Monday, December 10, 2007
The Objective Standard (http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/) posted this brilliantly thorough analysis of the history, immorality, and impracticality of so-called "universal"health care along with the actual solution to today's government caused health care mess (and guess what - it's not more government regulations). I have added to my links the author's site http://www.westandfirm.org/ for more details.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
"Bush said homeowners concerned about mortgages that are about to jump up should seek help before they fall behind in their payments. For starters, they can call a new hot line operated by an industry alliance known as HOPE NOW: 1-888-995-HOPE. "
The so-called mortgage "crisis" and the recent political events surrounding it, in essence, represent everything that is wrong with our culture philosophically, economically and politically. The cause of this crisis remains unidentified by mainstream intellectuals and the solutions proposed to alleviate it will only make the problem worse and most likely hurt most the very people it is intended to help.
These types of crises and those yet to come are the consequence of a philosophical crisis to the extent that intellectuals and the public are unable or unwilling to think in principle and to the extent that the culture accepts altruism or self-sacrifice as morally good. It is an economic crisis to the extent that so-called experts in economics are unable to identify the fundamental causes. It escalates into a political crisis when the ignorant, unprincipled buffoons in Washington spurred on by altruistic bromides and parasites seeking the unearned launch a legislative orgy of idiotic rules and regulations.
Note that in all the discussions surrounding this fiasco, the root causes of this "crisis" are never discussed. It is not even discussed that it is not discussed. It's as if such a crisis is simply the given and to even attempt to understand it is futile. To the extent that any sentiment is expressed it is something on the level of "those darn banks" or "those evil greedy wall street guys" or in essence any explanation that casts businessmen as the villains and those that knowingly entered into these contracts as unsuspecting dupes.
Of course, if the "evil" bankers were to have withheld loans from high risk borrowers they would be denounced as miserly Scrooges who won't give the "little guy" a break and in fact would be punished by law, since as Yaron Brook points out in his excellent op-ed "Predatory Legislating" the government literally forces the banks to lend to high risk borrowers as part of the Community Reinvestment Act. On the other hand, if they lend money frivously they are cast as villains for having foisted some sort of scam on the public and apparently will now be punished under a new bill which contains vaguely worded "rules" alleging that they should have "known better." This op-ed brilliantly argues against the bill recently passed and identifies the likely consequences if implemented. http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2007/12/03/predatory-business-act-oped-cx_yb_1204predatory.html
The lack of an attempt to identify the causes of such problems is a symptom of a larger philosophical crisis. The value of reason, rationality, and logic have been under attack for over 200 years from secular academic philosophers who tell us that nothing can be known for sure and there are no absolutes and by the religionists who tell us there are absolutes but that truth is only revealed by scripture. The antidote to this false alternative is a philosophy that upholds the validity of reason as an absolute and therefore the efficacy of man's mind to comprehend the world. Unfortunately, this inability and unwillingness to think in principle has devasting consequences.
If the intellectuals and politicians could think in principle they might start by studying the fundamental economics behind this crisis. I link to Dr. Reisman's excellent blog "The Housing Bubble and the Credit Crunch" and the further links on his site.
The fundamental solution politically is freedom, i.e., the freedom of individuals and firms to enter into contracts and to reap the rewards or suffer the consequences of their actions. A truly free market would imply the total abolition of the Federal Reserve system with a return to a 100% reserve gold standard. Dr. Reisman has written a treatise on this topic but suffice to say it is the only way to finally end the "boom-bust" cycle caused by the government's ability to arbitrarily print money.
The underlying cause of government intervention into the economy is not just economic ignorance. It is the principle of altruism which motivates those who seek the unearned and provides justification for those who pass laws that intervene into business in order to allegedly help those in "need." The altruist is never dissuaded by economic arguments that show his position to be contradictory or even damaging to those he wishes to help. As long as he believes his actions are "moral" this madness will continue. Note that even the Republicans which are supposedly for free markets always buckle as soon as the first sobbing emotional appeal is made. This is also why Republicans which ally themselves with religion and altruism can never properly defend capitalism and are seen as hypocrites. In this way, it is not the enemies of capitalism that are responsible for its demise. For a brilliant exposition of this argument I quote Ayn Rand:
"Karl Marx predicted that capitalism would commit suicide. The American businessmen are carrying out that prediction. In destroying themselves, they are destroying capitalism of which they are the symbol and product -and America, which is the greatest and freest example of capitalism mankind has ever reached. There is no outside power that can destroy such men and such a country. Only an inner power can do it: the power of morality. More specifically: the power of a contemptibly evil idea accepted as a moral principle-altruism.
Remember that altruism does not mean kindness or consideration for other men. Altruism is a moral theory which preaches that man must sacrifice himself for others, that he must place the interests of others above his own, that he must live for the sake of others.
Altruism is a monstrous notion. It is the morality of cannibals devouring one another. It is a theory of profound hatred for man, for reason, for achievement, for any form of human success or happiness on earth.
Altruism is incompatible with capitalism - and with businessmen. Businessmen are a cheerful, benevolent, optimistic, predominantly American phenomenon. The essence of their job is the constant struggle to improve human life, to satisfy human needs and desires - not to practice resignation, surrender, and worship of surrfering. And here is the profound gulf between businessmen and altruism: businessmen do not sacrifice themselves to others-if they did, they would be out of business in a few months or days-they profit, they grow rich, they are rewarded, as they should be. This is what the altruist, the collectivist and the other sundry 'humanitarians' hate the buinessmen for: that they pursue a personal goal and succeed at it. Do not fool yourself by thinking that altruists are motivated by compassion for suffering: they are motivated by hatred for the successful."
(From "The Sanction of the Victims" by Ayn Rand, 1981; The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought, edited by Leonard Peikoff)
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"Sudan charged a British teacher Wednesday with inciting religious hatred after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad, an offense that could subject her to 40 lashes, the Justice Ministry said."
"Northern Sudan's legal system is based on Islam's Sharia law, which harshly punishes blasphemy. Any depiction of the prophet is forbidden in Islam, for fear it would provoke idolatry. Caricatures of Muhammad in some European media last year sparked riots in several Muslim countries."
Here is another story about a Saudi Arabian gang rape victim who was sentenced to 200 lashes and 6 months in prison.
Physical force and violence are corrolaries of religion. If people can not reason with one another, i.e., prove their claims through reference to reality, then the only means left to settle disputes is brute force. The specifics of any given violation of some religions' absurd and arbitrary decrees or the particular form of savagery meted out by their "authorities" is not important in principle. Whether it is 40 lashes for naming Teddy Bears after a prophet, burning "witches", the vicious evil of the Inquisition, the 1000 years of hell on earth known as the Dark Ages or even recent government censorship by the so-called moral majority, note that religion by its nature must and has resulted in nothing but violence, brutality, and human misery.
Fortunately, America's Founding Fathers recognized this and specifically separated Church and State although that separation like most of our liberties is slowly fading. For those that don't completely understand the absolute necessity of this separation, stories like the two described above in addition to the daily atrocities commited by Middle Eastern theocracies are yet further reminders of what real hell would be: not violating His so-called laws but abiding by them.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I ran across a reference to Robert G. Ingersoll in a biography of Edison (who was greatly influenced by him). Ingersoll was part of the "Freethought" movement of the 19th century and an outspoken opponent of religion. The above links to a brilliant piece titled "About the Holy Bible" written in 1894 which not only provides a thorough expose of biblical contradiction but more importantly recognizes the fundamental conflict between religion and liberty or more specifically between religion and man's happiness on earth. Here are two brief excerpts:
There are many millions of people who believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God -- millions who think that this book is staff and guide, counselor and consoler; that it fills the present with peace and the future with hope -- millions who believe that it is the fountain of law, Justice and mercy, and that to its wise and benign teachings the world is indebted for its liberty, wealth and civilization -- millions who imagine that this book is a revelation from the wisdom and love of God to the brain and heart of man -- millions who regard this book as a torch that conquers the darkness of death, and pours its radiance on another world -- a world without a tear.
They forget its ignorance and savagery, its hatred of liberty, its religious persecution; they remember heaven, but they forget the dungeon of eternal pain. They forget that it imprisons the brain and corrupts the heart. They forget that it is the enemy of intellectual freedom. Liberty is my religion. Liberty of hand and brain -- of thought and labor, liberty is a word hated by kings -- loathed by popes. It is a word that shatters thrones and altars -- that leaves the crowned without subjects, and the outstretched hand of superstition without alms. Liberty is the blossom and fruit of justice -- the perfume of mercy. Liberty is the seed and soil, the air and light, the dew and rain of progress, love and joy.
