Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Choice is Clear: 'Unconstrained' Capitalism or Unconstrained Socialist Government

If the Trump Republican Party can be said to have a silver lining, it is this: It brought the fundamental issue confronting our nation to the fore of American debate.

In Healthcare as a human right is a bell GOP lawmakers cannot unring, freelancer Christopher Dale concluded his New Jersey Star-Ledger guest column with this.

In America, the preposterous idea that our well-being should be tied to unconstrained capitalism - that healthcare is a product rather than a right - is dead.

I left these comments, slightly edited:

If so, then so is the Declaration of Independence and any chance of a free and moral society.

Rights are moral principles sanctioning every individual’s freedom of self-advancing action, not an automatic claim on material benefits that others must be forced to provide. Healthcare does not just happen in nature. It must be produced by the individual efforts of human beings, and that fact of nature cannot be arbitrarily wished away. For a government to guarantee a right to healthcare beyond what one can acquire through voluntary dealings with others, the government must force others to pay for and/or provide it. To do that, the government must have the power to commandeer the efforts and property of productive citizens: i.e., the government must enslave those citizens.

“Unconstrained capitalism” is an interesting package deal, since capitalism is the only social system that banishes aggressive force from human society by constraining the government to the task of protecting every individual's inalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, which necessarily includes the right to the product of one’s own, not others’, work. Once we accept the notion of a right to healthcare or any other material benefit that others must be forced to provide, we have abandoned the basic principle of capitalism—a society in which each person is free only to deal with others by voluntary, mutual consent. Then we’re left with the basic principle of socialism, the society of masters and slaves, in which material need makes one a master and the ability to satisfy that need makes one a slave—“from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” with the government as the tool of the masters rather than the institution to secure equal rights.

Capitalism is the logical product of the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence—the same principles that the 19th Century abolitionist movement, led by Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, based their anti-slavery activism upon. Where capitalism abolished slavery, socialism brought it back. So this is the basic choice—”Unconstrained” capitalism and constrained rights-protecting government, or socialism and unconstrained totalitarian government.

Christopher Dale claims that slavery is now a “core value” of the “American spirit.” If so, America is dead. I refuse to accept that. Healthcare is a product, not an unconstrained “right”. Never mind that the slavery Dale advocates is partial, limited only to healthcare. Slavery is slavery, whether it is partial or total, Confederate or Marxist. If the government can enslave for healthcare, it can enslave for any material benefit. Once you accept the principle of slavery, you have unleashed any predator claiming a right to whatever material benefit they claim to need, and then there’s no way to stop the slide toward total slavery without first identifying and rejecting the principle of slavery. The ultimate choice is clear: Unconstrained capitalism or unconstrained socialist government—that is, A Society of Inalienable Rights or a Society of Masters and Slaves.


Dale’s basic point is that “Despite opposition-hyped controversy, Obamacare has started cementing the concept that sufficient healthcare is a universal right.” Sadly, he’s right—which is why we cannot expect the Trump GOP to give us anything other than ObamaCare without Obama. Dale observes that, when push comes to shove, even the most committed anti-ObamaCare activists will cave:

Self-preservation is a greater motivator than partisanship. As woeful public support for the AHCA shows, even the rabidly anti-government (and even more rabidly anti-Obama) Republican base will embrace the tenets of Obamacare when faced with what could, literally, be life or death. GOP lawmakers are scaring those inclined to vote against so-called big government programs into open revolt.

In America, the preposterous idea that our well-being should be tied to unconstrained capitalism - that healthcare is a product rather than a right - is dead. Barack Obama started digging its grave in 2010. Unwittingly, Republican legislators have taken up shovels to finish the job.

Dale is right, which is why the battle must be fought on the level of philosophical principles. That’s the only way for pro-capitalists to show that socialism has never led to anything other than economic collapse, misery, and death, and why. That’s the only way to capture the moral high ground. The Left has been getting more vocal in preaching healthcare as a human right. Great. That’s just where we radicals for capitalism need to be if we’re ever going to win the battle.

Related Reading:

HHS Secretary Nominee Tom Price Whiffs in Confrontation With Bernie Sanders Over a ‘Right’ to Healthcare

Sanders Pitches ‘Right’ to Healthcare: Cruz Checks Swing

Moral Health Care vs. "Universal Health Care"—Paul Hsieh for The Objective Standard

Textbook of Americanism—Ayn Rand

Sunday, July 29, 2018

QUORA*: ‘Is it fair to claim that capitalism does not create better lives, but simply shifts the suffering somewhere else?’

QUORA*: ‘Is it fair to claim that capitalism does not create better lives, but simply shifts the suffering somewhere else?

I posted this answer:

It’s not fair to claim either.

Every social system aside from capitalism--socialism, theocracy, feudalism, monarchy, democracy, whatever--is based on the idea that the individual is subordinate to the ruler. In other words, statism.

Capitalism, the logical result of the Enlightenment principles essentialized in the Declaration of Independence, for the first time rejects the subservient premise to declare that every individual is to be free to govern is own life according to his own judgement, in strictly voluntary association with others. Unlike all other systems, capitalism has no central planner; no social organizer; no czars, no grand force “creating better lives” or “shifting the suffering.” The consequence has been widespread flourishing based on individual effort to whatever extent capitalism is allowed. But the fundamental cause is individual rights.

