Objectivism Discussion Continued

Normally, the Thursday night post would be our guest commentary. This week will be a little different. Just A Citizen has been discussing some things with folks over at the Huffington Post. While there he was able to get a guest commentary from someone over there. However, the author is unable to participate here on Friday. Therefore I decided to post the guest commentary on Saturday night. He should be able to check in during Sunday and perhaps throughout the coming week. Instead tonight I will answer some of the comments from the articles presented on Monday and Tuesday of this week based around Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism. I got some comments from folks that my participation was not enough, which is a valid observation. Even if I hadn’t gotten that, I would have wanted to follow up. Those two articles were important to me personally. As such, I wanted to answer some of the thoughts offered. So I will post this thread and throughout the next day or two I will post replies to the article and my comments to those. Please feel free to follow my lead and bring forth any discussions that you wanted to continue.

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Comments

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not sure that you can follow this philosophy and engage in politics at the same time. Politics involves compromise. It doesn’t seem like objectivism has room for compromise. How can you serve the people if you’re really just out for yourself? For that matter how can you be a part of any group, including family if in the end it’s all about you?

    • Anita,

      I can understand where you are going with this. However, I think that your struggle with this is based on a certain misunderstanding of the philosophy. There are many who make this false leap. Being concerned with your own self interest does not mean selfish or that there is a “all for me, none for you” attitude.

      I am interested in me and you are interested in you. Let’s say you and I need to get to Vegas. It will take both of us to build a vehicle to get there. I want to build a fast car because it is my interest to get there fast. You want to get there safe, so you want to build a strong car. Neither of us can simply do want is completely in our best interest. If we fail to compromise, neither of us gets to Vegas at all. Therefore it is in BOTH of our self interest to compromise and build a car not as fast as I like and not as strong as you like. We have, in this situation operated under a compromise because doing so was in both our our best interests.

      The failure is to apply all four sections that Rand puts forth at the same time. Saying a man operates in his self interest wasn’t enough. But add that second section to it, the one where man interacts with reason, and you find that reason dictates that in many cases compromise is acting in one’s own self interest.

      Does this help it make sense?

      USW

    • Anita,

      I have come to think of objectivism and rational self interest as simply being what makes you happy. Consider why do you work? To make money that allows you to purchase food, clothing & shelter. I could survive wearing Goodwill clothing, eating Spam, PB & J, and living out of a tent. I much prefer steak & sea food, nice clothing and a brick home with as much goodies as I can cram into it. So I work harder than some, and reap the rewards.

      Children used to be something of an investment. As a labor source for farm families, and as a caretaker for us as we grow older. And if you do not care for your parents, your children would be taught they have no reason to care for you (0ther than hoping I leave them something in my will).

      Times have changed to where you can provide for yourself in old age, so why have kids? Keeping our species alive does you no good.

      I come back to happiness. Why plant a flower? You enjoy the sight and smell. Why have kids? You enjoy watching them grow. Why give them things they don’t need? For the joy it brings to you. Do you ever give money to a bum on the street? Is it right or wrong to do so? Anything you do for your own happiness, that does not harm anyone else, is right.

      • Fellas, USW and LOI,

        I’m with you guys all the way on this. I guess I just don’t need it spelled out in so much detail. See my reply below. Just don’t expect me to defend my thinking any farther than what I did. It’s not going to happen. My brain doesn’t work that hard. 🙂 My hands work very hard though.

    • Check this site out if you haven’t already.It gives you tons of Rands opinions based upon topic.It will help you understand Objectivism a bit better.

      http://aynrandlexicon.com/

  2. Peter Keating (from “The Fountainhead”) would say, “what do you think of me?” and Howard Roark (an earlier version of John Galt and Hank Rearden) would reply, “but I don’t think of you.”

    The point is that regardless of what politics looks like everywhere else, your choices are yours and are not based on anything but yourself. You can’t control how twisted and corrupt our political system is, but you can control your own politics. All that Rand is asking is for some good old fashioned personal responsibility backed by reason. No one can be a victim in Rand’s ideal society, because everyone has been empowered to think and act for themselves.

    • Icomeanon,

      Excellent thoughts. You hit the nail on the head when you state that Rand is looking for reason to be the force behind our actions.

      However, there can be victims. This is because someone acting in their own self interest may make you a victim if their doing so prohibits you from doing so yourself. Today’s political system is a fine example. Politicians act in their own self interest every day, and the American people are victims of this regardless of their individual beliefs or philosophy.

      USW

  3. Ray Hawkins says:

    I have long opposed Rand and for good reason – her position as it relates to the manner in which Native Americans (or, in her words, “savages”) have been treated. The only way she, and supporters of Objectivism, can support the more disgusting aspects of Objectivism is to diminish and marginalize an entire class of people.

    Quote from USW:

    “Most who oppose objectivism do so on the false objection that those who believe in objectivism are selfish. This is simply untrue, and should be better understood. Rand describes this third part above: 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. It is entirely rational for this to be true. That does not stop the aforementioned opponents from simply labeling the idea as an embracing of selfishness and greed.

    The idea behind this sentiment from Rand is not that man should be greedy; seeking enrichment for his own self at the expense of others.”

    Now – quote from Rand at a “Q and A session following her Address To The Graduating Class Of The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, March 6, 1974″:

    “[The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using…. What was it they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves above it. Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent.”

    This Ayn Rand is a real gem eh? SO let me get this straight as it directly impacted blood relatives of mine – “any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent” is somehow “not that man should be greedy; seeking enrichment for his own self at the expense of others”?

    HUH?

    This is where Ayn Rand comes up short – I have touched on this before at SUFA and the raucous Rand crowd turns into crickets with b.s. responses like “well, ain’t nothing we can do about that now – what’s done is done”. This is why the USW statement “it is the only philosophy that actually has a base in reality” is patently false and misleading.

    Let’s work on another point:

    First this statement by USW:

    “There is no definition of self-interest that is offered, and this is no accident. Self interest is defined by each man for himself and himself only. Reason allows us to rationally evaluate our world, and thus determine the values that will enable us to maintain our ability to live. I cannot determine what is right for you, and you cannot determine what is right for me, in terms of what is necessary to live a happy and fruitful life.”

    I’m okay with this for this for the most part – but I acknowledge part of the price of living in an organized society is that from time, what is in my self-interest, is a decision made by others.

    Now, some related items – I find it amusing that Rand should insist that I determine for myself what is in my self-interest (in and of itself amusing – a baby/infant/toddler/child cannot alone determine what is in their own self-interest – let alone how we address the “union” of two people in a marriage – I guess that explains why Rand had relationship issues for much of her life), yet seems so prescriptive in how USW is channeling Rand:

    “What Rand consistently fought against in pushing forward was the concept of Altruism. By her own definition, altruism is the morality of self-sacrifice. To sacrifice is to give up a higher value for a lower value or non-value. Since life requires the achievement of values, not their surrender, altruism is a morality of death.”

    I suppose I should ask USW to define “value” and “Values” here – I do not agree that life requires the achievement of values in sense of a “value system” – if that were the case most of us would not have much to live for past age 30 or so. But I digress.

    I fully understand the argument that is attempted in that opposing altruism should not mean one opposes charity. I disagree. Let’s remember again that I, not you or anyone, defines what my self-interest is (and by extension what I can do with it). To attribute value in both sides of an equation in something “altruistic” (or charitable); for example, the time I spend in Habitat for Humanity; requires external attribution of the value perceived by the other actor as it relates to their self-interest – ooops. I thought it didn’t work that way? This relates directly to JAC’s confusion yesterday over whether it is “determined by two actors” or “instinct”. To take this further, in doing HFH I perceive my only benefit as happiness that I was able to achieve in helping another human being. A higher benefit for me may have been more time with my family, catching up on yardwork, reading a book, calling a friend I have not talked to in years, and so on. Am I worse for the wear? No I am not. How about the person’s house I worked on? I have no idea what their perceived benefit is – I can guess. They have a house. They can sleep safely at night. Whatever – I don’t care – because that did not drive my decision and there is no way I can weigh their benefit versus mine to determine which held a “higher value”.

    • Ray,

      Some of what you added here was relevant. Some of it was not relevant at all.

      The only way she, and supporters of Objectivism, can support the more disgusting aspects of Objectivism is to diminish and marginalize an entire class of people.

      Can you back up that claim? Rand said some stupid things at times. But I support the idea of objectivism. And I have not, and will not, do so by diminishing or marginalizing an entire class of people. Talk about generalizations that have no basis in the discussion! You make a claim like that despite the fact that I wrote over 4000 words in two days without diminishing or marginalizing any class of people. Your hatred for Rand (which seems justified on this particular position) gets in the way of discussing things rationally. Because Rand wrote the book, the rest of us are not entitled to our own opinions or interpretations? Since she said what she said about native Americans, and I like the philosophy she wrote about, I therefore agree with what she said about native Americans? Is that really where you are falling on this?

      This Ayn Rand is a real gem eh? SO let me get this straight as it directly impacted blood relatives of mine – “any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent” is somehow “not that man should be greedy; seeking enrichment for his own self at the expense of others”?

      HUH?

      This is where Ayn Rand comes up short – I have touched on this before at SUFA and the raucous Rand crowd turns into crickets with b.s. responses like “well, ain’t nothing we can do about that now – what’s done is done”. This is why the USW statement “it is the only philosophy that actually has a base in reality” is patently false and misleading.

      A couple of thoughts here. Let me first say. I hate what she said about native Americans. Sounds pretty shitty, and to be honest, knocks down my respect for the lady a bit. But that doesn’t change that her PHILOSOPHY that we are discussing has nothing to do with her statement on the American Indians. Does her statement contradict what her philosophy says? It appears so. That, however, does not negate the philosophy. It only shows that she was capable of contradicting her own philosophy. That is why your conclusion, that “This is why the USW statement “it is the only philosophy that actually has a base in reality” is patently false and misleading,” is absolutely false. You have made a case for her being a shitty person. But you have done nothing to evaluate the philosophy and certainly nothing to make my statement “patently false and misleading”. If it helps, forget what Rand did. Pretend that we don’t know who wrote the philosophy that I posted. Now evaluate without letting your dislike for the author cloud your vision.

      Nolan Ryan was a great pitcher. I once watched him get lit up for 8 runs in an inning and a third. Does that negate the 300+ games that he was a hall of fame pitcher? Of course not. I knew a guy that was a bible thumper who practiced non-violence consistently. He preached that violence never solved anything. One day I overheard him saying to someone, who had been shorted in a deal, that the deal welcher deserved a punch in the face. Was his position here in contradiction to his philosophy that I had heard for years? Yes. Did it make his philosophy of non-violence invalid? Of course not. You can hate what stance Rand took on this issue. That is OK and justified. But rejecting her philosophy because of a single stance she took personally is not rational. It is allowing your emotions over this one issue cloud your ability to SEPARATELY evaluate the philosophy we are discussing.

      “There is no definition of self-interest that is offered, and this is no accident. Self interest is defined by each man for himself and himself only. Reason allows us to rationally evaluate our world, and thus determine the values that will enable us to maintain our ability to live. I cannot determine what is right for you, and you cannot determine what is right for me, in terms of what is necessary to live a happy and fruitful life.”

      I’m okay with this for this for the most part – but I acknowledge part of the price of living in an organized society is that from time, what is in my self-interest, is a decision made by others.

      How on earth is a decision made by others in your self interest? I can agree that others may make a decision that is in your self interest as a result. But how is having that decision made by them rather than making it yourself in your self interest? How is trusting your self interest to the decisions of others a good thing. In my opinion it is little more than a bad gamble. You are abdicating your ability to make the decision that you know is in your own self interest in the hope that you get a similar outcome when someone else makes the decision for you.

      I fully understand the argument that is attempted in that opposing altruism should not mean one opposes charity. I disagree. Let’s remember again that I, not you or anyone, defines what my self-interest is (and by extension what I can do with it). To attribute value in both sides of an equation in something “altruistic” (or charitable); for example, the time I spend in Habitat for Humanity; requires external attribution of the value perceived by the other actor as it relates to their self-interest – ooops. I thought it didn’t work that way? This relates directly to JAC’s confusion yesterday over whether it is “determined by two actors” or “instinct”. To take this further, in doing HFH I perceive my only benefit as happiness that I was able to achieve in helping another human being. A higher benefit for me may have been more time with my family, catching up on yardwork, reading a book, calling a friend I have not talked to in years, and so on. Am I worse for the wear? No I am not. How about the person’s house I worked on? I have no idea what their perceived benefit is – I can guess. They have a house. They can sleep safely at night. Whatever – I don’t care – because that did not drive my decision and there is no way I can weigh their benefit versus mine to determine which held a “higher value”.

      I had to read this paragraph three times, so forgive me if I am missing your point. YOU chose to work on a HFH home rather than spend time with your family or whatever else you may have done with that time. Obviously YOU found higher value in taking your time and spending it there rather than doing other things. If YOU found higher value there, then you were doing exactly what was in your own self interest. How is that difficult to understand? If doing so had not been more valuable to you than whatever else you might have done, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE DONE IT! You don’t have to work extra hard to apply some numeric value or a measurable value to the task. You decided that working on that HFH house would make you happy, for a multitude of reasons. And you pursued your own self interests by gaining that happiness.

      Your primary mistake in this paragraph, if I understand it correctly, is this: You somehow have made the mistake of believing that you have to understand the benefit that the person on the other side of the equation gets from the deal. What that family gained by you working on the HFH house is irrelevant here. They worked in their own self interest. That is as far as you have to care in this decision. The only thing that you have to factor in is the value of the time spent working on the house relative to spending the time with family or some other endeavor. Operating for your own self interest, you will use your time to do whatever you determine is most valuable to YOU. Both parties operated in their own self interest. That is all that matters. See, that is how charity happens even though opponents of objectivism cannot fathom it. Does that make sense?

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        @USW – have to respond piecemeal due to hectic schedule today.

        On the topic of marginalizing and diminishing an entire class of people – you’ve asked me to back up this claim.

        I was referring to Native Americans and her comments which I quoted in my original posting. I think her position on this is quite obvious and I’ve heard nary a valid argument to dispute why the notions of self-interest do not align directly with her advocated way in which Native Americans were treated – I’m simply told “yeah, she was wrong on that one”. My position is that the very root of objectivism has undermined it by her mere application of it against the context of history. (and for clarity sake – while I have ancestral roots in the Ojibwa tribe, I give no one a free pass in any of those communities to use victimization to legitimize the way the use casinos and gambling to undermine their own people)

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          @USW – your next section was directly related to the first; so…..

          And to use your Nolan Ryan example – the issue would not be in a single game – the issue would be if he always used a doctored baseball to throw his pitches. If the root of objectivism necessitates diminishing one entire class of people it can be used to diminish ANY class of people.

