Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Others' Commentary-1

"The Answer to 1984 is 1776"-- Judy Aron

As we await the outcome of the election, I thought I'd share some comments made by others.

The following are excerpts from Let Them Fail, by Amit Ghate, which were posted on the blog of The Objective Standard.

Everywhere today politicians are blaring that they must save America’s financial institutions, alleging catastrophic risk to the economy were any to fail.

Capitalism doesn’t work, they declare, but fortunately the government is here to rescue us.

Sadly, they have it all backwards.

Overlooked here is that in a free market business failures are not just normal, they’re crucial for the best products and ideas to emerge. Most restaurants fail in their first three years because customers have other preferences. Many mom-and-pop grocers go out of business because Walmart offers better selection and lower prices. Even whole industries—think typewriters, 8-tracks and horses and buggies—vanish because new inventions and competitors arise.

None of these failures are a problem, nor do they threaten the system. On the contrary, they are an inherent part of the progress which only capitalism makes possible.

So why would failures in the financial industry be any different?

When the free market functions—and failure is allowed—people become viscerally aware of risk, with the result that they voluntarily assume less of it.

Conversely, when the government tries to “manage” the economy—when the consequences of risky behavior are shifted from self-interested actors to taxpayers...risks are concealed and amplified until they become catastrophic.

An analogy may be helpful here. Historically certain types of forests naturally experienced frequent, but small, wildfires. Because their frequency kept deadwood at a minimum, the fires never grew into large conflagrations. However, when government forestry services instituted fire suppression policies, they eliminated most small fires, but caused deadwood and other fuel to accumulate. When at last a fire came that could not be suppressed, it grew into a devastating inferno.

Learning from their errors, forestry services have abandoned fire suppression policies.

It’s time for our government to do likewise. First, by immediately abandoning its bailout binge, and then by phasing out all of the economic controls by which it attempts to “manage” the financial system—from the FDIC to the Federal Reserve itself. Nothing less can reestablish the freedom essential for a sound and vibrant economy.

Subject: Obama's "Virtue of Selfishness" Theme

The following comment was posted at Political Punch, the ABC News website.

In his own way, Obama understands that there is a conflict between selfishness and sacrifice. He just misidentifies which one is good and which one is wrong.

There's nothing wrong with pursuing one's rational self-interest in economics, romance, and life. That's our essence as human beings. This sort of selfishness does *not* include screwing others, robbing, rape, etc. -- those acts are immoral because they aren't rationally selfish.

It's a long-standing mistake to lump together in a package-deal both "selfishness" and abhorrent behaviours such as those. The truly selfish man neither wants to trample on others or be trampled himself -- he merely wishes to be left free to produce and trade values with others, and seek his own happiness.

In contrast, Obama's calls for "service" and "sacrifice" are just disguised calls for submission to state, i.e., slavery -- something I find profoundly ironic coming from someone who aspires to be the first African-American president of the US.

The sort of selfishness advocated by Ayn Rand is compatible with (and the only solid foundation) for the various virtues that most Americans correctly respect and seek to embody, such as integrity, honesty, productiveness, etc.

For more on this, I highly recommend the book by Dr. Tara Smith (professor of philosophy at Univ. Texas - Austin), published by Cambridge University Press:

"Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist"

Posted by: Paul Hsieh | Nov 3, 2008 11:49:32 AM

(Dr. Paul Hsieh is co-founder of We Stand FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine)

The following comments were left at a website by an author which escapes me. Suffice it to say that this post tickled my fancy:

The full [Obama] quote is as follows: "John McCain and Sarah Palin, they call [my politics] socialistic. Y'know, I don't know when they decided they wanted to make a virtue out of selfishness. Y'know, the next thing I know, they're gonna find evidence of my communistic tendencies because I shared my toys in kindergarten — cause I split my peanut butter and jelly sandwich with my friend in sixth grade." - Barack Obama

Incredible! Our next president, who believes in taking from the rich and giving to the poor, completely obliterates the distinction between voluntary sharing and forced sharing — between sharing your toys with others and stealing the toys of others in order to share them — between sharing your sandwich with a friend, and grabbing my sandwich, so you can share it with your friend. The real question is: When did Barack Obama decide to make a virtue out of stealing other people's property? Not that the Republicans don't believe in doing the same thing, if only to a lesser degree!

As for the virtue of selfishness, sharing your sandwich with a friend is not unselfish if it is something you enjoy doing. Demanding that others share their sandwiches with perfect strangers certainly is. And who does this? Who expects you to share your hamburger with the bum sitting next to you at McDonalds? Who besides someone like Barack Obama?

And who better to answer him than the author of "The Virtue of Selfishness," Ayn Rand: "Why," she asks, "is it moral to serve the happiness of others, but not your own? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you? If the sensation of eating a cake is a value, why is it an immoral indulgence in your stomach, but a moral goal for you to achieve in the stomach of others. Why is it immoral for you to desire, but moral for others to do so? Why is it immoral to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away? And if it is not moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it? If you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and vicious when they take it? Does virtue consist of serving vice"? Is the moral purpose of those who are good, self-immolation for the sake of those who are evil?

"The answer you evade, the monstrous answer is: No, the takers are not evil, provided they did not earn the value you gave them. It is not immoral for them to accept it, provided they are unable to produce it, unable to deserve it, unable to give you any value in return. It is not immoral for them to enjoy it. provided they do not obtain it by right."
(Atlas Shrugged, p. 1031)

So when did Obama decide to make a virtue out of selflessness? When did he decide that sharing was morally superior to the pursuit of happiness, and that forced sharing was morally superior to the right to the pursuit of happiness? The answer is: He didn't "decide" it; he simply absorbed it uncritically from the leftist academic environment in which he was raised and educated, and is now cashing in on it for his own political benefit.

Happy Election Day. At least this is one freedom that hasn't been eroded...yet.

1 comment:

cfbauer said...

Hey Mike, I came to your blog after reading your wonderful response to Mark Shuttleworth's recent essay. Keep up the great work!