The error behind a question like this is that the correspondent starts from the standard of collectivism/statism. It can’t be done. Capitalism is individualist/constitutional republicanism. If some people succeed and others don’t, look to the individuals--to their character and choices, to whatever extent anti-capitalist (anti-liberty) government policies inhibit their advancement, etc.

Related Reading;

Why Capitalism Needs a Moral Sanction

QUORA: 'Can certain forms of capitalism be made to work for the people instead of just the elite?'

Capitalism .org

What is Capitalism—Ayn Rand

The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire—Andrew Bernstein


* [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.]

Friday, July 27, 2018

QUORA: 'Why aren't Native Americans taking back their country, The United States of America?'

QUORA *: Why aren't Native Americans taking back their country, The United States of America?

I posted this answer:

It’s not “their” country. A continent can’t belong to a race, and neither can a nation. That is a collectivist—racist, in this case—concept. Prior to the United States of America, early European settlers (and others) had as much right to migrate to the New World as did the ancestors of Native Americans.*

Whatever conflicts or injustices occurred through the centuries, the tribal nationalism no longer exists. The Enlightenment ideas of reason and individualism that culminated in the Founding of the United States of America ended that racial nationalism. The Founders established a nation that doesn’t belong to any race; a nation that legally upholds every individual’s rights to life, liberty, earned property, and the personal pursuit of happiness regardless of race, gender, or ancestral origin. That makes America, in its Founding principles, the truly moral and enlightened nation. A nation that doesn’t recognize the sanctity and freedom of every individual life regardless of skin color is not a legitimate society or government, and should be either reformed or swept into the “dustbin” of history. True, America didn’t live up to its principles in many ways at the start. But with the Declaration of Independence at their backs, hard-fighting reformers eventually allowed all people--blacks, women, Native Americans, gays--to win their rightful political equality under law.

After millennia in which conquest, subjugation, and plunder fueled by collectivism was ubiquitous throughout the world, it was finally declared that each individual life is sovereign and self-governed, not owned by any tribe. Why would anyone want to roll back that progress? Should some gang labeled “Native Americans” attempt to “take back their country,” it would be the modern equivalent of the barbarians that overran the Roman Empire. The premise of the question is philosophically aligned with the master-race policies of Hitler’s Germany or Imperial Japan, the modern white supremacist alt-Right, or any other racial supremacist movement in history. A red supremacist is no better than a white supremacist.

People of Native American descent have no more right to call the United States of America “their country” as any other American citizen. America is an individualist nation built by free people. I would like to think that most Native Americans recognize the moral superiority of the American system, whose foundational value of inalienable individual rights enables peaceful coexistence among people of all races but allows no single race to declare the nation “theirs.” Stop living in the dismal tribal past. Celebrate America. It’s what we all have in common.

*[NOTE: I’ll use the term “Native American” here for clarity. But I don’t like the term to define any particular group. Every one of us born in the U.S. is equally a native American, regardless of when one’s distant ancestors migrated to North America. To say otherwise is racist.]

Related Reading:

Is America Based on a "Land Grab From the Native American People?"

The Enemies of Christopher Columbus: Answers to Critical Questions About the Spread of Western Civilization—Thomas A. Bowden

Was America 'made possible by stealing Indian land and the labor of slaves?'

The Dakota Access Pipeline Controversy, American Indians, and American History

The American Dream

* [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.]

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2008: Who Really ‘Got Away With Murder?’

Back when Congress was formulating its partial roll-back of the financial regulatory bill nicknamed Dodd-Frank, the New Jersey Star-Ledger peddled the classic statist line (lie) about lack of regulation causing the 2008-10 economic crisis. Wrote the Star-Ledger in Wall St. bankers 'got away with murder.' Now GOP wants to reward them,

The so-called "Financial Choice Act," co-sponsored by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.), not only pretends Wall Street's naked swindle never occurred, it feeds a deregulation bonfire that could allow the banking industry to explode in another fireball of freedom.

“Fireball of freedom.” That’s the way the statist Left views private individuals exercising their right to act on their own judgement. Need I say more? I did, in these comments:

This is a bigoted, racist-like broad swipe against “Wall Street.” Not a word about the people who control the unfree lending market, government officials. Statist apologists will apparently never stop lying about the genesis of the 2008 financial meltdown.

The Dodd-Frank law was sold on an outright lie, a complete and deliberate misidentification of the causes of the 2008 catastrophe. The banking industry consists of a diverse universe of thousands of lenders. In a free market, the mistakes of one bank won’t affect other banks. Those that make bad loans pay the price. Those with sound lending standards reap the rewards.

How is it, then, that an entire lending sector, the gargantuan home mortgage industry, can all be oriented in the same direction—the direction of sub-prime mortgage lending? The only institution capable of infecting the entire banking and financial system with bad lending is the federal government, through it massive regulatory labyrinth. Government regulation is the common thread. And that’s exactly what happened. It started in the 1990s. The housing boom and bust, financial meltdown, and Great Recession were engineered from the Washington political establishment—a perfect storm of government intervention.