Here is another excerpt:
For thousands of years men have been writing the real Bible, and it is being written from day to day, and it will never be finished while man has life. All the facts that we know, all the truly recorded events, all the discoveries and inventions, all the wonderful machines whose wheels and levers seem to think, all the poems, crystals from the brain, flowers from the heart, all the songs of love and joy, of smiles and tears, the great dramas of Imagination's world, the wondrous paintings, miracles of form and color, of light and shade, the marvelous marbles that seem to live and breathe, the secrets told by rock and star, by dust and flower, by rain and snow, by frost and flame, by winding stream and desert sand, by mountain range and billowed sea.
All the wisdom that lengthens and ennobles life, all that avoids or cures disease, or conquers pain -- all just and perfect laws and rules that guide and shape our lives, all thoughts that feed the flames of love the music that transfigures, enraptures
and enthralls the victories of heart and brain, the miracles that hands have wrought, the deft and cunning hands of those who worked for wife and child, the histories of noble deeds, of brave and useful men, of faithful loving wives, ofquenchless mother-love, of conflicts for the right, of sufferings for the truth, of all the best that all the men and women of the world have said, and thought and done through all the years.
These treasures of the heart and brain -- these are the Sacred Scriptures of the human race.
I also enjoyed the following answer to a questioner by Dr. Leonard Peikoff on his website linked below.
Q: I am concerned about the “global warming” movement, and think that it might be a worse threat than Islamic Fundamentalism. Do you agree?
A: The global-warming movement is one offshoot of today’s mysticism and statism. As many have observed, it represents in essence the onetime pro-industrial Reds changing—with the same purpose, but to be achieved this time by different means—into the anti-industrial Greens. The global-warming call to statism will have harmful effects but, I think, the movement is going to be short-lived; too many people remember how recently we were terrorized by the prospect of an imminent, man-caused ice age, and before that by the doom of over-population, DDT, etc.
The danger to the West is not this kaleidoscope of absurd concrete-bound threats, but the philosophy which makes their common denominator stick. This is the very philosophy (unreason and self-sacrifice) which is the essence of religion.
If and when people do become frightened by all these projections of the Apocalypse, it will not advance the secular or quasi-religious doomsayers, but merely push people more strongly into the arms of their basic teachers, who have taught them their intellectual and moral framework and who promise safety from everything, in the hands of God.
The Greens offer no solution to the disasters they predict but sacrifice for worms and forests, a big and permanent cut in man’s standard of living, and a big increase in government. This is not exactly a platform which will attract a mass base; its adherents will mainly be corrupted intellectuals, with not much national influence. The religionists, by contrast, offer as the solution to all problems a firm code of values, moral principles supposedly provided by God and proved through the ages—and claim to promote the dignity of man and his eternal joy. Which of these contenders do you think people will follow?
To compare ecology and religion in terms of the threat to our future is to fail to understand the power of abstract ideas. No political movement, however popular at the moment, can compete in the long run with a basic philosophy.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
By Keith Lockitch
It isn't news that environmentalism has gone mainstream in a big way--with organic food in every grocery store, hybrid cars on every freeway, and every mass-market magazine declaring green the "new black." More than ever before, consumers are buying into environmentalist ideology--and buying products that purport to impact nature less, in order to impact nature less.
One would think that serious environmentalists would be thrilled about this trend--thrilled that the public seems willing to take ecological marching orders and do its duty to the planet. But they aren't: A backlash against "buying green" has arisen in environmentalist circles, with critics disparaging the new eco-consumers as "light greens," and condemning the "Cosmo-izing of the green movement."
Surprising? Not really. Not if one grasps the deeper meaning of environmentalism.
Most people have a mistaken view of environmentalism. They see it as a movement whose goal is to protect the environment so that we, and future generations, may continue to enjoy it. Environmentalists might call for certain sacrifices--like stern priests calling upon us to do penance for our sins--but people take their word for it that those sacrifices will turn out to be for the good of "society." People feel virtuous in paying more for those organic blueberries and spending time washing out tin cans and nasty cloth diapers, because they see it as a sacrifice for the "greater good." And although "going green" may demand some cost and effort, it need not--on this view--be too burdensome nor demand personal hardships that are too great.
But in fact, the goal of environmentalism is not any alleged benefit to mankind; its goal is to preserve nature untouched--to prevent nature from being altered for human purposes. Observe that whenever there is a conflict between the goals of "preserving nature" and pursuing some actual human value, environmentalists always side with nature against man. If tapping Arctic oil reserves to supply our energy needs might affect the caribou, environmentalists demand that we leave vast tracts of Arctic tundra completely untouched. If a new freeway bypass will ease traffic congestion but might disturb the dwarf wedge mussel, environmentalists side with the mollusk against man. If a "wetland" is a breeding ground for disease-carrying insects, environmentalists fight to prevent it being drained no matter the toll of human suffering.
It is simply not true that environmentalism values human well being. It demands sacrifices, not for the sake of any human good, but for the sake of leaving nature untouched. It calls for sacrifice as an end in itself.
Though environmentalists will often claim to be opposed to merely "indiscriminate" or "excessive" consumption of natural resources, their ideology actually drives them to oppose any act of altering nature for human purposes. The environmentalist goal of "preserving nature" unavoidably conflicts with the requirements of human life: Man's basic means of survival is to reshape nature to serve his ends, to take the raw materials of his environment and use them to produce values. But this requires "touching" nature, not leaving it untouched. Even organic crops require land and water and energy; even hybrid cars are built of metal and plastic and glass, and use up fuel. All human activity, on whatever scale, violates the environmentalist injunction to "leave nature alone."
This is why it is no surprise that environmentalist leaders would condemn "buying green" as a consumer trend. Says Michael Ableman, an organic farmer and environmental author: "The assumption that by buying anything, whether green or not, we're solving the problem is a misperception. Consuming is a significant part of the problem to begin with." In other words, the very act of consuming--i.e., pursuing material values in support of our lives--is a "problem."
Environmentalists are criticizing "buying green," because at root they are against buying anything.
Anyone who thinks that it's easy being "green"--that "eco-chic" is consistent with the principles of environmentalism--had better think harder about the true nature of the ideology they are helping bring into power. Environmentalists' call for minor sacrifices for the sake of some undefined "greater good" is the first stage in their call for sacrifice as such, for no human benefit whatsoever.
If environmentalists are now confident enough to start attacking "buying green" as superficial and hypocritical, we had better take them at their word and stop buying anything they have to sell, especially their poisonous ideology.
Keith Lockitch, PhD in physics, is a resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
Monday, September 17, 2007
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened on Monday to close or take over any private school that refuses to submit to the oversight of his socialist government as it develops a new curriculum and textbooks.
"Society cannot allow the private sector to do whatever it wants," said Chavez, speaking on the first day of classes.
All schools, public and private, must admit state inspectors and submit to the government's new educational system, or be closed and nationalized, with the state taking responsibility for the education of their children, Chavez said.
A new curriculum will be ready by the end of this school year, and new textbooks are being developed to help educate "the new citizen," said Chavez's brother and education minister Adan Chavez, who joined him a televised ceremony at the opening of a public school in the eastern town of El Tigre.
The president's opponents accuse him of aiming to indoctrinate young Venezuelans with socialist ideology. But the education minister said the aim is to develop "critical thinking," not to impose a single way of thought.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
By Alex Epstein
September 13, 2007
Irvine, CA--The New York Times reports that employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have increased by 6.1 percent this year--not as high as last year's 7.7 percent increase, but still far ahead of wages or inflation--and that since 2001 they have increased by 78 percent.
"These statistics will be used by the advocates of collectivized medicine to say, once again, that the 'free market' has failed, and that we need some form of government-controlled 'universal health care' scheme," said Alex Epstein, a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. "But the truth is the opposite. These skyrocketing premiums are testament to the huge destruction that the government's massive control of healthcare to date has already wrought.
"Health-care is one of America's most controlled and socialized industries--beginning with the fact that we are all forced to pay for one another's health-care through Medicare and the government-induced third-party-payer system. In the name of the individual's 'right' to health-care and the government's 'responsibility' to provide it, the government has reached its tentacles into every facet of medicine, from how many doctors are allowed to be licensed to which medical professionals may perform what procedures, to what procedures insurance companies must provide on their plans. Is it any wonder that health-care is a mess?
