Friday, June 22, 2018

Marxism is Malevolence and Hate. So How Do We Kill It?

I “sharedYuri N Maltsev’s Facebook post, featuring a shipwreck named the Karl Marx. Maltsev’s caption read, “Still so many passengers on this ship:.” I posted the following commentary on my page:

Marxism doesn’t die because so many people think the world owes them a living; or look to blame others for their own failures; or are envious of others' achievements; or are the lowest of the low, so hateful that they'd rather see other people fail than to themselves succeed—people who resent the responsibility of living, and look to take their frustrations out on everybody else. Every society has people like this. Plenty of them. That's what Marx appeals to. That’s why Marxism will always rise again from the dead, and always be a threat to honorable people and free societies, will always be an evil decent people will need to beat back again and again.

Can Marxism ever be buried forever--a stake driven through its heart? After all, as C. Bradley Thompson observes in a talk to FEE, “Marxism is the philosophy of malevolence and hate. It is from beginning to end a criminal activity. It begins with theft and it ends with murder.” Yet, Marxism keeps vampiring back. Why?

True, hateful people will always exist to provide a “market” for Marxism. But I believe there’s more to the puzzle--the fact that many good people unwittingly provide moral support for Marxism. As Ari Armstrong has observed, too many people, including sincere anti-communist conservatives, continue to believe that “Marxism is ‘good in theory but not in practice.’” NO! Marxism is murderous in practice precisely because it is evil—morally evil—in theory. Only when we connect the practical dots to the moral dots—when the very mention of the term Marxism invokes the same revulsion in the secular realm as hell inspires in the religious realm—will we have a chance to bury Marxism for good. And that won’t happen, in my view, until the moral revolution begun by Ayn Rand is finally complete.

Related Reading:

Why Marxism—Evil Laid Bare--C. Bradley Thompson for The Objective Standard

On Marxism’s 200th Birthday

Related Viewing:

"Why Marxism?" An Evening at FEE with C. Bradley Thompson

The saga of The Twentieth Century Motor Company in Atlas Shrugged, in which the company founder’s heirs implemented the Marxist principle, “From Each According to His Ability, to Each According to his Need.” Parts one, two, and three.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

QUORA: What does it mean in economics when there is growth in a state’s economy? Why should the economy always be growing?

QUORA *: What does it mean in economics when there is growth in a state’s economy? Why should the economy always be growing?

Here is my answer:

What we call “the economy” is the cumulative sum of all individuals engaged in productive work and trade under a common political system. Economic growth essentially equates to a general rise in the productivity of that productive work, which over time results in a rise in the general standard of living. If a rising general economic quality of life is the standard, then we should want a growing economy, with its consequence of more and better business, entrepreneurial, and job opportunities; more and better consumer products; more and better savings and investment opportunities; etc. Of course, a substantial level of individual intellectual, political, and economic freedom is essential to achieving a growing economy.

Measuring economic growth has proven to be problematic. The Bureau of Economic Analysis, a division of the United States Department of Commerce, reports on the economy in two ways. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures “final output”--that is, finished goods and services. Gross Output (GO) measures total economic activity in the production of new goods and services, which includes all of the economic activity that goes into producing the finished goods and services. GDP is the more commonly reported statistic, even though GO is considered a more comprehensive and much more accurate measure of the economy. But neither is perfect.

Related Reading:

New, Revolutionary Way To Measure The Economy Is Coming -- Believe Me, This Is A Big Deal--Steve Forbes

This Labor Day, Celebrate Intellectual Labor

The Job Creators: Santa Claus Government or Private Business?

The "Hoarding" By the Rich Fosters Widespread Prosperity

Mazzucato’s Fantasy: The “Courageous, Entrepreneurial State”

* [Quora is a social media website founded by two former Facebook employees. According to Wikipedia:

[Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010.[3]Quora aggregates questions and answers to topics. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to other users' answers.[4]

[You can also reply to other users’ answers.]

Monday, June 18, 2018

QUORA: What does Ayn Rand think about vitrues [sic] such as charity, selflessness, and friendship?

QUORA *: What does Ayn Rand think about vitrues [sic] such as charity, selflessness, and friendship?

I left this answer:

I’m not going to pretend to be able to read Ayn Rand’s, or anyone’s, mind.

But as a believer in Rand’s philosophy, which she named Objectivism, I can tell you what I think.

Charity is neither a moral duty nor forbidden. To the extent one’s charitable time or money is given to promote one’s values, is non-sacrificial (does not harm more important of one’s values), and one can afford it, charity is virtuous. But it is not a major virtue and should not be the primary focus of one’s life. Needless to say, charity should never be coerced, as in a government welfare program.