        • Ray,

          That is an interesting way to look at it. You haven’t heard an objection to her position based on objectivism. You have only heard us say that her position on this subject was not in line with objectivism as a philosophy. She advocates a position here that imposes on others in order to fulfill self interest. In doing so she is in direct contrast with the very theory that she espouses. What else is there to say?

          USW

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        From USW – “How on earth is a decision made by others in your self interest? I can agree that others may make a decision that is in your self interest as a result. But how is having that decision made by them rather than making it yourself in your self interest? How is trusting your self interest to the decisions of others a good thing. In my opinion it is little more than a bad gamble. You are abdicating your ability to make the decision that you know is in your own self interest in the hope that you get a similar outcome when someone else makes the decision for you. ”

        Tsk tsk USW! Its my self-interest is it not? Why does this preclude me from determining what constitutes my self-interest? Its in my self-interest to have safe roads to travel on. I have ceded to my government the power to determine when it is in my self-interest (and that of many collective others) for said government to make necessary repairs to the road and open new roads as needed. There is no gamble involved. My government is rather good at making road repairs as needed – you may not agree – and that is okay – because my self interest is mine and yours is yours no? Because, I feel, self interest is comprised of both the instinctual and the active determined, there are things I just don’t have the bandwidth to consciously think through – as long as I apply enough thought to a subject to at least say “yeah, the government, they’ve got ‘this one'” – then I’m okay with that.

        • It is your self interest. I never said you were not entitled to it. I merely attempted to point out why I didn’t feel it was in your self interest. There is a pretty big difference in asking how it is in your self interest and denying you the ability to determine it is. I would never do the second, but I don’t think the first is out of line. After all it is in my self interest for more Americans to see things my way rather than yours! 😉

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Also from USW: “I had to read this paragraph three times, so forgive me if I am missing your point. YOU chose to work on a HFH home rather than spend time with your family or whatever else you may have done with that time. Obviously YOU found higher value in taking your time and spending it there rather than doing other things. If YOU found higher value there, then you were doing exactly what was in your own self interest. How is that difficult to understand? If doing so had not been more valuable to you than whatever else you might have done, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE DONE IT! You don’t have to work extra hard to apply some numeric value or a measurable value to the task. You decided that working on that HFH house would make you happy, for a multitude of reasons. And you pursued your own self interests by gaining that happiness.”

        There is fundamental area where you have this wrong USW – if it is my self-interest for which I own, am I responsible and make value assessments therein – I am fully within my capability to perceive that for a given action or activity there is ZERO self-interest or even that it is so minimal to be inconsequential in me determining what I am going to do. To think anything otherwise requires me to unwittingly adhere to external forces to define what is in my self-interest.

        • Ray

          This issue over who controls self interest reflects a misunderstanding. It is not external in any form.

          If I say Ray, this is in your best interest does that actually change what is in your interest, from your perspective?

          Next point. You have tried to turn the concept on itself in a standard use of logic but in this case the test does not apply. You can not say I choose not to have self interest therefore self interest does not exist.

          The minute you decide that you have no self interest you have established a self interest of some kind. You may not assign any tangible value to that action but you have in fact decided that it is in your interest.

          And here is where Objectivism vs Other types of philosophies comes in. With Obj. you might spend some time trying to determine if that action truly were in your interest because you would think about its affect on your values or goals in life. In other lines of thought you would simply act, without thinking. The act might get you killed or it might not. It might satisfy some value or it might violate some value.

          I think there are two types of self interest to consider. I believe Rand is making the case that our self-interest can be objectively determined by thinking about all the values that comprise our entity. She included emotions as part of that feedback system by the way. In this sense acting in self interest is a product of some thinking process. If this is true then one could deliberately act against their own interest even after giving it due consideration. Now I am still not positive this is Rand’s view, even after years of reading and studying her stuff.

          Now the other option is the one I offered the other day which you did not respond to nor did anyone else. That is that you, as a human being, have absolutely no choice but to act in what you “perceive” as your own self-interest. I like this concept better because it seems to fit what actually happens to us. It may in fact be what Rand was getting to because remember, philosophy is partly aimed at explaining reality. Epistemology is how we think, not how we should think (lazy summary there so don’t get excited).

          So under this concept your “perception” is affected by the various input which may or may not be enhancing your true interests, of living a flourishing life as you choose it. In other words, the affect on your psychology from your life experiences will impact your perceptions. If this affect has been negative you could very well make decisions that you believe are in your interest that actually result in your death.

          Now while you may think your death is in your interest at this level such a value would violate the nature of humans as a living thing (metaphysics). That is that living things must “live” and they must continue to “live” or they become extinct.

          And in either case it doesn’t change the “moral” primacy Rand places on “rational self interest”. With all your examples, including the “I have no interest” it is YOU that is the center of YOUR universe. It is YOUR decision to make. YOU can decide to be a slave or be free.

          But if YOU are the center then I am the center as we all are the center of our own. With this moral base, nobody can TELL you that you are simply a piece of a larger “center” and you have been determined to be excess or chattel.

          I am sure somewhere in this I have either not addressed your concern or created others. So fire away.

          • Ray Hawkins says:

            @JAC – let’s discuss what you have offered.

            (1) With respect to self-interest – you have stated it cannot be external (in control) in any form. I disagree. There are numerous examples of this – I can take this argument and apply it to my marriage – they are frequently decisions we make as a husband-wife (we’ll call it relational interest) wherein the self-interest cedes to the relational interest completely and totally – even so where conscious thought with respect to what is perceived as my own self-interest never enters the equation. Never. And these decisions are not instinctual. Not at all. Another example is with with respect to living wills – in making a DNR declaration I am placing the ownership of my self-interest in the hands of someone else – I cannot articulate or empirically define or rationally define every potential scenario where DNR must be engaged – I am relying on someone else trusted to make a judgment on my self-interest and relational interest.

            (2) If I decide that for a particular action, decision or activity I have no self-interest then for that particular action, decision or activity self-interest does not exist. As a condition of my nature and reality I will continue to have self-interest. I may also decide that my self-interest for the particular action,… is so inconsequential that it merits no consideration and does not factor at all into my decision – for that action,…. there is still self-interest present. There may be actions which are rooted in instinct, for these I will cannot initially consciously make a value judgment on self-interest – self-interest exists within that particular domain of action.

            Make sense?

            • Ray

              NO, it doesn’t. But I bet you expected that. I do understand your points better though so now I can respond.

              (1) With respect to self-interest – you have stated it cannot be external (in control) in any form.”

              Not exactly, what I said is that only you can determine what it means to you. I can not impose what you perceive as your interest upon you. You will take my advice or direction and accept it or reject it for a myriad of reasons. But what you settle on is YOURS.

              In order for an external to impose this upon you, you would have to accept it as presented, without question and without any thought what so ever. I say that is impossible for a normally functioning human. Because you can not recognize and accept without at least some level of thought.

              “I disagree. There are numerous examples of this – I can take this argument and apply it to my marriage – they are frequently decisions we make as a husband-wife (we’ll call it relational interest) wherein the self-interest cedes to the relational interest completely and totally – even so where conscious thought with respect to what is perceived as my own self-interest never enters the equation. Never. And these decisions are not instinctual. Not at all.”

              You are confusing self-interest itself with the values you use to determine what it is and whether you achieve it. Your “relational interest” IS PART of your self-interest. I can can absolutely say, without license or degree, that if this is not the case, your marriage is doomed and you may be psychologically damaged.

              And of course you give it thought, even subconscious thought is thought. You, and others here, also seem to believe that “self-interest” must include some positive gain or reward. It does not. Lets assume you decided to submit to her wishes. You can perceive this as neutral and thus go ahead. It sounds like this fits your example.

              But either way, you did actually perceive the trade offs and made a decision. As I said, you can not make a decision that you do not perceive to be in your self-interest. You have still not provided me proof otherwise. And simply saying “I did not think about it for one instance” is simply fooling yourself. How is that even possible?

              “Another example is with with respect to living wills – in making a DNR declaration I am placing the ownership of my self-interest in the hands of someone else – I cannot articulate or empirically define or rationally define every potential scenario where DNR must be engaged – I am relying on someone else trusted to make a judgment on my self-interest and relational interest.”

              You are making the decision today, while your brain works properly, that you believe today is in your own self interest. You don’t need to think of any scenario if you don’t think it is relevant. Rational self-interest is not some super computer analysis of all the possible outcomes in the universe.

              Can’t escape it my friend. You are making a legal decision as to who will act on your behalf if you brain doesn’t work properly any more. You are acting in your own self-interest.

              You can’t go past that because as I said some time ago, philosophy of epistemology and ethics applies to the norm, not the outliers. That is true for all philosophies that I know of. Although I think some try to assign the behavior of mentally disabled to the norm but I see no reason to chase that over sized rabbit.

              “(2) If I decide that for a particular action, decision or activity I have no self-interest then for that particular action, decision or activity self-interest does not exist.”

              False. You have determined you get no value in the decision but decide to move forward. It is in your self-interest. Again, you do not have to receive value in every deal. You can even have negative value because for some reason you perceive a long term benefit. Kind of goes to the one about agreeing with your wife.

              “As a condition of my nature and reality I will continue to have self-interest. I may also decide that my self-interest for the particular action,… is so inconsequential that it merits no consideration and does not factor at all into my decision – for that action,…. there is still self-interest present.”

              The first part of this seems to conflict with everything else you said. The middle part mistakes the values you use to judge with the concept of self-interest itself. See above. It can be neutral.

              The last part agrees with what I just said about values. Any given decision could be positive, neutral or negative regarding certain values. But it will be a decision you perceive as being in your own self-interest.

              My point is this……….YOU CAN NOT HELP IT. That is how your mind works, whether consciously or subconsciously.

              “There may be actions which are rooted in instinct, for these I will cannot initially consciously make a value judgment on self-interest – self-interest exists within that particular domain of action.”

              I personally think the concept of “instinct” in humans is misused. We may react in a spontaneous manner. That reaction is in some way dictated by our total knowledge and what is accessed at that given moment.

              The big point is that because of our cognitive ability we are capable of thinking about our existence and what that means. We can set goals and then strive to achieve them. If we set those goals and then conduct our lives in some manner to achieve them we stand a much better chance of achieving happiness. This is man’s highest moral purpose. To live his life for himself.

              We are a social animal. So living for ourselves usually includes consideration of others we care about. Caring for others becomes PART of our self-interest.

              I’m juggling three things at once and just read my comments over. I think I am doing you an injustice at the moment so I am going to stop here for now.

              Please let me know what your thinking. It seems that at the end or your post you were agreeing with me and arguing with yourself. It that’s true don’t feel bad. I catch myself doing it all the time.

              🙂

    • I have never considered myself an Objectivist, even thought I did read, and really enjoyed, “Atlas Shrugged“. Rand seemed too forgiving of government to me; pretending it could still have some legitimacy somewhere.

      That being said, I think Ayn Rand fell short of her own philosophy in her personal life and in some of her views.

      This happens with a lot of people, even libertarians. They claim to follow libertarianism, but when they falter and come up short people look at their personal failures as flaws in the philosophy. But it doesn’t work that way. No one is perfect and everyone will stumble sometime. If you are smart you will admit it when you do, and admit you were not following what you advocate. Then, if your listeners are smart, they will accept that admission and move on.

      • Exactly Kent. Unfortunately we don’t have Rand on record recanting her contradiction or even admitting that she was wrong. But that has nothing to do with evaluating whether the theory is sound or not sound. I, oddly, don’t really consider myself a true objectivist, either. It makes more sense to me than other stuff that I have read, but I don’t find it flawless. Therefore, I cannot accept it fully. What I attempted to do with these articles is point out the flaws in some of the objections to the philosophy and discuss where I think Rand was right and where she was wrong. What I refuse to accept is folks dismissing it blindly on the premise of objections that make no sense or are not relevant. I will challenge that every time, as that is what happens to whatever I write. It gets challenged every time. It is a tough gig putting your thoughts out for everyone to peruse and pick apart. I admire that you have been able to do so for so long.

        Good to see you lurking around and I am glad that you liked the articles.

        USW

  4. I take words at face value. I don’t like to read between the lines. Maybe I’ve just been missing the “rational” part of the equation. But then if you say rational that opens up the door for different interpretations. That’s where I get off the bus. I want to know exactly what the plan is before we start. That’s just how I roll.

    Maybe I have a mental block because I am a team player. I’m not out for myself. It’s a wonder I’m not a liberal.I say we brainstorm ideas on how to run the govt as a team. Through compromise we come up with a plan and start implementing the plan as a team. Who cares what the philosophy is. As we’ve seen today there is never going to be a fool proof plan that everyone on the team agrees with so why bother naming it. Just do it. Jacs in charge of agriculture, Bfs in charge of economics D13 & Gman are teamed up on defense, Me and Cyndi will re-educate the dissenters .

    Now if you want to call the plan objectivism, be my guest. I’m with you ( and all the guys) because I trust your judgement. Call me crazy all you want, just give me a job and I’m on it. If everybody just shuts up and does their job, honestly, then we all end up at the same place. Freedom. As a team. And everyone wins.

    • I take words at face value. I don’t like to read between the lines. Maybe I’ve just been missing the “rational” part of the equation. But then if you say rational that opens up the door for different interpretations. That’s where I get off the bus. I want to know exactly what the plan is before we start. That’s just how I roll.

      Let me first say that using the word rational does not open the door for interpretation. Rational is used in the same way that reason is used. Rand’s concept was that “A” is “A”, no matter what else you want to believe. A rock is a rock whether you want to call it a marshmallow or not. When we say rational self interest, we are saying self interest using reason as a way of determining it. Using reason literally means seeing that A is A, nothing more and nothing less. Operating in rational self interest is understanding that if you decide that a course of action is in your best interest, you should must do so using reason as a means of evaluating that decision. Planning to buy a new shirt because you will save money for it is operating in rational self interest. Planning to buy a shirt because you believe there will be a money tree outside the store when you get there is not.

      Maybe I have a mental block because I am a team player. I’m not out for myself. It’s a wonder I’m not a liberal.I say we brainstorm ideas on how to run the govt as a team. Through compromise we come up with a plan and start implementing the plan as a team. Who cares what the philosophy is. As we’ve seen today there is never going to be a fool proof plan that everyone on the team agrees with so why bother naming it. Just do it. Jacs in charge of agriculture, Bfs in charge of economics D13 & Gman are teamed up on defense, Me and Cyndi will re-educate the dissenters .

      Are you still a team player if you believe that the rest of the team is doing things that will hurt you? If so, you are not operating in your own self interest. That simply isn’t rational. I am also a team player. It is in my own self interest to operate within a team, because as a team we can accomplish more than we can without the team. Greater success is in my best interest! The day I believe that my team does not yield better results for my self interest, I will no longer play on that team. Hence my current disdain for the GOP. Being a part of that team was no longer in my self interest.