"Observe that in the fields that are left free, like the computer and electronics industries, over time the cost of any given product generally goes down, not up. If medicine were left free, with individuals responsible for paying for their own care and insurance, and America's businessmen, doctors, and educators liberated to offer it at all different price points, we would see quality and price improvements like those for flat-panel television sets. Indeed, we already see this with the few realms of medicine that are left free; laser eye surgery, for example, has improved dramatically over the years while prices have fallen. We could see such developments with medical care as a whole--as soon as we agree to take responsibility for our own health, and get the government out of it."
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Multiculturalism's war on education
By Elan Journo
What these textbooks reveal is a concerted effort to portray the most backward, impoverished and murderous cultures as advanced, prosperous and life-enhancing. Multiculturalism's goal is not to teach about other cultures, but to promote - by means of distortions and half-truths - the notion that non-Western cultures are as good as, if not better than, Western culture. Far from "broadening" the curriculum, what multiculturalism seeks is to diminish the value of Western culture in the minds of students. But, given all the facts, the objective superiority of Western culture is apparent, so multiculturalists must artificially elevate other cultures and depreciate the West.
Say no to the 'self-esteem' pushers
By Onkar Ghate
Since it is only through careful, logical thought and action that one develops the ability to cope with reality, self-esteem results from an individual's commitment to reason. A rational, productive person will possess self-esteem; a drug-addicted bum will not.
...How then will these educators make him 'feel good' about himself? By attempting to obliterate any facts that lead him to a negative estimate of himself. More and more, they teach him that there are never any wrong answers.
Celebrating Income Inequality
By Alex Epstein (Las Vegas Review-Journal, August 5, 2007)
The vast wealth that exists in America has been created--through the productive activities and voluntary arrangements of individuals. And individuals do not necessarily create the same amount of wealth. Compare the value brought into existence by the entrepreneur whose productivity software is eagerly bought by millions--and the checkout clerk at a store that sells it. Such vast differences in productivity--which can be caused by vast differences in ability, work ethic, interests, skills, and choices--are the root of vast differences in income.
The Deadly FDA August 10, 2007
By Yaron Brook
"The decision about what drugs to put in one's body rightfully belongs to each individual, not to FDA bureaucrats. To deny individuals this right is to impose a death sentence on those who, in the face of certain death, would rationally choose to accept the risks of an experimental treatment, but are barred from doing so until the urgently needed drug completes the FDA's onerous, years-long approval process. Indeed, this case was initiated by a group founded by the father of a girl who died after she was denied access to an experimental anti-cancer drug the FDA later approved.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Here is an article contending that environmentalists are now hating bottled water because of the er, well, bottles. Apparently, too many bottles are bad and they need to be added to the ever growing list of stuff we are not supposed to use.
So, here is my simple question for any environmentalist to answer:
Where should the bottles be? (or cans, etc.)
Think about it for a minute. Let's say there is some aluminum sitting in the ground in Colorado. Consequently, I have nothing but air in my hand. Now, someone shapes the aluminum into a can and I obtain it. Now, I have the aluminum in my hand and there is air in Colorado (where the can used to be.) But you see, there is no net gain or loss of aluminum because aluminum is matter (in fact, its one of the elements in the periodic table) and matter can not be created or destroyed.
So what does it matter if the aluminum is sitting in the ground in Colorado, or sitting in my hand while I drink something from it, or sits in my garbage can, or sits in the ground in another state in a garbage dump. The aluminum has to be somewhere!! Why is it better in the ground in Colorado doing nothing?
It's as if when we use a bottle, there is a net gain of earth material in such a way that at some point there will be too much earth which will pile up. But, in reality, there is a finite amount of earth. If there is some more earth over here, then there must be less earth somewhere else. The only possible problem would be if we literally shipped the aluminum by space craft to another planet or something. Would that make the environmentalists happy? Or, would if we just took the cans back to the mine where they originally came from and used the mine as a dump? The environmentalists could then just pretend that nothing ever happened!
That goes for the plastic bottles too. The plastic is made of material. To the extent that the material in the bottle is in my house or at the dump it therefore implies that that material is not somewhere else. And on top of this, the plastic in the bottle is practically inert. It literally does nothing but sit there for eons. (in fact, would if we just turned the whole earth into one giant bottle - then nothing could change which I think is what they want, right?)
I would rather have plastic bottles than something natural like poison ivy or snakes or mosquitoes in my yard. Plastic doesn't itch or hurt or bite or anything!
So, to all environmentalists, tell us, where should stuff be?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
And then if he tells me what pills to get then I have to go to the place to get them and they want money too. But you see, this place already has a lot of pills so can't they just give me a few? The guy there wanted money for them. Can't someone just give me the money? My neighbors won't give me the money but maybe Government can make them give me the money. What about the pill companies. They must have a lot of pills. Can't they just give me a couple when I need them? That's no fair either. They already know what pills work so why don't they just give them to me or give the recipe to someone who can make them for me? The people in Canada make them for cheaper because Government makes them make the pills cheaper so can't Government here just make the pill company make them cheaper? No fair. All these guys learn a lot about these pills but now they know which ones work so can't they just tell me how to make them or give me some?
And Government even takes care of prisoners and stuff and they don't kill them or let them die but then Government don't give the money to the doctor for the free people. No fair.
So here my answer. People should just go to the guys who know stuff about medicine and know how to make the pills and they should just tell us what to do and if they want pay then Government should make someone else pay them for me or Government put them in jail for not paying for me. That's fair.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
If you think my post "Hollywood's Carbon Footprint" was a semi-serious reductio ad absurdum of the environmental movements' twisted philosophy you were right. But as the linked article shows, they are really serious.
John Buckley of Carbon Footprint, an organization that helps companies reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, said Saturday that Live Earth will produce about
74,500 tons of the gas. "We would have to plant 100,000 trees to offset the effect of Live Earth," he said, speaking by telephone. But, he added, "if you can reach 2 billion people and raise awareness, that's pretty fantastic.
Certainly, on the way into the show, some of the 65,000 people who'd spent $110 on a ticket appeared unaware of the seven-point pledge that Al Gore, the event's chief impresario, had asked all spectators to make. Asked about it, they offered blank looks and said they were there for Madonna (whose annual carbon footprint, according to Buckley, is 1,018 tons -- about 92 times the 11 tons an average person uses per year)But even more important than the blundering hypocrisy and childish stupidity of the "Live Earth" concert and the real point of my "Hollywood" post is neatly summarized by the following seemingly innocuous quote:
...And a series of public information films featuring celebrities such as Penelope Cruz urged people to turn thermostats down and carpool while, in between, montages of happy animals were contrasted with pollution-belching power stations.
"I think that this will be very inspiring and show people that you can put on concerts and tours in a much greener way," he said. "I understand concerns about Madonna's carbon footprint. But nobody's perfect, and at least we are now having an interesting debate about it, which will change behavior."
"Nobody's perfect" he say. This is the essence of environmentalism.
According to Buckley, what do you think it would mean to be "perfect"? Although he does not say, the answer is obvious and follows logically from the premises of environmentalism: NO "carbon footprint".
Just as religious altruism pits man's fundamental nature against him by demanding he be a self-sacrificial animal for God, so environmentalist altruism pits man's fundamental nature against him by demanding he be a self-sacrificial animal for Earth. Both philosophy's turn man into a guilt-ridden hulk never able to truly be "perfect" since perfection under either version would literally mean death. In Christianity, they call man's inherent imperfection his "Original Sin." In environmentalism, they call it his "Carbon Footprint."
Afterall, eating is selfish and requires us to use the products of our labor which must be a part of the earth, but I guess nobody's perfect. Living in a home with our families requires using the earth for materials, but I guess nobody's perfect. Everything from the most primitive tool to a jet engine is the product of the application of human reason to the problems of human survival, but nobody's perfect. This is why no solution will appease the environmentalists in principle. As long as man lives on earth, he must use it to survive. If we colonize another planet then we will use it. I can't wait for "Live Mars."
So is this an extreme interpretation? What "carbon footprint" would appease Buckley? Is it 10 tons per year or 1 ton per year? Who should be the judge of this? For now, the environmentalists overtly seem only interested in less. However, just as religionists of the past and present attempt to enforce their orthodoxy on us in order to realize their vision of "perfection" we are now seeing the inevitable result of the environmentalist crusade for their vision of "perfection." As they stop companies from drilling for oil, expanding refinery capacity, building biotech parks or highways or homes lest they interfere with swamps and orange groves or snail darters we will continue to experience the direct impact of aspiring to environmentalist "perfection."