From the Fed to the FDIC, CRA, Fannie & Freddie and the implied federal mortgage guarantees, the legally protected rating agency cartel, FHA, SEC, FASB accounting regulations, and on and on, the massive federal regulatory apparatus was geared to enforce the politicians’ bipartisan affordable housing crusade. There is no way some mythical Great and Powerful Oz labeled “Wall Street” could have done this. Bad lending by Wall Street “swindlers,” which in fact were very few in number, would have quickly evaporated but for the Clinton/Bush mandates for Fannie and Freddie to buy up the bad mortgages and the regulatory pressure to lower lending standards, all built upon the Fed-engineered mother-of-all housing price bubbles. Whatever financial firms acted badly—and many did, such as Angelo Mozilo’s Countrywide and IndyMac Bank—private sector culpability was a derivative effect, not a primary cause. It was not any “fireball of freedom” that unleashed the sub-prime disease. What freedom existed in finance? The culprits were the little men behind the curtain—the tools of the political class’s affordable housing swindlers, the wizards holding the levers of control over the financial industry.

The primary causes of the meltdown were government initiated, and have been well documented in books published by experts such as Thomas Sowell, John A. Allison, and Peter J. Wallison. Many articles have been written outlining the true nature and causes of the economic destruction, including “Free Markets Didn’t Create the Great Recession” by Don Watkins. But the statists refuse to acknowledge their own primary culpability, and instead opted to shield themselves from blame, protect their own power, and expand their control over the economy—with the help of “progressive” hacks in the media such as the statist editorialists of the Star-Ledger.

We don’t need more protection from Wall Street and financial institutions. We need protection from our “protectors”—and to hold the real political culprits accountable, starting with Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Franklin Raines, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. We need to ignore “fake news” editorials like this one, and go back to the proverbial drawing boards. Repeal Dodd-Frank. Get honest with Americans. And then enact, revise, or repeal laws that will actually prevent such politically engineered crises from ever happening again, while retaining long-standing fraud protections but otherwise liberating the financial business to do its job of providing capital, savings and investment opportunities, and consumer financing for entrepreneurs and so-called “working families”—i.e., productive people—alike.

Related Reading:

Finally, Some Positive Recognition for the Statists' Favorite Whipping Boy, Wall Street

The Nature and the Origin of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis—San José State University
Department of Economics

The subprime mortgage crisis had its origin in the program the directors of Fannie Mae initiated in the late 1990's to pursue social welfare goals rather than maintain financial viability.

Altruism: The Moral Root of the Financial Crisis—Richard M. Salsman for The Objective Standard, Vol. 4. No. 1.

Why No Wall Street Prosecutions? The Villains Are All In Washington

Monday, July 23, 2018

QUORA: 'Should I report a right wing student in my class?'

QUORA *: Should I report a right wing student in my class? Our university has a “Prevent” policy, requiring that we report extremism. This student is vocal in class, speaking of white supremacist views and labeling others ‘communist’.

I submitted this answer:

It would be proper to report the student only if the student’s behavior is disrespectful and disruptive. But really, it is the professor’s job to control his classroom.

That aside, the university’s “Prevent” policy is certainly within the University administration’s right. But that doesn’t make it right. The vague term “extremism,” like the term “hate speech,” is a smear tactic useful only in intimidating and silencing an opposing voice. Racial supremacism may be “extreme”; but so is the view that “all men are created equal” and should be treated as such under the law, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

It is intellectual cowardice to report the student for his views, thus silencing him in the classroom. It is also impractical. First of all, you say actually learn something by listening, either by realizing that the “extremist” has a valid point or by using the ojectionable viewpoint as an opportunity to sharpen your own thinking and formulate a counterpoint. Second, disagreeable views cannot be defeated by silencing, in effect driving them underground where they metastasize. They can only be defeated by intellectually discrediting, and then by countering with a better viewpoint. Prohibition does not work. It didn’t work with alcohol. It doesn’t work with the “War on Drugs.” And it won’t work with ideas. Truth-seeking is about exposing and debating, not burying and retreating into an “echo chamber.”

The right move is just the opposite of reporting it. You should vigorously defend the “right wing student’s” right to express his views. Voltaire’s sentiment is applicable here, as it is to all individual rights: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." You should welcome the challenge posed by the “right wing student,” and then stand up for your beliefs rather than run for cover behind some ridiculous “Prevent” policy. The best response to “hate speech” is counter-speech. The only proper response to bad ideas is better ideas.

It is shocking that, with the record of fascism and communism still fresh in our history, that the tactic so beloved of dictatorships, intellectual oppression, is rising again in the land of the First Amendment--and on the campuses of so-called “institutions of higher learning” no less.

Related Reading:

Free Speech, not Self-Censorship, is the Answer to 'Offensive' Free Speech [UPDATED]

Budding Grassroots Campaign Against ‘Hate Speech’ is shallow, childish . . . and Dangerous

How to Overcome Bigotry in a Free Society

John Farmer's Understanding of Free Speech Rights as Non-Absolute is Dangerous and Wrong

* [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, July 21, 2018

QUORA: 'Can we afford to have both continued economic growth and environmental protection?'

QUORA *: Can we afford to have both continued economic growth and environmental protection?

I posted this answer:

First, we must define “economic growth” and “environmental protection” so we know what we’re talking about.

“Economic growth” is essentially the rate of increase of human labor productivity. Only productivity can raise general human flourishing and quality of life—aka the standard of living. Economic growth, then, equates to a measure of the growth in the general standard of living. (GDP figures don’t actually measure economic growth. It measures money changing hands. More people working isn’t economic growth. People working more productively is.)