      You are right, there will never be a foolproof plan that everyone agrees on. But refusing to understand the basic foundation of our path forward is a definite plan for failure. If all those individuals don’t agree on the foundation, each will operate in a way that will ensure that we don’t succeed. BF will implement plans that get in the way of D13.

      If everybody just shuts up and does their job, honestly, then we all end up at the same place. Freedom. As a team. And everyone wins.

      THAT is the problem. We won’t all end up in the same place if we don’t first agree on where we are going. Give ten of us each a car and say, “see you at freedom.” JAC will end up at Freedom, Montana. D13 will be waiting in Freedom, Texas. Cyndi will be on a Freedom Island with a very wet interior of her car. On the other hand. Tell all ten that we have to meet in Freedom, North Carolina at the main street diner. Tell them that how they get there is up to them, but they can’t steal or cheat to get there. THEN we will all get there. That is why we have to care what the philosophy is. It is the foundation for where we are going. It is the statement of the rules of the game.

      • I’ll try my darndest to answer you but I agree facts are facts and the fact here is that you guys are just deeper thinkers than I am.

        I agree with your definition of ‘rational’. Of course you’re not going to make decisions that are going to end up bad for yourself- that’s just common sense. There is no need in micro analizing that any further.

        USW: Are you still a team player if you believe that the rest of the team is doing things that will hurt you?

        Where did that question come from? If we are all trying to get to the same place, freedom, who is out to hurt anyone? You are assuming that people are evil. I don’t see things that way. We’re in a world of hurt right now. It’s going to hurt to get to freedom but that’s the hand we’ve been dealt. To assume that someone is OUT to hurt me is a stretch. If we’re all trying to get to freedom then we’re all going to help each other get there. Where does hurt come into the equation? I’m not so naive to think that we’re not going to come across some thugs on the way there but you just adapt to situations as they arise and keep moving toward freedom. It’s called leadership.

        We don’t have a blank slate to start with as the founding fathers did. We have to start from where we are and work BACK..TOWARD..freedom. BACK TO THE FUTURE So instead of trying to define objectivism (which to me just means common sense) don’t we need to define freedom, which means different things to different people also. From everything I’ve been reading here for 1 1/2 yrs freedom means I am born with certain rights of life ,liberty and the pursuit of happiness with as little govt in the way as possible. So with freedom as the ultimate goal of everyone on the team the only way to get there from here is to start dismantling what is there. How else are you going to get there? That’s why I started handing out jobs. Take your job, get rid of as much as everyone agrees on, and you should end up as free as you’re going to get.

        Now that I’ve given you (and JAC) an ulcer let me ask this. Why don’t we (USA) have a master plan as many cities do? A practical hands on approach of where we should be in 5 yrs, 10 yrs, etc. I want to hear a plan not a theory. The goal is freedom. How do you suggest we get there? (I’ll be waiting on that answer, no theories allowed) A theory doesn’t get us anywhere. A plan does. I can’t explain myself any better than this. I left you some Prilosec on the counter. 😉

        • Anita

          I do not have ulcers from your comments. I understand you are an ACTION person. But as I said when I came to SUFA, if you take action without a “defensible” philosophical base, you will fail at achieving freedom. Why? It lies in a couple of simple questions. When your are telling someone we want individual liberty or freedom and that is why we need action. What do you say when they say:

          Why do we need freedom?

          or,

          I agree, we need freedom from poverty and oppressive corporations, so we need socialism.

          Why is the individual more important than society?

          or,

          Do we not have a “moral obligation” to think of others first, instead of ourselves (heh, heh, heh)?

          or the most simple ones of all,

          Why? And, How do you know that is true?

          If you want to take action to establish freedom you must be able to fight and win the battle of the mind. A sound philosophical base is your weapon in that battle.

          Otherwise you might win the rest of the battles and in the end find you have lost the war.

          Let me make this suggestion. If this stuff is truly beyond you for whatever reason (I doubt it is by the way) then concentrate on the basics so that you can defend yourself against these types of questions. The light will at least start to burn with most people if you can at least put some rational (makes sense) ideas before them on the topics.

          So in this regard, let me make a point at your expense. One that cuts to the basics.

          If you want FREEDOM and LIBERTY and JUSTICE FOR ALL then the individual person must be the moral base in society. You can not justify in any way the need for individual freedom if you believe, or tell others, that we have a moral obligation to think of others first.

          That moral obligation puts “others” ahead of you. It places “society” ahead of you. You no longer matter unless you contribute to “society”. It is the moral premise that is Altruism, in its original presentation.

          Now here is a basic summary, talking points if you will, that you can use with others.

          When each of us is the prime moral purpose of our lives, we ALL become equal. How we get along in society is determined by compromise and negotiation without force.

          When others are the prime moral purpose, we become unequal. How we get along in society is determined by those who control the power to decide for the rest.

          Figured after all the fuzzy talk I should end this with some “beef” in order to address your nature. 🙂 🙂

          • Buck the Wala says:

            Hey JAC,

            Came across a quote this morning, kind of touches on some of the issues you’ve been discussing. I’d be interested to hear your take:

            “Liberals tend to think that freedom belongs to the individual, whereas conservatives tend to think that freedom belongs to private or local institutions such as families, communities, and businesses. The debate over prayer in school, for example, pits individual freedom against community freedom. Child abuse laws pit the rights of children against the sovereignty of families. Consumer product safety laws pit the asserted rights of consumers against the freedom of businesses. In such disputes, liberals are more inclined than conservatives to distinguish the interests of the individual from the interests of private institutions and to enlist the government to protect the former from the latter.”

            • Displaced Okie says:

              lol..Sounds like whoever said that was using the “old school” definition of liberal…I have always found the changing of language games that the politicians do (and some how manage to get away with) interesting….

            • I tend to agree with the assessment except that in the prayer in school debate it is individual against group, but it depends on which prayer in school debate you are talking about. Individuals getting banned from doing or wearing certain things is assigning the power to the group over the individual, meaning that kids getting trouble for carrying bibles, which was supported by more liberal persons, shows that, at least in many cases, freedom belongs to the “majority” or the society, rather than the individual. So, I suppose, I disagree with the assessment. 😛

              • Buck the Wala says:

                So, in other words, you agree with the assessment except where you disagree with the assessment?

                I find it a very interesting characterization, that is not all that far off base (of course, depending on how you define and frame the issues). To me he is not talking strictly about objectivism or any other philosophy, but looking more at the views of Dem (liberal) vs. GOP (conservative).

                See, us liberals are all about individual freedom!

            • Buck the Wala

              Welcome back by the way.

              ““Liberals tend to think that freedom belongs to the individual, whereas conservatives tend to think that freedom belongs to private or local institutions such as families, communities, and businesses.”

              JAC: Not true in my opinion. Liberals think of individual freedom in some cases but not others. They mix the concepts of positive and negative liberty on a whim, depending on what they support. They support my right to smoke pot but then take my money to support somebody else without my permission. Conservatives think in individual freedom but like to support institutions they feel are complimentary, not realizing that some of them undermine individual freedom. Both are inconsistent and filled with contradiction.

              “The debate over prayer in school, for example, pits individual freedom against community freedom.” Yes and no. Freedom of a person to display or exercise religion in school is “individual”. Trying to protect “group prayer” without exceptions is protecting institutions and cultural norms over freedom. As I said, contradictions.

              “Child abuse laws pit the rights of children against the sovereignty of families.”

              JAC: Not at all. Child vs molester, both individuals. I have not seen conservatives try to protect the family over the abuse of a child. But we do see liberals try to assert control over family matters using “child protection” as an excuse, while at the same time suing families for actions of the child because they are responsible. I find the liberals more inconsistent on this one, but both have problems.

              For example, exactly what “rights” does a child have relative to family?

              “Consumer product safety laws pit the asserted rights of consumers against the freedom of businesses. In such disputes, liberals are more inclined than conservatives to distinguish the interests of the individual from the interests of private institutions and to enlist the government to protect the former from the latter.””

              JAC: Ah, the trick of the effort. Try to draw what look like reasonable conclusion to support the fallacious argument they are really trying to sell.

              Consumer “rights” are not “individual” rights. It is a Group, just as is business.. This is a false claim in its entirety. Such laws eliminate “individual” choice in the matter and replace it with “god power” by a bureaucrat. I am not saying it is not a good idea to have safety rules, but the claim that libs and cons approach this as person vs. group is false.

              The supposed liberal “interest” in the individual is predicated on two assumptions. One, that people are evil, which ironically included them, and two, that I am incapable of looking out for me. Perhaps this is the “people are stupid” maxim.

              I have never heard a conservative claim that legitimate product safety is not proper or that a business should not be subject to some sort of rules in this regard. The complaints seem to arise from the inevitable “over regulation” that occurs.

              Buck, I think this piece is designed to play of perceptions of each side by the other, but primarily plays off the “liberal” perception of themselves and the conservative. I find it devoid of serious thought and more designed to rationalize “liberal” point of view as somehow protecting the rights of the individual against the oppression of some institution.

              As I started, both sides are filled with contradictions, making the entire piece irrational.

              I am sorry that upon first reading this that you somehow found truth in its words.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Thanks, though not so great to be back – work has been hectic and I’m aching for another vacation…

                The piece is of course designed to play off perceptions; it is a politically minded piece. Don’t be sorry that I find some truth in its words – I am, after all, biased on this score. The piece shows just how powerful framing the debate (and defining the terms) can be – as you and everyone else on SUFA is very aware. More time is often spent debating definitions than anything else!

                On the few issues specifically mentioned in the quote:

                1) Prayer in school – from the standpoint of school-led prayer as the issue, it can very easily be looked upon as protecting individual freedoms versus the public school (community) ‘freedom’; from the standpoint of individual students’ rights to carry a bible or private prayer, most liberals I know would support that individual freedom.

                2) Child abuse laws – I didn’t take this to mean molestation; I took his argument to be based on such things as child protective services, etc. The basis for CPS is, in my opinion, to protect the individual freedom/rights of the individual child.

                3) Consumer product safety laws — individual consumers vs. the collective corporation or industry. Again, all about how you define the terms.

          • I have just decided something! I’m already way ahead of you not behind you! 🙂

            What you’re saying we need to get to which is individual freedom, self interest, whatever you want to call it…I’m already there. So is everyone. No one is going to continually shoot themself in the foot. That is not rational. Everyone acts in there own self interest first. I have no question in that.

            Now what you present seems to be a cookie cut world where everything will happen a certain way everytime if you act in your own self interest. Sometimes there are just risks you take to move forward. It could end up either way for you. Or someone can throw a wrench in your plans that is not in your best interest which makes you take a completely different course. but you still need to keep moving. And youre going to keep moving in your own self interest. That’s where I’m starting. But you guys keep arguing about how to get THERE. I’ve been there waiting on yous to catch up! Now we’re headed towards freedom. So the thing to argue now is how do we get there. There shouldn’t be an ISM to get there. There should only be questions like Do we need this law to be free? Yes or No. Do we need this expense to be free? Yes or No One law or one expense or one regulation, or one department at a time. A continual focus of DO WE NEED THIS TO BE FREE? There is no ISM in those questions. We only need so much to be free. You guys are saying if there isn’t an ISM attached then it will be like swinging wildly in the dark at nothing trying to get there. I don’t see that jump if the question is ‘do we need this to be free’. You’re going to win a few and lose a few along the way but you’ll get there.

            Maybe the problem is we’re starting from different points. I already know where I stand and I’m ready to act. I can’t put it any other way.

          • “If you want FREEDOM and LIBERTY and JUSTICE FOR ALL then the individual person must be the moral base in society. You can not justify in any way the need for individual freedom if you believe, or tell others, that we have a moral obligation to think of others first.”

            I totally agree with this statement-the problem is moral obligation doesn’t mean you have to think of others First-it only means you should think of others. You are trying to throw out the baby with the water. There is nothing wrong and everything right with teaching man to be humane. Society cannot survive without it. But society as a whole cannot determine what is morally right when it comes to helping his fellow man because he cannot do it without causing the action to be immoral. Only individual man can decide what his obligation is-not a soulless entity. Your insistance that man has no moral obligation is tied to the definiton of altruism, so I understand your point. But Moral obligation is tied to what is Right and it is right for individual man to help society and his fellow man flourish but in order for this obligation to be moral it has to come from a free mans decision on how to fulfill this obligation anything other than that will cause the action to be forced which is in itself immoral.

            • V.H..

              Let me recast this as best I can.

              There is no real problem because it doesn’t prevent you from thinking of others. And because most people, by our nature, will think of others it does not prevent us from doing what comes natural. It simply means that you are not “obligated” to act in their interest at your own expense and they are not allowed to force you to act in their interest at your expense. They can not impose some “duty” upon you to act in a way that is to your own detriment.

              Moral base means that it is simply the single concept from which others are derived. As other concepts are reduced you keep coming back to the primary or base concept. Rand believes, as I do, that our own self-interest is that base. Now don’t get so hung up on just those two words. It is more elaborate. Rational Self-Interest was simply the name she selected to capture two concepts. Self and our need to use reason to determine what is in our interest and then to act accordingly.

              This moral primary does not create the circular trap you describe. There are many layers of morality and ethics which can be built from the base. The key point is that those which act against the self-interest of the individual person, are immoral.

              This obviously requires man to determine what self-interest means to him. But that must be done within the bounds of reality and how man thinks.

              Mankind over the millennium has come to realize that hanging out in herds is in our individual self-interest. That interacting with others in certain ways facilitates these associations. So to the extent that these interactions and relationships act to serve our personal self-interest they are good, ethical and moral.

              So the second ethical principle is non-initiation of force. Because to initiate force authorizes others to do the same. This is not in my self interest nor yours. And as a society of me or I it is not beneficial to us as a whole.

              And so these layers are built, one upon the other. Some are part of universal group, and others pertain to their branch of the tree, politics for example. But they are all consistent with the prime.

              By the way, moral is not tied to right, by definition it is what is right.

              So if you have a moral obligation to put others first, then you can build a political system to make sure that “moral obligations” are met. That is the purpose of identifying what is “moral”. If it is truly something that is deemed moral then NOT doing it should not be condoned.

              V.H. also remember that the values or emotions of sympathy, empathy, charity, consideration, kindness, love, etc are not eliminated by this self-interest standard. They are all compatible. But by recognizing yourself as the base you can evaluate each against its contribution or detriment to your own self. Your happiness.

              In case you missed the point, I am not saying this HAS to be our moral base for some reason. I am saying that it IS our “natural” moral base. That is why Altruism results in destruction. It is counter to who we really are.

