Sunday, February 17, 2019

The 'Watermelon' Analogy is Real, and it is Dangerous

Free market advocates have often used the watermelon analogy--”green on the outside, red on the inside”--to describe the relationship between the Environmentalism movement and socialists. As the theory goes, socialism was supposed to bring prosperity to all while capitalism collapsed into a perpetual cycle of the rich getting richer while “the masses” got poorer. When the reality was that as the rich got richer, the general standard of living, even for the poor, soared, socialists faced a crisis. The crisis was deepened when it became clear that the poverty of the socialist countries was “achieved” by brutal, repressive tyrannies.

But they didn’t give up their socialist dreams. They came up with a new mantra to advance socialism--Environmentalism, originally called Ecology. The new playbook claimed that all of this capitalist prosperity was ruining the Earth. The original culprit was pollution, a very real problem. But rather than give up on capitalism, Americans cleaned up the pollution, but largely kept the capitalism. The prosperity and industrial progress continued on a progressively cleaner path. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the crisis reached its climax.

The socialists then turned to climate change, the ultimate environmental catastrophe. “It’s climate change” can be trotted out to explain every bad thing, from routine extreme weather, to corporate bankruptcies, to terrorism. In order to save the planet’s climate, draconian central planning--i.e., socialism--must be imposed on all economic activity..

There is plenty of evidence to back the watermelon analogy. The Environmentalism/socialism partnership is getting more open about their aims, with climate change emerging as the leader on the Environmentalist side.

For example, the latest United Nations IPCC climate assessment “Summary for Policymakers” called for “far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to reign in global warming. These drastic actions, the report states, could be folded into other political goals, such as “go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society” and “efforts to eradicate poverty.”

In November, Reason’s Ronald Bailey reported in November 2018 on a New York Times op-ed by Benjamin Y. Fong titled The Climate Crisis? It's Capitalism, Stupid, in which Fong argued:

The real culprit of the climate crisis is not any particular form of consumption, production or regulation but rather the very way in which we globally produce, which is for profit rather than for sustainability. So long as this order is in place, the crisis will continue and, given its progressive nature, worsen. This is a hard fact to confront. But averting our eyes from a seemingly intractable problem does not make it any less a problem. It should be stated plainly: It's capitalism that is at fault.

Congresswoman and self-described Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chimed in about her “Green New Deal.” As Ronald Bailey reported in December 2018,

"This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil rights movement of our generation," declaimed Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) at a "Solving Our Climate Crisis" townhall this week. She was referring to the idea of a Green New Deal, which Mother Jones describes as "a complete realignment of the U.S. economy for a carbon-free future." Not wanting for ambition, Ocasio-Cortez added this goal: "We can use the transition to 100 percent renewable energy as the vehicle to establish economic, racial and social justice in America."

All italics are mine.

Terms like “a complete realignment of the U.S. economy” and “far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are the kinds of utopian dreams that totalitarian central planners have always salivated about. Terms like “economic, racial and social justice” are collectivist--i.e., socialist--terms. Real justice is individual, and it belongs to capitalism, the system of individual rights.

Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez recently called climate change "Our World War II," referring to the younger generation. Nick Gillespie pointed to the link to the IPCC report. O-C literally said the world would end by 2030 "if we don't address climate change. 2030 happens to be the IPCC's deadline date for its “far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society." Fits nicely with O-C's totalitarian socialist agenda.

There it is--the watermelon in action. The analogy is true. And it makes sense. After all, humans survive and flourish only by changing the environment. And what social system leaves people free to reshape the natural world to his benefit, if not capitalism, the system of freedom of production and trade? What government coercion aimed at crushing this freedom can not be justified by so vague a goal as “fighting climate change?”

'Climate Change' Ideology is a reformulation of anti-Capitalism; the perfect vehicle for aspiring totalitarian socialists. The watermelon analogy is real, and it is dangerous.

Related Reading:


Destroy Capitalism to Save the Climate, Argues New York Times Op-Ed: Centrally planning the climate will work about as well as centrally planning economies did. by Ronald Bailey

Can the Democrats Really Win 2020 with a New Green Deal?
--Ronald Bailey




If there is one positive thing the Green New Deal does, it’s that it brings to light the fact that much of the environmentalist agenda is just a thinly veiled vehicle for implementing far-left socialism.

