Monday, August 31, 2009

Whole Foods coming to OKC

Here's the report at
Whole Foods to Open in Oklahoma City

Posted: Aug 28, 2009 11:15 PM CDT
Updated: Aug 31, 2009 9:05 AM CDT

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Whole Foods Market has plans to open a location in Oklahoma City in the near future.

A Whole Foods employee confirmed a store should be open within the next 16 months, but a location has not yet been revealed.

Whole Foods already has a location in Tulsa.

Learn more about Whole Foods at their Web site.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Reality Talk.

In Defense of Oil

The Ayn Rand Center has a new page on its website devoted to Oil.

And here's a blog post about it at Voices for Reason.

Conservatism: an obituary

Now online at the Ayn Rand Center website:
Conservatism: An Obituary

Ayn Rand discusses the appalling spectacle of conservatives trying to defend capitalism - while scurrying to evade its actual meaning; also, why conservatives are an impediment to laissez-faire capitalism.

The original alternative energy market

Here's a good article by Mr. Epstein on the origins of the oil industry which posits - among other things - that oil was originally considered to be as esoteric - and as unlikely to be a candidate for financial success - as solar or wind power today.
Energy at the Speed of Thought: The Original Alternative Energy Market
What made it possible for oil to be so successful?


(No, the market was nowhere near completely free in the 19th century, but it was much freer than anything that exists today.)

Happy Oil Day, everybody!

I received this press release from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights yesterday:
Celebrate Oil Day!

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 26, 2009--Tomorrow, August 27, marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the oil industry in the United States.

According to Alex Epstein, an analyst with the Ayn Rand Center, “Nearly every item in your life would either not exist or be far more expensive without oil; there is simply no comparable source of practical, portable energy.

“Yet today people increasingly label oil a pollutant that damages rather than enhances our lives and, even worse, an addiction--likening our consumption of oil to a junkie’s self-destructive heroin habit. This is profoundly ignorant, not to mention unfair to the petroleum industry that tirelessly innovates, year after year, to find more oil and extract it more efficiently.

“In previous generations, the birth of the oil industry was celebrated, and deservedly so. Oil has sustained and enhanced billions of lives for more than 150 years by providing superior, affordable, ultra-convenient energy--and is as vital today as ever.

“Today, though, we should be celebrating petroleum and the industry, past and present, that uses it to work miracles in our lives.”


Mr. Epstein is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on business issues.

Mr. Epstein’s op-eds and letters to the editor have appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Canada’s National Post, and the Washington Times. He is also a contributing writer for “The Objective Standard,” a quarterly journal of culture and politics. Mr. Epstein has been a guest on numerous nationally syndicated radio programs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Virtual Objectivist Club

The following is an excerpt of an email from Keith Schacht:
I helped start the Objectivist Club Network (OCN), an organization dedicated to helping all Objectivist Campus Clubs. OCN is not affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute, although we support them and regularly communicate with them to ensure our respective organizations are not duplicating efforts.

Recently we've expanded our efforts to solve a new problem: there are students interested in joining an Objectivist club where no club exists. Some of these students start their own club, but others don't have time to start a club or do not find enough participants on campus to form a club.

We've created the Virtual Objectivist Club (VOC) for these students -- a phone-based discussion group dedicated to the study of Objectivism. Meetings will be weekly, beginning this September, each moderated by an experienced Objectivist. The group is open to any current students who would like to learn more about Objectivism.

My request: Please help spread the word to any students you know who may be interested in learning more about Objectivism. The deadline for applying to the VOC is August 31st. Students can learn more and apply at:

Please let me know if you have any questions and we greatly appreciate you sharing this with others!

Keith & the OCN Team

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

9-13 Tea Party

I received this yesterday: -- Contact or
“The Original Oklahoma City Tea Party Folks”
Post Office Box 94851, Oklahoma City, OK 73143

August 21, 2009

Oklahoma City – The OKC Tea Party has announced their next event, the 9-13 Solidarity March and OKC Tea Party, will be conducted the afternoon of September 13, 2009 at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Solidarity March will begin at 3:00 p.m. on the east side of the Oklahoma History Center at the intersection of Northeast 23rd Street and Kelley Avenue across from the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion. The OKC Tea Party Rally will begin 4:30 p.m. at the North steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The march and rally coincides with the Taxpayer March on D.C. scheduled in the Nation’s Capitol the same weekend.

