Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A call for the separation of economy and state

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

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 Government needs to get out of the way of the freedom it was created to protect: laws need to be repealed, regulations need to be eliminated and government agencies need to be closed.

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

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

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

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

Sally Kern tells a whopper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlas Shrugged on display

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

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

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

The First Amendment and the Supreme Court

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

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

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

Monday, June 29, 2009

The freest city in the freest country

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

The metaphysical versus the man-made

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

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

Universal Health Care

Good cartoon in today's The Oklahoman.

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

Improve visa system to keep smart foreigners

Editorial in today's The Oklahoman on immigration reform.

The editorial refers to issues raised in An Irreplaceable Individual.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An Irreplaceable Individual

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sooner Tea Party

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

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

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

We'll see.

Why Tea Party attendees should read “Atlas Shrugged”

Too bad there won't be any Tea Party in Oklahoma City on July 4th. I hope to post more on that later.

In the meantime, Don Watkins has a good post at Voices for Reason which quotes Atlas Shrugged:
"Yes, this is an age of moral crisis. You are bearing punishment for your evil. But it is not man who is now on trial and it is not human nature that will now take the blame. It is your moral code that’s through, this time. Your moral code has reached its climax, the blind alley at the end of its course. And if you wish to go on living, what you now need is not to return to morality . . . but to discover it."
To paraphrase John Galt: Are you listening, Sally Kern?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kern pushes ‘proclamation for morality’

Oh, here we go - Sally Kern and the Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ/John Birch Society crowd are at it again:
Politics Briefs: Oklahoma lawmaker urges ‘proclamation for morality’
Published: June 20, 2009

Lawmaker urges ‘proclamation for morality’

Religious leaders and elected officials are expected to gather at the state Capitol to sign an "Oklahoma Citizen’s Proclamation for Morality” next month. The group will read the proclamation and then sign the document at noon July 2 on the first floor of the Capitol. In a news release, Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said the proclamation is a call to remember and return Oklahoma to biblical values.

This is immoral.

It is unconstitutional.

It is a monstrous insult to those of us who have earned the self-confidence to exercise our own faculties of independent moral judgement - as every individual human being must do to survive as a human being.

Not to mention that it is fraudulent to claim that Christianity has any kind of monopoly on morality.

Listen, Sally: I've got my own mind. Keep your damn hands off!

You want values, Sally? Read Atlas Shrugged.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Elon Musk: what can I say?

I used to really admire Elon Musk. Then he started running to the government begging for handouts. What, Elon? Don't you have enough confidence in your projects and yourself to do the extra work it might take to find enough private investors?

But this takes the cake: Elon is now stepping up and volunteering to run Detroit. Sounds like Mr. Musk has heard there might be an opening in the government soon for a new post: car czar. Of course Mr. Musk doesn't want to be car czar, he just wants to run things.

Uh, Mr. Musk, if you really want to run America's auto industry, do it the old fashioned way: buy it.

With your own money.

Because if you're volunteering to run it for the government, that's all the proof necessary that you are the last man for the job. Because if you really were qualified to run the auto industry, you'd know that the government is the reason that industry's in the shape it's in right now.

Oh, and as for this:
“I said, ‘Let’s make a rule: There will be no assholes.’ I fired someone for being an asshole. And I only had to do that once, actually.”
Well, I could say something, but I won't.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Growth of independents could play a major role

The editorial writers at The Oklahoman seem to think that voters registered as independent could play a significant role in the race for the next governor:
Independents are fiscally conservative but socially progressive, with a strong libertarian bent. That spells trouble for the Obama administration.

It could also spell victory for the gubernatorial candidate who can win over this bloc.
I fervently hope that the Reclaim Oklahoma/Birch Society crowd continues to do everything it can to alienate voters here. The more the Religious Right undermines its own credibility, the more opportunity it creates for more rational candidates.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

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

This is the 100th edition of the Objectivist Round Up!