Friday, July 6, 2007
Here are some significant points from the linked article:
* Scientists who probed two kilometers (1.2 miles) through a Greenland glacier to recover the oldest plant DNA on record said Thursday the planet was far warmer hundreds of thousands of years ago than is generally believed.
* The samples suggest the temperature probably reached 10 degrees C (50 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer and -17 C (1 F) in the winter.
* They also indicated that during the last period between ice ages, 116,000-130,000 years ago, when temperatures were on average 5 C (9 F) higher than now, the glaciers on Greenland did not completely melt away.
* "They also indicated that during the last period between ice ages, 116,000-130,000 years ago, when temperatures were on average 5 C (9 F) higher than now, the glaciers on Greenland did not completely melt away.
* They found the temperature varied widely, by as much as 15 C (27 F) over the 800,000 years.
* In the last Ice Age, which ended around 11,000 years ago, the temperature was 10 C (18 F) lower than today.
So, in other words, a lush forest existed in Greenland a few hundred thousand years ago, temperature has varied over 27 degrees F over 800,000 years, and 100,000 years ago the temperature was 9 degrees F warmer yet even then the glaciers didn't completely melt.
I guess this just shows that climate does change afterall and yet here we are. And they didn't even have air conditioning back then much less climate computer models so warming should be no problem for us. I would like to stage a global concert to bring back the Greenland forest. Are we supposed to be saving the forests? So isn't climate change good if we get more forest and less glaciers? That would mean more wood and toilet paper so then Sheryl Crow can be happy and stop holding her energy gobbling concerts to raise "awareness". Then things will be perfect or at least not August color.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
But first, it should be pointed out that movies and the entertainment industry in general are a recent phenomena. They are a by-product of the enormous wealth created by capitalism. Specifically, movies are an American creation. Not only is the technology and ingenuity of movie making distinctly American, but the concept of the "Hollywood ending" could only have been created in a benevolent and optimistic culture which in turn depends on the prosperity, wealth, and freedom of a capitalist culture. Twentieth century socialism gave the world Mao, Hitler, and Stalin. Capitalism and Hollywood gave the world Fred Astaire, Lucy and Mickey Mouse.
Could anyone even one hundred years ago imagine that we would have a society with so much wealth that it could afford an entire "entertainment" industry? Would they have imagined that actors and musicians considered by most at that time to be rogues (I guess not much has changed) could make enormous fortunes plying their seemingly insignificant trades? You would think that those who make their living in the entertainment industry today would have the most profound gratitude for capitalism, technology, industrial civilization and those who make that civilization possible: the scientists and businessmen. Wouldn't they understand that their profession could only exist in the most advanced, most sophisticated and wealthiest of societies? Could you imagine the Sheryl Crow's, Eddie Vedder's and Laurie David's of the world left to their own devices existing in a pre-industrial society? Yet, isn't it ironic that the A-list celebrities who benefit the most are the first ones to damn technology, capitalism and industrial civilization and to tell the rest of us to live without.
We have heard in the past from various environmental groups that we should not deliver flowers (gas), use toilet paper (trees), drive SUV's (gas), build homes (trees) etc. etc. and these things are kind of essential, right? Well, can you think of any industry less necessary and more wasteful than the entertainment industry?
Imagine how much energy is used in the making of a film? There is pre-production travel to scout locations and meetings between producers, directors and actors which surely necessitates travel locally and globally. Then the production itself entails hundreds if not thousands of people carting all manner of people and equipment from site to site by truck, bus, and airplane. There are trailers for the actors and crew during the filming. There is electricity to run the lights, cameras and equipment. The costumes use fabrics possibly made through third world exploitation. The cosmetics they use may have been tested on animals and were made by chemical companies who generate waste. Then these films must be shown in theaters which use power to light, air condition and show the film all which takes place in a giant building (which alone kills thousands of trees during construction). Then there is all the plastic in the dvd cases and the shrinkwrap on the new cases which are sold in stores which again must be lit and powered. Then there are the people at home who must travel to the video store or buy from netflix which necessitates even more travel not to mention the power being used by the millions of people watching TVs and dvd players. What about the music industry with the studios, dvds, touring buses, stadium productions, etc etc. I am just scratching the surface here and all for what - a little entertainment?
Surely, Earth Mother is very angry or sick or something and surely the air is August or July color (someone must get Talking Hawk to evaluate this).
Certainly, Hollywood of all places must do it's part in lessening man's carbon footprint on Earth Mother. So, no more movies. No more lights. No more power usage. No more travel and especially no more toilet paper. I submit that actors should simply go into the woods and pretend to be other people. They can not advertise this because that too would be wasteful so must rely on word of mouth as long as they do not drive cars or use any form of transportation to tell others. Also, they can not have wardrobe or cosmetics. They must not even burn wood to keep warm since that would harm trees (and maybe even "virgin" trees.) They can not kill other animals for food, and I think it is debatable whether they should even be allowed to pick fruit and berries off of trees as the effect of this picking may have an unknown impact on the health of the trees and therefore on the ecosystem.
Musicians must not record any more music in power gobbling studios nor travel anywhere to play unless they can carry the equipment on their person. The instruments can not be made of plastic or wood. Guitar strings must be made out of natural fibers not found or harvested from any living plant. Written music uses paper so that is out. Music will once again be handed down from one generation to the next as it once was (back when things were ideal - remember that?). They are under the same restrictions as the actors so they must simply go into the woods and play, and if anyone happens to hear them then that is fine. They must not play too loud as that might also disturb the animals and therefore have an unknown impact on the ecosystem. If anyone gets sick they must simply die and be returned to nature.
And to all those who argue that environmentalists really want to help man and not save nature for its own sake - you can see from my proposal how much better off man will be.
Talking Hawk, a Mohawk Indian who asked to be identified by his Indian name, pointed to the river's tea-colored water as proof that the overwhelming amount of pollution humans have produced has caused changes around the globe.
"It's August color. It's not normal," he said.
"Earth Mother is fighting back - not only from the four winds, but also from underneath," he said. "Scientists call it global warming. We call it Earth Mother getting angry."
Now, I'm sure Talking Hawk's work has been peer reviewed but I swear I learned somewhere that there was one wind and that it was one of the four elements along with earth, fire, and water. I should have paid more attention in science class.
Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Sheryl Crow or Talking Hot Chick Rocker as I prefer to call her is busy displaying her expertise on climatology:
"Mother Earth is a living organism and when she gets sick we get sick," Crow told a crowd at Southern Methodist University in Dallas during her kick-off performance Monday.
Maybe Earth Mother is sick because she had to listen to another extended jam version of "All I Wanna Do" at her concert. But seriously, it looks like Talking Hawk and Talking Hot Chick Rocker have been studying hard. And critics says Americans are falling behind in science...
Well, if you think this is not serious think again.
At a United Nations meeting last month, several American Indian leaders spoke at a session called "Indigenous Perspectives on Climate Change." Also in May, tribal representatives from Alaska and northern Canada - where pack ice has vanished earlier and earlier each spring - traveled to Washington to press their case.
Atter reading a collection of writings by North American Indians (and no they were not guides to playing Blackjack) Lincoln's town manager Ted Sutton opines:
"American Natives have been telling us all along that this was going to happen to the earth," Sutton said. "They were telling us hundreds of years ago that what we were doing (to the environment) would come back and haunt us. They have been proven right. But hopefully we've started to listen to them and move back to some better management of our lives."They have been proven right? About what? Are we being "haunted"? (I don't think I'm being haunted, and despite Crow's claims - I do not feel sick.)
Meanwhile, because of industrial civilization there are more people on earth living longer, happier lives than ever before. In fact, we have created so much wealth we can afford to pay people to conduct meetings called "Indigenous Perspectives on Climate Change" held at a giant building complex in the middle of the greatest testament to human ingenuity and man's usage of nature: New York City.
So, what is the criteria that Sutton and others use when they make these claims? Are they measuring relative to human life expectancy? Are they measuring relative to the quality of human life absent pestilence, poverty, and the daily grind of subsisting in merciless nature? Should we trade life expectancy and standard of living all in order to avoid "August color"?