OKC Tea Party spokesman Dan Ward describes the group as one made up of strictly volunteers that are committed to organizing rallies that allow as many Oklahomans as possible to get together and see that they are not alone in their disgust with the rapid growth of government. “Contrary to what’s been alleged, we are not controlled or funded by any political group. We don’t endorse candidates, political parties, or political activist organizations. We merely point out bad behavior and let the people decide what they need to do as individuals.”Ward said.

The crowd at the group’s last rally was estimated at between 6 - 7,000 Oklahomans and others attending from out of state. That first large Tea Party protest in Oklahoma City was conducted on April 15th (“Tax Day”) in response to the Fall 2008 bank bailout, the federal government’s ‘Stimulus’ legislation passed this Spring, and the pending takeover of General Motors and Chrysler by federal authorities. It was organized after a call was made on the air by CNBC business correspondent Rick Santelli on February 27th. As a result, over 700 other Tea Parties were conducted around the country in response to Santelli’s impromptu call for action.

According to OKC Tea Party director Margie Drescher, “Oklahomans actually have more reason to show up on September 13th. For our original rally in April, we had only perhaps two major issues that were greatly disturbing average Oklahomans. Now we see a pattern that seems relentless.” The pattern she described included the actual government takeover of GM and Chrysler, the pending Cap and Trade energy legislation and the current Presidential and Congressional effort to completely take over America’s health care system. “All of this only a select few seem to want. And when Americans find out the details, they know in their hearts and minds it is inimical to our founding principles and will greatly lower our standard of living.” she said.

The September 13th event was previously scheduled for September 12th before a conflict developed between an already scheduled event the same day, September Fest. Because the Oklahoma Highway Patrol cancelled all other scheduled events that day due to manpower concerns, the OKC Tea Party Rally and March was moved from Saturday to Sunday.


Margie Drescher, Director, OKC Tea Party – (405) 595-7622,
Dan Ward, Deputy Director, OKC Tea Party – (405) 470-4756,

The Mission of the OKC Tea Party/Patriots In Action is to conduct premier rallies to call, educate, and inspire and motivate to action all Oklahomans and our elected representatives in order to restore out of control governments at all levels to governments that are operated according to the precepts and principles of our Founders and the limits imposed by our Founding Documents.

GOP Health Care Reform Is More of the Same

Press release from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights:
GOP Health Care Reform Is More of the Same

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 25, 2009--In a Washington Post editorial yesterday, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele offered his principles for reforming health care. While he rightly condemned the Obama plan for expanding government control over health care, Mr. Steele vowed to preserve the existing government policies and programs that are responsible for today’s health care crisis, such as Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center, writes, “If the government guarantees health care to people, costs have to skyrocket. When someone else is footing the bill for health care costs, consumers demand medical services without having to consider their real price. The artificially inflated demand this creates sends expenditures soaring out of control. It is irrelevant whether the government finances this spending spree directly, as it does with traditional Medicare, or indirectly, as with Medicare Advantage. In the end, the results are the same.

“The only way to fix the problems caused by government interference in medicine is to eliminate government interference in medicine. By returning to a truly free system where each individual is responsible for his own health care costs, we would unleash the power of capitalism in the medical industry, leading ultimately to high quality, affordable medical care for Americans. Let’s start looking at ways to phase out government interference in medicine.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Morality of Health Care

Paul Hsieh has a post at NoodleFood which is a good resource for advocates of a free market in health care.

He contends that the focus in the health care debate is shifting from economics to morality:
This is good news for free market reform advocates. . . . Most Americans want to "do the right thing", but they are sometimes mistaken as to what that right thing is. Fortunately, more and more people are raising the point that universal health care is wrong because there is no such thing as a "right" to health care.
Paul surveys some recent op-eds on the morality of health care, and includes a look at Leonard Peikoff's classic essay, "Health Care Is Not A Right".

Rights are guarantees of freedom of action. There is no such thing as a right to the product of another person's effort. This includes medicine.