              Simple example. Most of us are empathetic and will give to help others. But very few would give to the point of making ourselves or our loved ones worse off than the one we are helping. WHY? Because at our root, we are concerned with our self-interest first.

              In this case we will give, because we perceive that’s in our interest, up to the point it truly hurts us, not in our self-interest anymore. In this case giving and not giving anymore are both in our self-interest. It is the relative values received and expended that change the actual decision at any point in time.

              I know you are concerned that self-interest does not require us to think of others first. But the reality is that as humans we do think of others, at least as our equals. And thus we have empathy for them and will do what we can to help, if we can.

              The danger is in when we place them first as opposed to equal. That was the trap created by the Ethic/Morality of Altruism. And because it really wasn’t in our nature first the Church (Old School) and then the Govt had to use force to make us comply with this ethic.

              Here is one more thought, that just crossed my addled mind. If for some reason you should put someone else before your interest then you have violated the moral standard. But who have you harmed by this immoral act? Yes, that would be you.

              I am assuming here that you would not act for others in a manner that could harm someone other than you.

              So, does this help any?

      • I think what is missing, and what perhaps Anita is seeing as missing (let me know if I am on the right track Anita), is that there is more to makign rational self-interest work. There also has to be an understanding of rights and a respect for the rights of others as part of “reason”. I can use reason or rational thinking to determine what is in my best interests, and still stomp on the rights of others. I have to also have the part where I will never ask another man to sacrifice for me nor sacrifice for aonther man. I must include in my rational thinking a knowledge and respect for rights, such that my rationale does not include any actions which would impose on the rights of another. Otherwise, it does not work. Certianly, stomping on the rights of others could be considered ultimately irrational, but in many circumstances, it might not be. In fact, in some circumstances where enough power is in play, a person might find that they will suffer no consequences in their lifetime from taking advantage of a situation where another’s rights are stepped on. Rational thought alone dictates that they go ahead with such actions. It does, however, violate Rand’s “pledge” in Atlas Shrugged. That pledge included in it an implied recognition and respect for rights and equality among men. Without this, objectivism fails.

        I always thought of objectivism as objective rationalism, meaning that you are looking at what is in your best interests from a macro viewpoint, which includes all persons as well as past/present/future tenses. Not that one can be all-knowing, but looking at all people as equal, recognising the impact of actions on others and the consequnetial impact on ones self, and looking at the impact over time, based on history, etc. as well as its immediate effect. If one is not thinking big picture like that, rational gets lost in the expediency of the moment and the selfich nature of personal gain. Such rational thought is easily manipulated and is more rationalization of ill-conceived actions than it is true rational thought in the way objectivists intend it.

        • You’re right Jon. What I’m further trying to get at is that I think when you get down to it every person already starts from that same base. If you ask the laziest person that same question he will say he looks out for his own self interest first while respecting others. But that doesnt mean things will always work out in your favor (the lazy guy). So when it comes down to giving the lazy guy a free ride the answer has to be no and he has to deal with it.

          Let me put this spin to it. The USA has to be a ‘person’ itself so to speak, doesnt it? Is it in the best interest of the USA to give someone a free ride?

  5. USWeapon,

    I find it interesting that you say “There is no definition of self-interest that is offered, and this is no accident. Self interest is defined by each man for himself and himself only”. And then in the next paragraph you claim Altruism is a falsehood because no one can define it…sounds like a double standard to me. Your sentence about self-interest applies to Altruism just as well:

    There is no definition of Altruism that is offered, and this is no accident. Altruism is defined by each man for himself and himself only

    Works for me!!

    I think I basically understand the idea of self-interest. If I do what’s best for me in the long run, and I do not impose on others, my actions will benefit myself and society as a whole in the long run. Everyone wins.

    But the problem is we’re not quite that perfect. It’s human nature to look for an “angle” and exploit it. It’s how individuals and businesses grow and prosper. Where and how do you draw the line between competition and exploitation?

    I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, but from the descriptions I’ve read here, it seems that she paints a very “rosy” picture of the “men of the mind”, and a less favorable picture of the “workers”.

    Some examples:

    The concept is not that “workers” are incapable of doing simple tasks, but instead the resources and creativity would dry up, leaving workers with little to work with.

    The reality is that the men of the mind, the producers, are all shown to be men who valued fair trade. They weren’t ruthless or heartless. They simply believed only in mutually beneficial transactions. They never attempted to take advantage of people. They also did not feel a requirement to serve people who offered nothing in return. Mutually beneficial as a requirement is FAR different that manipulative and greedy.

    They don’t make any demands on society. They don’t create a situation where they say “change this or else.”

    And Galt’s speech about “their” strike is another example. He’s saying “see how much better we are than you!”

    The funny thing is, this attitude prevails here at SUFA about our society. Business good, workers and unions bad…

    But Ayn Rand’s attitude toward Native Americans is really the final nail in the coffin for me. It pretty much discredits the way you define “Self-interest”. It was perfectly fine for white men to attack Native Americans? What about “nor sacrificing others to himself”?.

    You point out that there is no definition of “self-interest”, so we are left to decide that on our own. Rand’s own “definition” of self-interest in her speech about Native Americans is a pretty selfish definition. The fact that the person who created this philosophy cannot even remotely apply it to past events, tells me that her definition of “self interest” is not so noble.

    I also wonder if any of you notice her constant use of the term “savages”? Could that be a an emotional appeal to get you to see Native Americans as “sub-human” and therefore justify their slaughter?

    One more thing USWeapon:

    What is most important to remember when hearing the attacks on objectivism is the fact that history has shown, time and again, that the altruistic mindset, embodied by socialism and communism, has never done anything but fail.

    Do you have any examples of a country or society that has embraced “objectivism” and has been successful?

    For the “altruistic” example, I’ll offer up the USA. After all, we have been on a “March Towards Socialism” for a long time and we’re still doing pretty good, despite the “end-of-the-world” predictions by many here…

    • Todd,

      I find it interesting that you say “There is no definition of self-interest that is offered, and this is no accident. Self interest is defined by each man for himself and himself only”. And then in the next paragraph you claim Altruism is a falsehood because no one can define it…sounds like a double standard to me. Your sentence about self-interest applies to Altruism just as well:

      There is no definition of Altruism that is offered, and this is no accident. Altruism is defined by each man for himself and himself only

      Works for me!!

      Actually, I don’t know where you are getting that I said that ” in the next paragraph you claim Altruism is a falsehood because no one can define it.” I clearly gave a definition of altruism as provided by Rand herself. Altruism is easy to define in that way. What I claimed could not be determined was who holds the trump card in terms of what value will be followed for the “greater good.” That is very different from what you are attempting to say here. Altruism is defined clearly. There is no contradiction. Allow me to break it down for you:

      Self Interest – Defined by the individual. You cannot be the one who determines what is in my best interest better than I can do so. That is why Rand offers no definition of self interest. Your self interest may be served by giving all your money away. Mine may be served by investing it in a worthy manufacturing endeavor.
      Altruism – Defined as trading something with greater value in terms of self interest for something of less value relevant to my self interest.
      Why altruism is fatally flawed – Because the “greater good” isn’t a person who can identify their own self interests. Therefore who gets to determine the value of an action in terms of the “greater good’s” interests? You? A majority vote? Do 51 people get to determine the value of self interest for an action required of the other 49? Is so, what if 51% of the people determine that it is in the greater good’s best interest to seize your home and 100% of your earnings? Is that fair?

      I think I basically understand the idea of self-interest. If I do what’s best for me in the long run, and I do not impose on others, my actions will benefit myself and society as a whole in the long run. Everyone wins.

      Whether it benefits society as a whole by your definition of benefit is irrelevant. If you do what is best for you, and do not impose on others, society benefits because men are being allowed to live freely without bending to the tyranny of the majority. Freedom and individual liberty are god given rights. Being allowed to look after your own self interests so long as you do not impose on others is your natural right. Anything else is tyranny.

      But the problem is we’re not quite that perfect. It’s human nature to look for an “angle” and exploit it. It’s how individuals and businesses grow and prosper. Where and how do you draw the line between competition and exploitation?

      I don’t believe that it is human nature to exploit. Perhaps it is in your nature, but I doubt it, because you seem like a guy with integrity. There is a very large difference between looking for opportunities to capitalize on and “looking for an angle to exploit.” I believe that like everything else, there is a small percentage of the population that lacks integrity. The other 90% isn’t looking to “exploit” anything. They are looking to prosper based on their own ability and hard work. You want to punish the 90% because of the 10%. How is that rational? Objectivism does not mean no rules. It would mean that rules that impose on individual liberty are out of bounds.

      What is interesting from the progressive mindset is that on one hand they claim that we need this tyranny to control gigantic businesses that will always succeed because they are corrupt and unable to be thwarted. On the other hand we need bailouts to save gigantic businesses that were failing because they were corrupt but too big to fail. We almost watched the collapse of some of the largest organizations in America who were operating without integrity and thus ruined themselves. But those businesses didn’t fail because the same group that claims they are too powerful to fail claimed we had to save them when they failed anyway. It appears that a lack of integrity will cause them to fail after all, despite your claims to the contrary. So which is it? Do we need to stop the evil giants or save them?

      I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, but from the descriptions I’ve read here, it seems that she paints a very “rosy” picture of the “men of the mind”, and a less favorable picture of the “workers”.

      Actually, that isn’t really true. She doesn’t paint a bad picture of the workers at all. She paints a bad picture of the “moochers” and the thieves. She portrays the workers as hardworking people duped by the government and the corrupt producers into supporting an increasingly hostile environment for industry. I wouldn’t say that is too far from reality. As for the men of the mind, she does paint them in a rosy light. And perhaps a bit too rosy. But is that really all that important? She was writing a work of fiction that was intended to make a political point. At least she admitted that she was writing fiction. Today’s media portrays their rosy picture of politicians in Washington as fact.

      And Galt’s speech about “their” strike is another example. He’s saying “see how much better we are than you!”

      No, his speech doesn’t say we are better than you. His speech says that what we did was a benefit for society. As a payment for this you demonized us and punished us. We won’t resort to the violence that you have authorized your government to do. We simply walk away, because we are no longer willing to help a society that thinks us evil for doing so. Galt’s speech wasn’t an attack on the people. It was a statement of where society was and the flaws in current belief. And his full speech would be as relevant if aired today in America as it was in the fictional world of Atlas Shrugged.

      The funny thing is, this attitude prevails here at SUFA about our society. Business good, workers and unions bad…

      I can’t speak for everyone else. But I can unequivocally say that this is a false statement about how I feel. Business is good. Workers are good. Unions are bad, because they are an extension of the government and its violence on non-violent people. Government is bad. I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone on this site say that they were against workers. But unions and government, which are different versions of the same thing? Yep, most of us think they are bad. Additionally there are businesses that I think are really bad. You and I simply disagree on how to take care of that.

      But Ayn Rand’s attitude toward Native Americans is really the final nail in the coffin for me. It pretty much discredits the way you define “Self-interest”. It was perfectly fine for white men to attack Native Americans? What about “nor sacrificing others to himself”?.

      I would ask that you go up a little bit and read my response to Ray on the subject of her stance on Native Americans. I find it to be ignorant and contradictory to her philosophy. That has absolutely nothing to do with whether the philosophy is wrong. Don’t let her faulty stance on an issue cloud your ability to properly evaluate the philosophy itself. Do you claim that the office of the President is wholly illegitimate every time someone who holds that office does something that goes against what you believe the office should be? If you applied the same standard to the Presidency based on the actions of a single President that you do to a Philosophy based on the stance taken on a single issue by a single person who believed that philosophy, then the Presidency would have never gotten past George Washington, or at best Jefferson. Whether you like Rand’s personal stance no the issue is not relevant to a discussion of the soundness of objectivism. If you found out Keynes raped mentally challenged children, would you abandon your belief that Keynesian economics is the right way to see things?

      You point out that there is no definition of “self-interest”, so we are left to decide that on our own. Rand’s own “definition” of self-interest in her speech about Native Americans is a pretty selfish definition. The fact that the person who created this philosophy cannot even remotely apply it to past events, tells me that her definition of “self interest” is not so noble.

      So what. I defend objectivism based on MY definition of self interest. What is your definition of self interest. Give me that and we have something to work with here.

      One more thing USWeapon:

      What is most important to remember when hearing the attacks on objectivism is the fact that history has shown, time and again, that the altruistic mindset, embodied by socialism and communism, has never done anything but fail.

      Do you have any examples of a country or society that has embraced “objectivism” and has been successful?

      For the “altruistic” example, I’ll offer up the USA. After all, we have been on a “March Towards Socialism” for a long time and we’re still doing pretty good, despite the “end-of-the-world” predictions by many here…

      Ah, the expected retort. If we cannot offer you a perfect example of the untried philosophy working, it must be invalid. But since you ask… you seem to be upset with Rand’s treatment of the Native American issue. Pick a tribe. Every tribe of native Americans you can find is far closer to the objectivist philosophy than the altruistic one.

      As for the USA, it is far too early to claim victory over those that predict doom and gloom for her. History is ripe with examples of societies taking the exact steps that the US is taking. And every one of those societies failed. That we haven’t yet reached the status of Rome is not proof that an altruistic society works. It is only proof that Rome still lasted longer than the US has so far….. right up until Rome fell. We were far closer to being objectivists when this country was founded. We have worked towards altruism in the same way as the Soviet Union. Let’s hope we realize that mistake before we end up just like her. We haven’t fallen yet, but we are getting weaker with each Presidential election.

      • USWeapon,

        Actually, I don’t know where you are getting that I said that ” in the next paragraph you claim Altruism is a falsehood because no one can define it.” I clearly gave a definition of altruism as provided by Rand herself. Altruism is easy to define in that way. What I claimed could not be determined was who holds the trump card in terms of what value will be followed for the “greater good.” That is very different from what you are attempting to say here. Altruism is defined clearly. There is no contradiction. Allow me to break it down for you:

        Self Interest – Defined by the individual. You cannot be the one who determines what is in my best interest better than I can do so. That is why Rand offers no definition of self interest. Your self interest may be served by giving all your money away. Mine may be served by investing it in a worthy manufacturing endeavor.
        Altruism – Defined as trading something with greater value in terms of self interest for something of less value relevant to my self interest.
        Why altruism is fatally flawed – Because the “greater good” isn’t a person who can identify their own self interests. Therefore who gets to determine the value of an action in terms of the “greater good’s” interests? You? A majority vote? Do 51 people get to determine the value of self interest for an action required of the other 49? Is so, what if 51% of the people determine that it is in the greater good’s best interest to seize your home and 100% of your earnings? Is that fair?