I can only thank the Four Winds that we did not listen to them then and can only hope we do not go back to living in tepees, hunting buffalo and the vagaries of tribal warfare. I would have no time to blog.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Says John Healy of the Seattle office of sustainability and environment: "Now the era of denial is over and we're entering the era of action."
Did I miss the Era of Proof? Oh wait, that never happened.
But if we were to pretend to live in the Era of Proof we may want to start here: 9 of the 12 warmest years in Denver occured before 1955! Out of the 10 coldest years on record, the most recent was 1997. Out of the 10 warmest years on record, the most recent was 1994. Before that, the warmest year was 1981.
But wait, didn't 502,383,290 scientists sign a letter saying they are convinced it is warming? Man, I'm so confused. I guess I'll go back to sorting the junk in my garbage and working on a way to turn recycled diapers into fuel. Also, I better go find my wallet.
Friday, June 1, 2007
As I will show, the government does everything in its power to increase the price of gasoline, yet every time gas increases in price it is greeted as a shocking occurence - a Machiavellian conspiracy which can only be unravelled by a panel of government bureacrats. The bureacrats castigate the oil companies and Wall Street (naturally) and threaten them with "windfall profit" taxes among other punishments. Yet, it is the government's own policies which are driving gas prices higher. (And as always, supply and demand can have nothing to do with it.)
So what is causing recent increases in the price of gasoline?
Here is a link demonstrating how the government's push for biofuels is causing domestic producers to scale back plans for expanding refining capacity. Note, that biofuels is one of the campaign promises that Edwards puts forth in his "plan" to solve high gas prices!!!http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/24/business/24refinery.html?ei=5065&en=88a4750c6b8de113&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;ex=1180584000&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print
Given the cost and onerous regulations involved in increasing refinery capacity or building new refineries, a company would need decades of recovery time in order to even consider undertaking such an investment. This alone has led to no new net refinery capacity since the early 1980s. Now, given the uncertainty of government policy in pushing and forcing alternative fuels, companies will simply not increase capacity which will result in decreased supply and higher costs.
Another obvious cause is local, state, and federal taxes on the purchase of gas which account for a significant portion of the price of a gallon. Depending on the state, it can run as much as 40 cents per gallon or more.
Of course sales taxes are obvious. Regulations and taxes on refiners are a hidden tax. The government has erected a byzantine web of environmental regulations which make it difficult or impossible to create new refineries.
The combination of high taxes and complicated regulations have prevented the construction of refineries in the United States since 1976. Aramco, an oil company owned by Saudi Arabia, has even offered to build two new refineries in the United States; but only if "someone else obtains all the necessary environmental permits first." It is not surprising that America's refining capacity hasn't increased since the early eighties.
If this is not enough, the government imposes tariffs on imports of refined gasoline to give domestic refiners an advantage. This naturally leads to inefficient domestic production and higher prices.
Protectionism such as this allows inefficient refineries to continue to operate within the United States, while competitors are prevented from importing gas at market prices. From the consumers' perspective, the extra one cent on the gallon translates into 42 cents on the barrel, and at 20 million barrels per day the American consumer spends an extra $8.4 million each day to support domestic refineries.
So, if taxes, regulations, tariffs, and government policy promoting alternative fuels are not enough what about the raw price of crude oil which as gone from about $10 a barrel 7 years ago to about $64 a barrel today. Government restrictions on domestic and off-shore drilling inspired by the ecology movement has led to a massive decrease in domestic drilling and further increased our reliance on the Middle East and other rogue foreign exporters (like the corrupt despots of Venezuela and Nigeria...). Naturally, this reliance on the Middle East and others has obvious geopolitical implications as you may have noticed.
Along with high taxes, environmental regulations--justified in the name of protecting nature from human activity--have dramatically increased the production costs, and thus the price, of oil and gasoline.
The government, for example, has closed huge areas to oil drilling, including the uninhabited wilderness of ANWR and the out-of-sight waters over the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves. This of course significantly reduces the domestic supply of oil.
The government has also passed onerous environmental regulations that make it uneconomical for many old refineries to keep producing (50 out of 194 refineries were shut down from 1990 to 2004) and discourage new refineries from being built (no major refinery has been built in the last 30 years).
If all of this is not enough to cause outrage over the government's role in increasing the price of gas - consider the effect of inflation! Inflation is an increase in the money supply caused by the government. The effect of "too many dollars chasing too few goods" is an across the board increase in the price of everything. Inflation is a hidden tax on everybody and is caused by government policy, namely the federal reserve printing money either to "stimulate" the economy or to fund the government's massive budget deficits. (see George Reisman at www.capitalism.net for a treatise on this topic.)
After an intense four-year struggle, Australian energy company BHP Billiton's attempt to build a Liquefied Natural Gas facility off the coast of California has been effectively killed by the state's Lands Commission, which voted 2-1 that its "Environmental Impact Report" was unsatisfactory.
So please join me in calling for a meta-probe of the government's probes to demand that the government stop probing oil companies and begin to probe its own policies which cause the price of gasoline to be significantly higher than it should be and that increases our dependence on maniacal sheiks and dictators throughout the world.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders are urging President George W. Bush and Congress to take action against global warming, declaring that the changing climate is a "moral and spiritual issue."
Isn't it interesting that when it comes to scientific theories such as evolution, religionists tell us that we can not trust science. When it comes to the age of the earth, the origin of the universe, or the first law of thermodynamics (energy can not be created or destroyed) we are told that we can not trust science. However, when a few scientists tell us that they can predict the temperature of a planet for the next 100 years suddenly and miraculously science has the utmost validity.
Meanwhile, as the next link demonstrates - scientists are slowly seeing the light (the quotes sound like former cult members being deprogrammed in a group therapy session)
Climate Momentum Shifting: Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics
Allegre, who was one of the first scientists to sound global warming fears 20 years ago, now says the cause of climate change is "unknown" and accused the “prophets of doom of global warming” of being motivated by money, noting that "the ecology of helpless protesting has become a very lucrative business for some people!"
Wiskel also said that global warming has gone "from a science to a religion” and noted that research money is being funneled into promoting climate alarmism...
"Like many others, I was personally sure that CO2 is the bad culprit in the story of global warming. But after carefully digging into the evidence, I realized that things are far more complicated than the story sold to us by many climate scientists or the stories regurgitated by the media. In fact, there is much more than meets the eye,”
When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause. I am now skeptical,” Evans wrote in an April 30, 2007 blog. “But after 2000 the evidence for carbon emissions gradually got weaker -- better temperature data for the last century, more detailed ice core data, then laboratory evidence that cosmic rays precipitate low clouds,” Evans wrote. “As Lord Keynes famously said, ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’” he added.
The reason why I believe this issue is so important is not only because of the potential impact of environmentalist regulations on the economy or that I feel the need to expose the falsehoods and hypocrisy of those forecasting an environmental "crisis". This issue is important because it represents an extreme worsening of an ongoing epistemological crisis.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge, i.e., the philosophy of "how do you know". Throughout human history, a culture's fundamental answer to the question of "how do you know" is a life or death matter upon which civilization itself rests.
For example, say you were to follow Aristotle and the best of the Greek philosophers and answer that man is capable of understanding the world and that knowledge is acquired through a process of deductive and inductive logic applied to observation. As a consequence, you will get scientific progress, technology, civilization, and political freedom (as freedom is demanded as a pre-condition for reasoning beings to survive and prosper.) You will get life affirming art in the form of grand sculpture, literature, poetry and music. In short, the acceptance and utilization of reason begets human happiness on a massive scale.
On the other hand, if you were to follow the Platonic tradition and take its premises seriously (reality is an imperfect reflection of ideal forms which can only be grasped by philosopher "kings") you end up with a secular version of anti-reason (post modernism and subjectivism) or the religious version (fundamentalism and intrinsicism). If you go the modern version you get today's abyss of post modern nihlism and socialist dictatorship. If you go the religious direction you get bishops and church authorities as the arbiters of orthodox "truth" as revealed to them by God or scripture. Since there is no rational basis upon which to base such claims, its proponents must enforce their beliefs by physical force, e.g., the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Ayatollah, the Taliban, etc.
In "Closing of the Western Mind" author Charles Freeman discusses the rise of Christianity and the beginning of the Dark Ages:
Intellectual self-confidence and curiosity, which lay at the heart of Greek achievement, were recast as the dreaded sin of pride. Faith and obedience to the institutional authority of the church were more highly rated than the use of reasoned thought. The inevitable result was intellectual stagnation.
