Building a Foundation for Resurrecting America Part V

Philosophy CursiveJust when you think that you have gotten away from the philosophy stuff, we come along and drag you back in. I know that we are finding ourselves sometimes having to read this stuff more than once to let some of it marinate and sink in. That is the case for me as well. So don’t be intimidated by big words and that fancy city talk. But try to grasp the big concepts that are important and move on. To that end we provide a brief summary to what we have gleaned from Ayn Rand thus far. Philosophy degree or not, I think that she provides some stimulating thoughts and we could all do far worse than to follow her line of reasoning and try to understand it and subsequently discuss it. 

As JAC alludes to below, there are many different lines of thinking when it comes to philosophy. I tend to believe parts of different schools myself. Perhaps some of the things that “philosophers” discuss or espouse is simply beyond the scope of my tiny brain, but none-the-less, I find many of them to be prattling on about nothing. More importantly I find that many of them, be they better or less focused or knowledgeable than Rand, supply a focus that does not fit our purpose for forming a more coherent and non-conflicting path forward in the political spectrum in America. While I understand the fact that there are more established philosophers out there, I think that Rand’s thoughts serve us well for our present purpose. I look forward to challenges to that theory.

Today we offer a bit of a summary of Rand’s philosophy. We will take Monday night off from the philosophy discussion (I will be posting a much less taxing article about the recent California court decision on Prop 8 ). Then on Tuesday night we will offer a bit of insight into the three of us that have been composing the content for this series. Black Flag, JAC, and myself will each independently discuss how we got to where we each are philosophically. I think it will do a good job of helping each of us be a bit better understood. And then finally, we will take a bit of a walk with the three of us together to offer some further insight. So without further delay, tonight’s summary of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, composed by Just a Citizen:

AYN RAND’S PHILOSOPHY by Just a Citizen

Atlas RealisticSomewhere during our discussion of philosophy I was asked to provide a summary of Ayn Rand’s Philosophy.  I promised I would so that is the focus of this article.

As you all know, Chris Devine has challenged the appropriateness of using Ms. Rand’s work in this effort.  He has said he will post some information from various philosophers so that we may have other sources.  That is a good thing and I urge those who can handle it to read and study as much as you can.

But in his comments he keeps forgetting the purpose of these articles.  It is to build a philosophical base for resurrecting our country, to fix the Constitution.  We do not need to study philosophy in all its applications, techniques or processes to do this, in my humble opinion.  In fact if we try to, most of us, including me, will wind up feeling like SK Trynosky about the whole subject.  The task at hand requires resolving only a few philosophically related matters.  One is the defense of liberty as an essential and the other is the construction of an ethical base and political system that protects that liberty.

Most of us who comment on this site, and most Americans when asked, believe in individual freedom and liberty.  We accept that as the basis on which our country was founded.  Then we turn around and say “But” every time we come up against a new problem.  Liberty is great, “but” our system is to complex and requires laws that reduce some liberty for the sake of efficiency or comfort.  Oh Really?

StatePower vs IndividualLibertyEither liberty is an essential or it is not.  It is a binary option, yes or no.  “Some liberty” does not exist.  I am either free or I am existing in a system consisting of “some slavery”.  I am either alive or I am dead.  I can not be “some alive”.  So if freedom and liberty can not be supported philosophically as essential to man’s existence, to our ultimate happiness, then we all should stop our whining and submit to the wonderful situation we are in.  In fact we should embrace it and make it stronger, but that is a discussion I am saving for another day (hint, hint).

Ms. Rand’s “Objectivist Philosophy” gives us some idea of how to address these basic issues.  We can reject her conclusions or even her arguments.  But the idea of a structured and well documented philosophical system to support our country is valid, again in my humble opinion.  Hers is but an example.  An example that happens to provide an answer to the one unanswered question; how do we know that individual liberty and freedom are essential to man’s survival and/or happiness? 

So without further delay here in her own words is a summary of Ms. Rand’s philosophy.  It was taken from the first chapter in a book titled The Voice of Reason, Essays in Objectivist Thought.  The actual essay was published as the first of Any Rand’s newspaper columns and appeared in the L.A.Times on June 17, 1962.

Metaphysics:  Objective Reality; “Nature to be commanded must be obeyed”, or “Wishing won’t make it so.”

Epistemology:  Reason; “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Ethics:  Self-interest; “Man is an end in himself.”

Politics:  Capitalism; “Give me liberty or give me death.”

“If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life.  But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove, and to apply them—requires volumes of thought.”

“My philosophy holds that:

  1. 1.     Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
  1. 2.     Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
  1. 3.     Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others.  He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.  The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
  1. capitalism-carrot-and-stick4.     The ideal political—economic system is laissez-faire capitalism.  It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioner, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit.  It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man many initiate the use of physical force against others.  The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminal or foreign invaders.  In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.”

Now for a brief explanation by Ms. Rand, also taken from The Voice Of Reason.

“Capitalism was the system originated in the United States.  Its success, its progress, its achievements are unprecedented in human history.  America’s political philosophy was based on man’s right to his own life, to his own liberty, to the pursuit of his own happiness, which means: on man’s right to exist for his own sake.  That was America’s implicit moral code, but it had not been formulated explicitly.  This was the flaw in her intellectual armor, which is now destroying her.  America and capitalism are perishing for lack of a moral base. 

“The destroyer is the morality of Altruism.”

Altruism Unexpected“Altruism holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only moral justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty.  The political expression of altruism is collectivism or statism, which holds that man’s life and work belong to the state—to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation—and that the state may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.”

“From her start, America was torn by the clash of her political system with the altruist morality.  Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they cannot coexist in the same man or in the same society.  Today, the conflict has reached its ultimate climax; the choice is clear-cut:  either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequences of freedom, justice, progress and man’s happiness on earth—or the primordial morality of altruism, with its consequences of slavery, brute force, stagnant terror, and sacrificial furnaces (from For the New Intellectual).”

“You may observe the practical results of altruism and statism all around us in today’s world—such as the slave-labor camps of Soviet Russia, where twenty-one million political prisoners work on the construction of government projects and die of planned malnutrition, human life being cheaper than food—or gas chambers and mass slaughter of Nazi Germany—or the terror and starvation of Red China—or the hysteria of Cuba where the government offers men for sale—or the wall of East Berlin, where human beings leap from roofs or crawl through sewers in order to escape, while guards shoot at fleeing children.”

 

"Ask not what your country can do for you...."

"Ask not what your country can do for you...."

 

“Observe these atrocities, then ask yourself whether any of it would be possible if men had not accepted the idea that man is a sacrificial animal to be immolated for the sake of the “public good.”  Read the speeches of those countries’ political leaders and ask yourself what arguments would be left to them if the word “sacrifice” were regarded not as a moral ideal, but as the anti-human evil which it is.”

“And then, listen to the speeches of our present (Kennedy) Administration—and ask yourself the same question.”

At this point I suggest you add the speeches of the Bush and Obama Administrations to the list to see if you can detect any real deviation from the early 60’s.  Service to others and duty to country are a couple of the buzzwords to watch out for. 

The purpose of this article was to let Rand speak for herself so I will add nothing more.  I think that any further explanations are best left to the discussion.

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Comments

  1. USWeapon says:

    OK, What I really like about the above words from Rand are that they are quite clear in comparison to some of the other stuff that we have read in the earlier articles. So with the discussions from earlier in our pockets, we should be able to get a very solid understanding of Rand’s position. This allows me to jump in here and offer a couple of questions for us to debate and discuss. I hope that everyone will jump in with both feet here. Don’t worry about being wrong. How can we move forward if we don’t clarify and refute? I don’t plan to offer my answers to these questions just yet. I just want to spur some discussion and thought.

    So let’s begin with Objectivism 101 here. A basic principle that Rand puts forth is that man exists for himself. Every time I think about that I imagine Michael Douglas in Wall Street saying “Greed is Good”. But insert selfishness for greed. Rand believes that selfishness is good, it is our purpose. “Man, every man, is an end to himself”, to put it in her words. Interest in others is secondary. How does everyone feel about that? “The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.” Is this a correct statement? For example, there is an opposing train of thought that says man’s only purpose is the same as that of other animals: reproduction, survival of the species.

    • Yes I do have a problem with this statement. To be fair it is wholy consistent with the rest of her philosophy, but rational self interest seems to be problematic to me. Rand lists examples of the failure of the moral principles of altruism, but doesn’t seem to take into account some of the issues with her moral solution. While I agree that capitalism is the preferred economic system, in practise it can be misused to marginalize large groups of people. Hence the creation and success of unions historically. Reliance on self interest arguably would only further, or at least justify, more marginalization. I would think even more so in a capitalist system where a person would work at their own personal success first and foremost.

      At this point I cannot propose a viable option within Rand’s philosophy of objectivism. However, I think as we move toward emending our flawed American philosophical system, we need to consider morality more seriously no matter how messy and emotional it may end up being. I am not giving up, I just need a little time to think…

      • Ddk: Her point in all her writings is that we have not experienced true “free market capitalism”, my term not hers. The inequities we see are the result of “immoral” behavior controlling a basically fascist economic system.

        Her support of capitalism is not because it is the best economic system but because it is the only “moral” system. Once where men are “free to trade without coersion” from each other or from govt.

        The arguments against her conclusion are all STRAW MEN by those who have not taken the time to really understand what she was proposing. But there is one real question that needs to be addressed,in my view.

        “Can mankind, or least we Americans, achieve the ethical and moral standards required to live under a laissez-faire capitalist system?” I submit that if we can not then our efforts are pointless.

        Self interest practiced per Rand’s descriptions would greatly reduce “marginalization” of groups. Because there would be no artificial barriers to movement within the economic system.

        I have to get my young one off to school.
        So I’ll check back a little later.
        Best Wishes this fine morning
        JAC

        • Chris Devine says:

          How does a free-market capitalist system, free of government regulation, prevent coercion? Does Rand really believe that unfettered accumulation of wealth and resources will result in a moral society? It seems to me that allowing the market to regulate itself is akin to letting the foxes guard the hen-house. We’re not going to be better off by turning everybody into a fox.

          I contend that by removing these artificial barriers you will replace them with concrete barriers (literally and figuratively). How is the profit motive going to ensure that safe working conditions are maintained? If a business owner’s only responsibility is increasing profit then how are we to expect him to consider the health and safety of his workforce? How are we supposed to prevent industrial pollution without some sort of regulatory apparatus? I suppose Rand’s answer would say something about bad publicity and people’s rational self-interest encouraging them to not reward a bad actor. What if we moved all this pollution off-shore? Does it become moral then? What if polluters were able to hide all of their nefarious activities from their customers?

          Just a few things to ponder.

  2. USWeapon says:

    In opposition to objectivism is altruism. A belief that man exists to serve all of mankind. Selfishness is bad. Would it be fair to say that you fall into one camp or the other? Are you either an altruist or an objectivist, with no intermingling and no way of being a bit of both?

    • Chris Devine says:

      For an excellent discussion of altruism see Thomas Nagel’s The Possibility of Altruism.