Friday, February 15, 2019

NJ’s ‘Dark Money’ Bill is an Assault on Free Speech


The politicians are at it again, trying to silence free speech through mandatory campaign disclosure laws. In N.J. lawmakers ready to change law that lets ’dark money’ donors keep their identities secret, Susan K. Livio reports for NJ.com:

Political organizations that raise money to influence elections and policy in New Jersey would be forced to disclose their donors under a bill a state Senate panel approved Thursday that would help shine light on so-called “dark money” in politics.

Under current state law, so-called “super PACs,” 527 groups, and 501(c)4 “social welfare” organizations are allowed to keep their donors secret as long as they spend less than half of their funds on political activities.

But this bill, approved 12-0 by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, would require groups that spend at least $3,000 bolstering a candidate or influencing policy to publicly reveal donors.

I left these comments:

Monetary expenditure is integral to free speech. “Dark” or anonymous spending is crucial to free expression. Free expression is crucial to intellectual freedom of the individual as well as public debate during election campaigns or regarding law and policies. After all, what is the “democratic process” but free and open debate for the purpose to “influence elections and policy?” Those who throw around terms like “dark money” are up to no good. They are attacking freedom of speech.

“Dark Money” is the language of dictators who want to silence the free speech of private citizens. Anonymous spending equals anonymous expression. Political anonymity has been used throughout history by free speakers to avoid harassment and intimidation by both governments, political opponents, and private thugs, as New Direction New Jersey experienced. It was used by Revolutionary advocates of freedom and independence to shield them from British reprisals. It was used by oppressed groups, such as 20th Century Civil Rights advocates, to shield them from white racist mobs and prosecutorial reprisals. Anonymous speech has been sanctioned by many Supreme Court justices, including John Harlin II, Hugo Black, John Paul Stevens, and Clarence Thomas.* Black also contended that anonymous political speech enriches political debate. People might want to head off ad hominem attacks so their ideas can be debated on the merits.

Mandatory disclosure is an intimidation tactic. “Transparency” is to the political establishment a means to control the political narrative and silence dissenting activists. Anonymous political spending is a fundamental right that, as SCOTUS ruled in 1958 in NAACP vs. Alabama, falls under the protection of the First Amendment.

---------------------------------

Indeed, the new disclosure requirements were inspired because “non-profits with ties to Gov. Phil Murphy and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney came under fire in recent weeks” for refusing to disclose donors. But one of them refused to disclose precisely to shield donors from intimidation. As Liveo reports:

New Direction New Jersey, a group that promotes Murphy’s agenda, last year pledged to disclose its donors but recently reversed its decision, citing “increased attacks from powerful special interests seeking to preserve the status quo."

My emphasis. Enough said.

Related Reading:



* The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech--by Kimberley Strassel, especially Chapter 2, “Publius & Co.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

‘We’ Did Not Create the ‘Mighty Middle Class’: ‘I’ Did


In a January 2019 editorial, The $15 wage: Reaffirming what New Jersey stands for, the New Jersey Star-Ledger lauded Nj politicians for enacting a phased-in $15 minimum wage. What’s important here is not the rise in the minimum wage, bad as that is. What caught my eye is the Star-Ledger’s rationalization for it.

This historic act, made by people who value the dignity of work, will enable nearly a million more New Jerseyans to soon make something that approximates a living wage.

Our state took a prodigious step toward addressing decades of economic injustice, and all it took was for our elected leaders to affirm what we believe in. For centuries, when we saw someone who needed a hand up, we had the compassion and wisdom to do it without overdoing it. We welcomed immigrants from every corner of the world and brought them into the circle of opportunity. We took the poor and made them middle class. We took the middle class and made it mighty.