If we accept the environmentalist movement’s definition of “environmental protection,” which means to preserve and save the planet from human impact, then the answer to the question is an unequivocal NO. Economic growth cannot occur without human efforts to alter, improve on, and transform the natural environment. Nature gives man a danger-filled natural environment. Man, to survive and thrive, must work to transform nature into an environment conducive to human flourishing by applying science, technology, and industrialization. Changing the dangerous natural environment to suit human needs and flourishing is man’s means of survival and improvement. Ideological Environmentalism seeks to stop humans from employing his means of survival by placing unimproved nature above human flourishing as the moral standard of value, and is thus inimical to economic growth.

However, if by “environmental protection” we mean minimizing the negative side effects of industrial progress in a way that prioritizes human well-being and flourishing, such as by steadily reducing pollution and using raw materials more efficiently, then the answer has been irrefutably demonstrated in practice; wealthier nations are environmentally the cleanest, safest, and most livable. On a pro-human standard, not only can we afford both continued economic growth and environmental protection, we cannot afford environmental protection without robust economic growth. In this regard, I recommend Ronald Bailey’s book The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century, which he partially summarizes in his brief Scientific America piece Fast Growth Can Solve Climate Change. I also recommend Alex Epstein’s book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, which explains the vital role of reliable, economical energy to economic growth and human flourishing. Finally, Andrew Bernstein’s The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire demonstrates the vital necessity of individual liberty to economic and environmental progress.

Related Reading:

Time to Minimize "Macroeconomics"

Earth Day: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

* [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.]

Thursday, July 19, 2018

No Oil Industry, No Tourism Industry

The New Jersey Star-Ledger ran an editorial—Trump oil, gas plan imperils Jersey Shore (as of this writing not available online)—claiming that the Trump Administration’s policy of opening the Atlantic Ocean to offshore oil drilling ia an “attack” on coastal states “waged on behalf of oil companies” and “oil interests,” which supposedly clash with the “interests” of just about everyone else. “[T]his,” the S-L argues, “is an aggressive assault on our ecosystem and on a gargantuan economic engine.” While grudgingly acknowledging that the state would gain revenues (though no mention of private-sector job and other gains), becoming “a petrostate” would put . . .

our shoreline, businesses, homes, fishing industry and tourism business at risk.

You would think that even Trump and his creepily worshipful colleagues would recognize our value to the national economy. Instead, they have unleashed another attack on what most makes New Jersey unique.

Our 130-mile coastline is an economic powerhouse. It is the epicenter of a $44 billion tourism industry that supports a half-million jobs. It is home to more than $800 billion in coastal properties. Our commercial fishing industry supports another 50,000 jobs and generates $8 billion annually. And we have one of the largest recreational fishing industries in the nation.

“[C]lean coasts,” the S-L concludes, “are vital to the economic viability of every coastal state. They cannot be compromised or put at risk — full stop. And they must not be prostituted for oil interests without a fight.”

Pretty much all negative.


No acknowledgement of what powers this “gargantuan economic engine?”

Energy is the industry of industries. Without a reliable, economical, clean, mass-scale supply of energy, no modern industry exists. And what is the only energy capable of carrying that load? Oil and gas. Without it, there is no tourism industry; no fishing industry; no transportation industry; no modern housing industry, with its indoor plumbing, clean running water, heat & cooling systems; no agriculture industry capable of feeding the country; no any industry--not even a pollution control industry.

There may be valid reasons for not drilling in certain areas. But any discussion must take these facts into account: Those “oil interests” are human interests. They are our interests. The companies that produce the fossil fuels and we consumers who buy the fuels are not antagonists. They represent are harmony of interests.

The Left Environmentalists’ bullying and demonization aside, the men and women of the oil industry are not villains. They are heros. Thankfully, some people are willing to go to bat “on behalf of oil companies.” Trump’s many faults aside, his energy policy is spot on.

Related Reading:

The Suicidal Demonization of Fossil Fuels

A Humanist Approach To Environmental Issues—Alex Epstein @ Forbes

Fossil Fuels and Climate Change: Remember Life Before Them

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the 21st Century—Ronald Bailey

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Was Ayn Rand’s "Zeal to Stamp Out 'Pure Altruism'” Pointless?

I received several comments to my QUORA answer to Is Ayn Rand wrong about altruism?

From Mike Thompson

Well, that is a very interesting philosophical argument, but considering that in the history of humanity there have been exactly zero “pure altruists,” it would seem that Ms. Rand’s zeal to stamp out “pure altruism” was rather pointless.

My reply:

It’s true that, in the personal, private realm, there are no “pure altruists,” in the sense of someone who voluntarily self-sacrifices 100% of the time. A “pure altruist” is literally a dead altruist. But every individual act of altruism is, by definition, pure. Of course, one cannot live without being self-interested--and most people are self-interested in motivation most of the time. But since the selfish actions needed to support one’s life clashes with altruism, a person who accepts self-sacrifice as his standard of being moral is subject to a vague sense of unearned guilt, which can undermine happiness, self-confidence, and motivation. Curing that guilt is reason enough to conclude that Rand’s identification of the true nature of altruism in not pointless.

But altruism manifested in the political arena is a much clearer story.

Consider the collectivist dictatorships of the past 100 years. When you consider that plenty of political leaders have been inspired by altruism and tried to implement it, I would say Rand’s zeal was far from pointless. Millions of people were sacrificed in the name of the economic class, the race, the “people,” the “ideal” of equality, and on and on. I don’t see how it can be denied thar Stalin’s Soviet Union, Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Mao’s Red China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and others were the handiwork of “pure altruists”. And they keep trying, albeit not always on so extreme a level. People have othen noted how the American regulatory welfare state never seems to stop growing, gradually undermining our individual freedoms, self-responsibility, and prosperity. That’s pure altruism at work, inexorably infiltrating and undermining the rational selfishness that implicitly underpins a free society. Notice that welfare state defenders are always concerned with the beneficiaries, but rarely with those whose forced sacrifices pay for it. That is altruism. The acceptance of altruism as a moral virtue points down a dangerous road, and we’ve seen the ultimate consequences. Hopefully, we heed Rand’s warning before that happens.