In short, reason gets you Ancient Greece, the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson. Anti-reason gets you the Dark Ages, Al Quaeda and Michael Moore.
So the above links are a barometer of the epistemological crisis. As expected, Religion continues on unabashed - seizing on anything however irrational or unfounded which matches its agenda of human sacrifice to God and now God's "creation" in hopes of making Him happy enough to give a good afterlife. The Left will continue to push its pagan religious agenda as embodied by Environmentalism. This agenda is really the same agenda as the old Left and its socialist sympathizers, namely the destruction of capitalism and industrial civilization. If you think this is bleak Freeman notes:
The last recorded astronomical observation in the ancient Greek world was one by the Athenian philosopher Proclus in AD 475, nearly 1,100 years after the prediction of an eclipse by Thales in 585 bc, which traditionally marks the beginning of Greek science. It would be over 1,000 years -with the publication of Copernicus' De revolutionibus in 1543 - before these studies began to move forward again.
If you don't believe philosophy is important in determining the fate of civilization across thousands of years read the above quote again. The hope as evidenced by the scientists linked above is that some remant of reason and rationality still exists among honest scientists and that civilization will not disappear again for a thousand years or more.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Recall my claim that Environmentalism is a pagan religious movement with many similarities to Christianity and other organized religions. I also claimed that Al Gore is the Environmentalist Apostle Paul in that he is not an originator (since he is not original nor very smart) but an important and notable emissary. His book has now apparently attained Gospel status.
Visitors to the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa won't find the Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. Instead, on the bureau will be a copy of ``An Inconvenient Truth,'' former Vice President Al Gore's book about global warming.
Recall that I had posted links to articles related to the theory that the SUN may have something to do with warmer climates including evidence that Mars is warming in a way that is correlated to so-called warming on Earth. Here are three links related to this and to the shocking idea that climate does change over time:
It also suggests that short-term climate change is currently occurring on Mars and at a much faster rate than on Earth.
Patterson said much of the up-to-date research indicates that "changes in the brightness of the sun" are almost certainly the primary cause of the warming trend since the end of the "Little Ice Age" in the late 19th century. Human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas of concern in most plans to curb climate change, appear to have little effect on global climate, he said.
During the last 10,000 years climate has been seesawing between the North and South Atlantic Oceans. As revealed by findings presented by Quaternary scientists at Lund University, Sweden, cold periods in the north have corresponded to warmth in the south and vice verse. These results imply that Europe may face a slightly cooler future than predicted by IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Recall my repeated claim that Environmentalists are not concerned with saving the Earth for Man but saving the Earth from Man. I have claimed that like virtually all religious movements it must call for sacrifice. I have also posted links related to toilet paper usage which appears to be an obsession amongst them. For example, I posted a link concerning a couple that did without it for a year. I likened this to medieval saints wandering in the desert and sleeping on rocks as acts of self-abnegation and sacrifice for God. Also, keep in mind that paper is made from one of the most renewable resources imaginable - trees - which last time I checked can be grown ad infinitum. Yet, even when we find a renewable resource it is not good enough for Gaia since apparently it can be made from "virgin" wood (whatever that means.) So, you see, they are not concerned with Man but with preserving nature for its own sake. How much more evidence can I provide for this? Oh, I guess there is this:
Crow has suggested using "only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required".
Crow has also commented on her website about how she thinks paper napkins "represent the height of wastefulness".
She has designed a clothing line with what she calls a "dining sleeve".
Of course, a crew of hippies driving around the country in buses to electronically power a sports arena in order to amplify high school poetry set to folk rock chords is an eminently reasonable usage of energy.
Recall my post related to Iran's reaction to the movie "300" which although stylized is generally based on the historical facts of the Greco-Persian war in which the emperor-worshipping Persian's attempted to invade and conquer the more democratic and freedom loving (albeit in a limited sense by today's standards) Greeks who defeated them against overwhelming odds. I said that this is an example of pure collectivism in that the Iranian's see themselves as members of a great historical collective (the Persian Empire) and that to "insult" any part of the collective is to invite a scornful or violent response. Collectivism naturally results from religion as faith demands the relinquishing of the individual, independent mind to the dictates of faith usually as interpreted by the philosopher king, priest, imam, guru, etc. Once an individual abandons his mind, he will seek membership in a group to seek an identity, guidance, protection and pseudo self-esteem. This is what drives the spectacle seen all over the mid-east today of the mindless conformist horde worshipping some self-anointed guru:
Film critic, Reza Dorostkar, also attending the session, dismissed the idea of preserving the Iranians identity and history through incitement of their feelings.
Of course, here is more evidence that Iran is not only the leading state sponsor of terrorism but that it is actively engaged in Iraq. And what is the response from the man that the Left would have us believe is a reckless, war-mongering lunatic? "In recent days, the administration has signaled more flexibility and Bush said if Rice meets Mottaki she will "be firm in reminding the representative of the Iranian government that there's a better way forward for the Iranian people than isolation." So, Iran supports terrorists who kill us and builds nuclear bombs, and our government's response is to be "flexible" but "firm"?! And we went to war with Iraq because they may have been thinking about building nuclear weapons or something like that? And Bush is thought to be a hawk? I'm so confused.
The State Department has once again designated Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing the Islamic Republic of aiding extremists throughout the Middle East, particularly in Iraq.
Remember my post related to GMU cancelling Prof. John Lewis talk:
"No Substitute for Victory": The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism
by John Lewis
The talk was delivered afterall at George Mason University on April 24, 2007.
You can hear the whole lecture here:
The panel discussion at UCLA "Totalitarian Islam's Threat to the West," a panel discussion featuring Daniel Pipes, Yaron Brook and Wafa Sultan is posted free below. This was a controversial talk that erupted at various points. Keep in mind that Dr. Wafa Sultan speaks out againt totalitarian Islam after she watched her professor be murdered by machine gun fire in front of her eyes as a student in Syria. Yet, the suburban left-wing activists do everything in their power not to argue against the panel - but prevent them from being heard.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
On Earth Day, Remember: If Environmentalism Succeeds, It Will Make Human Life Impossible, by Michael Berliner
Video debate on CNBC "Power Lunch"
Peter Schwartz, former chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Michael Ewall, director of the Energy Justice Network, squared off on "Power Lunch."
Schwartz counters that the corporate move to green is "cowardly appeasement" to environmentalists, who want to protect nature from humanity not for humanity's benefit.
Ewall calls ethanol "a false solution" adding that wind and solar power are better sources for transportation. Schwartz simply says let the "free market produce the kind of energy people want to buy."
Global warming may spur wind shear, sap hurricanes. I wonder if Al Gore will promote this?
Global Warming activists urged to focus on Earth Day rallies and ignore snow as it "piles up outside of our windows" and Quote of the Month honors:
"Data show our earth is getting warmer at a clip that concerns expert scientists. What the future holds for us is unknown, though there is something we can do about it." [So, we don't know what's going to happen, but let's do something about it, huh?]
California to Energy Producers: Not in Our State
Thursday, April 19, 2007 By: Alex Epstein
Irvine, CA--After an intense four-year struggle, Australian energy company BHP Billiton's attempt to build a Liquefied Natural Gas facility off the coast of California has been effectively killed by the state's Lands Commission, which voted 2-1 that its "Environmental Impact Report" was unsatisfactory.
"When we in California experience our next energy crisis--or the next time we complain about our exorbitant gas and electric bills--we should remember the fate of BHP Billiton," said Alex Epstein, a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. "That company wanted to build a plant that could satisfy up to 15 percent of Californians' energy needs--a plant that did everything possible to maximize safety and minimize pollution. And what did it get in return? Nearly half a decade of obstruction from California's endless constellation of environmental bureaucracies--and seething opposition from environmental groups that oppose every single practical form of energy production, from coal to oil to gas to nuclear power. The message California sends to any would-be producers of plentiful energy is obvious: Not in Our State.
"California and many other states are riddled with laws based on environmentalist hostility toward industrial energy. These laws must be replaced with a respect for property rights and an appreciation for the incomparable value that is industrial energy. Fossil fuels and nuclear power are the lifeblood of our civilization; without them, the average American's food, clothing, shelter, and medical care would be impossible. And, contrary to claims that we must abandon fossil fuels to protect against alleged weather disasters caused by global warming, fossil fuels are vitally necessary to build the buildings and power the technologies that protect us from dangerous weather.
"The anti-industrial mentality of environmentalists must be rejected, in word and in law, by everyone who truly cares about human life."