I left these comments, somewhat expanded and edited for clarity:

“When we saw someone who needed a hand up, we had the compassion and wisdom to do it”

There’s a fundamental difference between a voluntary ‘hand up’ and a government-forced hand out. The first is compassion, the second injustice. Notice the heartless collectivist repudiation of individual self-reliance; “We took the poor and made them middle class. We took the middle class and made it mighty.” No, “We” didn’t. The middle class stands for individual productiveness and upward mobility, achieved through individual effort and voluntary association based on mutual consent. Each individual earned it. The collectivist worldview of the Star-Ledger and its ilk leaves no room for the value of the individual. It’s all about some mystical “We” to which each of us is only a helpless cog. But in fact, “We” didn’t create the middle class. “I” created the middle class.

Collectivism is the weapon of the statist who imagines that he can simply legislate a “living wage.” There is no economic justice in getting a wage forced on your employer, the job creator. There is no dignity in an unearned “living wage”. There is no dignity in losing a job, or being unable to find a job, because your skill level doesn’t yet warrant the $15 some politician mandates. And if you manage to keep your job at the higher coerced wage, there is certainly no dignity is profiting at the expense of someone else’s being forced into unemployment by the same law that “gave” you your raise.

The economic destructiveness of price controls is well-known and undisputed. Force up the price of something, including of labor, and you get less of it--in this case, fewer jobs and fewer sustainable businesses. But minimum wage laws are also immoral, because they not only force businesses to pay more than voluntarily agreed to, but deny entry level and low-skilled workers the right to accept a job at less, thus denying them access to the economic opportunity that the lower rungs of the “economic ladder of success” offers.

-----------------------------------------------

Once again we can see the “You didn’t build that” weapon that Obama set up. The worst thing Obama did was to establish a philosophical springboard for American socialists to complete the task of fundamentally transforming America into a socialist state. If “you didn’t build that”--if “We” made the middle class--then created wealth is a tribal product. If wealth is due to tribal “effort”, rather than at root an individual effort, then there is no reason that the tribe’s--i.e., society’s--wealth should not be controlled and distributed by the tribal chiefs, the government.

If you don’t understand how markets work--how wealth is created and distributed by individuals contracting, collaborated, and trading---and how the infinitely intricate price mechanism sorts out who built and thus deserves what--then you will always be susceptible to the kind of poison Obama has fed us. Unfortunately, too many Americans buy into what is essentially the savages view of wealth as a tribal product. Too many Americans either are ignorant or, worse, know better but buy into the “you didn’t build that”/“We built the Middle Class” view for their own sinister reasons. Welcome to a socialist America.

Related Reading:






Saturday, February 9, 2019

Memo to the NJ Star-Ledger: Obama Didn’t Cause the Recovery



This might come as a disappointment to some, but the trajectory of America's return path to greatness was well established by the time Donald Trump and his dizzy economic vision for the country came down that escalator.

And then asserts:

One indisputable takeaway is that the shadow of the great recession was lifted by his predecessor: The median income - that's the household income that sits in the middle of the salary ladder - rose 3.2 percent last year (to $59,039), after rising 5.2 percent in 2015.

The S-L editorial goes on to blast Trump for proposing cuts in some welfare programs, saying that this will result in more people in poverty.

The implication of this editorial is that the government is responsible for a strong economy, and that the only way for anyone to get out of poverty is not to work her way up, but to get a handout of unearned goodies. This is upside-down. An economy advances because human beings, by their nature, must work to produce the goods necessary to sustain their lives. An economy therefore has a natural tendency to grow, without government “help,” as long as people are left free to produce and trade.

A government doesn’t cause economic growth. Individual initiative does. Government’s can hamper growth. But they do not cause it. And hamper growth is exactly what Obama and previous administrations have been doing. In the past 20+ years, we saw a perfect storm of government interference—regulatory, monetary, and politicians’ affordable housing crusades under Clinton and G.W. Bush—inflate the biggest housing bubble in history, bust it, and cause the worst financial crisis is history. Then we saw an avalanche of regulation and spending as Obama’s “cure’ for the resulting Great Recession—and instead of a roaring job-filled recovery like the ones following the 1920-21 depression or the 1980-82 recession, we got a mini-version of the 1930s; not as bad, but still the most anemic recovery on record which took a decade for incomes to finally catch up. Obama didn’t lift “the shadow of the great recession.” He simply smothered the recovery.