Yes, we do need to reform the government's policy on health care: government needs to get completely out of the health care business and let the free market do its job.

As Anders Ingemarson put it in a letter in the Denver Post, this
. . . will result in an abundance of health care options for people of all means.

Friday, August 21, 2009

D'Souza in OKC

As a commenter reminded me, Dinesh D'Souza - author of The Enemy at Home and What’s So Great About Christianity - will be coming to Oklahoma City on February 18th. No doubt he'll be preaching to the choir. Surely he must be one of Sally Kern's favorite authors.

Elan Journo exposes D'Souza's theocratic agenda in this series of posts at Voices for Reason:
D’Souza’s Trojan Horse

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 2

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 3

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 4

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 5

D’Souza’s Trojan Horse — part 6

WTF? Coburn to Obama: "Jump right in"

Okay, this is just downright strange: Tom Coburn telling Obama that the way to get health-care legislation moving is for Obama to get more involved in the debate?


Did I miss something? Obama hasn't exactly been holding himself back as far as I can tell.

And Senator Coburn, just whose side are you on, anyway? Are we about to see a replay of your performance on the bank bail-out?

Tea Parties and recess rallies

"Recess rallies" will be be held across the nation tomorrow to protest Obamacare. I don't know how much response there will be to the one taking place at the Capitol tomorrow - I've only seen a couple of emails about it.

If response to recent local town halls - such as the "double-header" conducted in Oklahoma City by Mary Fallin to accomodate some 2000-3000 people - is any indication, turnout might be sizable.

I do know that the local rally is being organized by the same group of theocrats and Birchers who organized the Sooner Tea Party on July 4th. I didn't attend that rally, but videos of the speakers have been posted on YouTube.

The Sooner Tea Party group is not to be confused with the OKC Tea Party group behind the Tax Day Tea Party rally on April 15th - or are they? At the time, the OKC group was at least willing to distance itself from overt theocrats such as Sally Kern.

Since then, they shut down their discussion forums for awhile - both on Facebook and their website - but now the forums on their Facebook page are back up.

They also aligned themselves with the so-called "912" movement and they're gearing up for a "912" rally on the afternoon of Sunday, September 13th at the Capitol.

This is part of a nationwide event in which even some Objectivists are participating as speakers and even organizers in some locations. The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights is even listed as a co-sponsor of the Washington, DC rally. I wonder what Oklahoma City's theocrats and Birchers think of that?

It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine

The blog of FIRM - which stands for Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine - provides a wealth of information on the current health-care debate from a secular, free market, individual rights perspective.

It's where I found the post by Radley Balko about the Whole Foods boycott - among other things.

Check it out at

Balko on Whole Foods

Radley Balko had a recent post which pretty much demolishes the boycott of Whole Foods.

Mandates and real income of real people

There's an interesting post on NoodleFood about how much Obamacare will actually cost an average person.

Here are a couple of excerpts:
If the House of Representatives proposal passes, I expect that my premiums will be right at the legal maximum of 12% where subsidies kick in... assuming that my income doesn't rise past the threshold where a single man is ineligible for help! It averages around $40K, so 12% is $400 a month. I know I can't afford to pay that; I used to pay that much for Blue Cross, and it left me under chronic financial stress. So I'm planning to pay the penalties; 2.5% is $1K a year, which will hurt me, but it won't completely wipe me out. On the other hand, I can't see how it's supposed to help me maintain my health.
All income redistribution strikes me as ethically dubious, but income redistribution from the young and poor to the old and nonpoor seems hard to justify in terms of the values the Democratic Party claims to support.

What the health care bill actually says

Here's John David Lewis with his thoughts on the actual text - as of August 10th - of sections of HR3200, the "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009" bill.

Want to read the entire bill?

Here ya go.

It's intervention that has failed

Yaron Brook tweeted that he and John Allison will be making a presentation at New York University. They're calling it:
A Failure of Government Meddling -- Capitalism is the Cure for the Financial Crisis

Now if I could just figure out how to get these guys to come to Oklahoma City . . .

Sports and selfishness

Here's an interesting article that is sure to generate discussion among Objectivists and other sports fans alike:
Allen Iverson and the Virtue of Selfishness
I especially appreciate how the author, Roger Pimentel, points out that selfishness and cooperation don't automatically and necessarily conflict.