        I may have misunderstood your comments comparing Altruism and Self-Interest, but your clarification makes my point. Rand’s definition of Altruism is much harsher than any others I could find. The generic definition is “motivation to help others or a want to do good without reward”. You and Rand assume it is always greater to lesser value, because that helps justify Objectivism. But that determination is up to each individual.

        You also apply Altruism to groups of people and government. That is incorrect. It should be applied to the individual, just like Self-interest (if Self-interest were applied to groups or government, it would fail just like Altruism).

        Whether it benefits society as a whole by your definition of benefit is irrelevant. If you do what is best for you, and do not impose on others, society benefits because men are being allowed to live freely without bending to the tyranny of the majority. Freedom and individual liberty are god given rights. Being allowed to look after your own self interests so long as you do not impose on others is your natural right. Anything else is tyranny.

        I guess I wasn’t very clear with this, because both you and Black Flag misunderstood. I agree the focus is on the individual and the benefit to society is just a result of the benefit to the individual. Society is made up of individuals, so stronger individuals make a stronger society. Is that better?

        I don’t believe that it is human nature to exploit. Perhaps it is in your nature, but I doubt it, because you seem like a guy with integrity. There is a very large difference between looking for opportunities to capitalize on and “looking for an angle to exploit.” I believe that like everything else, there is a small percentage of the population that lacks integrity. The other 90% isn’t looking to “exploit” anything. They are looking to prosper based on their own ability and hard work. You want to punish the 90% because of the 10%. How is that rational? Objectivism does not mean no rules. It would mean that rules that impose on individual liberty are out of bounds.

        It is absolutely in human nature to exploit. It is really thru society’s “norms” that we learn to control that. And we all “learn” that lesson differently. At their basic levels, opportunity and exploitation are easy to define and separate. But as opportunity moves toward exploitation, it’s the fine line between the two that’s hard to define.

        It might be a minority that are doing the exploiting (but 10% = 30 million people!!), but they do a disproportionate amount of damage. Basically, most laws are written because of the actions of a few.

        I do not want to punish anyone. I want to limit the destruction caused by the 10%.

        What is interesting from the progressive mindset is that on one hand they claim that we need this tyranny to control gigantic businesses that will always succeed because they are corrupt and unable to be thwarted. On the other hand we need bailouts to save gigantic businesses that were failing because they were corrupt but too big to fail. We almost watched the collapse of some of the largest organizations in America who were operating without integrity and thus ruined themselves. But those businesses didn’t fail because the same group that claims they are too powerful to fail claimed we had to save them when they failed anyway. It appears that a lack of integrity will cause them to fail after all, despite your claims to the contrary. So which is it? Do we need to stop the evil giants or save them?

        I find this to be quite the tortured argument. If individuals and businesses followed Rand’s philosophy, this wouldn’t happen. They don’t, so it does.

        Actually, that isn’t really true. She doesn’t paint a bad picture of the workers at all. She paints a bad picture of the “moochers” and the thieves.
        She portrays the workers as hardworking people duped by the government and the corrupt producers into supporting an increasingly hostile environment for industry. I wouldn’t say that is too far from reality. As for the men of the mind, she does paint them in a rosy light. And perhaps a bit too rosy.
        But is that really all that important? She was writing a work of fiction that was intended to make a political point. At least she admitted that she was writing fiction.

        If the hardworking people are duped by the government and the corrupt producers, they’re obviously are not very smart. You espouse that here quite often, so I’m not surprised that you agree. And obviously the “men of the mind” are smart enough to see thru that.

        If the “men of the mind” left, they’re resources and creativity would dry up, but then it’s Rand’s and your(?) opinion that those left behind could not raise to the occasion and replace that? Doesn’t sound like a positive imagine to me – the only way for the workers to survive is to do the biding of the “men of the mind”…man, the more I think and write about this, it’s starting to sound like an owner/slave relationship…

        This is hugely important, because it drives the thinking of those who follow her philosophy. Business good, workers not as good, and unions bad…

        Yes it’s fiction, but it’s used to explain her philosophy, which seems to be: Business good, workers not as good, and unions bad…

        Today’s media portrays their rosy picture of politicians in Washington as fact.

        Is this really all that important?

        No, his speech doesn’t say we are better than you. His speech says that what we did was a benefit for society.

        If Gult’s actions are self-interest, why is he proclaiming that what he did was a benefit for society?

        As a payment for this you demonized us and punished us. We won’t resort to the violence that you have authorized your government to do. We simply walk away, because we are no longer willing to help a society that thinks us evil for doing so. Galt’s speech wasn’t an attack on the people. It was a statement of where society was and the flaws in current belief. And his full speech would be as relevant if aired today in America as it was in the fictional world of Atlas Shrugged

        .

        This just sounds like whining – you didn’t like us enough or praise us enough, so we’re going to take our toys and leave.

        I say fine. You think the workers will fail without the producers? I think they’ll thrive.

        And who is going to do the “work” in this new society that Galt and the “men of the mind” create?

        I can’t speak for everyone else. But I can unequivocally say that this is a false statement about how I feel. Business is good. Workers are good. Unions are bad, because they are an extension of the government and its violence on non-violent people. Government is bad. I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone on this site say that they were against workers. But unions and government, which are different versions of the same thing? Yep, most of us think they are bad. Additionally there are businesses that I think are really bad. You and I simply disagree on how to take care of that.

        So you think all business action is good? Business has never initiated violence on the non-violent?

        Without unions, there would be a whole lot more violence against workers. If you really thought workers were good, you’d support unions.

        I would ask that you go up a little bit and read my response to Ray on the subject of her stance on Native Americans.

        Oh, I did read your response to Ray.

        You make a claim like that despite the fact that I wrote over 4000 words in two days without diminishing or marginalizing any class of people.

        Really? You ridicule anyone who disagrees with Rand (terms like “haters”, “rant”, “dim”)…Obama supporters…progressives (all I could think while reading this was “why are you going off on this tangent?”)…altruistic fans…

        Can Objectivism stand on it’s own, or do you need to tear down others for it to stand out?

        I find it to be ignorant and contradictory to her philosophy. That has absolutely nothing to do with whether the philosophy is wrong. Don’t let her faulty stance on an issue cloud your ability to properly evaluate the philosophy itself. Do you claim that the office of the President is wholly illegitimate every time someone who holds that office does something that goes against what you believe the office should be? If you applied the same standard to the Presidency based on the actions of a single President that you do to a Philosophy based on the stance taken on a single issue by a single person who believed that philosophy, then the Presidency would have never gotten past George Washington, or at best Jefferson. Whether you like Rand’s personal stance no the issue is not relevant to a discussion of the soundness of objectivism.
        If you found out Keynes raped mentally challenged children, would you abandon your belief that Keynesian economics is the right way to see things?

        To use your example of the Presidency:

        Many people here say Obama is a disgrace to the office. That he diminishes the office by his actions. Rand’s words diminish her philosophy.

        When Washington passed power to Jefferson, I believe it was the first time in human history that a peaceful voluntary transfer of power occurred. If Washington had tried to stay in office, the USA would have been just another dictatorship, and the entire constitution would have tumbled down like a “house of cards.”

        Most countries have “constitutions” and laws and elections, just like the USA. But in many of them, since there is only one name on the ballot, and they ignore or modify their constitutions to fit their needs, everyone knows the “democracy” part is a shame. They “talk the talk”, but they don’t “walk the walk.”

        Rand paints a good picture with Objectivism, Self-interest, and not sacrificing. But Objectivism is not a job description like President. It’s a philosophy on how to live your life and how society should function. When that philosophy’s basis is self-interest, it’s easy for people to misconstrue that as selfishness. And when the person behind the philosophy then says that the slaughter of one group of people by another group of people (her group) is Ok, because the second group is better than the first group, the entire philosophy tumbles down like a “house of cards.” Rand is “talking the talking”, but she can’t “walk the walk.”

        Hindsight is suppose to be 20/20. Learn from our mistakes, don’t repeat history, blah, blah, blah. So how can a person who’s defining philosophy includes the statement “nor sacrificing others to himself” then view the slaughter of a race of people as acceptable?

        You say Rand’s comments do not invalidate her philosophy. On the surface I can agree with that. But we look at words and actions (or in this case words and words) to determine meaning, flush out details etc. Rand’s comments make it easier for people to twist her philosophy to their advantage, declare themselves superior (like Galt’s speech) and denigrate those they disagree with. That makes it unacceptable to me.

        Ah, the expected retort. If we cannot offer you a perfect example of the untried philosophy working, it must be invalid.

        This doesn’t make it invalid, just untested. You want us to throw out a pretty good society (with many flaws) for your version of a better society. I want a little more detail first…

        But since you ask. you seem to be upset with Rand’s treatment of the Native American issue. Pick a tribe. Every tribe of native Americans you can find is far closer to the objectivist philosophy than the altruistic one.

        Hey, I thought of this too. Why couldn’t Rand see that? Was she too busy looking for excuses to justify the treatment they received from the white man? If she can’t even recognize here own philosophy in action, it makes me wonder…

        As for the USA, it is far too early to claim victory over those that predict doom and gloom for her. History is ripe with examples of societies taking the exact steps that the US is taking. And every one of those societies failed. That we haven’t yet reached the status of Rome is not proof that an altruistic society works. It is only proof that Rome still lasted longer than the US has so far… right up until Rome fell. We were far closer to being objectivists when this country was founded. We have worked towards altruism in the same way as the Soviet Union. Let’s hope we realize that mistake before we end up just like her. We haven’t fallen yet, but we are getting weaker with each Presidential election.

        Doom and gloom has been predicted many times. Every society evidently fails. How can you know it will fail faster on the current path than under Galt? After all, Galt and his “men of the mind” probably would have left 60-70 years ago?

        Sounds to me like “When the going gets tough, Rand/Galt leave.”

        Of course, that’s in their Self-Interest, right?

        • Todd:

          Definition and explanation of Altruism as it was by its creator. This is from Wiki but you can find in anywhere you tie altruism and ethics together in your search.

          “Altruism (also called the ethic of altruism, moralistic altruism, and ethical 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 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 Catéchisme 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.”

          The Catholic Encyclopedia says that for Comte’s altruism, “The first principle of morality…is the regulative supremacy of social sympathy over the self-regarding instincts.” [2] Author Gabriel Moran, (professor in the department of Humanities and the Social Sciences, New York University) says “The law and duty of life in altruism [for Comte] was summed up in the phrase : Live for others.” [3]

          Various philosophers define the doctrine in various ways, but all definitions generally revolve around a moral obligation to benefit others or the pronouncement of moral value in serving others rather than oneself. Philosopher C. D. Broad defines altruism as “the doctrine that each of us has a special obligation to benefit others.” [4] Philosopher W. G. Maclagan defines it as “a duty to relieve the distress and promote the happiness of our fellows…Altruism is to…maintain quite simply that a man may and should discount altogether his own pleasure or happiness as such when he is deciding what course of action to pursue.” [5] Some philosophers reject altruism, most notably Ayn Rand who advocated the moral philosophy of rational egoism.

          As consequentialist ethics

          Altruism is often seen as a form of consequentialism, as it indicates that an action is ethically right if it brings good consequences to others. James Fisher, in his article “Ethics” in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, states the altruist dictum as: “An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone except the agent.” Altruism may be seen as similar to utilitarianism, however an essential difference is that the latter prescribes acts that maximize good consequences for all of society, while altruism prescribes maximizing good consequences for everyone except the actor. Altruism could also be a form of deontological ethics asserting a duty, namely to “live for others,” as its principle in spite of whether it has good consequences.

          So as you see, it is ever bit as bad if not worse than USW has portrayed it.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      “For the “altruistic” example, I’ll offer up the USA. After all, we have been on a “March Towards Socialism” for a long time and we’re still doing pretty good, despite the “end-of-the-world” predictions by many here…”

      Todd,

      You will note (if you are honest) that the US did MUCH BETTER back in the days when we were a (mostly) free society and the Federal Government had far less power. As we have followed the path of “altruism” we have gone farther and farther into debt, and abandoned more and more of our moral foundation. If you consider that “success”, then I simply do not agree with your definition of “success”.

      As a simple example, it used to be highly valued to be a man of your word and to pay your debts in a timely manner. Now, with the profligate spending of government and the disturbingly obvious intention of the government to never honestly repay all of that debt, it has led the formerly honorable individuals to feel that they no longer need to honor their own individual debts or pay them in a timely manner either. Take for example defaulting on a mortgage simply because you are “upside-down”. In the past, such a VOLUNTARY DEFAULT by a home owner was nearly unthinkable, and a person who did such a thing would be ostracized by his neighbors and community. Now this is seen by many to be perfectly acceptable behavior.

      Take for another simple example acts of charity. In the past, if you wished to help the downtrodden, you donated to a local church or charity, and you could see the positive results of their efforts right in your own community. In addition, a large percentage of donations went DIRECTLY to helping those who needed the help. Now with the pervasive nature of “government assistance” a large and ever-growing number of people feel that “the government will handle that, I pay my taxes, so I already did my part.” Never mind the fact that the government does so FAR LESS EFFICIENTLY than local charities, and a far smaller percentage of the money taken in ever actually makes it to those who need it.

      Those are just two small examples of where I believe that things are now far worse than they were in the past, as a direct result of the march toward altruism.

      • Peter,

        You will note (if you are honest) that the US did MUCH BETTER back in the days when we were a (mostly) free society and the Federal Government had far less power. As we have followed the path of “altruism” we have gone farther and farther into debt, and abandoned more and more of our moral foundation. If you consider that “success”, then I simply do not agree with your definition of “success”.

        That’s a pretty broad statement Peter. You’ll have to define timeframes and measures of success. Cause I think “standard of living” and “incomes” are pretty high in the USA right now.

        But we can define when the debt started. It was Reagan. His promises of Supply Side and Trickle Down and Reducing Taxes Increases Economic Activity Which Raises Tax Revenues has never panned out….

        As a simple example, it used to be highly valued to be a man of your word and to pay your debts in a timely manner. Now, with the profligate spending of government and the disturbingly obvious intention of the government to never honestly repay all of that debt, it has led the formerly honorable individuals to feel that they no longer need to honor their own individual debts or pay them in a timely manner either.

        Maybe Credit Card companies should quite giving cards and insane credit limits to people who can’t afford it?

        Take for example defaulting on a mortgage simply because you are “upside-down”. In the past, such a VOLUNTARY DEFAULT by a home owner was nearly unthinkable, and a person who did such a thing would be ostracized by his neighbors and community. Now this is seen by many to be perfectly acceptable behavior.

        I understand this Peter, but where were the bankers when these loans were given out? Aren’t they the professionals in this transaction? Every time I’ve gotten a loan, the bank has checked to make sure I had the means to repay it.