“Pure” (practiced consistently) or “impure” (practiced occasionally), altruism is a bad idea, with real-life consequences in both the personal and political realms. 

Related Audio:

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.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Reply Responses to QUORA *: ‘Is Ayn Rand wrong about altruism?’

I received several comments to my QUORA answer to Is Ayn Rand wrong about altruism?

From Steven Johnston

one can have degrees of altruism. It is not undermining one's indivuality to help others out from time to time. We are a Social species after all. Even other primates display degrees of altruism within their groups. (sic)

My reply:


Of course one’s individuality needn’t be undermined by helping others out from time to time. Helping out implies doing what one can afford for someone one values, whom one believes deserves it, who appreciates the help but does not “take the help for granted,” within the context of fitting the effort within one’s own more important hierarchy of priorities.

But that is beside the point. Altruism is not about helping others out from time to time. Altruism is giving an unconditional benefit regardless of personal harm or pain to oneself, even for the sole advantage of an unappreciative jerk who has no regard for the giver’s well-being because he thinks one unconditionally owes it to him. The question is not, to paraphrase Rand, whether one should or should not “help others out from time to time.” The issue is, does one have the moral right not to help out in any given circumstance? Common decency and respect answers yes, one does. Altruism answers no, one has no such right. That is the wickedness of altruism. One must conceptually distinguish between the two.

True, one can practice altruism (self-sacrifice) some of the time, as a token nod to one’s “duty” to be moral, and then go about his normal self-interested way (essentially cheating on one’s accepted morals). But there are no degrees of altruism, in that every individual act of altruism is an act of a specific nature--an act that by definition involves a sacrifice. (“Sacrifice,” properly understood, does not mean simply giving up a value in exchange for another, as in a trade. It means basically making one’s own life worse off by giving up a value and in return getting something you value less, not at all, or at the price of literal self-harmful.)

As to “other primates,” they are irrelevant to the moral issue. They do not have the uniquely human capacity for reason and free will, and thus no need or use for a moral code, let alone the capacity to even understand it. Human beings are not other primates. Other primates have their own unique identities and requirements for survival. We are human beings, and we have our own unique identities and requirements. You cannot discover a moral code suitable to human life by studying the instinctive habits of jungle animals.

Related Reading:

Is Science Catching Up to the Objectivist Ethics?

"Give Back" is a Sinister Ploy to Guilt Achievers Into Giving Up What They Have Earned

Is It Now ‘Respectable’ to be a Moocher?

The Worship of Need: The Path to Communism

Our Pick-Pocket Nation

Bezos Should Focus On Running His Company

Friday, July 13, 2018

Don’t Allow the Left to Own ‘Diversity’

In Diversity is 'a bunch of crap and un-American.' So says this N.J. Republican running for Congress, Jonathan D. Salant reports for the New Jersey Star Ledger:

The Republican candidate who won the nomination to succeed retiring New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo described diversity as a "bunch of crap and un-American". . .

Lawyer Seth Grossman, who emerged victorious from a three-way primary June 5, made the comments during the just-concluded primary campaign. Grossman won the GOP nomination to take on state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, for the seat LoBiondo is giving up after 24 years.

"The best way to bring diversity to the Republican Party is for Republicans to openly say that the whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American," Grossman said at an April 21 Republican debate at the Centerton Country Club in Pittsgrove.

"Diversity has become is an excuse by Democrats -- communists and socialists basically -- to say that we're not all created equal, that if somebody is lesser qualified, they will get a job anyway or they'll get into college anyway because of the tribe that they're with, what group, what box they fit into," he said.

"I believe in America that each individual should be judged on nothing but his or her talent, character and hard work," he said. "I'm rejecting the whole premise of diversity as a virtue."

I posted these comments:

I sympathize with Grossman. But I think he’s making a grave mistake. Diversity is a valid concept, not “crap.” The Left has hijacked the term in order to advance a highbrow collectivist agenda based on Marxist theory of group conflict.

Note that meaningful human diversity of uniquely individual attributes is brushed off by the Left as irrelevant. Yet in a free society it is these individual attributes—such as intelligence, ability, ambition, moral character, values, goals, experience, personal circumstances, temperament, etc.—that allows each individual to flourish as much as those attributes will carry him on whatever path he chooses. If the Left really valued diversity, they’d be crusaders for the economic and political freedom that allows individual human diversity to flourish. But this sense of meaningful diversity belongs to individualism, the core of Americanism.

Individual diversity clashes with the Left’s collectivism, so they smother individual diversity under a tribal agenda. Yes, the Left is socialist/communist oriented. It’s collectivist concept of diversity is un-American. The Left has defined diversity around a racial and gender narrative for a reason. It’s goes deeper than racism. A society that values individual diversity will never go for socialism. A society that values the collective over the individual as the standard of moral value is primed for socialist authoritarianism in one form or another. So far, they’re winning.

That’s why we shouldn’t allow the Left to define diversity in collectivist terms. Rather than brush off diversity as crap, we who believe in Americanism need to recapture the term. Diversity as applied to content of individual character, each with a mind is her own apart from any group characteristics, is what America is about.