Though Pimentel contrasts the career - and character - of Allen Iverson with that of Howard Roark in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, referring to Iverson as one of the great 'creators' of basketball, he doesn't mention what Iverson himself thinks of Rand, or if Iverson is even aware of Rand.

Sports strikes me as being a natural venue for the promotion of Objectivist morality, due partly to the overwhelming popularity of sports as well as its being an area where the pursuit of the best is on display. Personally, I think the emphasis on selflessness in sports is misplaced, especially in those sports where athletes compete as individuals, and has always struck me as being unnatural, forced and unconvincing. It played a major role in turning me off of athletics when I was younger.

Via Randex

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Capitalism is an ideology - and there's nothing wrong with that

I'm glad to see that there has been an ongoing discussion - in the letters section of the Oklahoma Gazette - of the issues raised in a story about 'urban foraging' in the Gazette's July 8th issue ("Foragers and 'freegans'" by Heide Brandes). My own contribution to this discussion appeared in the July 22nd edition.

There's an excellent letter in this week's Gazette by Scott A. Eden of Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, the Gazette does not post letters online, so you'll have to pick up a paper copy to read it.

The letter refers to the 'freeganism' espoused by Matt Zitterkob in the original July 8th story - specifically Zitterkob's condemnation of Capitalism (which Zitterkob reiterated in a letter in the July 29th issue).

Eden largely concerns his letter with the issue of how much actual Capitalism actually exists in this country (not nerely enough) and whether Capitalism is actually to blame for the ills Zitterkob ascribes to it (No).

Eden goes on to correctly identify the government as the true cause of the ills cited by Zitterkob.

Here's the last paragraph of Eden's letter:
Fancy yourself a hero for the oppressed if you wish, but when karma comes calling, don't say capitalism was to blame.
Great stuff, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, the letter is not perfect - earlier it seems to veer into pragmatism by disparaging ideology:
Capitalism is not a political philosophy, unlike a half-baked, coffee house notion of Marxism.
If Capitalism is not a political philosophy, what is it? Eden does not answer this question, and further on asserts that Zitterkob's condemnation of Capitalism is
. . . nothing more than ideology masquerading as serious theory.
Why is ideology a bad thing? Eden doesn't say: he simply uses the word as a smear.

Any system of ideas may be referred to as an ideology - there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Some ideologies actually are, in fact, serious theories. But attacking your opponents for having an ideology is attacking them for taking the trouble to think about their ideas enough to see how they relate to each other and interact with each other to form a system. This is a swipe at systems, at intellectual effort - and ultimately at philosophy itself.

To attack your opponents for having an ideology is to attack them for taking ideas seriously - and to suggest that you do not.

It's a shame such a thing has to mar such an otherwise excellent letter.

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted by Rule of Reason.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whole Foods CEO opposes Obamacare

I wonder what the people who want to bring a Whole Foods market to Oklahoma City think of this?
The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Commercial speech should be free, too

Here's a column from Jack Willis that stands up for commercial speech. It's from the Oklahoma Gazette - somehow I managed to overlook it when it was printed a couple of weeks ago.

While I applaud Willis' stand in favor of freedom in this realm - particularly his recognition that commercial speech is still speech and should be entitled to protection under the First Amendment - the quote from Mark Thomas of the Oklahoma Press Association makes him look appallingly naive considering how oppressive restrictions on commercial and political speech are already.

Yes, the American people do need to stand up for themselves and demand the repeal of those restrictions.

Objectivist Round Up

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More on town halls

Here's a story in today's The Oklahoman that includes video of a town hall with Tom Cole yesterday in Moore.

According to the story, 500 people showed up. Check out the comments, as well.

Tulsa mayoral candidate says putting creationism display in zoo is top priority

Falling says putting Christian creationism display in the Tulsa Zoo is top priority

Republican mayoral candidate Anna Falling said Tuesday that putting a Christian creationism display in the Tulsa Zoo is No. 1 in importance among city issues that include violent crime, budget woes and bumpy streets.

“It’s first,” she said to calls of “hallelujah” at a rally outside the zoo. “If we can’t come to the foundation of faith in this community, those other answers will never come. We need to first of all recognize the fact that God needs to be honored in this city.”