        In both of these instances, if you make a loan to someone with no means to repay it, don’t be surprised if they don’t repay it…

        The banks are at least equal at fault.

        Take for another simple example acts of charity. In the past, if you wished to help the downtrodden, you donated to a local church or charity, and you could see the positive results of their efforts right in your own community. In addition, a large percentage of donations went DIRECTLY to helping those who needed the help. Now with the pervasive nature of “government assistance” a large and ever-growing number of people feel that “the government will handle that, I pay my taxes, so I already did my part.” Never mind the fact that the government does so FAR LESS EFFICIENTLY than local charities, and a far smaller percentage of the money taken in ever actually makes it to those who need it.

        Ok Peter, so give more directly to charity to reduce the need for government charity.

        Do you blame government for trying to help or people who stopped trying to help?

      • Peter,
        I was short on time and missed this point:

        Now, with the profligate spending of government and the disturbingly obvious intention of the government to never honestly repay all of that debt, it has led the formerly honorable individuals to feel that they no longer need to honor their own individual debts or pay them in a timely manner either.

        Can you explain how government debt causes people to default on their loans?

        I don’t see the connection – because the US government has never defaulted…

  6. Chris Devine says:

    We can be rational, just not consistently rational. There are all sorts of cognitive biases that we have (that may have been advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, but are now liabilities in a system that expects us to behave like Spock).

    My suggestion (which I have stolen from people much smarter than I) is to reform our institutions to work in ways that compliment our skills and limitations and stop relying on faulty notions of human behavior.

    • Chris,

      Your words caught my attention and should be noted.

      You said : My suggestion (which I have stolen from people much smarter than I) is to reform our institutions to work in ways that compliment our skills and limitations and stop relying on faulty notions of human behavior.

      My only response is simple, let people be free!

      G!

      • G! & Chris,

        I like both of your points. Makes me think of our education system in the US, that lags internationally. Why do we have such a high drop-out rate? Could it be that the government imposed lack of choices
        makes kids give up and seek out what interests them? All our current
        policies push kids to AP & college. Germany teaches trades in school (wonder why their cars are considered better) such as electrical, carpentry, etc.. I guess the Dept. of Education doesn’t think we will need plumbers in the years to come…

    • We can be rational, just not consistently rational. There are all sorts of cognitive biases that we have (that may have been advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, but are now liabilities in a system that expects us to behave like Spock).

      Interesting thought Chris. I am interested in what cognitive biases you believe that we have that are now liabilities in a system that expects us to behave like Spock. Further, I would be interested in hearing from you in what way you believe that the system expects us to behave like Spock. I haven’t heard that before. So I am interested in understanding it better. I believe that we can be consistently rational, if we are allowed to do so. At least the vast majority could be. We have examples of people who do so. Stephen Hawking is consistently rational. So much so that people hate him for it.

      My suggestion (which I have stolen from people much smarter than I) is to reform our institutions to work in ways that compliment our skills and limitations and stop relying on faulty notions of human behavior

      I would agree with this. Don’t sell yourself short. You are a pretty smart fella. However, I would be willing to bet that how to reform those institutions would be drastically different from you than from me. Further, I would be really interested in hearing exactly what you deem as the faulty notions of human behavior that we should stop relying on. I agree with the sentiment, but I am again willing to bet that we have different versions of faulty notions of human behavior. I hope you will have time to discuss this with me here. I will be in and out throughout Friday and Saturday so it may take a little patience to have the discussion, but I think it would be worth it.

      • Chris Devine says:

        Most economic theories rely on notions of rational actors, that we pursue our best interests with reason and logic. Nobody behaves like that (at least not consistently). Risk aversion leads to many mistakes (as perceived by economists).

        All I’m saying is that the laws of economics (which drive a good portion of public policy) should not be thought of like the laws of physics or other ‘hard’ sciences (i.e. strictly deterministic and consistent). If we truly want to understand then we need to open our eyes and stop relying upon idealistic notions of how things should be (instead of how they actually are).

        Most of the choices we make are done without conscious deliberation. It is not a matter of slowing down or thinking harder. Our brains function on instinct most of the time and it is usually after the fact that we analyze any given situation. Perhaps ‘instinct’ isn’t the best term since it carries with it many confusing connotations. However, it has been shown through functional MRI’s that many (if not most) brain processes occur in portions of our brains that are not capable of conscious decision making. Long story short, without emotion and instinct we are lost. Pretending that we can overcome our own biology is pointless.

        • Chris

          “Most economic theories rely on notions of rational actors, that we pursue our best interests with reason and logic.”

          This is where I think you are wrong and it forms a base for much of your other points. Now I admit I am not an expert in the studies of economics but I can tell you when I was in college this was considered “new” thinking to a large degree. Remember the link you provided about rational choice theory. This was developed in the 20th century. My point is that the assumption that economic theories rely on rational actors is not true for most theories. In fact I’m not sure it is part of the two primary theories, Keynes and Austrian.

          “All I’m saying is that the laws of economics (which drive a good portion of public policy) should not be thought of like the laws of physics or other ‘hard’ sciences (i.e. strictly deterministic and consistent). If we truly want to understand then we need to open our eyes and stop relying upon idealistic notions of how things should be (instead of how they actually are).”

          I absolutely agree. That is why all things Keynesian or socialist should be discarded and the mixed economy model thrown out. Nobody can understand what the desires, needs, values, etc of society are at any time. The best way to deal with the reality of human behavior is to let humans figure out how to interact in trade without outside force.

          My only caveat, in opposing my pirate friend, is that I accept the need for laws that prosecute those who lie, cheat and steal. Introduction of coercive force into the mix in a way that puts us all against each other is not a productive nor desirable situation. But that is just my view.

          Chris, I understand that new science show the physical operation of the brain as you portray. But it doesn’t negate the primacy of man’s need to use reason to extend mans existence. We did not instinctively develop nuclear reactors, or the car, or the wheel, or money.

          Lets talk about what appears to be instinct (broad meaning as you imply). I understand you were a jock at one time. Then you probably worked on visualization of certain performance or activities. I did the same, especially in football. I also used to do this for certain parts of my work that required super fast reaction. I thought about them in advance. Action, reaction cause and effect. Not something most people do but here was the result. When that event happened I reacted as if by “instinct” while the other two guys got hurt bad. In another case I slowed to a stop in order to avoid a run away truck while the cars around me slammed on brakes and swerved wildly about. In another I avoided a head on collision with a semi truck by moving over while the guy behind me headed for the fields. In all three examples I had thought about the situation and practiced it in my mind long before it ever happened.

          Now on this MRI machine I bet it would look like I did not use conscious reasoning while reacting to those events. But did I use conscious reasoning to prevent harm to myself? ABSOLUTELY. Months and weeks in advance. My point is that just because we don’t use reasoning to react to a given event does not mean that we are not relying on, or using in some way, our prior knowledge in making that reaction.

          Rand never claims that we should sit down and consciously evaluate every action before we move. That is not what she meant by the use of reason is man’s only means of survival.

    • Chris Devine says:

      One minor point: why does everyone always seem to forget that Spock was half-human? He was capable of acting illogically [for dramatic effect], but he usually was portrayed as a walking logic circuit. But we’d be lucky if we acted rationally half of the time.

      Risk aversion and other cognitive biases might keep you from walking too close to a cliff’s edge because it’s a straightforward situation, but comparing the nuances of economic choices is never that straightforward. Our cognitive biases will keep us alive for the most part [survival of the fittest], but they won’t always help us make good choices in today’s world [and often lead us to make bad choices].

  7. Wet Nurse (a minor character) puts his own life on the line and is killed after he attempts to save Rearden’s mill. In this part of the story, Rand shows us that a strong sense of self and truth can make us lay down our lives for each other. This is not about whether giving is moral or not. It’s about WHY we give. Wet Nurse gave because he saw the truth and didn’t want to be a part of a lie. He gave because it was not in him to be false. Giving exists, but Rand wants us to understand it is only valuable if we give out of choice and not out of blind obedience.

    • Icomeanon,

      I do believe that this is an important part of what Rand believed. I would attempt to further clarify it though. I believe that in Rand’s version of the philosophy, the giving is done out of a belief that the giver is serving his own interests in doing what he does. Wet Nurse is initially a pain in the ass at the factory, but comes to value the belief system that Reardon has. He begins to question the principles behind the government’s actions. In the end he feels strongly enough about protecting the factory and protecting Reardon that HE felt it so important that it became in his self interest to do so. It wasn’t just a choice to not live a lie, it was a decision that his best interest was served with doing what he did instead of living a lie.

      USW

  8. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    All human beings are imperfect, and the vast majority of us freely admit we are imperfect. However, far too many of you still seem to think that Objectivism demands PERFECTION in order to work properly.

    It does not. All that is required is human beings acting in what they believe to be their own rational self-interest the majority of the time.

    As with any other philosophical system, one must recognize the Kent Principle: “Bad people are still going to do bad things”. This is going to be true NO MATTER WHAT SYSTEM YOU COME UP WITH.

    The important thing to remember is that the FACT that “Bad people are still going to do bad things” does not negate the validity of a system. If it did, ALL systems would be invalid by default.

    • Chris Devine says:

      Beliefs are funny things. Take addiction as an extreme example. The use of certain substances or engaging in certain behaviors like gambling leads to a rewiring of our neurons. There comes a point where we are incapable of reasoning ourselves out a hole. It takes clinical intervention in order to modify such behaviors. The intervention must take into account our ability to think things through as well as those neurological processes that cannot be consciously altered (i.e., those that must be approached through pharmacology).

      If you try to solve the problem with only one of the two you end up with relapse. Drugs are cheaper than therapy and we are often expected to take a pill to fix things. But without modifying behavior patterns there is not much of a chance of long-term change. Likewise, trying to simply modify behavior without addressing the underlying neurological basis is just as fruitless.

      The implication here is that reason will never be enough to keep us on the straight and narrow. Often we don’t even know what our best interests are and pretending that we can overcome such deficiencies purely through deliberation is rather naive given what we now know about how our brains work. However, we can make progress through cooperation and comparison. This cannot be done individually.

      Using truisms like “Bad people are still going to do bad things” is just avoiding the issue.

  9. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    Someone who leans towards Objectivism will evaluate an action in terms of how much good it does for him personally AS WELL AS how much good it MAY do for others.

    Someone who leans towards altruism will evaluate and action in terms of whether he feels it will benefit the greatest number of people possible EVEN IF IT IS OF NO BENEFIT OR PERHAPS IS EVEN DETRIMENTAL to himself.

    The problem is, if an altruistic action is detrimental to the ACTOR (the one performing the altruistic action), then as more and more people act in like fasion, there will be more and more people performing actions which are DETRIMENTAL TO THEMSELVES.

    Having more and more people act in ways which are detrimental to themselves is NOT beneficial to society as a whole, which is why altruism cannot succeed.

  10. Like money, the ‘system’ is neutral….it’s how people use the ‘system’. Great comments here & enjoy all of them. A blog with decent people talking. Anita’s ‘compromise’ is great if we could just get politicians to understand the concept.

  11. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    An update on the New Black Panther voter intimidation case dropped by DOJ about a year ago now:

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/american-hero-coates-negates-a-year-of-justice-department-spin-on-new-black-panther-case/

    • Good for Coates-it’s hard to stand against people who are trying to intimidate you. He has my respect.

  12. SUFA,

    It seems to me that many here are starting to confuse the various principles summarized by Rand with required action, expected outcomes, etc. There also seems to be some confusion over the structure of her system. Rather that rehash all this I thought you should try reading the following from one of the teachers of Objectivism.

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_pobs

    For those who have strong religious convictions, I urge you to not be turned off by the attacks on general religious roles in history. You need to grasp the over all concepts and then you can go back and test it against your teachings. Then you can accept, reject or modify one or both as you deem necessary.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      @JAC – curious who you were chatting with at Huff – would like to read the trail/string for amusement.

      • Ray

        I chat with many but only a couple have bothered to contact me directly to discuss.

        The topic is Education and I will include our back and forth for USW to include with the article.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      Sorry – but a quick guffaw:

      “The law of causality states that a thing’s actions are determined not by chance, but by its nature…”

      So the Deep Water “thingy” was no accident eh?

      Sorry……couldn’t resist. 😉

      • Ray

        No skin off my nose and it doesn’t change the nature of what we call an accident vs. an act of God.

        All accidents involve an outcome that is linked to the nature of those things that led to its occurrence.

        You are confusing accident and negligence or deliberate. But all three are still tied to the nature of the action.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      So JAC – often when we read of a philosophical system and its ingredients – we must ask – “well what do you mean by……”. The root of the philosophy must then clear and clarify what it is, and what it means – either by practice or by explanation. It’s the same as saying “….all men are created equal” and then asking “what do you mean by ALL and MEN” and “what do you mean by EQUAL”.

      So in the case of Rand – to understand Objectivism we have to understand what was meant by freedom and self-interest and so on. The manifestation of objectivism is in the views on Native Americans, women, homesexuals, relationships, marriage, so on and so forth – more than amply underscore for me that there is no universality or natural truths that are newly evident in objectivism, but merely rehashed biases based on her own upbringing and the times she lived in. Is it any wonder that when Rand’s corpse was barely cooling off that Peikoff of all people could not wait to disagree with many of the tenets of objectivism? (yes, I exaggerate)

      **sigh**

      Agree to disagree.

      Over and out because its 5 o’clock somewhere.

      • Ray,

        You seem to judge Rand by a different measure than you apply to others.
        Do you agree with everything Chris Mathews says? Obama? Marx? She said some really dumb things, and some that were not so dumb. If it takes perfection to meet your standard, he died a couple thousand years ago, everyone else has and does make mistakes.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          Egad LOI!

          Chris Matthews a founding father of a philosophy? Please pour boiling water in my ears.

          Obama? He’s a parrot.

          Marx? We aren’t talking about Marx are we?

          • Yin and yang, Ray. Marx and collectivism vs it’s counterpart Rand and objectivism. To me you are holding her to a higher standard than you do most others. Her “views on Native Americans, women, homesexuals, relationships, marriage, so on and so forth ” do not make her wrong on rational self interest.

            • Ray Hawkins says:

              I’m not holding her to a higher standard LOI. We wanted to go deep on Rand – we went deep. This isn’t about Marx. If you want to go deep on Marx and completely deconstruct then line it up, write a guest article and we’ll all jump in the debate. The fundamentals of Objectivism are articulated through the writings and words of its creator – that is very simply what I have pointed out. You can’t cherrypick her work and say “this is “it” and that is not” simply because it supports your own perception of what objectivism is. We take the product of her and evaluate it through the lens of the philosophy she initiated.

              • “there is no universality or natural truths that are newly evident in objectivism”

                Marx said “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. Great theory, but did not work well in the real world, no matter how many lives China and Russia threw at it.