Add to this the burgeoning welfare state, which disincentivizes work and advancement. Contrary to Leftist dogma, redistribution of wealth doesn’t alleviate poverty. It merely turns low income people into parasites by locking them into perpetual handouts. The Star-Ledger itself acknowledged the economy-crippling effects of perpetual handouts. In a 2/6/14 editorial titled “ObamaCare's collateral damage”, the Star-Ledger wrote that their is. . .

. . . a fundamental problem in America’s approach to its welfare state. [L]ow-wage workers will lose subsidies as their earnings increase, giving them less incentive to work hard and climb the income ladder. Much of what they gain in earnings, in other words, they will lose in subsidies.

This is a problem liberals need to face squarely. . .

That’s not Trump. That’s not a Right Wing think tank. That’s the liberal Star-Ledger in a fit of candor. And every word of it was and is true. And yet every cut in subsidies—even “cuts” that are really reductions in spending growth—are savagely attacked as “heartless”—even though the welfare cuts are a drop in the bucket compared to the massive growth in government redistribution spending and deficits since 2000. I’m still waiting for liberals to face the “fundamental problem” of the welfare state.

Productive individuals, not government or politicians, cause prosperity and reduce poverty. A government is vital to the establishment of the social conditions that lead to prosperity, but only to the extent to which its laws protect individual rights--especially the right to earn a living. Property rights, free trade, production, policing markets against force, fraud, and deception—the rule of objective law—are vital to liberating individuals to work and prosper. But when the government turns to massive economic regulation and redistribution of wealth, you get what we’ve had the past two decades—a boom-bust-barely above stagnation recovery.

I disagree with Trump on many issues. But if he can reduce the regulatory burden while reigning in the welfare state, he will have done real good for the productive individuals and the incentive for upward mobility that are the real drivers of economic progress.

Related Reading:


Thursday, February 7, 2019

QUORA: 'Why do people think capitalism is ethical?'



I posted this answer:

By man’s individualist nature as a rational being, he must work productively, trade and associate with others, and keep what he has earned in order to survive and flourish. Therefore, man needs a free society, so that every person can earn his living in a social environment that abolishes physical force as a means of dealing with one another. The abolition of physical force is the prerequisite of freedom and the reason why the maintenance of an ethical society needs a government--to secure by law a force-free society, leaving voluntarism as the only legal means of human association.

It follows from man’s nature that the basic principles of a moral society are the recognition of each individual’s right to live and act according to the judgement of his own mind, so long as his actions do not violate the same rights of others. The highly essentialized principles of capitalism are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, which states that “all men are created equal, that are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

First come rights, then comes government. The overarching political principle embodied in those words is that the government--i.e., its elected or appointed officials--must be subordinated to the same moral law as the people it governs: Just as a private individual may not steal from, cheat, enslave, or kill--that is, initiate force against--another human being, so neither can government officials as representative of society steal, cheat, enslave, or kill. Nor may a proper government legally sanction such rights-violating actions by politically powerful private individuals or groups. Government’s only purpose is to act as the people’s agent of self-defense, securing their individual rights in an orderly process--i.e., through the rule of objective law, applied equally to all. The government is constitutionally bound to protect us from those who would violate another’s rights, without becoming the rights-violator. Capitalism is the consequence—the natural result of a republican, as opposed to democratic, form of government and constitution.

It is the protection of individual rights through the subordination of society and its government to moral law--that is, universal justice--that makes capitalism ethical. Ethics is fundamentally an individual, not a collective, issue. To be ethical means, in large part, to respect the rights of others. A government’s laws, to be just, must embody that respect. Capitalism does not guarantee that everyone will respect the rights of others. It guarantees that to the extent one respects the rights of others, he will be left politically, intellectually, and economically free. Capitalism--that is, laissez-faire capitalism--is the only social system that explicitly embodies these principles. Therefore, Capitalism is not only ethical. It is, to date, the only ethical social system.