      Here’s the introductory paragraph:

      “Just as there are rational requirements on thought, there are rational requirements on action, and altruism is one of them. This book defends a conception of ethics, and a related conception of human nature, according to which certain important moral principles state rational conditions on desire and action which derive from a basic requirement of altruism. Altruism itself depends on a recognition of the reality of other persons, and on the equivalent capacity to regard oneself as merely on individual among many.”

      What Nagel is saying here is that just as there are ways to determine whether certain thoughts are rational (i.e., are sensible), there are ways to determine whether certain actions are sensible. We should be able to decide whether acts of altruism are sensible things to do. Altruism is meaningless without other people and so is ethics in general. If you didn’t have to worry about others there would be no reason to act ethically. Furthermore, in the absence of others phrases like ‘acting ethically’ are practically meaningless.

      Acts of altruism don’t have to be for the benefit of all of mankind. Soldiers who throw themselves on grenades aren’t trying to stop the war (not directly anyway), they are attempting to save the lives of their fellow soldiers in the immediate vicinity. I’m not sure what Rand has to say in regards to altruistic acts like this, but it seems pretty ludicrous to argue that soldiers who saved the lives of others (who can then remain and fight) did the wrong thing.

      • CWO2USNRet says:

        Seems to me that an ethic of self-interest does not preclude acts of altruism, sacrifice, generosity, etc. We have all heard the concept that each of our actions are based on self-interest. We care for a sick loved one because we feel better when they feel better. We give to charities that we care about because we hope to gain by improving the circumstances of those we care about. We act as good neighbors because we want a harmonious neighborhood. You get the idea.

        Self-interest does not preclude concern for and support of others or the group.

        • USWeapon says:

          Excellent point CWO

          • That’s ridiculous!

            If someone sacrifices himself for others, he won’t “feel better”, he would be dead! So saying that that kind of altruism is actually just being selfish in another way is utterly a lie.

            Ayn Rand is completely incoherent. For example, we see two of their quotes contradictor eachother:

            “It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.”

            “I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline. Particularly when one can’t see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window – no, I don’t feel how small I am – but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.”

            So, in these quotes, we see Rand as she is: an incoherent person, full of hate against foreign societies, ancient knowledge, history, cultural diversity, travelers who want a sense of transcendente, etc.

            She is an hypocrite. She says to oppose sacrifice, and that the ones that speak of sacrifice are speaking of masters and slaves, and intend to be the masters. And then, she speaks of her own self-sacrifice. Is this possible without contradicting all she has preached?

            Liar.

    • USW: First of all you are comparing a philosophical system (objectivist) with and ethic (altruism).

      If we leave “objectivist” out of this for a moment the real dichotomy is freedom or no freedom.

      Where do you stand on that comparison?

      • Chris Devine says:

        Where is the freedom in taking more than you need if in doing so you deprive someone else? Rand’s notion of universal self-interest seems to completely disregard the imbalance of economic power inevitable in a free-market system.

        • I must be missing something here. You ask the question “Where is the freedom in taking more than you need if in doing so you deprive someone else?” That is stated as though we are all in the food line and I take more than what I need.
          If I earn more than the next guy (and IF that is more than I need), then how does that deprive someone else?

          • Chris Devine says:

            Scarcity is an unavoidable condition. We are limited in time by the hours in the day and our finite lifespans. There is no resource or commodity that is in infinite supply. As one person or group accumulates something, there is less available for the rest. If this accumulation continues then it is more than possible for some to be left empty handed while others have a surplus. I am talking about inequity in these terms. This is not a hypothetical it is very much reality. A recent Nobel prize went to the man who demonstrated that starvation on Earth is not due to lack of food but to economics.

            • Interesting…how did he demonstrate that, and is he alive to accept his award?

            • JayDickB says:

              Although resources are, indeed, limited, their supply is not fixed. Take food. If I spend more time and effort and risk more money in land, seed, etc., to produce more food, shouldn’t my reward be greater than my lazy neighbor who did not do these things?

              Your comment about the Nobel prize partially contradicts your point about scarcity. Poor economic systems in many 3rd world countries discourage food production, e.g. Zimbabwe. I don’t see any area where the earth is bumping up against its limit of resources, even fossil fuels.

              The one thing I remember from Rand is that if you take too much from those who produce, they will stop producing. To me, that is irrefutable.

        • Bama dad says:

          Chris

          How is it I take more than I need when I invest my time and efforts into getting a better job/education than the person that puts no effort into advancing his status in life?

          • Chris Devine says:

            Why does everybody start getting defensive when I talk about this? For the record I am talking about individuals and institutions with vast amounts of wealth (i.e., billionaires and multinational corporations), not regular people.

            • USWeapon says:

              Thus far in what you have written this morning Chris I can honestly say that I do not feel defensive at all. In fact I think you are making some great points and spurring thought, which is the point. I am getting ready to head into work, so I don’t have time to really respond to things just yet. But I want to thank you for doing exactly what I asked and attacking the positions as opposed to the source. This is the type of spirited debate that needs to happen in order for us to find a better way forward, and understand each other.

            • Amazed1 says:

              Pondering your arguments Chris… good ideas.

            • So the wealthy are not “regular people”?

              From my perspective Chris you can not separate us. That is why “class warfare” is so obnoxious to me.

              The rich people, the millionairs and billionairs are the same as me with regard to their basic rights. If I can take from them, I can take from you.

              Stop trying the emotional ploy against others who are simply defending their opinions and principles. Victimization doesn’t look good on you.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Wealthy people are not regular in at least the sense that most people aren’t wealthy. Class warfare is obnoxious to you because it goes against the American mythology that everyone can be rich if they try hard enough. The fact of the matter is: not everyone can be rich and by convincing everybody that they should try we end up encouraging people to take more than they need to live a happy life. The end result is that some people end up without enough to live at all.

                Calling the playground bully ‘big-boned’ doesn’t make him any less of a nuisance.

              • esomhillgazette says:

                Well as the post “po man”, I can tell you decisively that I am not near as happy making $20K per year as I would be making $30K per year.

                But I am happy that I have what I do. I do not think that Richie Rich in Goldtown should give me a portion of his earnings because I am less fortunate than he is. He earned it. He can keep it.

                It is especially odiferous to me that the Government would tell him that he MUST under penalty of Law, give me a portion of his earnings. The Government in this case is the bully, not the rich man.

              • I suppose that would be true depending on your definition of normal!

            • “Class warfare is obnoxious to you because it goes against the American mythology that everyone can be rich if they try hard enough.” Now see, there you go putting thoughts into my head again. I have stated before what I find obnoxious about “class warfare” and it has nohting to do with “American mythology”. It has everything to do with what it is doing to our national phsycie and cultural values. Among them are ambition, ingenuity, self-respect, respect for others, and civility.

              “The fact of the matter is: not everyone can be rich and by convincing everybody that they should try we end up encouraging people to take more than they need to live a happy life.” Whoa, talk about loaded. First, I never have nor never will (and neither did Rand) suggest anyone can be rich. Second, “rich” is defined by “our view of happiness”. It may or may not have anything to do with money. Third, who gets to decide whether they want “more than they need to live a happy life”?

              “The end result is that some people end up without enough to live at all.” I think this is an over generalization although you did use the word “some”, so perhaps it could be true. However, I have never met anyone who had so little they couldn’t live, not in this country. Even in our messed up system.

        • I can’t “take” anything. I can only acquire what others are “willing” to give me in exchange for that which I am “willing” to give them.

          We mustn’t confuse the use of “coersion” in this discussion. “Coersion” is a force used my men against other men. It is not the effect one’s circumstances has on one’s decision making process regarding what they are “willing” to accept.

          • Chris Devine says:

            You can call economic transactions where one side has all the bargaining leverage ‘voluntary’ if you’d like. I still consider it ‘taking’ when economic reality fails to provide a real choice.

            • Thats because you fail to recognize the logical outcome of the ethics and morality that flow to the politics. You have failed to recognize or decided not to accept the fact that “greed” is not the same as “self interest” or “selfishness”.

              If we assume greed to be that awful behaviour of taking more than our share that implies some type of coersion. Sorry, not allowed in the laissez-faire model.

              If I am acting in my own self interest why would I try to extract something from another that would place him in jeopardy of surviving? To do so would only encourage him to do the same when it becomes possible. If I am in business why would I treat my employees like slaves. If I do then they will leave as soon as someone else treats them better. And they will be free to treat me the same.

              You see Chris, a free market system based on an ethic and morality of individual freedom and self-interest creates “self respect” within each of us and for our fellow man.

              And that is something that seems to be missing in the world we now find ourselves, the one supported by the “traditional” altruistic ethic.

            • USWeapon says:

              I still consider it ‘taking’ when economic reality fails to provide a real choice.

              And to right this “wrong”, you deem it is ethical and justifiable for society to do the taking in the opposite direction. If taking is wrong, it is wrong, no matter who is doing it.

              But I disagree that this version of “taking” that you propose is accurate. He that has will always be in a position of superiority over he that wants. That is simple reality. No matter what I have, I offer it at a price or under a set of conditions. You are free to accept my contract or not. I think that this notion that the wealthy are evil people who do nothing but take advantage of those with less is a deliberate attempt to make a victim out of whomever needs to be a victim in order to make your point valid. Am I wrong here? What “right” does anyone have to anything that is not theirs? That they did not earn? The working poor you defend so steadfastly, in this country, own cell phones and have cable TV. They are fighting for their survival often because of poor choices, which they will never learn from so long as you continue to teach them they are entitled to something they didn’t earn.

      • USWeapon says:

        JAC,

        I would have to say that I stand on the side of freedom. But I feel it would be false to say that there are only two levels in that particular dichotomy. There are levels of freedom. For example, pure 100% freedom means anything goes, where as what we often espouse here is freedom within limitations. We cannot act free if it interferes with someone else. We are more free than China and less free than someone with no government or regulating force.

  3. USWeapon says:

    Should the needs of society have any bearing on the individual if we are talking about true individual liberty?

    • Chris Devine says:

      Man is by his nature a social animal. We are not like many species who can only be found in isolation except for mating time. Man cannot survive in isolation and our ascent to the top of the food chain is directly related to our social characteristics. Individual liberty would not even exist if it weren’t for the collective success of societies. I think it is only fair and prudent that we should do our best to make sure that the societal infrastructure doesn’t collapse. Individually most of us can’t even reach the ceiling. Together we made it to the moon.

      True individual liberty is a myth (at least in the context I see it discussed here). How much free time would you have to enjoy your freedom if had to chase down your food or protect it from would-be thieves? I find it ironic that the culture most obsessed with individual liberty is the same one that avoids balance in many other aspects of life.

      Why do we need diet junk food? Why is it that many of the mood-altering substances we use have been refined to a point where the effects are more pronounced (but so are the side effects). Rand says “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” But it seems to me that’s exactly what she’s promising. Individual liberty is meaningless in isolation. Her views are nothing more than an elaborate attempt to rationalize the individual theft of assets belonging to all. This is the mentality that has put us into today’s economic crisis. You can’t just keep taking and expect the system to keep working.

      Rand’s response, I suppose, would be that if we all did our best to keep taking, then it would all even out. Self-interest would serve as the checks and balances, maintaining stasis. However, this ignores one real fact about greed and selfishness: desire is not the same thing as power. In a system that encourages selfishness there will always be individuals who misuse their power to the detriment of the powerless. You can’t see-saw with a fat kid.