                Henry Ford was interested in himself. The selfish bastard paid more than any of his competitors, improved their working conditions, etc.

                And Marx is relevant to her story line. Government take-over of business for the collective good.

                “You can’t cherrypick her work and say “this is “it” and that is not” simply because it supports your own perception of what objectivism is.”

                Why not? Is there a 15 yrd penalty?:lol: We both cherrypick, you just key on her being a homophobic, racist, which I see as being separate from objectivism.

      • RAY

        The base moral principle of rational self-interest, even as defined by Rand, does NOT support her statements about Native Americans.

        In fact if you read that statement again she is arguing from a different set of principles but she applies them in a way that in fact VIOLATES her own Base Moral value.

        We do not know why or how she justified this action except that she uses some other philosophical concepts to defend it. Like the idea that human rights don’t apply to savages, which of course means non-humans.

        Your attack is an erroneous argument itself. You fail to recognize the layering of moral or ethical standards and defenses. And then those that lie within the realm of politics vs ethics proper.

        The BASE MORAL principle is not corrupted by some upper level corruption. So to simply declare it rotten because she used a flawed argument for a higher order ethic is flawed.

        To condemn the BASE you have to show how this remark is linked to the BASE. Since the BASE includes the requirement that man can not initiate the use of force against another (that is the “rational” part of the base) then I can not see how you can make the claim.

        Obviously Rand’s personal flaws or lapses in rational defense are not cause to destroy a sound principle. No more than claiming “all created equal” is flawed because the men that penned it owned slaves. It may make them hypocrites but it does not negate the principle itself. To do that you must show a cause/effect relationship.

        Now I would like to comment on her commentary about Indians. It has always bothered me that her response seems so out of focus. Almost rambling in a way, and in fact does not address the simple question she was asked. From the other stuff I have read this whole thing sticks out like a sore thumb. It doesn’t mean she didn’t make it. And I will not try to rationalize it. I am saying that it seems like something is missing. The context seems completely screwed up. Maybe it isn’t. I don’t think anyone ever challenged her on this again. You would think they would have given the critics she had at the time. Maybe they did and I never found the response.

        I don’t know, except that because of the nature of her defense I can say it DOES VIOLATE her own Base Moral principle, as she herself described it.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          JAC – let me be as simplistic as I can:

          “To condemn the BASE you have to show how this remark is linked to the BASE. Since the BASE includes the requirement that man can not initiate the use of force against another (that is the “rational” part of the base) then I can not see how you can make the claim.”

          By intention and by practice, in more than way, Rand has demonstrated that “man” is not and cannot be a universally applied term which completely undermines the credibility and very foundation of objectivism. Since “man” is somehow not inclusive of native americans, married women or homosexuals then how in the world can you accept that the rest of the base?

          PUZZLING

          It is actually 5:00 and its Friday.

          Cheers to all.

          Beer so cold it will hurt my teeth is a short drive away.

    • I can agree with what was said in the link. I think that everyone here agrees that we act in our own self interest from the start.

      Is there anyone here who does not agree that we act in our own self interest from the start?

  13. Since I never read the book, I see no reason why I should contribute to a non-discussion. Why? As I understand it, the book was a work of FICTION!

    In case you miss the point – and most of you will – a work of fiction is the product of someone’s imagination . . . In other words, NOT REAL.

    • GA,

      I think some of the discussion has gone on longer than my attention span allowed. But I can see the merit in a book ranked #2 after the bible in some
      charts. Consider Marx, and the impact his writings had, and the Rand my be the free market answer. I also don’t see an issue in her presenting principles
      in a work of fiction (adding sex makes most things more interesting).

      And don’t forget, Marx’s theory was a product of his imagination. A simple ideal that cost over 100 million lives.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      G.A.

      Your assertion that it is a “non-discussion” makes one thing very clear… yeah, you probably should not participate.

      I don’t mean that to be rude in any way, I am just pointing out that since you seem to think that “ACTION” is all-important and philosophy is useless, your contribution to the “non-discussion” probably would not add to the discussion.

      You see, ACTION without thought and reason is doomed to FAILURE. ACTION for the sake of ACTION is MEANINGLESS.

      You have to know WHY you are acting, as well as WHAT you are acting FOR (or AGAINST).

      I believe that you yourself DO actually know these things, but yet for some unknown reason you REJECT the notion that your desire for action and your rationale for action are philosophically based.

      This perplexes me.

      I have no problem with you wanting to take action, provided that you can explain to us the underlying REASONING behind your wanting to take action.

      I think that you willfully misinterpret the discussions of philosophy here as a stall tactic designed to prevent people like you from taking action.

      From my point of view, that is not the case. If you know the philosophical roots of your desire to take action, and you can defend them rationally, then it is far more likely that your actions will yield the desired results. If you act WITHOUT such considerations, it is likely that your results will be nothing like what you invisioned.

      The French Revolution gave the French Robespierre. The Russian Revolution gave the Russians Lennin and Stalin. The Chinese Revolution gave China Mao. All because people chose to act, without first considering the foundation of their actions.

      I think that you KNOW the foundation for your desired actions, and I even think you COULD explain it to the rest of us here using the principles we have been discussing; however, I think you choose not to do so for various reasons. Perhaps you know that BF will chime in and say that any action will be futile for some reason or another. Perhaps you know that others will resist what you are saying in other ways. Fair enough, that probably will happen here 🙂

      The thing is, as I said earlier, I think you COULD lay out a reasoned, philosophically based argument for why you desire “immediate” action and what forms you think that the immediate action should take and why. Obviously that does not mean that everyone here would agree, regardless of how soundly your position was presented, but that is not the point!

      You seem to believe that many of us are merely here to blather on all day about stuff that doesn’t accomplish anything. You are wrong in that assessment. Anything that we do REQUIRES a sound foundation. A good house cannot be built on a crappy foundation. You may believe that you already KNOW the perfect way to build the foundation, and you are rarin’ to go to tear down the old house and build a new one! That is great! Share that with everyone here…not just the regulars, but the “drive-bys” and the “lurkers” as well. I see my role here as one of education. I do not see my role here as one of a “call to action”.

      I DO ACT, and quite a bit. Especially on the local level, where it can make a reasonable impact. My personal feeling is that the better people understand where I am coming from, and the more input they get from others here (regardless of the points of view expressed), the more likely THEY will be to go out and ACT as well. I just don’t want to be a cheerleader goading others into action until they understand WHY they should be acting, and HOW they should be acting.

      Action without prior thought and analysis is like blindly jumping off of a cliff and hoping for the best.

      I am pretty sure that blindly jumping off of a cliff and hoping for the best is not at all the sort of action which you are advocating, so the question is what action(s) are you advocating and what is the basis for that?

      In my view, that is the whole purpose for discussions like the one we have been having this week. To get people to try to analyze why they should be acting, and how they should be acting, to try to ensure that the OUTCOME is at least something like what they are hoping for, rather than the exact opposite.

      I know from your past posts that such discussions seem pointless to you. Since you are a man of action, I can see why that would be the case. However, even as a man of action you must realize that others must also act in order for your mission to be successful. Would you rather that the others acting understood the mission and the reasoning behind the actions they were to take? Or would you rather they simply act and hope for the best?

      I don’t simply drone on about philosophy here to hear myself talk or to try to one-up people who don’t agree with my point of view. My hope is that people (perhaps even the ones that follow along here but never even post at all) will take some of what I said, think about it, and USE it.

      Sorry for the extended rambling there… I hope it ended up making at least some sense.

      • You have exceeded my expectations.

        I put out the bait, and you took it.

        My point is . . . Drum roll, please . . . taking someone’s imaginative writings to heart can become a very dangerous application (the above comment about the writings of Karl Marx can be used as an example as well as this), as something my parents experienced (like many folks who listened to the original broadcast – the west coast got it almost four hours later)while listening to Orson Welles rendition of “The War of The Worlds” back in the 1930’s.

        While discussing various philosophical differences as our once great nation is plundered is, in fact, akin to that guy fiddling as Rome was being sacked and burned.

        So . . . Get up off your lazy butts and DO something! For starters you can make sure that everyone you know, and even don’t know, or even don’t give a tinkers damn about GETS OUT AND VOTES!

        FYI – Voting IS your birthright!

        • G.A.

          “taking someone’s imaginative writings to heart can become a very dangerous application.” You bet your bottom dollar it’s dangerous! It’s dangerous because it’s effective! Rand, like many writers, uses fiction to SHOW us what her ideas (philosophies) are. It’s like a parable of sorts. Without fiction, you’ve no real concept of what the philosophy translates to in real-life situations so Rand draws it out for the reader. Straight philosophical works are read by a small amount of people, but philosophy cleverly masked as fiction REACHES THE MASSES. The ideas seep in without the reader evening realizing it, sometimes. You like ACTION, this is the sneakiest kind: the kind that gets into your head and into YOUR actions without you even realizing it.

          Literature has always been the avenue that REVOLUTIONARIES have taken in order to share their controversial viewpoints without being assassinated (though some were anyway). The Federalist Papers were an important part our America’s early history- would you consider them an INACTION? Do so at your own peril!

          • The Federalist papers are NOT fiction.

            Neither is what is facing this country.

            Philosophize all you want to, but if you and others like you do not get the rest of this country up and out to VOTE in this election there will be NO country left by the time we have another general election two years from now.

            Remember this – Adolf Hitler was elected with 98% of those who voted in the lowest voter turnout on record in that country.

            Spread the word . . . GET OUT AND VOTE!

            • I’m simply stating that to ignore the power of any form of Literature is foolish and a grievous mistake for anyone seeking a change. Your call to action is a put-off with all your bold-caps yelling. People write that off as easily as swatting a fly, but literature can move hearts long before your sidewalk rants will encourage action.

              Appealing to the hearts through carefully written words gives people the motivation to do something. Yelling at them and demanding things from them simply gives them a reason to ignore you.

              Rhetoric cuts sharper and with more finesse than any sword.

      • Peter, Its the weekend. You will probably miss this but maybe JAC & USW will see it. I’m not trying to get smart but…..

        You’ve had 2 yrs to discuss the foundation. It seems you guys are firmly in the objectivism boat. Times up. What’s the next step?

  14. Check this site out if you haven’t already.It gives you tons of Rands opinions based upon topic.It will help you understand Objectivism a bit better.

    http://aynrandlexicon.com/

    • Very cool!

      The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man’s deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.

  15. Chris Devine says:

    If I could sum up my main beef with Ayn Rand it is that she thought she came up with something all by herself and that she only owes Aristotle a nod. This leaves two possibilities:

    1. She didn’t bother trying to understand what others before her tried to do (like Kant, whom she shared many ideas with despite her hatred for him). The fact that every man should be considered an end in himself is one of the key features of Kant’s categorical imperative.

    or

    2. She knew what others said but wouldn’t give them credit because to do so might undermine her cult of individualism.

    Human beings are social animals. We are not unique in this respect. While the personal urge to survive and reproduce is necessary from an evolutionary standpoint, the goal will always be the survival of the species, not the individual. This is why altruism makes sense. We can only experience our own lives individually, but without the recognition that we exist only as a consequence of others who came before us and that we exist in order to propagate our species we are nothing but mortal desire factories, destined to die regardless of our successes and failures.

    Everything we do and everything we are is a culmination of those who gave birth to us and those who live around us. Individuality is merely a symptom of poor communication. Without others we wouldn’t be here and there wouldn’t be anyone left after we die. Acting selfishly is not the most efficient path to the survival of the human race. Just like every other extremist position it ignores the complexity of life in favor of convenience.

    • We are individuals-we have the ability to think-we have the ability to co-operate with others-we know it is necessary to our survival-but putting a particular group in charge of everything takes away our individual ability to make decisions-to compromise- and puts the decision making ability into the hands of a few-it makes us slaves to the state-there is nothing noble about that-individualism doesn’t ignore the needs of society-it just lets the actual members of society make the decision. Your not talking about co-operating when you want a huge powerful federal government you are talking about controlling the masses by controlling the individual.

      • Chris Devine says:

        What part of my comment made you think I was advocating putting one group in charge of everybody else? The only thing I meant to say is that we need to get rid of all the narcissistic solipsism and this fetish of the individual.

        As a matter of practicality I think our laws should serve to discourage destructive behavior. But this does not mean I would criminalize all destructive behavior. Treating every bad idea as a crime to be punished causes as many problems (if not more) than it solves.

        Personally I think control is an illusion. The best we can do is influence. All I want is to increase the amount of positive influences.

        • Chris

          Perhaps you wouldn’t but what about the next guy to come along who thinks I am not the captain of my own destiny. That HE and his friends should help us in this quest to place others ahead of our own interest?

          My positive influences do not require you to change to conform to my way of thinking. You simply have to leave me alone.

          But your positive influences require me to change to conform to your way of thinking. You must “influence” me. The next guy might think he needs to “make” me.

        • Chris

          By the way I wanted to tell you that I thought your summary after point #2 was one of the best on the support for Altruism I have seen in some time.

          The vast majority of “progressives” or “modern liberals” can put the whole picture together when challenged.

          Obviously I disagree, but quality work should be recognized in ones opponents when it is has been earned. 🙂

          JAC

        • It may not be the intent of your statement but it is the consequence.

  16. Again late to the crazy Ayn Rand dance (busy week)

    A couple of things from above (Ray vs. USW): “well, ain’t nothing we can do about that now – what’s done is done”.

    Yes, that does seem to be a common theme here at SUFA regardig a couple of important issues (what I’ve noticed) … whether it’s the disadvange of minorities or handicapped or the absolute rape of the American Indian culture and theft of their land … and doesn’t anyone see the obviousness behind Rand’s comments about white men taking American Indian lands? Could that idea be any less vague?

    And, once again, who the f–k is Ayn Rand to tell anyone “man must exist for my own sake”? And why would such a philosphy be bought except for a justification of selfishness? It “almost” sounds intelligent but it is a bit absurd once the other variables of life come into play.

    Here’s what I don’t get …. if Rand states rationality need be the guiding force of our individual lives, doesn’t that discount what person A might find rational vs. person B? Please don’t give me that innane “universe is always right” argument. I didn’t drink that Kool-Aid and never will. Life just isn’t that simple (a formula).

    By the way, Ayn Rand was known to have more than a few “irrational” outbursts in her time (see a few of the youtube interviews with her). What’s up with that? Universe have a tic that day?

    Rand thought altruism evil and immoral. I find her objectivism immoral (evil is too strong a word). I defend the right of people to be selfish SOBs … but I suspect their lives are actually less rich for it.

    • Oh come on Charlie-I have problems with some of Rands conclusions myself but she isn’t saying everyone should be selfish-All this stuff that you are so mad about came about because of government power-they are in co-hoots with those huge business’s which you hate so much. You want to be a slave to the state, keep endorcing bigger government-you will get your wish.