Selflessness is not a virtue. It is a vice, because it means self-sacrifice, or denial of self. It is fundamentally dishonest, since honesty means fidelity to the facts of reality. Selflessness is dishonest because it means precisely the denial of the facts of one’s own needs, wants, and values. Worse, to be selfless is to betray one’s values; to obliterate one’s integrity. Objectivism holds that self-sacrifice, properly understood as the giving up of a personal value for something you value less, or not at all, is always immoral; a position with which I wholeheartedly agree. To avoid confusion, I must stress that selfishness, the opposite of selflessness, does not preclude doing for others whom you value, such as a friend or spouse--or even a stranger--so long as doing so does not come at the expense of making one’s own life worse--that is, of ignoring or betraying more important values. People one cares about are values, and a person of honesty and integrity doesn’t betray one’s values. Betrayal is an act of selflessness.

Friendship is not technically a virtue. But it is unequivocally a major value, because it is unequivocally selfish. A friendship is a bond with someone whom you value and who values you, and whose absence in your life would make your life less fulfilling. Friendship is not only a luxury. It is the type of win-win companionship that is a necessary contribution to a flourishing life.

Related Reading:

Books to Aid in Understanding Ayn Rand's Rational Selfishness

* [Quora is a social media website founded by two former Facebook employees. According to Wikipedia:

Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010.[3]Quora aggregates questions and answers to topics. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to other users' answers.[4]

You can also reply to other users’ answers.]

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Spectator’s Devious Equivocation of Rand’s Benevolent Egoism with Nietzsche’s Predatory ‘Egoism’

Via For the New Intellectuals, I discovered an article Why do Tories love Ayn Rand? in The Spectator. From this article by Alastair Benn:

Rand promoted a cult of amoral selfishness and ruthlessness that is certainly not conservative in any traditional sense – certainly not Burkean, but quite emphatically Nietzschean.

It’s certainly true that Rand’s ethics is not conservative. The rest of the statement is not mere ignorance: That would be too generous. It is an outright lie. “Amoral”; “ruthless”; “Nietzschean”? A “cult?” Rand’s selfishness, the Objectivist Ethics, is the exact opposite, being grounded in Observable facts of reality, defended logically, and thus open to rational scrutiny--unlike religious ethics, which come at you in the form of unchallengeable commands from a being said to be above reason. Which is the cult morality, and which isn’t? Benn, and the editors at The Spectator, I’m sure, know--or should know--better. Shame on them.

Amoral and ruthless certainly applies to Nietzsche, who advocated a predatory, zero-sum concept of egoism that applies only to “the strong,” and expressed socially in the win-lose master-slave relationship. Rand’s “rational selfishness” is a benevolent egoism, applicable to all, and expressed socially in the win-win trader principle and equality of individual rights. They couldn’t be more opposite in theory or in their political implications.

It’s not a secret what these two philosophers advocated. Rand’s view is readily available in her fiction and nonfiction. Her views have been thoroughly contrasted by scholars. Check out Stephen Hicks, Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand in The journal of Ayn Rand Studies, or John Ridpath, Ayn Rand Contra Nietzsche in The Objective Standard.

As to conservatism, I would argue that their Christian ethics of altruism is ruthless and predatory. According to Christianity, need is the standard. If the world owes you simply because you need it, then who is ruthless, the Christian or the Objectivist, who believes that what you earn is morally yours, not the needy’s who wants to take it from you? Amoral? That would be altruism.

I suspect that conservatives in general don’t want to sincerely portray Rand’s concept of selfishness for fear that it would blow Judeo-Christian ethics out of the water. That fear has consequences, as it is a major reason why the allegedly pro-capitalist conservatives keep losing to the socialist Left.

Related Reading:

Ayn Rand Fear @ The New Republic

Does Evil Come From ‘Threatened Egotism’?

Books to Aid in Understanding Rational Selfishness

Gary Moore vs. Ayn Rand: Or, the Battle for America's Soul

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Basic Cancer Research Funding: Don’t Forget Pharma

The New Jersey Star-Ledger ran a guest column by Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, the executive director of the political activist group New Jersey Citizen Action, titled “N.J. needs to fund critical research.” (The piece ran on May 13, 2018. As of this writing, it has not been published online.)

Salowe-Kaye opens her article with:

Four years ago, I shared my story about how our family, like nearly every other family in New Jersey, has been touched by cancer. My mother had lung cancer, my father had bladder cancer, and three of my four grandparents died of cancer. My husband of over 40 years has leukemia.