An ethical society means a free society. A free society is a capitalist society. Volumes of theory and centuries of practice back this up. Of course, what we have now is not laissez-faire capitalism. We have a mixed economy of statism and freedom--that is, an economy burdened by economic regulation, redistributive taxation, cronyism, and an extortive political class. Here is a sampling of suggested reading to clarify understanding:




Related Reading:


* [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.]

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

It’s MeFirst, or Slavery. Take Your Pick


In a previous post, 'Social Justice' Collectivism in American School and Culture, I highlighted a school principal’s collectivist/Left leaning commencement address. It included terms like “social justice” and “renewable energy” and a healthy dose of “community service.” These are Leftist agenda items. But something more universal lies behind the Left’s political agenda. Recently this principal “tweeted” this:

Not sure when the MeFirst Movement began, but I sure liked it better when we put the needs of the community and others above our own immediate needs.

Underpinning that lament is the age old conflict, individualism versus collectivism, or egoism versus altruism.

The first question to ask this vice-principal is, Why not MeFirst (or self-interest or selfishness)? But more on that later.

Let’s examine the second, collectivist portion of T’s lament.

Notice, first, that the statement distinguished between “community” and “others.” The reference to community is collectivism--the group as the focus of economic, political, cultural, and moral concern. The reference to “others” is altruism--the view that self-sacrificial service for the needs of other people is the essence of morality.

The , collectivism and altruism, are linked, with Altruism being the deeper philosophical base of collectivism. A little thought will tell you where altruism leads. If it is right to put others above self, and if the principle is universal, then it is right to expect those others to do the same--put your needs above theirs’. Such a standard of necessity must foster mutual dependency and mutual predation and the enshrinement of the unearned as the essence of social life. This can only undermine individual self-responsibility and ultimately lead to a breakdown of respect and trust. For a complete critique of altruism, I defer to my QUORA answer to “Is Ayn Rand wrong about altruism?

As to community above self-interest, that can only mean submission to some ruling authoritarian. A community is not a conscious entity separate from the individuals that comprise it. It is not an entity capable of deciding what it needs. Only individuals are capable of conceiving of and pursuing their needs. To say the needs of the community come before your own is to say the needs of others take precedence over our own. Who decides whose needs take precedence? A ruling political elite, acting through the mechanism of government. When someone speaks of community over the individual, they are speaking of whomever in the community gets himself into the position of authority to speak and act for the community. We’re talking about the supremacy of the state over the individual--i.e., some form of dictatorship. To put the needs of the community above our own means submission to the interests of some authority, and those who peddle community supremacy are setting society up for some kind of statism.

Now, as to MeFirst, I did a little searching and I couldn’t find any evidence of a formal movement. I did find a self-help course by Andrea Crowder that she labeled The Me First Movement, “teaching you about all our self-care rituals that have helped us stay focused to slay our life’s missions”:

We’re going to give you unapologetic permission to be deliciously selfish and by doing that, it’s going to empower you to be a better wife, mom, employee, GirlPreneur … whatever titles you claim.

I’m not judging the course. That’s not the point. But it sounds pretty benign.

Then there is Not #MeToo, but #MeFirst by Jennifer Anju Grossman for The Atlas Society. Grossman presents MeFirst as a means of dealing with sexual harassment. Appealing mainly to female victims, Grossman writes,

So what would a rationally self-interested -- #MeFirst -- approach to harassment look like?

It would involve a focus on ourselves, and what we can do as individuals to help prevent harassment, deal with harassment, and get beyond harassment.

Again, constructive. What’s wrong with either of these two MeFirst approaches to dealing with life? Why would anyone oppose someone resisting harassment or working to be tops at whatever goals one chooses? Clearly, these two examples demonstrate that, at the very least, MeFirst can be good for you. Why would anyone denigrate MeFirst on principle? There is a motive--a sinister motive.

Which brings me to my third discovery--The Me First Movement posted by Clyde Kilough, editor of the religious website Life, Hope, & Truth. Kilough’s subtitle; “Looking at the movement at the root of all the evils can help us identify the only real solution.” Sexual harassment is among the evils, as is lying and murder. The movement behind all of this evil? “Me First selfishness”, started by Satan, the originator, according to kilough, of the MeFirst Movement.