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
("Modernism and Madness", Dr. Leonard Peikoff, 1993) Is there a connection between schizophrenia—"the low point of the human mind"—and culture—"the height of human achievement"?
("What To Do About Crime", Dr. Leonard Peikoff, 1995) Is crime a philosophical phenomenon? Seeking a rational explanation for the epidemic of crime, Dr. Peikoff takes the approach of a scientific researcher: he examines the essential characteristics of typical criminals—and inductively identifies their common principles.
("Postmodernism", Dr. Robert Garmong) Postmodernism is the dead-end of the Kantian war on reason and is the driving force behind today's nihilistic collectivist movements. Postmodernism openly and brazenly rejects the need for reason, logic and values. Dr. Garmong shows how it arose, philosophically, and its destructive effects on literature, architecture and politics. This course will help arm you to understand and combat the evils that are tearing apart Western civilization today.
(Judging School Discipline: The Crisis of Moral Authority, Richard Arum, 2005)
Reprimand a class comic, restrain a bully, dismiss a student for brazen attire--and you may be facing a lawsuit, costly regardless of the result. This reality for today's teachers and administrators has made the issue of school discipline more difficult than ever before--and public education thus more precarious. This is the troubling message delivered in Judging School Discipline, a powerfully reasoned account of how decades of mostly well-intended litigation have eroded the moral authority of teachers and principals and degraded the quality of American education.
Richard Arum and his colleagues also examine several decades of data on schools to show striking and widespread relationships among court leanings, disciplinary practices, and student outcomes; they argue that the threat of lawsuits restrains teachers and administrators from taking control of disorderly and even dangerous situations in ways the public would support.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Ironically, I believe this refusal to generalize is symptomatic of the underlying cause why such massacres occur but more on that later.
Of course, the typical "access to guns" and "glorification of violence" platitudes surface as always but these are not primaries but at best minor or consequences of the real cause.
First of all, guns have been around for a long time without frequent public massacres. Second, the glorification of violence in video games and movies is a consequence not a primary. Why weren't horror stories popular during the Enlightenment? Culture reflects the prevailing ideas of a society. For example, the madness of Weimar German culture reflected the nihilism and collectivism of 19th century German philosophy which ultimately led to Nazism. The culture did not cause it (http://www.amazon.com/Ominous-Parallels-Leonard-Peikoff/dp/0452011175/ref=pd_bbs_2/103-5956256-6364622?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176775100&sr=8-2).
There is also a significant copy-cat effect influenced by modern media by I have access to this media, violent video games, and guns, but I do not copy-cat. There certainly is more to it.
The first question is despite the horror of such a crime the fact is that it is still relatively rare. Given the rarity of these rampages, is it really possible to make generalizations? My thesis is that the causes of this behavior are rampant and endemic and the "rampage" which is relatively rare is an acute manifestation of the underlying cause. For example, imagine that someone grows 100 pumpkins. Say the probability that one of the pumpkins happens to be freakishly large is 1% so the probability is 1 pumkin which would rarely result in a large pumkin. Now, imagine you grow 10,000 pumpkins. The probability of 1% applied to 10,000 is 100 pumkins. So, the probability is the same but the fact that you have so many more samples makes the actual incidences likely to be observed more frequently.
Similarly, if bad philosophy is rampant you will have more screwed up people. Not all of them will commit crimes much less insane massacres. But the more "samples" of bad out there, the more likely it is to observe the tails of the distribution.
So, what is this bad philosophy?
First, let's quote Professor Richard Rorty, a prominent American post-modern philosopher, Professor Emeritus at prestigious Stanford University:
"There is no truth, there is no such subject as philosophy, there are no objective standards by which to evaluate or criticize social and political practices. No matter what is done to the citizens of a country, therefore, they can have no objective grounds on which to protest."... "that we have not once seen the Truth, and so will not, intuitively, recognize it if we do see it. "
..."that when the secret police come, when the torturers violate the innocent, there is nothing to be said to them of the form 'There is something within you which you are betraying. Though you embody the practices of a totalitarian society which will endure forever, there is something beyond those practices which condemns you.'" (Richard Rorty's "Pragmatism and Philosophy" After Philosophy, ed. By Kenneth Baynes, James Bohman, and Thomas McCarthy (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987), p.60.)
Now let's quote God:
"Thou shalt not kill."
So, the secular side represented by a Professor Emeritus at Stanford says there is nothing you can say ethically about a murderer, and the major alternative asserts without evidence or reason that you should not murder- I guess if you want into heaven or avoid hell or whatever.
This false alternative is best typified by the famous contention of Dostoevsky's character Ivan Karamazov that if God is dead, then everything is permitted or "everything is lawful."
And everyone is wondering why people are killing each other?
It's almost obvious why the modern philosophers view is not helpful, but the religious view does not help either, in fact, it is more destructive. If someone asserts that you should not kill because the pink elephants on Neptune said you shouldn't that is hardly likely to carry much weight in an advanced society. Furthermore, to the extent that the pink elephants have bad ideas (to go along with a good idea about not murdering) it will be destructive. The reference to truth without offering proof or fact (i.e., faith) is worse than saying there is no truth at all.
The rejection of reason and rational ethics by modern philosophers and religionists has resulted in the worship of mindlessness. What happens when an individual abandons his independent judgment? He turns to a group. This is the root of all collectivism which philosophically is the idea that your value and identity is determined by membership in a group, tribe, race, etc. It is the opposite of individualism and it can be seen everywhere today (and of course throughout history).
For example, it can be seen in gang violence. To what do these young men turn when they believe their mind is impotent to cope with reality? Membership in a gang gives them a feeling of power and control they lack when left to their own devices. It can be seen in multiculturalism which promotes the idea that membership in a group or ethnicity is all important (and that one culture is not better than another thanks again to post-modernism). It can be seen in the resurgence ofwhite supremacy and Nazism in Europe and America, the ethnic Balkan war, and the savage tribal wars throughout Africa. In religion, we see the mindlessness and collectivism of the fanatical Islamists in the mid-east who value only their duty and sacrifice to god and villify and threaten their mortal enemies: the Jews and the Americans and fly airplanes into buildings to mindlessly kill members of the enemy group. We see it in the ridiculous effort seeking reparations for slavery from the ancestors of the ancestors of those who held slaves as if an injustice done to one part of a collective can be made right by doling out "justice" to another part of the collective.
The glorification of violence is a consequence of mindlessness. To the extent that someone believes there mind is impotent they will turn to brute force to get what they want. How many kids in the inner city right now are dreaming of becoming educated as doctors or scientists and saving the world through intellectual achievement versus those dreaming of owning a semi-automatic weapon to rob a store and kill rival gangmembers? I would put money on the latter.
What do the intellectual leaders offer? The Richard Rorty's and the abyss of post-modernism gets transmitted from the philosophy departments, to all the humanties, to journalism, to law, to science and so on until it ultimately gets reflected in art, literature, movies, comedy, etc. and ultimately politics.
Rather than stressing individual values, reason and achievement, the intellectuals stress group identity and victimhood as history and politics are all analyzed through the "lens" of race, gender, and sexuality.
At the primary educational level, note the educational trend of not grading students objectively according to standard criteria but grading them according to how hard they tried and other non-objective criteria purportedly to bolster their self-esteem. Children are therefore taught that there are no right or wrong answers and that nothing can be their fault. All that matters is how they feel about themselves.
So what happens in a society where kids are taught that their feelings are more important than their minds and that self-esteem is arbitrary and not derived from real achievement? What happens when these same kids immersed in today's post-modern culture come to believe that their mind is impotent and the group is all? What happens when the "group" frustrates or hurts their all important feelings? Can they fall back on their value as an individual or on the realization of their ability to achieve values independently of what others think or say? No, they lash out - at the group. Other people are not individuals but simply members of a collective. The co-workers, management, the establishment, society, the jocks, the Jews, the foreigners, the rich, the Bourgeois, the Americans - pick the group that has harmed you and lash out at it.
Gang wars, ethnic wars, religious wars, and now the "rampage", are all tragic manifestations of the same root cause - the rejection of reason, individualism, and rational belief in the sanctity and inviolability of every human life.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
First, its important to reiterate the essential difference between free market medicine and socialized medicine which in principle is the essential issue underlying all economic debates between capitalism and socialism.
Those that support socialized medicine must logically support state sanctioned violence against doctors and patients.