Related Reading:

SEC’s Boardroom ‘Diversity’ Rule Is Racist, Unnatural, and Politically Motivated

Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice—Craig Biddle

DelBarton Student’s 'Diversity' Initiative, Though Well-Meaning, is Based on Counter-Productive Premises

The Founding Fathers, Not ‘Diversity,’ is the Solution to ‘Our Racialized Society’

Starbucks/USA Today’s Racist “Race Together” Campaign

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On Bathroom ‘Equality’

In Bathrooms for everyone a step toward equality, the South Jersey Times Editorial Board opined on the recent Starbucks fiasco in which two patrons who asked to use the store bathroom before they ordered anything ended up being arrested by police. TheTimes observed that “Starbucks executives apologized almost immediately, followed by the city's police commissioner. .” Other remedial actions were taken, including Starbucks pledging to give its employees “racial sensitivity training” (the two patrons were black).

The Times went on:

All good. But we wondered in an April 17 editorial why businesses that beckon people to come inside don't simply allow anyone who does to use the bathroom: "It's weird to think that a place that charges $7 or $8 for an upgraded cup-o-joe will suffer any economic harm from a few extra flushes of the hopper by non-imbibers."

Some NJ.com readers accused us of wanting to force all businesses to let anyone in off the street to use the facilities. Not true. Other readers, more startlingly, linked our bathroom stance to off-the-point controversies about which public bathrooms transgendered individuals might be required to use. Huh?

Get this straight: Only certain businesses are places of public accommodation. An accounting office or newsroom should not be required to hang out a sign inviting the world to pee or poop inside. But, have you ever seen a "purchase required to use restroom" sign at Target or Kohl's? No. It would be ludicrous, especially now that brick-and-mortar stores depend on having people walk in and "look around" as one of their few advantages over online sellers.

I left these comments:

The editorial board loses me when it calls for a law, as it seems to do when it suports forcing “certain businesses . . . to hang out a sign inviting the world to pee or poop inside.” 

Private businesses have every right to hang out a "purchase required to use restroom" sign, regardless of whether or not they are labeled “places of public accommodation.” As long as no one’s rights are violated--such a policy, however stupid from a business standpoint or immoral from a personal standpoint one may think it is, violates no one’s rights--government coercion should be kept out of it. Free people have very effective individual rights-respecting ways to encourage social change, as the Starbucks episode shows. They can speak out against what they judge to be unfair (including racially insensitive) business practices, organize boycotts, or simply not patronize the business. The wrong thing to do is give government officials even more power to trample private property rights. There is no equality in the practice of some people using government force to impose their concept of good business on others who disagree.

Related Reading:

Property Rights—Ayn Rand Lexicon

How to Overcome Bigotry in a Free Society

Does rescinding laws banning private discrimination make a moral statement in support of bigotry?

Freedom, not Laws, is the Answer to Defeating Bigotry

Fighting Anti-Private Discrimination Laws: The Role of Principles in the Fight for Freedom

There is No ‘Right to Equal Treatment’; Only the Right to ‘Equal Protection of the Law’

Private Sector Anti-Discrimination Laws are Rights-Violating and Destruction

Monday, July 9, 2018

NJ: Focus on Educational Freedom, Not ‘Desegregation’

New Jersey is being sued. The suit alleges that NJ schools are the most segregated in the nation, and the suit seeks to compel the state government to take actions to “desegregate.”

Now, just to be clear, NJ schools are not segregated. That is, there are no laws that overtly require the separation of the races. In a nj.com article published in the NJ Star-Ledger, Will my child be forced to switch schools? What parents need to know about N.J. desegregation suit, Adam Clark explains:

Segregation is often thought of as the mandatory separation of whites and non-whites, like white and black bathrooms or lunch counters.

But New Jersey's Supreme Court has taken a different position, ruling in prior cases schools can be considered segregated even if it's "de facto segregation," the plaintiffs argue.

In other words, socioeconomics and race often go hand-in-hand in New Jersey. So, if black and Hispanic families would like to send their kids to a school with white children but can't afford to live in such a school district, they're effectively being segregated into a district such as Irvington, Plainfield or New Brunswick -- all places where fewer than 1 percent of students are white.

Based on legal precedent in New Jersey, that kind of segregation violates the state constitution, the suit claims.

The suit does not seek to force busing of students to correct the racial imbalances, as some initially feared, and which was done with great upheaval in the 1970s. The suit does not seek to forcibly transfer any students against the parents’ will. Instead, the suit seeks to overturn the requirement that students be assigned to a school based on the student’s zip code.

Suggesting several different possible options, the suit seeks to give parents choices within the government school system. But the suit leaves up to the state education commissioner the solutions “on a case-by-case basis.” The main point is “to get white and non-white students under the same roof.”:

The suit aims to strike down the requirement that students must attend schools where they live and force the state to come up with solutions for getting black and Hispanic kids into integrated schools.

This is nothing new. Milton Friedman long ago pointed out the absurdity and injustice of assigning children to a school based on their parents’ zip code. But:

"It would not blow up the whole system," said Gary Stein, a former state Supreme Court justice who spearheaded the lawsuit. "It would simply knock down a fence that is a barrier to diversity."

