Designate Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City: "The level of disrespect in those resolutions is troubling to members of our caucus . . . " Oh really? Who's disrespecting who here?

Senator Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa: "Work with us, because I’m sick of it." What exactly is that supposed to mean? So what if you're sick of it. "Work with us" or what, Senator?

Interesting, too that Senator Rice would actually admit publicly that Obama is not popular.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Altruism and Rights

Craig Biddle - in his Objective Standard article "The Creed of Sacrifice vs. The Land of Liberty" - quotes from Comte's The Catechism of Positive Religion:
The French philosopher Auguste Comte (who coined the term “altruism”) puts this clearly: Because “to live for others” is “for all of us a constant duty” and “the definitive formula of human morality,” it follows that “[a]ll honest and sensible men, of whatever party, should agree, by a common consent, to eliminate the doctrine of rights.” Altruism, explained Comte, “cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism.” On the premise of altruism, “[rights] are as absurd as they are immoral. . . . The whole notion, then, must be completely put away.”
I strongly recommend reading the entire article.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Restricting eminent domain

I'm not up to speed on Oklahoma's laws regarding eminent domain, but these bills by Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna look pretty good to me:
The bills proposed by McKenna would prohibit use of eminent domain for economic development and redefine blight so that it applies only to specific properties rather than broad areas.

The legislation also would reform the state's Community Renewal Law to keep cities from using it as the means for transferring private property from one private party and to another for economic development purposes.
According to this editorial, Washington's cities have succeeded in preventing the bills from being considered by the state's legislature so far.

For the record, my personal position is that eminent domain should be abolished, not simply restricted.

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Eminent domain rears its ugly head in OKC

From The Oklahoman:
The Oklahoma City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday to declare a 692-acre area south of downtown blighted and subject to urban renewal.

The move allows the city to use eminent domain to buy land for MAPS 3 projects, including a $130 million, 70-acre downtown park and a $280 million convention center. The city also could buy land in the area and turn it over for private redevelopment, a controversial urban renewal tool that drew the lone no vote from Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters.
So, how many individual properties in this area actually fit the description of "blighted"? What is the definition of the word? Urban Renewal Authority attorney Leslie Batchelor told the City Council
" . . . declaring the area blighted isn’t a negative judgment. It allows the city to use new tools to help the area come back to life."
So, "blighted" means whatever the City needs it to mean to "allow" it to use "new tools"? Not what I would call an objective definition.

Kudos to Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters for voting against this smoke-and-mirrors routine and for publicly saying:
"We’re supposed to have private property rights in this country."
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