Well, I guess that has to go right up there with Sally Kern's assertion that homosexuality is a greater threat to the country than terrorism.

So much for the rationality of the religious right.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

OK town halls OK so far

(Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

The Oklahoman has a story this morning on town hall meetings being conducted across the state by members of Congress.

According to Frank Lucas' press secretary, Leslie Shield,
. . . about 250 people showed up for the meeting in Altus, "which is huge."

"In general, people have been more frustrated than usual," she said. "They don’t seem to be as angry as some of the (town hall crowds) you see on TV. People are just frustrated right now and they don’t think their government is listening to them."
Why isn't the government listening? A commenter - Amber, Norman, 9:05 AM - provides a clue in the form of a her interpretation of a letter by Tom Cole:
While I appreciate your opinion, I believe that you sent me to Washington so that I can decide what is best for you and vote accordingly.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

White House calls for 'tracking' of health-care critics

Well, I wonder how Obama is going to deal with this one. Here it is - straight off the White House website:
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

(Emphasis mine)
Sure looks to me like he's asking private citizens to monitor each other's private conversations.

Via Rational Jenn & ChristineMMTTM on Twitter.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Allison, Rand and Objectivism in the New York Times

While it's difficult to judge the impact such exposure could have, I personally think that the fact that the paper considered to be the premier bastion of liberalism in the country would print, not just a detailed, but a genuinely honest appraisal of Objectivism's current impact on the culture, could safely be described as huge.

The article, printed in today's edition, describes John Allison's leadership of BB&T Bank in the context of the current cultural impact of Objectivism in light of the meteoric rise in sales of Atlas Shrugged this year.

Here are a few nuggets from the piece, which quotes, not just Allison, but figures such as Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute, as well:
Give BB&T Liberty, but Not a Bailout

"To say man is bad because he is selfish is to say (he's) bad because he’s alive."(Emphasis mine)

. . .

"For his part, Mr. Brook is encouraged by the new interest in Ms. Rand’s work, but feels that it has yet to have much impact on the political debate. He’s also struggling to change a popular perception that the financial crisis was caused by deregulation and the fiscal policies of a top Rand disciple: Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman.

Mr. Brook argues that the problem wasn’t deregulation, but “misregulation.” He also says it’s unfortunate that Mr. Greenspan continues to be associated with Ms. Rand. While the two were close in the 1960s and ’70s, Mr. Greenspan abandoned objectivism decades ago, he says. Through a spokesman, Mr. Greenspan declined to comment."

. . .

"Fiscal conservatives . . . find much to praise in Ms. Rand’s economic views. Yet even for that crowd, her social views are a tougher sell.

Ms. Rand was an ardent atheist who considered the cross a symbol of how "a man of perfect virtue" sacrificed himself for a bunch of losers. "It is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors," she said."

. . .

"The last 50 years have been an orgy of placing need above wealth creation, above personal pursuit of happiness," Mr. Brook says. "I think we are seeing the consequences of that today."

. . .

"Mr. Allison says the government forced BB&T and some other healthy banks to accept TARP money to obscure that they were simply trying to save several large banks like Citigroup.

"Everyone thinks we got some kind of subsidy," he says, noting that his company paid the money back in June, with interest. "It’s going to cost us about $250 million for money we didn’t want.""

. . .

"Mr. Allison cites two examples in which the bank’s philosophy guided its real-world decisions.

After the Supreme Court upheld the right of local governments in 2005 to condemn private property and hand it to someone else for commercial development, he says, BB&T refused to make loans to developers who obtained property that way.

He also says BB&T decided not to offer the controversial "pick a payment" mortgages that got so many of its competitors into trouble. Such loans, also known as "option A.R.M.’s" or "negative amortization loans," allow borrowers to make payments that don’t even cover the interest on the loans, which causes the amount they owe to grow."

. . .

""We believe Rand’s concept of the ‘trader principle,’ where life is about trading value for value, where both parties benefit from the transaction," he says."

. . .

"In some ways, Ayn Rand filled in the ideas of Aristotle. It’s a whopping competitive advantage," he says. "I personally believe objectivism will be the dominant philosophy in this country in 25 years."