We have all fallen prey to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These pulls have affected, and infected, each of us! Satan’s Me First movement says indulge yourself, fulfill your desires, pursue your pleasures, cast off restraints. He keeps repeating to us his promise to Eve—all you have to do to be happy is satisfy your own desires—and we keep believing it (Proverbs 16:25)!

But when that thinking takes hold, wicked things begin to happen. When Me First takes over, it’s always at the expense and hurt of someone. We have all been hurt, and we have all hurt others. That is ultimately the only possible outcome of Satan’s way of thinking.

Notice that to “satisfy your own desires” as a means “to be happy” is equated with evil. This is the view of selfishness that dominates and corrupts our understanding of selfishness. “Me First” means “always at the expense and hurt of someone!” [my emphasis] It means unthinking whim-worship unconstrained by any consideration for consequences to others or even one’s own long-term interests.

Where does that leave us as far as moral guidance is concerned?  If the moral choice is to hurt others or renounce happiness, what is one to do? This is the classic, basic fraud perpetrated by moralists; that our only moral choices are to run roughshod over others while we indulge every immediate whim, or renounce the pursuit of personal happiness. This view obliterates any possibility of a benevolent, respectful pursuit of happiness.

Philosopher Ayn Rand identify the false choice this way: Sacrifice others to self or self to others. Is that really the only moral choice we have?

No. Ayn Rand identified the core wrongness of Kilough’s line of thinking:

The most disastrous error (or fraud) in the history of ethics is the moral diagnosis of criminal actions: traditional moralists claim that the evil of a robber or a murderer consists of the fact that he acted for his own “self-interest.” I claim that his evil lies in his choice of values, in what he chose to regard as his self-interest.

Rand identified a third, benevolent, non-sacrificial, non-criminal alternative--rational self-interest and its social corollary, the trader principle. Trade is the basic, non-sacrificial, non-exploitative way for good rationally selfish MeFirst people to deal with one another. It is the voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange of value for value, in which each person gives something another values in order to get something he values more in return. Trade is the basic MeFirst alternative to the lose-win of collectivism and altruism. Trade is win-win--people getting better together. The trader principle applies to more than commercial transactions. It applies to personal relationships, like friendships and romance.

To repudiate MeFirst is to strip from each individual the morality of self-improvement. How cruel is that? The fact is, no human can live without being selfish. No human can prosper, or support his family, or engage in rewarding personal relationships with others without being honest about what’s important to oneself, and respecting what’s important to those whose associations we seek. MeFirst is the necessary ingredient of social harmony. MeFirst does not mean disregard of others. As a universal premise, it means respecting others, even strangers. To be against MeFirst is to be against life itself--or guilt-free living.

The very act of self-reflection--of deciding what values one needs to pursue, achieve, and keep so as to make one’s own life the best and most successful it can be--is by definition MeFirst. To deny MeFirst is to throw out the very selfish virtues one must learn and practice in order to plan one’s life long term and pursue happiness; virtues like self-esteem, self-motivation, self-discipline, self-respect, self-responsibility, independent thinking, integrity, honesty, courage to stand by one’s beliefs even if unpopular, to plan one’s life long-term, and so on.

Of course, collectivism and altruism have from America’s Founding had some grip on the culture. Today, we are further along on the tyrannical path back to “the needs of the community and others,” and further from the freedom of “MeFirst,” than ever. That is, we’re moving away from individualism and regressing toward tribalism. The slogan is an expression of that regression.

The vice-principal says he’s “Not sure when the MeFirst Movement began.” This, from an American educator! The Declaration of Independence, the ultimate political expression of MeFirst, has served us well. It has led to the most peaceful, just, and prosperous expression of true brotherhood, the capitalist United States of America, that ever existed--in the process sweeping away one age-old inhumanity after another.