This is absolutely true by virtue of the fact that the state must by threat of physical force (jail, execution, etc.) compel one person to pay for another persons medical care and/or compel a doctor to work against his will. In essence, they exhort the state to steal money on their behalf from others in order to pay their own bills. In addition, they demand that doctors live their life in service to their needs by either compelling their service through force and/or by not offering fair value in exchange for the doctor's services.
Under laissez-faire capitalism, physical force is banned from being initated by individuals or the state except in retaliation against those who initiates its use. Doctors and patients choose to deal with each other on terms deemed to be mutually beneficial and either party is free not to participate, i.e., a doctor may choose not to trade his services to a patient and a patient may choose not to see the doctor.
To further abstract, historically and logically what justifies the initiation of force against some for the unearned benefit of others (force which is necessitated by socialized medicine)? What ethical theory holds that self-sacrifice and self-abnegation is the "good" and that self-interest is evil? Of course, the answer is our old nemesis: altruism. In today's culture, it is the widespread acceptance of altruism as the good which justifies government intrusion into medicine despite the fact that such intrusion causes only chaos and misery. Furthermore, it is the dominance of religion and the utter bankruptcy of modern secular philosophy which perpetuates acceptance of altruism without challenge.
It is the theory of altruism as the good that needs to be challenged at its root if the wonders of modern medical science and the miraculous work of the American medical profession are to be saved.
This issue is the essence of the debate - not minutia over insurance regulations or medicare premiums. There is no free lunch. There is no magic government program that will somehow make medical care and prescription medication fall from the trees. There is no way to circumvent reality. Under socialism, either doctors must be made to work against their will or others must be made to pay the doctor on behalf of someone else. If the government runs its own hospitals then it must acquire the hospital by expropriating it by force from a private owner or by compelling funding from the public to pay for its construction. Similarly, either pharmaceutical companies must function as government agencies or someone must pay them for someone else's prescription.
Reality also dictates that the best and brightest will leave the field of medicine rather than become serfs akin to postal workers in a vast government bureacracy. This well known "brain drain" to other fields will only compound the "crisis" by reducing the supply of medical professionals.
What do those that clamor for government medicine think is going to happen? Will they pass a law to compel reality into making medicine free and doctors happy to be slaves? At least those that do support socialized medicine must be forced to admit that this is their position and be made to morally defend the states' initiation of violence against doctors and patients.
It is not a coincidence that over the last 100 years, socialism has only led only to violence, chaos, misery, and stagnation. It is not simply that it has been practiced by the wrong group of experts or somehow been corrupted. State violence is essential to socialism. How else does the state wrest control of private property or subsidize some at the expense of others? (see this sickening story for just the latest example http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070413/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/venezuela_oil_takeover_3)
In Capitalism: A Treatise On Economics (simply the best economics book ever), Dr. George Reisman eloquently, methodically and thoroughly shows how socialism leads to chaos and tyranny which I can only quote partially here (see www.capitalism.net for a pdf copy of the book or to order it):
"Socialism produces the same chaotic effects as price controls , because it destroys the same thing as price controls, namely, the one and only source of economic order and harmony in the world: private property rights and the profit motive..."
"The essential fact to grasp about socialism, which explains why it is essentially identical to price controls , is that it is simply an act of destruction. Like price controls, it destroys private owneship and the profit motive, and that is essentially all it does. It has nothing to put in their place. Socialsm in other words, is not actually an alternative economic system to private ownerhship of the means of production. It is merely a negation of the system based on private ownership..."
"The chaos of Socialism is equalled only by the tyranny of socialism. In abolishing economic freedom, socialism abolishes political freedom, In abolishing property rights, it abolishes civil rights. In a word, socialism means the establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship..."
"In every instance in which socialism has actually been enacted, as ,for example, in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, Communist Cuba, and all the other communist- bloc countries, its totalitarianism has been manifest. It is only necessary to show why the violent, bloody means that have been employed to achieve socialsm and the perpetual reign of terror that follows thereafter , are no accident, but are caused by the very nature of socialism; why in other words, socialism is a thoroughly evil end, necessitating evil means for its achievment, and necessarily producing the most evil consequences."
What is the relationship between environmentalism, Christianity, the fall of Ancient Rome, and the health care crisis?
There is an ingenious passage from Atlas Shrugged (by Ayn Rand, 1957, p. 960-961) which ties these issues together by abstracting and reducing these arguments to philosophic essentials:
“What is the nature of that superior world to which they sacrifice the world that exists? The mystics of spirit curse matter, the mystics of muscle curse profit. The first wish men to profit by renouncing the earth, the second wish men to inherit the earth by renouncing all profit. Their non-material, non-profit worlds are realms where rivers run with milk and coffee, where wine spurts from rocks at their command, where pastry drops on them from clouds at the price of opening their mouth. On this material, profit-chasing earth, an enormous investment of virtue –of intelligence, integrity, energy, skill-is required to construct a railroad to carry them the distance of one mile; in their non-material, non-profit world, they travel from planet to planet at the cost of a wish. If an honest person asks them: ‘How?’ They answer with righteous scorn that a ‘how’ is the concept of vulgar realists; the concept of superior spirits is ‘Somehow.’ On this earth, restricted by matter and profit, rewards are achieved by thought; in a world set free of such restrictions, rewards are achieved by wishing.
“And that is the whole of their shabby secret. The secret of all their esoteric philosophies, of all their dialectics and super-senses, of their evasive eyes and snarling words, the secret for which they destroy civilization, language, industries, and lives, the secret for which they pierce their own eyes and eardrums, grind out their senses, blank out their minds, the purpose for which they dissolve the absolutes of reason, logic, matter, existence, reality – is to erect upon that plastic fog a singly holy absolute: their Wish.
“The restriction they seek to escape is the law of identity. The freedom they seek is freedom from the fact that an A will remain an A, no matter what their tears or tantrums -that a river will not bring them milk no matter what their hunger - that water will not run uphill, no matter what comforts they could gain if it did, and if they want to lift it to the roof of a skyscraper, they must do it by a process of thought and labor, in which the nature of an inch of pipe line counts, but their feelings do not - that their feelings are impotent to alter the course of a single speck of dust in space or the nature of any action they have committed.
When I read that passage for the first time, I recognized that it was a profound statement but did not entirely understand it. That all of the evil in the world was at root a desire for the world to be not what it is (or in her words that A be Non-A) is an idea so profound that it is hard to believe. Could all of the evil throughout history done by man from war to slavery to torture to every imaginable oppression of every kind really come down simply to “their Wish” for things to not be as they are. Truth is always simple in hindsight. It may take thousands of years to discover truth but once it is known it always seems simple to the point of being self-evident to the learned.
It took me years to fully appreciate and integrate the meaning of this idea and to learn why it is true. Yet, here is another example. Those that seek socialized medicine wish that reality was not what it is. They wish that medical care could be free. They wish that every time they are hurt they simply show up to a magic building with gadgets and medicines that arrived there somehow and someone cures them simply because they want it. They wish that somehow, if enough smart politicians get together with only the desire to form a "consenus" (as Obama might say) they could craft a program that this time will "work." How?
The relationship of this issue to religion must by now be obvious both epistemologically and ethically. The men wishing "to profit by renouncing the earth" or "mystics of spirit" are the religionists demanding sacrifice of our lives to god. The men wishing "to inherit the earth by renouncing all profit" ("mystics of muscle") are both the pagan environmentalists demanding that we stop producing as sacrifice for the earth and their socialist colleagues demanding "universal" health coverage and the sacrifice of the doctors to the needy or the "haves" to the "have-nots".
In a previous post, I asked if there was a rational solution to the false alternative offered by the "Mystics of Spirit" and the "Mystics of Muscle". The answer to this false alternative is a philosophy of reason, individualism, and freedom (see my links section).
And to those dreaming of heaven, a kingdom of God in the afterlife, water turning to wine, life without reason, production without freedom, production without utilization of the earth's resources, Gardens of Eden (at the perfect temperature), medicine without science, medicine without doctors who wish to be paid, pharmaceutical companies that don't work for profit, insurance companies that pay out more than they take in...
p.s. I neglected an important link in my post "Why Health Care Costs are High..."
See the link for the pamphlet "The Real Right to Medical Care Versus Socialized Medicine" by Dr. George Reisman
(It is an in depth analyis of the economics and economic history of the medical "crisis" in America caused by the government starting with wage and price controls implemented in WWII. This is a comprehensive analysis that I only touched upon in my post.)