      I suppose her response to that would be that eventually things would even out, after an expected (but temporary) time of turmoil. This is pure fantasy. For starters, what is moral about making people suffer for nothing more than their lack of economic power, even if it is a necessary step towards a supposedly better future? Rand seems to have a real dislike for Kant. Why is this? She never quotes his work. Perhaps she didn’t understand his categorical imperative.

      Kant’s categorical imperative begins with this premise: man is an end in himself (sound familiar?). He then goes on to offer three maxims in accordance with that premise.

      1. Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.
      2. Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end.
      3. Every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxim always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends. (Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals 3rd ed.. Hackett. pp. 30)

      The first says that rules of behavior should only be followed if they can be followed by everybody. Rand seems pretty adamant about this too in regards to selfishness. OK so far.

      The second states that we should behave in such a way as to not use people as a means to an end. People are ends of themselves. Rand seems pretty clear in this regard unless you consider that acting selfishly may require you to lie, cheat, or steal to achieve your selfish goals. I’m not sure what she says regarding law and order, but I suspect that government regulation of commerce is anathema to her ideals. Without such regulation and enforcement what is to stop avaricious criminals?

      The third tells us that we should only have laws that can be applied to both kings and subjects (or presidents and citizens). If a law only applies to one or the other then it should be discarded. This is where I think Rand is really deluded. If she thinks that selfishness is going to create a fair and just system in which the powerful are as law abiding as the powerless she is insane. Where is the evidence to support her conclusion? When in history has an underclass been able to overthrow tyranny through individual selfishness? The only tools we have for fighting tyranny are cooperation and charity. Where would we be if we threw them away?

      The reason Ayn Rand is so appealing to conservatives is precisely because she tells them they can have their cake and eat it too. They can be selfish (nay, they should be selfish) because the real problem is all those suckers trying to help one another. Mankind wouldn’t be where it is today without cooperation and charity. Trying to convince us that we can’t reach the next level unless we abandon everything that helped us succeed seems irrational and dishonest.

      • “Rand seems pretty clear in this regard unless you consider that acting selfishly may require you to lie, cheat, or steal to achieve your selfish goals.” Of course this would violate the ethics of not initiating coersive force against others. Thus making your statement a false insuation regarding the ethic of selfishness.

        “I’m not sure what she says regarding law and order,…” She supported laws and order.

        “…. but I suspect that government regulation of commerce is anathema to her ideals.” This is Very True.

        “Without such regulation and enforcement what is to stop avaricious criminals?” Ahh, a statement that creates a false choice. Lets not confuse federal regulations that criminalize behavior that harms no one, and criminal laws designed to punish those that use coersive force on innocent people. And how well have all our current regulations and laws prevented “avariciouis criminals”?

        Chris, I need to ask you one question based on your comments this morning. Have you studied Rands writings, beyond her novel?

        JAC

        • Chris Devine says:

          I haven’t studied Rand’s writings beyond what you have presented. I have tried very hard to remain equivocal and not hide my assumptions. If I have assumed incorrectly feel free to point it out.

          Point taken about her support of law and order and opposition to coercive force of any form. However, as a matter of practicality how does she suggest the we prevent such coercive force without a regulatory apparatus?

          I have not presented a false dilemma regarding regulation and enforcement. I am talking specifically of laws meant to prevent harm to people. I’d say we have a mixed bag regarding the effectiveness of laws stopping avaricious criminals. It seems to me the failure is for the most part due to lack of enforcement and undue influence on the political process by powerful individuals and institutions.

          • She supports the use of the courts and law enforcement (police) and of course the military (if used only for defense).

            I’ll give you something to feel good about. She also supported a limited concept of “progressive” taxation. I am still waiting for someone to come up with what she thought that tax should be for. Your prior statements regarding value at risk, during our tax discussion, will get you there. But you need to think outside the “income tax” box.

            As like all philosophers I have read, she was long on creating the ideal but short on technical means of creating that ideal. She did go farther than many, except Plato and Marx who went much farther.

      • “The reason Ayn Rand is so appealing to conservatives is precisely because she tells them they can have their cake and eat it too.”

        So now you are not only placing words in my mouth you are placing thoughts in my head.

        Is this not the same type of argument you so strongly condemned from “conservatives” who make claims about “liberals” reasons for thinking the way they do?

        And as for this Radical Right Wing Liberal you are completely off base as to why I support much of Rand’s conclusions.

        • Chris Devine says:

          I am neither putting words in your mouth nor thoughts in your head. I am merely trying to piece together the reasons why people of a certain political leaning seem to support Ayn Rand. I want to know which comes first: love of free-market capitalism and all it entails or a philosophical foundation that argues for it. My money is on the former.

          Regarding you specifically, I’d guess that your over-exposure to Rand’s work and under-exposure to the works of her detractors are the reason you like her (in addition to your political leanings). If I’m wrong just say so.

          • You are wrong about me.

            You may not be wrong about many who now throw her name around in the news. As I have said before, if “modern conservatives” support Rand they do not understand her. She railed against them as much as the “modern liberals”.

            Free market capitalism is supported by the ethic of individual freedom and non initiation of coersive force.

            The other false assumption her critics make is that we would suddenly “jump” to this system. She explains in some of her writings why our moral decline would not allow a sudden conversion. What she never discussed or proposed was an intermediate solution to tread water, if you will, while we built the foundation for the change.

            That is the big challenge as I see it. I personnaly think there are issue today that need to be resolved within the framework of Rand’s philosophy. These solutions may not fit her views but that is because we have not reached that point of conversion, a moral base has not been established.

            • Chris Devine says:

              You ever read much Marx? He and Engels talked about the shift from one economic system to another. They believed that ultimately communism would prevail because the workers would take advantage of technological innovations and overthrow their industrial masters. I think they underestimated the ability of the industrialists to maintain power and placate the bourgeois buffer (i.e., the middle class).

              From what I know Rand hated Marx as a result of her experiences in the Soviet Union. However Marx himself would have been rather surprised to see Russia as the guinea pig for implementation of his political theories since he spoke of an industrial economy as the prerequisite. Russia was primarily agricultural at the time. Marx also underestimated the ability of power to corrupt those in charge (hence Lennon, Stalin, Kruschev, etc.).

              I think Rand is also underestimating the potential for abuse of economic power. Just like every other philosopher who argues for rules of behavior that won’t work unless everybody follows them (e.g., Kant), she ends up arguing for a system that perpetuates inequity while trying to stop it.

              • I think Marx underestimated the need of humans for freedom from group control.

                I think Rand may have overestimated the human capacity for adoption and execution of the ethical principles required.

                For example, she thought an ethical free market society, as she envisioned, would voluntarily pay taxes required to support the courts, police and military. If we thought they were based on our ethics we would all support them. It only takes one to make this assumption false, and we all know at least one, don’t we.

                Interestingly, Alan Greenspan cited the voluntary taxation issue as one of his reasons for abandoning the Objectivist philosophy. I happen to think there was more to it, but found it iteresting that he concluded we can’t expect citizend to voluntarily pay taxes to support even a minimalistic govt.

              • Sorry Chris, I missed addressing this point this morning.

                “she ends up arguing for a system that perpetuates inequity while trying to stop it.”

                You have reached the wrong conclusion but you have also interjected a “subjective” term which I bet you define differently in the discussion. That is “inequity”.

                You see Rand did not try to eliminate “inequity” in outcomes or the status of human conditions. She was trying to eliminate “inequity” of opportunity caused by the coersive use of force by men against men and especially by governments agains men. Thus allowing us all to attempt to achieve our fullest potential (pursuit of our own happiness) as “we determined it to be”.

                I was born into a poor family. I had a disadvantage economically but I was free to resolve that to the best of my ability, and eventually succeeded in attaining many of my goals. I did not require, nor desire, that anyone interfere to make my life more equitable. Because in doing so they would be making someone else’s less equitable.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Your fortunate circumstances do not imply that all those in similar situations will have the same outcome. To me there is nothing wrong with a safety net meant to even out the bumps caused by real life. All it takes is for one accident to derail someone from the American dream. I propose that the system you argue in favor of would more than likely just leave people to die beside the tracks while the others keep on truckin’.

              • There is no such thing as a safety net to “even out the bumps” because now that requires somebody to define what a “bump” is and what “even out” means. That is how we got here and I don’t like here.

                Here is destroying our will, our self-respect, our civility and our children’s future. Sorry but no thank you. Been there tried that. Its time for something new.

              • Absolutely you are correct JAC, also because a “safety net” restricts the possibility of failure, and as anyone can tell you, you learn much more from your failures than your successes.

  4. Evelyn Verschaeve says:

    Regarding Ayn Rand’s philosophy of altruism versus self interest: If I remember correctly
    wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said “we should want for others what we want for ourselves”.
    I think that this says it all. It should not be self interest versus altruism. Both should be our cornerstone. Love your neighbor as yourself, the basis of Christian love.

    • Evelyn:

      Welcome. What you describe is part of the “selfish” ethic of Rand. Everyone misinterprets her meaining because of the stigmas associated with the term “selfish”. Another axiom would be “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

      Somewhere in this series I mentioned that Religions have given us moral or ethical standards that would equally apply without religion. In fact some of the moral tenents of Christianity date back to long before the concept of a single God was popular.

      The key here is that altruism, by definition, “requires” that I place your needs above mine. Self interest places my needs first, but only within my context not yours. Self reliance and self respect and individual responsibility.

      Self interest does not preclude loving or helping my neighbor. In Rand’s version it precludes doing so out of guilt or coersion by others, esp. the govt. I do it because I am a social animal, there is good reason to do so, I hope they might do the same some day, and most importantly, because it gives me satisfaction and pleasure.

      Again welcome to the site. It is nice to see some new comments.
      JAC

      • Chris Devine says:

        Altruism doesn’t require that you place another’s need above your own. It only requires that you consider them on an equal standing. Giving food to a starving man doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself, only that you consider your own comfort in light of his suffering.

        • Better recheck your definition.

          • Chris Devine says:

            Again I direct you to Thomas Nagel:

            “Altruistic reasons are parasitic upon self-interested ones; the circumstances in the lives of others which altruism requires us to consider are circumstances which those others already have reasons to consider from a self-interested point of view.” (The Possibility of Altruism, 16)

            What he’s saying here is that we would have no notion of altruism without first having a notion of self-interest, coupled with a recognition of others as similar to oneself. It does not follow that we must regard the interests of others as being of a higher standing.

            • Apples and organges Chris.

              And I’m not sure you have interpreted Nagel’s statement correctly.

              See my post below regarding definition of altruism.

              We need to work from the same set of definitions. Otherwise we are operating from different universes.

        • Richmond Spitfire says:

          Hi Chris,

          For me it is a black and white choice, no gray here…If I don’t have enough food to feed my family, the last thing I will consider is giving a portion of my food to a starving man. Even if I have enough food (i.e. money) for today, I need to save some of that food (i.e. money) for tomorrow. I personally don’t see where “equal standing” comes into the equation…if we were equal, then that man would have his own darn food and wouldn’t need mine. Somehow, I managed to provide enough food for my family, why in the heck should I feel like I need to support his @ss.