I left these comments:

What is the primary goal of “desegregation?” Racial diversity for the sake of racial diversity? Or is it individual student education? If it’s education, then what sense does it make to limit parental choice to existing government school districts or even magnet schools? Why not “blow up the whole system?” Open up the field of parental choice to all options, including charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling, regardless of location. Why not knock down all fences that are barriers to these other options, leaving it up to parental choice? I would say the rights of parents is one of the most basic of rights. Through tax credits or education savings accounts, relinquish power to the parents by letting education tax dollars follow the child to the option chosen by the parents.

Civil rights activists should focus more on individual rights--the right of the parent to seek out the best education options based on her own child’s needs from the offerings of education entrepreneurs who would flourish in an open education field. Racial diversity is fine, but not primary. Educational diversity to meet the diverse individual needs of individual students is paramount. Focus on education, not the desires of skin color-obsessed social planners or the monopoly-protecting dictates of the teachers unions.

Related Reading:

Is "Desegregation" the Answer to NJ's Education Problems?

A Newark, NJ Mother Demonstrates the Educational Power of Parental School Choice

Contra Congressman Donald M. Payne, a ‘For-Profit Model’ is Just What Education Needs

Saturday, July 7, 2018

QUORA *: ‘What appeals to you about Ayn Rand's philosophy?’

QUORA *: ‘What appeals to you about Ayn Rand's philosophy?

I posted this answer:

Quite a lot. But I will identify three main, interrelated things I like about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, listed in ascending order of importance. These are not the only things, but among the most important to me.

Politics: I was first attracted to Ayn Rand when, in browsing through a bookstore with some friends in the 1960s, I happened to pick up a book titled “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” by someone named Ayn Rand. I began reading the Introduction, which contained the phrase “Objectivists are not ‘conservatives.’ We are radicals for capitalism; we are fighting for that philosophical base which capitalism did not have and without which it was doomed to perish.” As a teenager already leaning pro-capitalist, my interest was aroused. Rand identified this “base” in the form of a moral defense of the individual’s inalienable rights to life, liberty, earned property, and the pursuit of happiness: These are the essential Founding principles of America as outlined (or implied) in the Declaration of Independence and which constitute the germinating seeds of capitalism. This individualist philosophy underpins Americanism, which embodies capitalism, because in order for people to live their lives for themselves--that is, in accordance with their own personal values, judgement, and goals--they need the individual freedom and liberty rights promised in the Declaration.

Personal: I subsequently came to realize that Rand’s Objectivism—the name she gave to her philosophy—was much richer than a social/economic system. Objectivism is first and foremost a powerful personal philosophy to live by--a philosophy drawn from the observable facts of human nature. She called Objectivism “a philosophy for living on Earth.” I call it a Philosophy of Life before Death, to clearly distinguish it from my Catholic upbringing. She demonstrates scientifically that, contrary to conventional (and outdated) moral “wisdom,” it’s morally right to live for yourself--an ethics that rejects both altruism and the conventional understanding of “selfishness,” which she proves constitute two predatory sides of the same moral coin. She called her ethical system rational selfishness, and named it the Objectivist Ethics. The Objectivist Ethics tells me I should never feel guilty to proudly uphold my own values, and with equal fervor never demand or expect that others give up theirs for me.

Thinking: She taught me the practical principles of how to think rationally and logically, and apply these principles to real life issues. Thinking properly, and independently, is the first requirement for human beings. Embodied in proper thinking include an understanding of the important roles of our emotions and of our subconscious mechanism, the importance of full context, and integration through principles.

Related Reading:

Atlas Shrugged – America's Second Declaration of Independence

The Fountainhead

Introduction to Objectivism

Philosophy: Who Needs It

The Objectivist ethics

* [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.]

Thursday, July 5, 2018

MassMutual’s Vile Trivialization of Americanism

Page A7 of the July 4, 2018 edition of the New Jersey Star-Ledger features a paid advertisement from a major American insurance company. Under a reprint of The Declaration of Independence, MassMutual posted:

1,458 words and not one of them is “me,” “I,” or “my.”

Just like our company, America was founded by people who believed in being there for each other. Happy Independence Day.

The Founding Fathers empowered each and every one of us to stand up and declare, “I’m no one’s slave.” “I’m no one’s subject.” “I’m subordinate to no master, or King, or chief, or priest, or dictator, or neighbor.” “I have the unalienable right to my own life and the liberty to pursue my own happiness according to what I believe is best for me.” No one can take that freedom away from me by declaring his entitlement to have me “there for him.” That is America’s shining message to the oppressed of the world. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” beckons Lady Liberty in New York Harbor. The “I” is the only protection we have against any aspiring tyrant.

That is America. That is Americanism. It’s all about the “I”—Individualism—not the We—collectivism. That is what binds us together as Americans. That is what makes anyone who honors those ideals Americans, even those who have never set foot in America—as Neil Diamond sang: “Everywhere around the world, they’re coming to America. Every time that flag’s unfurled, they’re coming to America.”

If not, then on what grounds does one fight against anyone who seeks to march one off to some gulag, gas chamber, or sacrificial altar to God or country? “I have my rights?” But that is the province of the “me,” the “I,” the “my.” It says it right there, in the very words of the document that lead off the advertisement:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Yet, here is one of America’s great companies, the very product of individual freedom, telling us that the plain words of the Declaration of Independence don’t mean what they plainly mean. MassMutual undermines this foundation of America in one cheesie commercial slogan.