In 1985, I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer usually found in the extremities of black males over 50. I was a 38-year-old white woman, and the malignant fibro sarcoma was growing in my head. It still is. And then in 1998, I got breast cancer from a completely different tumor.

So in our house, we definitely care about cancer research. But we’re not unique, as this issue is personal for everyone and there are thousands of stories that can be told.

She then goes on to complain about state government cuts to funding for the New Jersey Commission for Cancer Research (NJCCR). Former governor Chris Christie had previously cut $10 million, subsequently restored. But current governor Phil Murphy cut state funding altogether.

Salowe-Kaye’s article coincided with President Trump’s announcement of new federal policies designed to bring down prescription drug prices. (See The Trump Plan To Reduce Prescription Drug Prices Will Have A Major Impact and President Trump's Plan to Lower Drug Prices Spares Pharma Industry for different takes on the plan.) Trump had previously smeared the pharmaceutical industry as “getting away with murder” and called for federal price controls on drugs masquerading as “direct price negotiations between Medicare and pharmaceutical companies.”

If I could leave a comment on the article, this is what I would have said:

Anyone concerned about basic cancer research funding should be very concerned about the pharma-bashing going on in Washington. As Ayn Rand has observed, “

The professional businessman is the field agent of the army whose lieutenant-commander-in-chief is the scientist. The businessman carries scientific discoveries from the laboratory of the inventor to industrial plants, and transforms them into material products that fill men’s physical needs and expand the comfort of men’s existence.

The pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies are the field agents of the cancer research scientists. Basic research is a vital starting point, but in and of itself does nothing for cancer patients. The pharma companies do the years-long investment, risk-taking, and work to transform the research into real cancer treatments. Remember that the Scientific Revolution led by Isaac Newton didn’t begin to yield benefits to consumers until the rise of the entrepreneurial businessman under capitalism a century later.

The threat of price controls coming to America, as well as damaging patent attacks, threaten these companies’ ability to fund their vital work. Unlike government grants, private companies must get their funding from prior products sold in the voluntary market. They can’t simply seize it through taxes. Problems in the pricing system exist, to be sure--thanks to all of the market infringements imposed by the regulatory welfare state (such as the existence of government programs like Medicare, which drives a wedge between the producers of medical products and the consumers, thus short-circuiting the crucial function of free markets). But the worst “solution” is to blame the pharma companies, especially in view of the price controls imposed in most other countries.

The pharma companies have a moral right to price their products, and take advantage of their limited patent protection, according to their own judgement. As observed, we’re all touched by cancer. At 69 years, I’ve had my share of personal encounters with cancer. We just lost a close friend after a 3-month battle. As such, I believe anyone concerned with basic research funding should be doubly concerned about the vital link between this research knowledge and the patients--the pharmaceutical,biotech companies--and the growing political attacks on this vital industry.


On the issue of allowing Medicare to “directly negotiate drug prices,” the idea is a sham. Medicare is a coercive monopsony. A monopsony is the buyer's equivalent of a monopoly. Medicare, having taken over the market for drugs for the senior market, has a dominance not achievable in a free market., It’s enormous buying power was achieved at the point of a gun, via its taxing powers and forced conscription of every American into the program. Having commandeered its enormous monopsony power, it is disingenuous, to be polite, to claim that you can have genuine negotiations between Medicare and private companies.

In effect, Medicare would be able to dictate prices. Allowing “direct negotiations” is back-door price controls, an immoral and economically destructive abuse of government power. True, private companies can say no if Medicare demands too low of a price. But then, where would the companies sell their products, given Medicare’s takeover of such a large segment of the drug-makers’ market? What repercussions would be forthcoming from other powerful government agencies, such as the antitrust, FDA, or IRS branches of government--not to mention the wrath of business-hating political statists in Washington--in reprisal for saying “no” to Medicare’s pricing demands? It would be like “negotiating” with a Mafia boss.

Related Reading:

On Mylan’s EpiPen Pricing Controversy

Merck- Villain or Victim?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Qualified Kudos to Frelinghuysen for His ‘NO’ Vote on Offshore NJ Drilling

A House vote on an energy bill included an amendment to kill all funding for a new federal five-year drilling plan, a move that would have effectively led to an end to all offshore oil and gas drilling. NJ Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, voted no on the bill even though he personally supports banning drilling off of the NJ coast (probably for pragmatic political reasons, at least in part).