          Now, if I did choose to give that starving man some of my food, what will I get out of him other than a “Thanks” and my kids are now nagging me to death because they are hungry…there goes any “warm fuzzies” that I may have gotten out of thinking that he should have/deserves my legally obtained/hard-worked for “gains”.

          If you want to throw some capitalism into the mixture, I could make an “investment” in that starving man and make a deal with him…”Hey, I’ll give you some food, but you’ll need to xxxx for me over the next xxxx time period” — “dude, you have to earn it”. It’s up to that man to determine whether or not he wishes to become my slave for the determined time period.

          Call me selfish if you want, I call it survial/maintenance of what is important to me.

          • Chris Devine says:

            I’m not talking about a situation where one’s charity results in his own suffering (or that of his family). I’m talking about a situation where someone could alleviate the suffering of others without risking anything.

            Believe it or not, there are people who can’t adequately support their family despite two parents working forty-plus hours a week. There are also people who live lives of extravagant luxury doing nothing more than buying and selling things for other (richer) people. What would be wrong with the latter doing the former a favor and giving them a little help?

            • Richmond Spitfire says:

              Hi Chris…

              In my opinion, there is not a single thing wrong with “giving” to others…with the caveat of “having a choice” to do so.

              In my own “selfishness”, I give financial assistance to United Way, I used to volunteer for Red Cross (don’t have the time right now).

              The financial assistance that I give to United Way is my choice and I give what I can afford. I’m also able to tell United Way how I want my financial assistance to be used.

              I am unable to tell the Gov (and they are unwilling to follow my directions) on how I wish my “giving” is to be used. In addition, they tell me how much I can afford — which is really more than I can afford.

              Kind Regards,
              RS

              • Chris Devine says:

                Then what is wrong with government intervention if it is solely for the purpose of preventing people from abusing their influence and causing inequity and suffering of others? Stopping somebody from taking a fistful out of the cookie jar is not the same thing as making him give everybody else a piece of his cookie.

              • The problem with that is that government does not know when enough is enough…If it is his cookie jar, the government has no business in it.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Power begets power. Governments are no better nor worse when it comes to abuse of power. However, the constraints of the democratic process seems like a much better mechanism to keep power in check than laissez-faire economics.

                Capitalism is amoral. It’s only concern is the accumulation of wealth. That wealth translates into power (or lack thereof) and without democratic checks to that power we are doomed to a cycle of unjust inequity.

              • I would argue that it is not capitolism in of itself that is amoral, rather the individuals who abuse it that are imoral. IMO that is what it all ultimately boils down to…the individual and what choices they make.

              • “Governments are no better nor worse when it comes to abuse of power. ”

                Really? Seems to me govt’s have the police, army and jails. They write the laws to allow them to use all of these against me, as they see fit.

                Think I’ll take my chances with Wal-Mart.

              • Chris,
                Then what is wrong with government intervention?
                How can the use of coersive force be justified? Are we truly slaves for the government.
                The can and do imprison for failing to pay the amount of taxes they decide we have to pay.
                Then spend it on who they decide is worthy.
                Including those UNWILLING to support themselves.

                Remember that hateful, racist, Bill Clinton’s welfare reform? A major turning point in the debate over welfare reform came in late 1993 when Clinton made a series of remarkable public statements about the links between social problems, welfare dependency and unwed childbearing. No president before him had addressed this topic.
                Now the one shining point of his legacy has been undone by Pelosi, Reed and Obama who overturned this in the stimulus package.

              • Richmond Spitfire says:

                Replied to this Post on #10

            • Nothing is wrong with that happening…as long as it is voluntary. When the government forces that action is where it crosses the boundry (IMO).

        • OK Chris, we are starting to go in circles. You claim the definition is wrong, I say it isn’t and you provide a discussion about someones view of how it can work. Not the same.

          As much as I dislike relying on Wiki I offer the definition they currently have.

          “Altruism is an ethical doctrine that holds that individuals have a moral obligation to help, serve, or benefit others, if necessary at the sacrifice of self interest. Auguste Comte’s version of altruism calls for living for the sake of others. One who holds to either of these ethics is known as an “altruist.”

          The ethical doctrine of altruism has also been called the ethic of altruism, moralistic altruism, and ethical altruism.

          The word “altruism” (French, altruisme, from autrui: “other people”, derived from Latin alter: “other”) was coined by Auguste Comte, the French founder of positivism, in order to describe the ethical doctrine he supported. He believed that individuals had a moral obligation to renounce self-interest and live for others. Comte says, in his Catechisme Positiviste [1], that:

          “ [The] social point of view cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries. After our birth these obligations increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service…. This [“to live for others”], the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man must serve] Humanity, whose we are entirely.” ”

          Perhaps now this will allow everyone to see why Rand would rant against this ethic as much as she did.

          I hope everybody’s gray matter is starting to warm up.
          JAC

          • Chris Devine says:

            Altruistic actions are not limited to those which cause suffering on the part of the benefactor. It is just as possible to act altruistically without hurting oneself as it is to jump on a grenade or in front of an assassin’s bullet.

            Is Rand arguing against altruism as I have explained it? I think she is (if not explicitly then implicitly). It seems to me that she is arguing from the assumption we shouldn’t jump on a grenade to the conclusion that we shouldn’t feed a starving man.

            • Chris, I have provided the original definition. I can’t make it more clear than that.

              It seems to me that you also don’t like the idea as per the true meaning of “altruism”, as it was philosophically defined by its creator. You argument appears as though you are now changing the meaning rather than admit it is a bankrupt concept.

              Rand is arguing against “altruism” as defined by its philosophical father. It looks to me like you are trying to change the meaning, by using Nagel, and then argue that she is wrong because she condemns the word you have used to describe something different. At least that is looking to me like what is going on here.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Here’s a little lesson in philosophy as it is really practiced:

                Just about every philosopher begins by defining his terms in his own way. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you are upfront about it. You can’t just postulate “the original definition” and consider the matter closed for discussion. I explained my terms. It’s up to you to show me how I’m wrong or where my reasoning is flawed.

                I have also stated my belief that she is equivocating in her use of the term, ‘altruism.’ She argues from one definition and draws conclusions regarding another.

              • And that is how we get to such deep moral statements as “it depends on what the meaning of is, is”.

                Seems Mr. Clinton was well steeped in the modern philosophical principles and practices.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Be serious. I’m not talking about rhetoric. I’m talking about reasoned arguments with well-defined terms.

              • I am by no means a philosopher, nor anywhere close, but if we all put our own meaning to whatever, then there is no common ground on which to debate…any debate could be ended with that is not my definition…

              • Careful Terry, you are starting to talk like a logical thinker.

                LOL….Excellant point.

                JAC

              • Chris Devine says:

                The point is coming to an agreement on terms before the argument begins and not changing after it has begun.

            • Now that I have take my little cheap shot for the day lets address your statement.

              “Altruistic actions are not limited to those which cause suffering on the part of the benefactor.” This means that some altruistic actions could cause suffering on part of the benefactor. If so then Rand would condemn and so would I. The others I would call charity given by me based on my own personal interests.

              “It is just as possible to act altruistically without hurting oneself as it is to jump on a grenade or in front of an assassin’s bullet.” This is false, even using your definition.

              “It seems to me that she is arguing from the assumption we shouldn’t jump on a grenade to the conclusion that we shouldn’t feed a starving man.” I trully don’t understand how you have reached this conclusion. First of all she has never stated that we, I, or you shouldn’t feed a starving man. She said you shouldn’t do it out of guilt or be forced to by someone else, both are forms of coersion. That of course eliminates the bizarre comparison of grenade jumping and feeding a starving man.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Are you condemning the soldier who jumps on a grenade? I would consider charity altruistic. You’ll have to explain why this violates my own definition of altruism.

                How could any system that makes the starvation of a man through the voluntary greed of another be considered moral? What could possibly be used to justify charity on these grounds? I can foresee a system whereby a small group of extremely wealthy individuals inflict a great deal of suffering on many others through their unchecked greed and power to keep others from doing anything about it (some might say we’re already there). Rational self-interest might work if the powerful were afraid of the starving masses, but I think we live in a world where the threat of violence is enough to keep the rabble at bay.

              • Chris: I have pondered how to respond to this comment and have decided to start with the end. Your vision.

                I can see system that does all the things you have proposed. It is called the system we have. The one supported by an ethic of “altruism” and a politics of fasciolism.

                Rational self-interest requires no fear from anyone. The threat of violence, by everyone, is not allowed.

                Your grenade question attempts to create a false conclusion on my part and then make a false connection to my argument about feeding a starving man. It is nothing short of obnoxious.

                I had previously stated I didn’t understand your comparison but pointed out that since you assumption regarding the feeding of a starving man was FALSE it automatically makes your connection to a man falling on a grenade as MOOT. Without one being valid the other does not stand. That would be the logic of eliminating contradictions.

                If you are trying to make some point with this example please try to restate it. Your comparisons do not compute.

                and has no bearing on the discussion of feeding a starving man. So, do you condemn the man who does not jump on the grenade? Do you condemn the man who jumps on his friends to shield them but is killed or injured by the grenade.

              • I am sorry the last part was posted. I was being a bit of an ass at the beginning and decided against it. Then forgot to delete before hitting the sent button.

                My apologies.

              • Chris Devine says:

                The system I envision and the one we have today, while they may have similarities, are different in one particular regard: the undue influence of special interests in today’s system have perverted the democratic process.

                Rational self-interest may not require fear but I cannot see how in practice it won’t necessarily produce it.

                My comments regarding the altruistic suicide of a soldier and charity are not meant to distract. They are meant to illustrate an important point: you can get somebody to believe an argument with one example while you have something else in mind altogether in practice.

                To put it simply, I believe Rand is trying to win people over to her side by giving examples of how altruism (in one form) when pushed to their logical conclusion will prove to be counter-productive. However, I think she and her supporters use this argument to suggest that all forms of altruism (including charity) are counter-productive. They might not state it explicitly but it seems rather thinly-veiled.

              • OK now we’re getting somewhere.

                “Rational self-interest may not require fear but I cannot see how in practice it won’t necessarily produce it.” You can’t disconnect self-interest from the rest of the ethics, namely no coersive force. Without coersion there is not fear other than our own fears of failure. But no longer do you fear that “the man” or “the system” is keeping you downd or that “special interests” are screwing you to benefit someone else.

                On that note, any system that continues to allow govt to control so much will breed more and more special interest groups. That is because what govt is trying to accomplish runs against our natural insticts and individual interests. It is a contradiction to the nature of mankind.

                “However, I think she and her supporters use this argument to suggest that all forms of altruism (including charity) are counter-productive.” All I can tell you is that in her writings she constantly argued that voluntary charity was just fine and in fact was a selfish act. I do it for the pleasure it gives me. I do it because I hope that someone might help me if I ever needed it. I give to the Cancer Foundation to find a cure so that the human race may exist without unncessary death. All selfish motives that support charitable acts.

                If you haven’t read her novels I can tell you this is the one thing that I got without having to read it four times. I think you are far too suspicous of her motives.