The best way of “being there for each other”—and of celebrating Independence Day—is to respect each other’s basic dignity and individual rights to live by her own judgement for the sake of his own values, goals, and happiness; that is, to respect that each of us is first and foremost a “me,” an “I,” and a “my.”

Related Reading:

The Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776: Words that Will Never Be Erased

The Declaration of Independence Is the Moral and Legal Foundation of America by Timothy Sandefur for The Objective Standard

What to Celebrate on Independence Day by Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard

Monday, July 2, 2018

July 4, 1776: Words that Will Never Be Erased

“It is . . . from the perspective of the bloody millennia of mankind's history . . . that I want you to look at the birth of a miracle: the United States of America. If it is ever proper for men to kneel, we should kneel when we read the Declaration of Independence."Ayn Rand

The Fourth of July is a national holiday that, to me, stands far above all of the others. It represents the greatest political achievement in world history. More than that, the birth of the United States of America represents a towering and unprecedented philosophical achievement. America, born of the Enlightenment, is the first nation founded on the principle that man the individual has a fundamental, inalienable right to his own life, and that government’s responsibility is to protect that right…that the people act by right, while the government acts by permission.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they 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. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

So opened the document that marked the starting point of the United States of America as a sovereign nation. Above are the most radical words ever written as the foundation for a nation. For the first time in human history, a government was to be the servant of the people, by conscious design and on principle. “The people” were understood to be, not a collective, but a collection of sovereign individuals recognized as possessing unalienable individual rights to his own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. America was the triumph of reason, which was understood to be a faculty of the individual. The government would now be charged with the task of protecting every individual’s freedom to act on his own sovereign, reasoning mind … as a matter of unalienable right.

The birth of America was the culmination of Mankind’s long tortuous philosophical journey that began with Aristotle, and continued through his rebirth via Aquinas, the Renaissance, the Age of Reason, and the Enlightenment. Tribalism was to be swept into the dustbin of history, along with “The Divine Right of Kings” and all manner of omnipotent ruler. Men would be set free from the forcible domination of other men—not be permission of some King, cleric, lord, or tribal chief, but by moral right. Rights don’t come from government, the founders held. Rights precede government; then “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”—“just powers” being understood to be only those powers required to carry out the job of protecting individual rights, not the power to violate rights by redistributing private wealth, regulating our lives, and the like.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence, America’s Founding Fathers, were not conservative in any rational sense. They were radicals in the complete and honorable sense: They represented a concept entirely new to mankind. Standing up against the tide of history, with only the winds of the ideas of John Locke and the Enlightenment thinkers at their backs, this unique group of intellectuals took action. Indeed, the ideological radicalism of the ideas to which they pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor turned to actual armed rebellion. The rest, as is said, is history.

America’s Founding was flawed in many respects - the failure to eradicate the ancient evil of slavery being the most obvious and most egregious. The anti-slavery forces simply did not have the strength to defeat that vampire, and so slavery had to be accepted into the young nation. But the moral groundwork had been laid – that all men are created equal – and the fate of the slave states was sealed. 89 years after the signing of the Declaration, America’s Founding ideals caught up with the slave states. Some have pointed to America’s early acceptance of slavery as proof of its basic depravity. In fact, the defeat of slavery represented one of America’s finest hours, and a testament to the formidable power of its ideals. Indeed, those ideals underpinned freedom’s progress in regards to women’s suffrage, the defeat of Jim Crow segregation laws, the mid-20th Century Civil Rights movement and the end of black voter suppression laws.

America’s Founding was the most monumental political achievement in world history. America is currently backsliding from its Founding ideals, heading in the direction of collectivism and statism. But we have the means to reverse that trend, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, which serve as the philosophic blueprint for our Constitution. As Harvey Milk, one of the early leaders in the “Gay Pride” fight for equal rights for gays, said at a 1978 speech,

In the Declaration of Independence it is written 'All men are created equal and they are endowed with certain inalienable rights . . . .' That’s what America is. No matter how hard you try, you cannot erase those words from the Declaration of Independence.

Indeed, the words of July 4, 1776 have been written. Ratified on July 4, signed on August 2, the Declaration of Independence will never be erased. But its ideals can be forgotten, twisted, evaded, or ignored. We can not let that happen. The Fourth of July reminds us that the fight for freedom is a philosophical fight—fought not on foreign military battlefields but right here at home, on the intellectual battleground of ideas. Freedom can not be won and secured by the sword. It can only be won by the pen. It’s not enough to merely uphold the U.S. Constitution, either in its original form or in its current “living” form. We must remember and reassert “The Conscience of the Constitution,” as one scholar called the Declaration of Independence. It is indispensable intellectual ammunition for those of us fighting to establish the fully free society that the Founders envisioned and came close to achieving.

Proof of the moral and practical power and viability of individual liberty is written across the brief span of the past 241 years. The ideas of reason, individualism, and capitalism have been unleashed. The philosophical foundation for an American rebirth has been laid by a Twentieth Century philosopher/novelist whom I call America's Last Founding Father, and the final rout of statism is tantalizingly close—yet still so far.

“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

By closing out the Declaration with that pledge, those great men of 1776 declared that they would accept no substitute for the ideals in which they believed. As the world watched, they laid it all on the line—their property, their families, their lives—for those ideals. They would succeed or perish. That utterly uncompromising stand gave us the United States of America. The least we could do is pledge to uphold those principles, to roll back the compromises that are undermining them, and to accept no substitute.

Happy Birthday America.

Related Reading:

The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty – Timothy Sandefur