The fact is, he’s got it backwards. America was never, in its original Founding principles, a nation that put the collective, whether identified as the “community” or “others” or some ruler, over the individual. The Declaration proclaimed that your life belongs to you; that MeFirst is your political right. America protected the individual from the tyranny of the tribe and its rulers. Americanism at its core holds that you--not the community, your neighbors, or the state--but you have first claim on your own life. Americanism is rooted in the ultimate political expression of MeFirst, individual rights. “Not sure when the MeFirst Movement began?” What does he think is meant by the words of the legal document that marked the birth of the United States of America--the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? The Revolutionary War was fought to establish every individual's right--every common man’s individual right--to MeFirst.

On some level, the Founders seem to have understood the moral significance of those words. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, proclaimed: “If we are made in some degree for others, yet in a greater are we made for ourselves. It were contrary to feeling and indeed ridiculous to suppose that a man had less right to himself than one of his neighbors or indeed all of them put together. This would be slavery.” [P. 54] Indeed, the Confederate slaves were slaves precisely because they were denied their own MeFirst. When someone speaks of “put the needs of the community and others above our own immediate needs,” they are speaking of masters and slaves.

To say to a young mind that one’s own life should not be one’s highest value is downright cruel--especially from an educator whose job it is, or should be, to give the young student the intellectual tools, and thus foster the self-esteem, he’ll need to make his own life the best it can be. To advocate otherism as a moral ideal is plain evil. It is a slave morality and a repudiation of Americanism. It is to instill guilt where self-esteem should have grown. If we are to save America’s students from a self-destructive life course, we must teach their moral right to MeFirst, properly understood--not as a necessary evil, or as a matter of practicality--but as a moral principle. He must learn that MeFirst does not mean running roughshod over others for the sake of some immediate whim. MeFirst, rational selfishness, is in fact the only basis for benevolent coexistence. Because a person tends to project his own moral premises, he who believes in his moral right to MeFirst will also respect that same moral right in others. It means mutual respect. It means to self-confidently, righteously, and guiltlessly pursue the values one rationally deems necessary to achieve a flourishing life for himself, and its corollary responsibility to respect the same moral rights of others.

The worst fraud perpetrated by moral theorists is to equate self-interest with bad behavior. The choice is not be self-interested, or be moral. The choice is in how you express your self-interest; what you regard as in your interest, and how you go about achieving it. We do need ethics, not as a commandment to put others first, but to teach us the right way to pursue our own self-interest. It’s both good to be MeFirst self-interested, and bad to regard one’s self-interest as harming others. They are not the same thing and, in fact, are opposites. The choice is not lose and be moral or be immoral in order to win, with each of us shifting between the two. That is a false choice, a straw man. The choice is a life among equals, each of whom respects others’ first claim on her own life.

A word regarding the vice-principal's use of the word “immediate” (“one’s immediate needs”). I want to emphasize that there are times when setting aside, for the time being, one’s immediate concerns for the sake of others is appropriate and consistent with rational self-interest. But I’m taking the entire statement as a general moral command, not a contingency.

Why would anyone offer, as a moral choice, slave or master? It serves the purposes of certain kinds of people. Run like hell from anyone who tells you your own self-interest should be subordinated to others. They intend to be “the others”--i.e., the masters. What is the roadblock to that would-be master? Anyone who declares “Me First” and is willing to fight for his moral right to his own interests.The best way to respond to that corrupt statement is to answer: I sure liked it better when most of us revered the inalienable individual rights to our own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The next step is to supplement that statement of political rights by embracing its corollary, the moral right to, and virtue of, MeFirst.

Related Reading:



Of course, Rand was not merely against altruism. She was primarily for rational egoism and its peaceful social corollary, the trader principle.


Why Most Academics Tilt Left--Brian Balfour for FEE

Leftist intellectuals desire to exert influence and, in turn, feel important. Their desires to re-make society can only realistically be brought about through the existence of a massive government; a government in which these academics will be able to influence, under the guise of academic “expertise.” There is an inherent liberal bias favoring greater social control by the state among academics in part because it’s the only avenue academics have to become the social reformists they desire to be.

The allure of advancing a utopian vision combined with classrooms full of highly amendable students proves to be a powerful magnet attracting Leftist intellectuals to academic positions.