                Perhaps this is due to the nature of some of those who use her philosophy to rationalize something else? I have no idea where the various Rand groups are on this as I don’t spend anytime following them. But I do know the one economic journal I occassionaly get would support my view.

                If you want I will try to find some of her quotes or you can just take my word for it at this point.

                Thanks for sticking with me on this.
                JAC

      • Good Day JAC,

        And well said. I have commented a couple times about taking the religious aspect out of Christanity, that it is a necessary part of our culture that cannot be done away with without some sort of replacement.

        Will post more in a bit, having deep thoughts, involving donuts.

        • Now why did you offer that? Now I am thinking of apple fritters and bavarian creme, maybe a chocolate covered old-fashioned.

          Oh hell, guess I’ll settle for a bowl of Granola.

          Lots of smiles to you this AM LOI
          JAC

          • You know I love that organic cooking
            I always ask for more
            And they call me Mr Natural
            On down to the health food store
            I only eat good sea salt
            White sugar don’t touch my lips
            And my friends is always begging me
            To take them on macrobiotic trips
            Yes, they are

            Oh, but at night I stake out my strong box
            That I keep under lock and key
            And I take it off to my closet
            Where nobody else can see
            I open that door so slowly
            Take a peek up north and south
            Then I pull out a Hostess Twinkie
            And I pop it in my mouth

            Yeah, in the daytime I’m Mr Natural
            Just as healthy as I can be
            But at night I’m a junk food junkie
            Good lord have pity on me

            Well, at lunchtime you can always find me
            At the Whole Earth Vitamin Bar
            Just sucking on my plain white yogurt
            From my hand thrown pottery jar
            And sippin’ a little hand pressed cider
            With a carrot stick for dessert
            And wiping my face in a natural way
            On the sleeve of my peasant shirt
            Oh, yeah

            Ah, but when that clock strikes midnight
            And I’m all by myself
            I work that combination on my secret hideaway shelf
            And I pull out some Fritos corn chips
            Dr Pepper and an ole Moon Pie
            Then I sit back in glorious expectation
            Of a genuine junk food high

            Oh yeah, in the daytime I’m Mr Natural
            Just as healthy as I can be
            Oh, but at night I’m a junk food junkie
            Good lord have pity on me

            My friends down at the commune
            They think I’m pretty neat
            Oh, I don’t know nothing about arts and crafts
            But I give ’em all something to eat
            I’m a friend to old Euell Gibbons
            And I only eat home grown spice
            I got a John Keats autographed Grecian urn
            Filled up with my brown rice
            Yes, I do

            Oh, folks but lately I hae been spotted
            With a Big Mac on my breath
            Stumbling into a Colonel Sanders
            With a face as white as death
            I’m aftraid someday they’ll find me
            Just stretched out on my bed
            With a handful of Pringles potato chips
            And a Ding Dong by my head

            In the daytime I’m Mr Natural
            Just as healthy as I can be
            But at night I’m a junk food junkie
            Good lord have pity on me

            LARRY GROCE lyrics – Junk Food Junkie

            less we become too serious

            • I heat my granola in the micro wave as I hate mushy oatmeal.

              Then I spinkle a handful of raisins and stir in.

              Topped with a “small” handful of brown sugar.

              But then I never eat in front of others, so I am still the oranic wizard.

              Still can’t get the vision of that cream filled Bavarian out of my head.

              You have kept me smiling this morning LOI.
              Thank You
              JAC

  5. Good Morning, During my early teen years, my Uncle told me “Take care of yourself first, and everyone around you will be happy also”. On it’s face it sounds very selfish, but in reality it is not. As I learned later, being charitable is very self fullfilling, all part of that taking care of self first.

    I do not consider others on an equal standing in many ways. Many on this site are far smarter on many issues, like this philosophy stuff. So in that aspect, I put them on a higher standard. However, I can build a house from the ground up, wire it, plumb it, finish all aspects till it’s complete. That’s knowledge that many may not have, but may be valuable to them in times of need (thus putting me on a higher standard, if only temporarily).

    All to often, if your not careful, you will give to others and get taken advantage of. Soon, your kindness becomes required, rather than appreciated (think of a bird feeder). I barter services with my neighbors all the time. I fix drains and such, he keeps my truck running. We don’t charge for those services, it’s a trade off.

    If I did have a question, I would ask where I stand in this world of philosophy that we are discussing?

    G!

    • If we draw a scale with altruism on one end and self interest on the other I would speculate you are on the self interest side but closer to the center than the end. Why do I say so?

      Just guessing G-Man. I am assuming that the indoctrination of society has had some effect thus pushing you towards the center, at least a little.

      And Good Morning
      JAC

      • JAC, Interesting observation. Let me add a couple things to draw a more accurate picture. I absolutely despise welfare and the role it plays in our society. I do not mind short term assistance, as people do fall on hard times. My taxes should never be used to support anyone who WON’T support themselves.

        Now, if I see a senior citizen on the side of the highway with a flat tire, I would be inclined to stop and help out, as he/she may not be physically capable of changing the flat. I would do this without asking for anything in return, nor would I accept anything other than a kind thank you.

        How does that scale look now?

        G!

        • Sounds like maybe a little closer to the end than the center, or maybe at the center between the end and center. Sorry, couldn’t resist that play on words.

          You’ll get farther to the end if you tell me that assistance to those who fall on hard times must come from voluntary charity and not govt programs.

          JAC

          • I can live with that. Do you consider unemployment insurance that employers pay into as a government program?

            • I personally view it as a govt program but not welfare type. It is a govt mandated insurance program.

              During times like this the insurance wasn’t enough and then the govt steps in to fund the shortfall.

              Until we get rid of govt mandated supports for ourselves then I think we should make sure these types of mandated programs pay for themselves. We should not be reaching into the general treasury to cover shortfalls.

              Of course in my ideal world we wouldn’t need this. We would all provide our own “rainy day” funds. Ahhh, but that’s the fun of the challenge. Figuring out how to get there from here.

  6. In college, my roommate was having problems. I asked my Psychology prof. for advice, he said the same as G-man’s uncle, “take care of yourself first, only then will you be where you can help others”. On every plane flight, you are to place an oxygen mask on yourself first, then help others.

    In the larger sense, if we are either free or slaves, then it must be the latter. Some of the chains are placed on us by the society we live in, others we place on ourselves. When a woman births a child, she chooses to feed and care for that child. If that child’s father chooses to stay and help raise that child, he has willingly binded himself to them. Consider that good parents make good terms for their servitude. As the child ages, they require things of the child, not just give the child all that is asked for, without limit or responsibility. We have seen this time and again, through all history and still today.

    Can this family model be applied to society? I think so. Europe is showing signs of aging. America, their child, has grown up to be bigger and more successful than the parent. Overall, we share a productive working relationship. But we are “mature” societies. China and many other nations do not share our values. In a world view, they must be looked at as “younger” or less mature children. Liken them to teenagers, starting to take on responsibility.

    With a true world view, America must first and always take care of herself. Only then can we be able to help others. We must be the “adult”, and choose how much help to give, and who to give to. As the “adult” we should strive to help them “grow”, and mature to the point they no longer need our assistance.
    So looking at how the US has conducted foreign assistance, there are many cases of good intentions, but bad decisions. We give out millions for “relief” but rarely apply the help them to help themselves principal. And with our economy in shambles, record setting debt, we are being irresponsible parents at this time, which will lead to us being unable to provide for ourselves, or others.
    And we have allowed our children (the government) to dictate the terms of our servitude to too large a degree. Like taking directions from a four year old, don’t be surprised when you drive off a cliff.

    • LOI, Nicely put, hope you enjoyed your doughnut!

      PEACE!

      G!

    • esomhillgazette says:

      Good Post LOI. My thoughts also. Our Government has become so obsessed with helping other parts of the world, they have forgotten their own. They should help their own citizens FIRST, then help others only if the means to do so are there. In actuality, Charity organizations should help other nations and the Federal Government should never have the need to become involved.

      • Thanks Esom, G-Man,

        Its been noted that America is the most generous nation in the world.
        but the more we give, the more they want (UN especially). And the left seems to favor that, even with all our problems here. They are like my ex, who never ran out of checks or credit cards, someone else
        provided the money. At least for a while.

        • esomhillgazette says:

          I can’t be out of money! I’ve still got checks in my checkbook!

          I’m not out of money! I’ve got a Credit Card!

          Like that?

          Sounds like my wife when I don’t watch her!

          • Sounds just like the welfare system! The only thing I’m watching are the tops of my feet, cuz the govt has me bent over!

            G!

            • When in the southern hemisphere you find your way home by facing towards the sun at noon.

              Then bend over and look between your legs.

              So you see the govmunt is just helping you out by giving you some practice.

              OTFLMAO.

              • Black Flag says:

                Interesting how the bias of what is ‘up’ and ‘down’ for the spin of the Earth!

                If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense.

                We are closer to the Sun in the “Northern” Hemisphere Winter – and further away during Summer.

                If we were at all logical – we’d call Summer when the Earth is closer to the “heater” and Winter when we are further from the ‘heater’.

                I guess the whole world is upside down! 😆

              • You noticed I avoided the whole up and down issue.

                Just wait until the poles shift again.

                Hee Hee Hee.

              • Black Flag says:

                Ah the poles shifted on Sunday, right under my two left feet!

                While helping my “Spousal Unit Leader” plant her garden, I failed to negotiate with a ladder properly and horrifically sprained my ankle.

                Black Flag Down!

              • Was that ladder bringing violence on a non-violent person?

  7. Good morning, Nice work again JAC. This piece is a little easier to understand than some of the others and it brings up something that as a conservative I’ve always felt was uncomfortable and very unfair. That whole self-interest, selfishness thing. I do believe in taking care of me and mine first and I expect everyone to do likewise. Does that mean I don’t ever help, give, share with others? Of course not.

    A couple examples of how we live this every day:

    Years ago when I was newly married, my husband and I had to visit a financial advisor as we weren’t on the same page with money habits (both believed in the “s” word – it’s just that his was save and mine was spend) and we got some great advice – “Pay yourself first”. Now this was really about having some control over our spending habits (mine!) in that if we contributed to our savings first each month, there was less left over for loose spending, but it’s a habit we’ve followed every single month since. Do we still contribute financially to others every month as well? Yes, we do. But if we did not first pay ourselves, we would not have been able to take care of our financial obligations as we’ve been able to over the years.

    I’m in the health and wellness business and I can’t tell you the number of people I come across that do everything and anything for everyone else, but not themselves. They are tired, overweight, unhealthy, but will actually feel guilty about putting themselves first. That is nuts! When you put your self-interest first and take care of yourself – guess what, you are now better to help (if you choose to) others.

    The spin on this is all around us – the latest is that we are the party of “no” – like we are uncooperative and mean. Baloney!

    I now know we are just practicing Rand’s Objectivism!

    • Kathy,
      What a perfect example. I have also witnessed for years, parents with low income, supporting grown children who chose to work less. Parents putting in 50 hour weeks, and grown children working half that. And at the end of their working life, the parents are broke, the children can’t fend for themselves, much less help the parents.

    • Kathy, good morning.

      I think the majority of us and that included “conservatives” are not practicing “Rand’s Objectivism”, at least in its totality.