As Jonathan D. Salant reports for the New Jersey Star-Ledger:

Efforts to keep the Atlantic Coast closed to offshore oil drilling -- something pushed by advocates of the Jersey Shore -- came up for a vote this week.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, New Jersey's most powerful House member, voted no.

And the bill failed to pass a key House committee.

The House Appropriations Committee, which Frelinghuysen, R-11th Dist., chairs, voted largely along party lines against an amendment by Rep. Chellie Pingree, who wanted to ban the Interior Department from spending any money on a new five-year drilling plan.

Frelinghuysen said he doesn't support drilling in the Atlantic, but neither does he support the way Pingree proposed to ban it.

"My opposition to drilling off the coast of New Jersey is well-known," Frelinghuysen said. "The Pingree amendment to the Interior appropriations bills was far too broad in that it would have prohibited drilling off all coasts, even where drilling is currently allowed."

My emphasis. This is an indication of what we will face should Democrats once again gain control in Washington. It’ll make the Obama reign of 2009-10 look downright moderate!

Salant goes on:

Environmentalists saw it differently.

"Representative Frelinghuysen has passed up a chance to protect Americans from Trump's extreme offshore drilling plan -- which he has said he opposes," said Franz Matzner, director of federal affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"His vote instead helps pad oil industry profits, and abandons the beach communities who'll bear the risk of oil spills, along with every citizen who'll experience the effects of the extreme weather made worse by increasing carbon pollution."

I left these comments:

We must keep proper perspective. Reliable, large-scale energy is vital to human life. Energy powers every other industry, including the NJ tourism industry. Reliable energy is vital to protecting us from extreme weather: Today, we enjoy a level of protection that people throughout human history up until the last century and a half never had. Worldwide deaths due to extreme weather has fallen by over 98% in the past century. Even if the climate catastrophists’ wild speculations about more extreme weather ends up to have a modicum of truth, what humane person would advocate, as a solution, a return life to the days when droughts brought famine? Fossil fuels are getting cleaner-burning all the time, thanks to ever-advancing anti-pollution technologies. (That's why anti-fossil fanatics have adopted the “carbon pollution” mantra. But as anybody with a kindergarten level of science knowledge knows, co2 is not a pollutant.) Those who want to stop fossil fuel development, such as the quasi-religious, totalitarian Environmentalists, are inhumane in the extreme.

We must understand the full risk context. The risk of lack of reliable energy far, far outweighs the risk of potential spills. Fossil fuels are the best and most progressive energy source we have today. Yes, fossils have drawbacks, as does every energy source. But the risks of ending fossil fuels would be truly catastrophic. Technological progress may, and probably will at some point, arise to replace fossil fuels as the main driver of industry. But that could be decades or even centuries away. Until then, pro-life = pro-fossil fuels.

Kudos to Frelinghuysen for his “no” vote. I just wish he were pro-drilling, not just pro-drilling off the other guy’s coast, but not off NJ.

Related Reading:

Atlantic Off-Shore Oil Drilling: Who Really Benefits?

Obama’s Not Anti-Fossil Fuel Enough for Hard-Core Environmentalists

The BP Gulf Disaster: the Proximate vs. the Ultimate Cause

Fossil Fuels and Climate Change: Remember Life Before Them

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Prosthetics Violinist--Thanks to Courage and Capitalism

From the Washington Post: A 10-year-old Virginia girl without a hand wanted to play violin. Now she can:

Dressed for the occasion in a red dress and a headband with a white, glittery flower, 10-year-old Isabella Nicola picked up her violin.

But this was no recital. And Isabella is no ordinary violin player. The fifth grader from Alexandria, Va., was born without a left hand and part of her forearm.

That hasn’t stopped her. Her mother, Andrea Cabrera, always instructed her not to say “I can’t,” but to say “I can’t yet.”

Now, thanks to five George Mason University bioengineering seniors — Yasser Alhindi, Mona Elkholy, Abdelrahman Gouda, Ella Novoselsky and Racha Salha — who used 3-D printing technology to create a prosthetic bow arm for her, she’s begun training on an instrument that challenges even the most adroit musicians.

They call it the VioArm.

Kudos to Isabella for her determination and courage. And Kudos to the scientists, engineers, businessmen, and investors of the hi tech industry for giving these entrepreneuring George Mason University students the tools to turn their idea for the VioArm into reality. Determination, courage, reason, and capitalism is an unstoppable combination.

Related Reading:

Serviceman Who Lost Leg Carries Woman Across Finish Line—Thanks to Prosthetics Industry

Koni Dole: Loses a Leg, Shines in Football Anyway