      Like all philosophers, her views come from the study of human nature and behavior and the ideas of others before them. The values most of us have regarding individual responsibility, freedom and charity existed long before Ayn Rand came along. They were embedded into the American Culture by our founders. The problems was they also embedded values that were in conflict.

      I happen to believe that we need to find a way to resolve those conflicts in order to move forward as a prosperous and thriving society and country.

      I throw this out becasue I want to caution everyone against adopting “Objectivism” or claiming to be an “Objectivist”, without completely understanding the what the total concept means.

      I for one am what I describe as a “modified objectivist”. Of course Rand and her followers would say that is not possible, it is all or none. That is why we don’t want to start adopting others “labels”, just the conepts that appear consistent with nature, as we understand it.

      Does that make sense? I might have gotten a little wordy.

      Best Wishes
      JAC

      • No, I get that JAC –

        was just being glib in that my behavior had a name and I didn’t even know it!

  8. esomhillgazette says:

    In my life my family comes first. ALL others come second. Where this puts me on the scale I THINK is somewhere close to selfishness in some eyes. Maybe even my own.

    I don’t mind helping others if I have the means to do so. That word “IF” is the crux of my arguement. If I have the means. If I don’t, then my family’s needs come before all others.

    My Liberty comes before others. You as another individual have the right in my view to do as you wish with your property just as I. But your freedom and liberty does not supercede nor infringe upon mine.

    Let’s use this example:
    My neighbor has raked leaves into a pile. It is his right as a property owner to burn his leaves or otherwise dispose of them as he sees fit. It is not his right however to burn his leaves and the smoke drift over into MY house or dispose of his leaves on my property. This would infringe upon my rights. His solution is to dispose of his leaves at a dump site or watch where the wind is blowing before setting the fire. Otherwise the one getting smoked up might feel it his right to punch the offending leaf burner in his eye. :suprise:

    If I have the means, then it is my right, not my duty, to help others. In other words it should be left to me to decide whether or not to help others. You cannot mandate charity. Especially if the people you are requiring it from do not have the means to do so.

    This is what our Government does. It is not the Government’s right to impose Cap & Trade, nor other things such as paying tribute to the UN Charity Fund, or several Billion $ on AIDS relief in Africa with my Tax Dollars without my permission. In doing so, they are requiring and obligating me to pay for services that I get no benefit from, nor giving me the choice whether or not I WANT to pay for it. This in turn LOWERS MY standard of living “for the good of all”. Pardon my French, but oh HELL NO!

    In their view this is providing for the good of all people. In my view this is Socialism. You cannot look out for the good of all without stomping all over the rights of the individual. Nor should you. You should always look out for YOUR people FIRST as a Government. Charity should be left to charitable organizations and people who have the means and who want to help with those means. Liberty MUST be selfish. To have true Liberty it must be the individuals choice whether or not they help someone else. If they are compelled to do so through coersion. then it is not Liberty.

    • Morning Esom!! I applied Liberty to a very controversial subject (Tommorrows Subject) and asked myself a question. If I believe in absolute liberty, how can I then use religious beliefs to deny liberty to another? I thought about this alot Friday night (beer is good), what’s your thoughts?

      G!

      • esomhillgazette says:

        G: If you believe in Absolute Liberty, then you cannot use religious beliefs to deny liberty of any kind to anyone.

        • esomhillgazette says:

          I’m also going to ponder tomorrows subject tonight so I’ll have my argument boots laced up tight for wading through all the bulldookey. Tomorrow should be interesting.

  9. Bama dad says:

    Good morning all.

    This philosophy stuff gives me a headache, to many big words. I go by the kiss principle (Keep it simple stupid). Not sure where we are suppose to be going, but I’ll outline my philosophy. First I am responsible for me. It is up to me to decide my status in life, if I want more I must work for it (labor, education whatever). As a husband I am responsible for my wife, as a father my children, as a member of an extended family other family members. If I had to pick one word that would benefit everyone if it were put into practice it would be RESPONSIBILITY. We have to quit making excuses and be responsible for our actions. I have no problem voluntarily helping someone to support life but I have a big problem in being forced to support someone’s life style or someone who does not try to help themselves. 😀

    • Black Flag says:

      But are you willing to insist on this philosophy, upon yourself, politically?

      Many people speak of self-responsibility, and then turn right around and demand government do something for them.

  10. Richmond Spitfire says:

    Hi Chris…

    Okay, if you insist on saying everyone should be treated as equal, I’ll go down that route (even though I don’t agree with it from a fiscal standpoint) – as humans, then yes, in normal cases, we are equal in having a physical brain, two legs, two arms, stomach, skin, liver, heart, etc.). Where we as humans are not equal is our character, our abilities to use our physical beings, our drive, our thought processes, our beliefs, our moral code, etc. Because of these inequalities, some humans are able to accomplish more than other humans.

    You talk about a Cookie Jar – I assume you are talking about the US Treasury, right? If EVERYONE is indeed Equal, then we should be funding the Cookie Jar EQUALLY which is only fair. In my opinion, there are important services to be received from the Government – Infrastructure & Security.

    So, funding the Cookie Jar as Equals at say 10% seems to be a fair method. For example, if my income = $300,000.00 then I would fund the cookie jar at $30,000.00; if your income = $30,000 then you would fund the Cookie Jar at $3,000.00. You and I get the same benefits of the Infrastructure & Security…I’m providing a 30,000 cookies and you are providing 3,000 cookies (even though I’m providing 10 x the amount of cookies that you are providing) – we get the same benefits (wrong, but that’s another Talk Show).

    Wow…Already this scenario is not equal…Okay…I’m putting on my altruistic hat and I’ll go with the fact that I make a whole lot more money than you so if we are using %’s as the fair method, it makes sense that I’ll contribute more than you…but #amn it’s unfair even though it’s equal.

    That fact that your income is ten times less than my income is not my problem…it is your problem. Just because I eat Filet Mignon and you eat Peanut Butter is not of consequence to me…you live within your budget and I live in within mine – maybe it doesn’t seem fair to you, but I’ve contributed EQUALLY to the cookie jar just like you and what I choose to do with my remaining $270,000.00 is my business; just as what you do with your remaining $27,000 is your business.

    I can assure you Chris, as my friend, if I invite you over to dinner though, I’ll feed you Filet Mignon and Lobster because I choose to. If you invite me over to your house for dinner, then Chris, I’ll gladly eat your Peanut Butter, but I may bring a bottle of wine because I choose to honor you with it…do you know what goes with Peanut Butter 😉 ?

    My biggest concern is that you’ll want to eat at my house ALL the time (i.e. suck of the Government Teat forever)…Ben Franklin said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after 3 days”.

    Chris, I guess that we have to simply agree to disagree…What I hear you say is that the more “needy” of the population should be funded via taxpayers to bring them to equal status financially to which I totally disagree; if a person is unable to help themselves due to a physical or mental disability, then accomodations do need to be made for them.

    Kind Regards,
    RS

  11. Black Flag says:

    ddk said

    While I agree that capitalism is the preferred economic system, in practise it can be misused to marginalize large groups of people. Hence the creation and success of unions historically.

    I believe this is a superficial view.

    One cannot misuse voluntary action so your complaint upon capitalism cannot exist!

    Therefore, what you are viewing is not capitalism but mercantilism where (government) force and violence is required to manipulate free market systems and is used to pervert voluntary interaction.

    Mercantilism masquerades as capitalism – as both use ‘money’ or capital (and many people believe using money is the definition of capitalism) as a tool, but real capitalism is devoid of violence as a measure to force economic exchange.

    This very misconception and misunderstanding causes people to misplace their fight and rage against capitalism itself, and thereby manufacturing fascism and socialism in its place – with the latter two ‘ism’ being absolute deadly and disastrous economically.

    • esomhillgazette says:

      BF, is it your opinion that most people have no idea what a “free market sytem” even is? That they don’t know the true meaning of capitalism to begin with?

      I don’t believe we have had true calitalism for a very long time. I KNOW we haven’t had a free market economy.

      • Black Flag says:

        Yes, Esom, people are brainwashed in this way.

        The bait-and-switch technique of definitions are a solid way to confuse people – where ‘capitalism and free market system’ use violence, and where ‘socialism’ is the only moral, non-violent, way to operate an economy – when the exact opposite is true.

        • Chris Devine says:

          I am not advocating a purely socialistic economy, nor am I in favor of a purely capitalistic economy. I propose that we take the best of both worlds and do what we can to encourage hard work and charity, as well as fairness and justice. There is nothing about a mixed economy under a democratic government that prevents such an outcome. I submit that the further you push towards the fringes the further you will get from any ideal worth pursuing.

          • Black Flag says:

            There is no third way as you believe, Chris.

            As Mises and Hayek both demonstrated, by every intervention of government perverts the market place to such a degree that it appears more intervention by government is necessary – which continues to worsen the perversion, until finally totalitarianism become the norm.

  12. Black Flag says:

    Chris Devine said

    How does a free-market capitalist system, free of government regulation, prevent coercion?

    Free market system is a system devoid of coercion.

    So the capitalist system itself does not promote nor support and unlike socialism does not justify it nor rationalize it.

    Chris, under socialism there is theft and violence and it is justified and rationalized by government action.

    The free and voluntary exchange of goods and services between people does not need to provide protection against those that steal and loot.

    That is a job of a moral and just legal system.

    You are muddling two distinct concepts.

    It is immoral to steal, whether it is by an individual, or group of individuals – even if the individual or group of individuals self-justify that theft.

    It seems to me that allowing the market to regulate itself is akin to letting the foxes guard the hen-house. We’re not going to be better off by turning everybody into a fox.

    Your analogy is telling.

    Your use a fox in a hen house in an example – where the fox is using violent power to seize goods to support his economic life – to forward your view of free market systems, a system which specifically and completely denounces such use of violence!

    Talk about being completely confused and backwards in an understanding!

    A better use of the example of fox/hen would be to describe socialism where by the point of a gun, some people live off the efforts of others.

    • Chris Devine says:

      While I applaud your high-mindedness, I think you are more than a bit naive to assume that a free market economy will not result in coercion even if in principle it is forbidden. When through economic forces someone is pushed to the point of starvation or becomes envious of what he considers (right or wrong) unfair, all bets are off. You can’t just tell someone that he is hungry because he chooses to be (regardless of whether it’s true or not). The fact remains he’s hungry and all reason goes out the window. People jump out of high-rise buildings presumably knowing they will die upon impact because their desire to breath overrides their understanding of gravity and the human body.

      You can’t rely on an economic ideal that requires all participants to be rational 100% of the time. Human beings aren’t rational 100% of the time. Some of us are never rational. You can’t just ignore that fact about human beings. The laws of economics might presume rational behavior, but they do so only in a superficial ‘as-if’ matter. As long as the laws seem to be right most of the time they are considered useful. They are not in any way meant to describe human behavior on an individual basis. Economics isn’t physics. You should know that.

      • Black Flag says:

        Chris Devine said

        While I applaud your high-mindedness, I think you are more than a bit naive to assume that a free market economy will not result in coercion even if in principle it is forbidden.

        Please avoid insulting me, Chris.
        Calling someone ‘naive’ – who by education, talent and trade is accomplished in economic theory and practice more shows your lack of civility. I do not insult your philosophical ‘upbringing’ while debating your philosophical position.

        Whether coercion exists, Chris – is completely independent of free market system.

        Force and violence will always exist.

        The difference is wholly between whether you justify it or you do not.

        Free market capitalism does not justify the use of violence as a means to obtain economic goods and services.

        Socialism does justify the use of violence to obtain goods and services.

        When through economic forces someone is pushed to the point of starvation or becomes envious of what he considers (right or wrong) unfair, all bets are off.

        All bets are off if the person is insane, too.

        But that has nothing to do with justifying the use of violence.

        You wish to include acts of savages in an attempt to prove that civilization manufactures violence. Bizarre argument, not?

        You can’t just tell someone that he is hungry because he chooses to be (regardless of whether it’s true or not). The fact remains he’s hungry and all reason goes out the window. People jump out of high-rise buildings presumably knowing they will die upon impact because their desire to breath overrides their understanding of gravity and the human body.

        But we are arguing by reason.

        Complaining that there are some unreasoned people (for whatever cause) does not create an argument that we cannot provide a moral, non-violent economic system.

        Because there are savages and unreasoned people is an argument for self-defense.

        It is not an argument against free market economy.

        You can’t rely on an economic ideal that requires all participants to be rational 100% of the time.

        What a multi-dimensional strawman!

        It is as equal a complaint to demand that your own economic system require the same 100% participation – but you refuse to apply this complaint to yourself. But you believe you can wholly apply such a complaint it to freedom.

        Second, no system of freedom requires 100% participation.

        Those that refuse the freedom of others will always exist, and therefore so will self-defense by those defending their freedom.

        This fact has nothing to do with economic systems or provide a justification of violence upon free people.

        • Chris Devine says:

          I’m not trying to insult you. If I was you’d know it. 😉

          Where is this socialism rule-book that advocated for the mandatory use of violence? If one exists I’d like to see it. Granted, socialism as practiced by countries like the USSR did use violence. But this does not imply violence is necessary.

          Any system that exacerbates the effects of scarcity will likely cause violence. That’s my contention regarding capitalism as it is likely to be practiced.

          Are we arguing for a practical solution or are we arguing for an ideal solution. It seems to me that you are more interested in the latter.

          I didn’t say 100% participation. I said 100% rationality. People like Rand argue for a solution that relies upon consistency of a certain kind. I contend that the type of consistency they think is necessary is imaginary. What’s the point of arguing for something that might never exist?

          • Black Flag says:

            I’m not trying to insult you. If I was you’d know it.

            😉

            Fair enough – I’ll take that comment, and those in future, in your best of intentions.

            Where is this socialism rule-book that advocated for the mandatory use of violence? If one exists I’d like to see it. Granted, socialism as practiced by countries like the USSR did use violence. But this does not imply violence is necessary.

            Socialism requires the forceful taking from someone who has, and gives to someone who did not earn it.

            If I refuse – it is by the point of a government gun that it is forced upon me to surrender my wealth for the benefit of someone who did not earn my wealth.

            Any system that exacerbates the effects of scarcity will likely cause violence.

            Agreed. Thus by motives, if one is under threat of theft of his wealth, he will resist – increasing violence.

            Further, if one believes he is justified to steal, this will increase violence.

            That’s my contention regarding capitalism as it is likely to be practiced.

            Free and voluntary choice of economic exchange is a system that denies the justification for violence as a means of obtaining goods and services.

            Thus, it is the very system that by its nature reduces violence.

            However, it – like anything else – cannot prevent violence as violence is a choice (or not) of individual man.

            Free market however see a choice of violence as corrupt, inappropriate and evil.

            Are we arguing for a practical solution or are we arguing for an ideal solution. It seems to me that you are more interested in the latter.

            You want an answer to solve a problem without understanding if the solution is the problem.

            If we agree that violence is immoral, then creating a system that uses violence is not our answer, right?

            I didn’t say 100% participation. I said 100% rationality.

            100% for anything is unnecessary.

            What’s the point of arguing for something that might never exist?

            Then, by your demand, your system is a complete failure – since it may never exist either.

            If your complaint equally invalidates your own position, then making such acompliant against my position holds no validity.

            Complaining that the sun shines on my face is invalid since the sun shines equally on yours as well.

          • Socialism to me means more gov’t, I’m not into anarchy but I have a strong belief that too much gov’t is the problem. I see big gov’t as the problem more than business; gov’t uses business to its advantage hurting the people. Gov’t makes laws and gets grand ideas to try and harness business for its own power and position.

            I look to Jamaica and on a small scale I believe I see what’s in store for us on our current path. I think the IMF and the WTO are an abomination! I hold no better view of the UN. Sure, we give to other countries but sometimes it’s not just the good old USA doing it out of the kindness of her heart. They will say it’s not to be spent on education etc, but for “reserves”, it’s just meant as a buy off from communism. It’s political and it’s about power. The gov’t doing subsidies for business, farmers etc isn’t a good thing, it’s disgusting.

            Jamaica has had to borrow money from the IMF since gaining independence; interest on loans/inflation and loss of say so in their governing from this (us with China soon?). The free trade thing that’s so good, well, it’s killing them, their industry. They can’t compete with the cheap produce coming in from other big countries with subsidised produce; their people of course buy the cheaper products (like we do with India and China). This in turn is killing the farmers and dairy industry there.

            The prices of these cheap imports, powdered milk especially will eventually shoot up, be more expensive than what the local farmers produce. The problem is the farmers have to shut down their farms, send their cattle to slaughter etc because they can’t support their dairies and farms as it currently is. Once the prices adjust out on this cheap produce, they will not be able to revive their farm and dairy industry to save them from the now expensive powdered milk, produce.

            We are killing our industry here in America by buying the cheaper imported stuff and legislating ourselves out of industry. I think we should get the heck out of all this world crap. It doesn’t help other countries, its corrupt gov’t for gov’t not the people. Screw the IMF, WTO, UN. We are destroying our industry and god forbids something happen and we need to produce and can’t…what then? I think as Americans we need to learn to buy American even at greater costs or we need to find ways for industry to lower costs. That would be taxes or labor, the only way to be competitive on labor would be to have a world min wage, I’m against that. I think I’m a bit of an isolationist.

            I’m for less gov’t, they corrupt everything they touch. I see need for regulation on some things, like water…Pickens shouldn’t be able to make water like oil. This whole green chit with cap and trade is by the rich for the rich, it’s not for green! Gads I could rant forever on this cap and trade junk! Guess I already ranted too much. Mea culpa
            Here’s a link on some of the Jamaica mess…
            http://www.trocaire.org/index.php?mact=TDR,cntnt01,article,0&cntnt01idArticles=172&cntnt01returnid=57&hl=en

            • Black Flag says:

              Irenic,

              If government corrupts everything it touches, why do you believe it should remain in existence?

            • Chris Devine says:

              The IMF, WTO and World Bank are non-governmental organizations (NGO’s). The problems you raise have more to do with the marginalization of democratic processes than they do with corruption inherent in governments. In other words, market-based answers to global problems have created this mess, not democratically elected governments. While government bureaucrats may be complicit in these problems, this does not mean that government as an institution is at fault. The problem is the intrusion of influence upon the government by powerful interests.

              You put the cart in front of the horse if you believe that governments control corporations. If that were the case corporations wouldn’t spend millions of dollars annually to lobby Congress and government agencies. Why would they bother wasting all this cash if they didn’t expect to get something in return? I doubt it’s mercy their looking for, more than likely it’s deregulation and access to public resources and tax dollars.

              • Black Flag says:

                The IMF, WTO and World Bank are non-governmental organizations (NGO’s). The problems you raise have more to do with the marginalization of democratic processes than they do with corruption inherent in governments.

                Democracy is a governmental process and is inherently corrupt.

                It marries diffuse responsibility (“hey, I was only one vote – everyone else voted to slaughter (pick minority from list) too!”) with unlimited justification (“Hey, majority makes it right!!!”)

                Democracy will be written in history as the magna opus of tyranny.

                In other words, market-based answers to global problems have created this mess, not democratically elected governments.

                Every NGO depends on government for its funding – therefore, they are no example of ‘market-based’ answers but the exact opposite.

                NGO represent the outer tentacles of fascism – privately run, government controlled.

                You put the cart in front of the horse if you believe that governments control corporations.

                Government DOES control corporations, Chris.

                A company exists solely by grant from government. Every company is created by a government law to be a legal person.

                Without government, companies do not exist.

                Corporations understand perfectly who their God-creator is – and pray and give homage to their God in many forms including sacrifices.

                If that were the case corporations wouldn’t spend millions of dollars annually to lobby Congress and government agencies.

                It is incumbent on the creation to attempt to improve itself. The easiest way for any creation to improve itself is to appeal to its creator.

                Man tries that via religion – the jury is still out if that works.

                Companies tries that with bribes to government – tends to be quite successful.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Explain to me then why half of the Fortune 500 companies incorporate themselves in Delaware. Personally I think it has more than a little to do with Delaware’s extremely lax laws regarding incorporation.

                Corporations started as government chartered ventures meant to provide a single service or good for a limited time. As corporations shifted to multipurpose, immortal, limited liability bureaucracies, governments have become less and less capable of managing their influence over the democratic process. The balance of power has shifted to the market side.

                While I agree to an extent with your comment about the tyranny of the majority, I think that a balance can be maintained between individual rights and the needs of communities and the nation as a whole. In my opinion democracy is the best option to provide such a balance. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

                NGO’s do not solely rely on government funding. I’d be surprised if all the capital for the World Bank was to be found in treasuries and not private banks.

              • Black Flag says:
  13. Black Flag says:

    Chris Devine said

    Where is the freedom in taking more than you need if in doing so you deprive someone else? Rand’s notion of universal self-interest seems to completely disregard the imbalance of economic power inevitable in a free-market system.

    But who is really doing the ‘taking’?

    If I earn more (which means, Chris, I did not steal it) why is that taking from someone who did not earn it?

    I sense you believe that wealth and prosperity is a zero-sum game. But by observation of civilization it cannot be such. We have more people and more wealth than ever before in history – therefore an increase in human wealth must have occurred – and not as I believe you assume, a loss for every gain.

    Further, there is always an imbalance – so the real choice is between power by violent force (government) or power by wealth creation (free market). There is no third way.

    This is the core problem is that Mises identified.

    Every form of government intervention generates an imbalance that seems to call forth a next step toward markets or toward further intervention. Government creates a problem by its intervention that then the government believes it needs to intervene to fix, again – and thus the spiral to tyranny.

    The only way economic power can be perverted is if it uses or seizes violent power.

    Thus, it is not the free market system that is the evil, but the belief that violence is justified to produce economic prosperity… and since the free market system does not adhere to such a belief, however socialism most certainly does!

    • Chris Devine says:

      Economics is a zero-sum game. I am sure you understand the concept of entropy. Wealth is not created any more than mass or energy is created. It can only be converted from one form to another. Furthermore, over the course of time there will be less and less available as resources are broken down and put in use. We might have dug up a lot of gold and oil but nothing is going to make any more. Economic alchemy won’t change that.

      • Black Flag says:

        It cannot be a zero-sum game or we would still be living in caves, so your assumption cannot be valid.

        Human action creates wealth, Chris. Life is not an example of entropy

        A tree is not a house.

        By the action of man, a tree becomes a house – and wealth is created – since a house is useful to a man where the mere tree is less so. I believe you prefer living in a house vs. living in a tree.

        Be cautious in using your understanding of the immensity and vastness of the Universe and insignificant place within it as an argument for using force as an economic tool.

        • Black Flag says:

          Corrections:
          “Be cautious in using your understanding of the immensity and vastness of the Universe and our insignificant place within it as an argument for using force as an economic tool.”

        • Chris Devine says:

          While the universe is vast our grasp doesn’t really reach beyond our stratosphere. Trees may not be houses, but what will we do when we run out of trees? Or food? Or land to develop? Or oil? Or gold? Or x, y, and z? Scarcity is inevitable and building a house doesn’t make more trees.

          • If the current administration gets their way, and science builds machines to remove CO2 from the air, we won’t have to worry about trees or food anymore, they won’t grow. Sorry, that’s another subject for another day. The entire govt. remings me of a herd of post turtles!

            G!

          • Black Flag says:

            Hypothetical circumstances that are – even conceptuallyincredibly unlikely – are not an argument for violence.

            Let’s get clear.

            Economic scarcity is not defined by the hypothetical, non-existence of a substance – it is that everyone cannot have everything.

            Economics provides a rational means (and understanding) of obtaining and distributing goods and services.

            Economics will not tell anyone how to grow more trees.

            It will explain why a man will use his land to make a tree farm.

            • Chris Devine says:

              “Scarcity: term used to describe the limited availability of resources, so that if no price were charged for a good or service, the demand for it would exceed its supply” (Stiglitz, Principles of Microeconomics, 2nd ed.)

              Economics, if it is to be considered rational, must take into account that there is a finite quantity of any good or service. Ignoring the limits of scarcity is irrational.

              • Black Flag says:

                I think we agree.

                The point is hypothetical excuses do not count.

              • JayDickB says:

                The supply of any good may be limited, but in what case are we approaching the limits? Man has a very large capacity to find or create more of many things that were thought to be nearly exhausted.

                Although scarcity is a valid concept, good economic systems will make long term scarcity of anything very rare. If a particular resource runs out, substitutes will be found.

              • Black Flag says:

                That is why economic scarcity is not defined by the “lack of something”.

                It is the concept that everyone cannot have everything.

                If there becomes a shortage, economics will explain why the price goes up – the price increase reduces the number of consumers of that product in response to the shortage – which further encourages the production of alternatives as well as new suppliers of the now short supplied product.

        • Black Flag says:

          Chris Devine said

          Are you condemning the soldier who jumps on a grenade? I would consider charity altruistic. You’ll have to explain why this violates my own definition of altruism.

          I do not believe there is any value in attempting to understand why a man would do that or not.

          If he chooses such an action why would another man ask why (other than knowledge)? Is asking that question valid for defining a moral principle? I think not.

          Because some men prefer black and others red makes no real argument about freedom or violence.

          How could any system that makes the starvation of a man through the voluntary greed of another be considered moral?

          A contradiction.

          Either you believe violence upon non-violent people to be immoral, or you do not. Pick one side and stand by it.

          What could possibly be used to justify charity on these grounds? I can foresee a system whereby a small group of extremely wealthy individuals inflict a great deal of suffering on many others through their unchecked greed and power to keep others from doing anything about it (some might say we’re already there).

          They only way they can do so is by the seizure of violent power.

          As long as the People see this is justified, economic violence will increase. When the People see this as unjust, economic violence will decrease.

  14. Black Flag says:

    Lunch break

    • The final collapse has come with the election of Barack Obama. His speed in the past three months has been truly impressive. His spending and money printing has been a record setting, not just in America’s short history but in the world. If this keeps up for more then another year, and there is no sign that it will not, America at best will resemble the Wiemar Republic and at worst Zimbabwe.

      This sounds so familiar. I just can’t remember where I heard such wild talk before. Maybe that psychic hotline site I frequent.

  15. This just in: from Provda

    It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people.

    True, the situation has been well prepared on and off for the past century, especially the past twenty years. The initial testing grounds was conducted upon our Holy Russia and a bloody test it was. But we Russians would not just roll over and give up our freedoms and our souls, no matter how much money Wall Street poured into the fists of the Marxists.

    Those lessons were taken and used to properly prepare the American populace for the surrender of their freedoms and souls, to the whims of their elites and betters.

    First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects their lives. They care more for their “right” to choke down a McDonalds burger or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn around and lecture us about our rights and about our “democracy”. Pride blind the foolish.

    Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all tens of thousands of different “branches and denominations” were for the most part little more then Sunday circuses —

    http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/107459-0/

    • esomhillgazette says:

      DAMN. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Too bad the Russians can see it plainer than our own news media.

      I am embarrassed for my Country. Because the Government sure ain’t.

  16. Black Flag says:

    I believe we need to highlight and discuss the meaning of wealth:

    Wealth = the produce of the land and labor that satisfies human needs and wants.

    Quote:
    Economics is not about things and tangible material objects; it is about men, their meanings and actions.

    Goods, commodities, and wealth and all the other notions of conduct are not elements of nature; they are elements of human meaning and conduct.

    All Wealth creation requires an act of a man.

    Gold is nothing unless it is mined.

    Oil is nothing unless extracted.

    (The “potential” of mining or extracting has future value – that is the potential of use by a man – which holds a value. It is very important to note, however, that the present potential value of such goods is always valued less than the actual obtaining and use of the good. (This fact is not dismissed by mistakes of valuation – that is believing the value in the future to be higher than actuality)).

    Wheat is nothing unless planted and harvested. A tree is nothing unless it is turned into a house (or used as shade by a man or valued by the merely the gaze and sight of man).

    In all matters of wealth, the concept of wealth is meaningless without man.

    Gold on an asteroid has no value and represents no wealth until a man can mine it.

  17. I would like to thank Chris for posting today. It has to be frustrating to have everything you post be subjected to questioning, scrutiny and sometimes even disregarded…sorry but I am guilty of all three. Your posts spark debate, and that is why I come to this site. I don’t always post, but I almost always read the article and most of everyone else’s posts. Chris, please bring some others who believe as you, there are normally some, but not as many today which makes your contribution all the more valuable today. It is only though this type of dialogue that we can begin to understand each other, even if we disagree. Again, thanks!

    • Black Flag says:

      I concur!

      Chris has added a welcome extension to our dialogue – I am avid reader of his opinions – whether or not I agree with him!

  18. Black Flag says:

    Gold made a shot at $1,000/oz. – beaten back by some profit taking to $975….

  19. The day has been hectic and we have covered alot of ground. But now, as I am fond of saying, it is time to FOCUS.

    I gave you Rand’s system. Her defense of freedom and liberty stems from her view of man’s nature.

    Man is a living creature in this universe. We are what we are. We may have evolved from something else but that doesn’t matter. All that matters, to us right now, is what we humans are right now.

    We are living beings. As such our primary purpose is to stay alive. Individually and collectively, as a specie. This is the PRIMARY that I have alluded to so often. It is MAN. Wheter MAN was created by god or nature does not matter because it does not change our nature. The essence of what we are. A living creature that must keep on living or stop existing. Thus we have a built in obligation to live, or in other words a right to pursue our continued existence or life.

    The human mind and its capacity for collecting information, forming concepts and putting them into practice is the mechanism by which we are able to survive. Our ability and thus responsibility to survive depends on our individual cognitive abilities and initiative. The survival of our specie depends on the collected action of individuals all acting in a way that allows them to survive individually. Humans did not survive this long by being the strongest or the fastest animal on the planet. We used our brains. Therefore our obligation or our right to live is integrally linked to our right to use our mind to its potential. To act as is needed to assure our individual survival and thus our specie.

    The right to use ones mind and abilities requires, no it demands that one be free to do so. Free to pursue life and thus our continued existence. Anything else places limitations on us that can and eventually do threaten our individual and collective survival.

    Therein lies the defense of freedom and liberty. Which of course demands an ethic that supports and protects self-interest or man’s end unto himself. We can not use our minds to reach our goal of survival if we are not free from coersion. The use of force is not just physical but mental in its detrimental impacts. Therefore the prime ethic must be that no man may intiate coersive force upon another. To do so would be contrary to their needs and rights as human beings. And as such, would also violate ours. For we can not create an ethic or morality that applies to one and not all.

    Obviously the successful construction of a government of laissez-faire capitalism requires the ethical and moral standing of a public dedicated to the principles I have put forth. By its very definition it is free form coersion. However, if it is placed in the hands of immoral people it will quickly cease to exist.

    Thus I have two questions for all of you, which I think are really the only significant questions regarding Ayn Rand’s philosophy. At least as it relates to why we are all spending time on this site.

    “IS INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM REQUIRED FOR MAN’S SURVIVAL AND HAPPINESS?”

    “CAN MANKIND, OR LEAST WE AMERICANS, ACHIEVE THE ETHICAL AND MORAL STANDARDS REQUIRED TO LIVE UNDER A LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALIST SYSTEM?”

    I now look forward to your views on these questions. Because our future completely depends on the answers.

    Good Thinking and Best Wishes
    JAC

    • Black Flag says:

      “IS INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM REQUIRED FOR MAN’S SURVIVAL AND HAPPINESS?”

      >> Yes!

      “CAN MANKIND, OR LEAST WE AMERICANS, ACHIEVE THE ETHICAL AND MORAL STANDARDS REQUIRED TO LIVE UNDER A LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALIST SYSTEM?”

      >> Yes!

      I like these tests!

    • #1 – No, I do believe there are people that would survive and be happy without having individual freedom.

      #2 – Yes, with skepticism. My confidence in Americans to step up to the plate has waned in recent years.

  20. To All:

    Just so you don’t get discouraged and think we’ll never get off this kick, I would like to say that once we have tackled the questions I posed above. Once we have an ethical base to work from, one grounded with our natural state and need for reason, we can move to more spefic issues such as those Chris posed this morning under Post #1 above.

    Chris raised some very good questions. There are more as well. I have a notebook full of them. If we accept the meta, epista, ethics, and general political then we will have to build what I call technical details that address these issues within the base we have chosen. This will be the last check on the validity of our foundation.

    I wanted Chris and other to know I didn’t just ignore these questions this morning. It is just that they are not ripe for discussion. First we must settle on our ethical and moral base.

    I truly hope this is all starting to come together a little better for everyone.

    JAC

  21. Bama Dad says:

    USW
    Major highjack here, because Papa does not get to crow very often.
    4th grandchild born 12:45 pm today, 8 lbs 6 oz and 20 inches long, just like Papa she is adorable.

    🙂 🙂

  22. Birdman says:

    I missed yesterday’s discussion but read all comments this morning. I’m glad that Chris provided his view on this subject.

    In answer to USW’s questions: (1) Yes. (2) No. I do not believe that the United States will ever return to Laissez-Faire Capitalism, unless there is major collapse in our system resulting in another revolution. There are too many people indoctrinated into believing that government is the answer and will take care of them. Having said that, I am willing to try and start the process.

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