      • V.H.

        Actually she is saying we should all be “selfish”.

        But she is not using the term as most people think of it. It is not “greed”.

        Selfish = With Self. It is one word to describe her moral principle of rational egoism.

        Selfless = Without Self. Kind of sums it up don’t you think? This is the actual meaning of the word using the original language as roots. To be without self. It did not mean “charity” or “concern for others”.

      • You have to start losing the dramatic statements already. “Slave to the state” … please.

        I’m a proponent of a fair government, not bigger or smaller. I could care less about the size so long as it is fair. For those claiming the government is now in the power of the big businesses I hate so much, think about how that happened? Some of you here argue this system used to be a free market but was corrupted by Government (and in the same breadth claim big business runs government). You can’t have it both ways.

        The free market created mega corporations, Wall Street, etc. and they controlled government, yes. So what the hell makes you think a return to anything near that “free market” (sarcasm intended) will solve the problem?

        Please …

        For those so in love with Libertariansim, how about carving up all the wealth and doling it out equally to all and then let the great “free market” race begin? Not interested, eh? Why, because you all “earned” that wealth by the “sweat of your brows” …

        Oy vey …

        • No the free market didn’t create big business the collusion of big government with business created Big business-and most business’s aren’t big. Just a select few. Look around you a few elite control everything and governmental power gives them the ability to do so on a huge scale. Man can be bad individually but put governmental power behind them and you have what we have now. The little man slowly being robbed of his ability to fight back.

        • Oh by the way-I think dramatic statements are justified. I think my dramatic statement is true.

        • Unless of course you actually believe that government gives YOU power. The little bit of power you have left is derived from that little page in the Constitution called the bill of rights which is based on individual liberty and “they” are in the process of overriding it everyday with the commerce clause and the supposed General Welfare Clause.

          • For you “general welfare” supporters, what happens when the government decides that for the general welfare speech must be restricted? Or religion? What if they decide that for the general welfare, elections should be delayed so that the existing leaders can “focus on helping the people with [insert catastrophe here]”. What if they decide for the general welfare they should take away property rights and overtake all businesses? Do you still support that clause? Which part of the Constitution takes precedence?

            On the other hand, what if it was proven that for the general welfare all gun control laws should be abolished and education and everything else privatized? There is some evidence like that. What then, do you still support that clause?

            • For you “general welfare” supporters, what happens when the government decides that for the general welfare speech must be restricted?

              I think, Jon, we throw it out and elect a new government.

              • Well we are pretty close to that. Let’s do it.

              • I wish you were right, but all we’re about to do is replace one set of corrupt SOBs with another (the prior set of SOBs), which replaced the prior set of SOBs before it.

                The two party system is now nothing but a bad and sad joke. Dems out Reps in/Reps out, Dems in … same shit, different name.

        • You have to start losing the dramatic statements already. “Slave to the state” … please.

          Yes, perhaps a more accurate version like “slave to your laziness and fear” would be better, since that is what allowed the government to get to what they are.

          I’m a proponent of a fair government, not bigger or smaller. I could care less about the size so long as it is fair. For those claiming the government is now in the power of the big businesses I hate so much, think about how that happened? Some of you here argue this system used to be a free market but was corrupted by Government (and in the same breadth claim big business runs government). You can’t have it both ways.

          What is “fair”? Is it all people have the same amount of stuff? The same skills? Doing the same things? None of that lasts, if it is even possible at all. The only equal thing is our rights as individuals. If a government is doing anything other than protecting our rights, it cannot be fair.

          The system we have was never a perfect free market. It has been closer at times than it is now, but government is part of its corruption. Big business only exists because of government, because of the government created entity called the corporation. Without it, we would have a very different climate among big businesses. Power brokers have to have something to block them, government power must be reigned in with law and the enforcement of the people. Business power must be reigned in with the power of the market and government enforcement of laws which are there to protect the rights of individuals. Right now, we have government and business in bed with each other. A separation of powers is needed, just as separation of church and state is needed.

          The free market created mega corporations, Wall Street, etc. and they controlled government, yes. So what the hell makes you think a return to anything near that “free market” (sarcasm intended) will solve the problem?

          The free market did not create mega corporations. Government created charters and corporations, set limits on business and enforced a system that made big business not only possible, but made it easier for big business to stay around, and to forge an unholy alliance between the power of business and the power of government. The free market did not create what you see now.

          For those so in love with Libertariansim, how about carving up all the wealth and doling it out equally to all and then let the great “free market” race begin? Not interested, eh? Why, because you all “earned” that wealth by the “sweat of your brows” …

          Let’s say we do that. All people have equal stuff. In a few years when the not smart ones blew their wealth and the smart ones gained more, the unlucky lost a lot but still strive and the lucky have more than most. All you fairness is gone. Was it worth it? More importantly, would you accept it? Would you admit that equal resources cannot last and that such a thing is a fantasy that has nothing to do with real fairness?

          Sure, people don’t want to give up what they have to enact such a thing, but the issue I see is that you don’t just want people to start equal, you want them to be kept equal. That is the real evil. Taking away the ability to improve one’s self by distributing their gains among all, whether they deserve or not, will destroy the natural drive of mankind. You go ahead and try to destroy humanity. I will stick with pushing for freedom.

          • Yes, perhaps a more accurate version like “slave to your laziness and fear” would be better, since that is what allowed the government to get to what they are.

            Intersting,. since I’ve worked 2 and 3 jobs most of my life (legitimate and otherwise), and recently work 7 days a week for 1.5 years until my job was outsourced (thank you free market). I don’t know where you get “lazy” from, but clearly the fear is on your end (the great socialist state, etc.).

            What is “fair”?

            That’s my point, brother. There is no clear definition of fair, which is one reason Rand’s philosophy is fugazy (fake). What is reality? So long as Persons A &B don’t agree, you CAN’T have an agreement on rational, fair and/or reality (unless you buy into that bullshit about the universe never being wrong, which is as accurate as saying those running things, CEO’s and the like, educated at Ivy league schools can NEVER be wrong), but then you’re dealing with pure insanity (never mind reason).

            The free market did not create mega corporations. Government created charters and corporations …

            There you go again. How do you think government did that, my friend? You don’t think big money had an influence? It protected itself through government and that’s what happens when there is no regulation … nobody looking out for the workers. Big money buys its way into power (and had done so from the start of this country). That’s what people like me take issue with. We don’t buy that bullshit about “earning it from the sweat of their brow” … we deal in reality there.

            Let’s say we do that. All people have equal stuff. In a few years when the not smart ones blew their wealth and the smart ones gained more, the unlucky lost a lot but still strive and the lucky have more than most. All you fairness is gone. Was it worth it? More importantly, would you accept it? Would you admit that equal resources cannot last and that such a thing is a fantasy that has nothing to do with real fairness?

            First off, that’s your definition of fairness, not mine … but, alas, let’s follow that road a minute. I’d have a much easier time accepting the results of all starting from the same place than I do now. You cannot argue that a kid born to genuine poverty today has the same chance as a kid born on Park Avenue. The potential for opportunity may be there, but real opportunity just isn’t. Likewise, the guy being foreclosed on because he lost his job is not in the same boat as the CEO who caused him to lose his job (e.g., outsourcing) while the same CEO ran his corporation into the ground and was gifted a $20 million golden parachute for his great sweating of his great brow.

            but the issue I see is that you don’t just want people to start equal, you want them to be kept equal. That is the real evil.

            Back to “evil” dramatics, I see. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong about what I want to see. I do not believe in an egalitarian state. I accept that certain people are more gifted, talented, intelligent, etc., than others and likewise some people are willing to work 2-3 jobs to better themselves while others may refuse to work a single job (and those willing to work should be rewarded with more). That isn’t the point. Nor is redistributing wealth the point. The point is Ayn Rand’s philosophy is one by the wealthy for the wealthy (not so unlike those corporations and charters you mentioned earlier). I think we’re on the same page about the bailouts this government (both parties) gifted to Wall Street two years ago. I was working 7 days a week; my wife was working full-time and going full-time to nursing school (because they haven’t figured out how to outsource that yet) … and we had to pay an extra $26K in taxes above what they took from our paychecks … you think I was happy about that? The guy across the street from me is milking his way through life on a Post Office permanent disability claims (with 3 cars in his driveway). Please. And while we both might view the bailouts as government for corporations by corporations, I want them punished for it (government and corporations) and you want to reward big money (which is what formed corporations to protect itself in the first place).

            Sorry, but that is a smack myself in the forehead with a brick moment.

            • Chris Devine says:

              Charlie, you should really check out the work of John Rawls:

              http://www.iep.utm.edu/rawls/

            • It was not a personal slam Charlie. You may not be lazy, I am not either, I work the same kind of hours you do, and I have for most of my life. But a lot of people choose to not think about government, or think about anything “big”, because it takes too much effort. So they don’t vote, or they fall for whoever spends the most money or does the best job of saying their opponent is evil because they are too lazy to think. Laziness is not all about work ethic. As for fear, I do not fear a socialist state, but I will fight it because I do not want it. I do not place security over freedom, because I know that freedom comes with opportunity, and security does not. Freedom also comes with risk, and security does not. Many people fear risk, thus we have things like the patriot act and the health care bill. Those were allowed by the people because of fear.

              You are right, there is no clear definition of fair. Thus, anyone trying to “make things fair” will run into issues. Maybe Rand’s world is unfair to you, but you call for a fair government, and I have a feeling it will not be fair to me. So how can you say you want a fair government if such a thing cannot be defined? What is it you really want in a government?

              As for the creation of the corporation, you are absolutely right. It was not “government”, it was people with power or money making ways to preserve that power and money. This is why there must be a separation, a distribution of power. You say regulation would fix this, BUT IT DID NOT! Regulation is not the answer because the power is already consolidated, so they will find a way to not regulate themselves. That is why all the regulations make things worse, they just make it harder for competition to share and thereby decrease their power and wealth. Regulation is not the answer, freedom is the answer. The regulations have to be on government, and on business that tries to influence government.

              My definition of fairness? My definition has nothing to do with equal resources, that was your suggestion. I am glad you also do not subscribe to such idiocy. I agree that one born in poverty has less opportunity than one born wealthy. I do not see that any government action can fix that without causing more problems. I also see less class mobility in our modern, more regulated world than there was when we had more freedom. Our government is bigger and there are more regulations, supposedly to help the disadvantaged. There are programs and wealth redistribution. There is all this stuff to help with the problems you describe yet the problems are worse. What does that mean? It means regulations and government programs DO NOT WORK. So more of the same is insanity.

              Where is it that I want to reward big money? I want them to be subject to competition. I want them to have to work for their money, not be guaranteed a spot at the top of the food chain as they have now under all the “regulations”. The free market requires freedom to work. You cannot have regulations and freedom. Will the free market cure all ills and elevate all people to greatness? Of course not. Its not a utopia. It still beats regulations tho. It beats lack of freedom. The poorest in this country are better off than the poorest in more regulated places. You have to think big picture. I want no bailouts, no protection for bad business leaders. I want no such thing as too big to fail. If the people sweating from their great brows really had to answer for their actions and inactions instead of hiding behind their corporate walls, you think they would not be punished? Certainly they would.

              • It was REGULATIONS that allowed Corporations to exist in perpetuity.

                It was REGULATIONS that allowed Corporations to be protected against JUSTICE for their evil acts.

                Now who is it that writes the REGULATIONS?

              • The government owned by big business.

                Thanks for making my point … for the 10,000th time.

                Go Bills!

              • What is your point exactly? That things are screwed upa nd there is nothing we can do about it except beat up all the rich people and then watch it happen again in 20 years?

              • AAnswer bdlow

              • Regulations didn’t fix it because we’re talking about THIS government (which is already corrupt beyond imaginable).

                I want a government to protect me, the citizen, from abuse (whether it be foreign invasion or internal greed–industries that make dangerous products, empoyers who exploit, etc. I demand that of my government (a lot of good it does me now, I know) but … it cannot and would not happen in a free market because the nature of capitalism is greed. Unless there are restraints against it, it grows wild (as it has) and the abuse becomes broader in scope (i.e., the middle class has been ground into the dust). Now, one might argue that is because of THIS government’s regulation, but that doesn’t mean that THIS government can’t be replaced by one that isn’t as corruptible. Start making corruption offenses punishable by something more substantial than a few years in protective custody at club fed and you might deter it, but so long as corrupt CEO’s are permitted to rob taxpayers and their employees (and get rewarded for it by gov’t), then you’re right, it won’t happen. Nor has it … which is my point; THIS government doesn’t work for those it is supposed to work for. I think we see the same thing but have different approaches to fixing it. I’d shoot the SOBs in gov’t today (across the board and I do mean shoot them) to bring forth new government with much harsher punishments for violations of corruption than we currently have, but then I’d be a fascist …

                In that regard, viva fascism (even if only until the nonsense is straightened out). The one thing I’ll never buy into is that free markets will serve anybody other than those with the money already in place. It’s just nonsensical. Big money will always protect itself (whether through corruption or dirty dealing). If all business was scaled back to small business, eventually some of those would become too big to fail, so to speak; have enough gelt to corrupt an entire new set of politicians. Example need to be set. I would have nationalized BP’s assets over the 700 violations and had those responsible for letting them get away with it in gov’t tossed off a skyscraper … but that’s just me being jolly about it all. Imagine when I’m in a bad mood?

              • Charlie

                Your irrational rant is exactly the same one that spread across this land as a populist movement in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

                It led directly to creation of the “progressive” movement and the exponential growth of govt so that it could “protect us from the evil Capitalists”.

                How the hell did that work out for ya Charlie????

                What is your answer??? Oh hell, not this govt but some other govt. The one I want but didn’t get.

                Well you got the one you wanted, and this is what it became. Keep doing the same thing and you WILL get the same results. IRRATIONAL.

    • Charlie Stella

      “Here’s what I don’t get …. if Rand states rationality need be the guiding force of our individual lives, doesn’t that discount what person A might find rational vs. person B? ”

      NO!

      Rationality simply means they act in accordance with reality. But Rand also recognizes that our “perceptions” of reality may differ to do the input we receive over time and how much effort we make to “think” about that input. So A could “actually” act rationally and B might think he is acting rationally but is acting irrationally, if his actions are inconsistent with reality.

      Simplest example here is a guy B who thinks he can fly so he jumps off a building with an open umbrella.

      Not all acts of “irrationality” result in serious harm. The point is that a life of living like this keeps chipping away at your inner self. It lead to a life of misery, or lets say unahappiness.

      I urge you to look up some of these terms you think you understand about her teaching in the Lexicon that Tex C provided above. I posted Reason below. Check our rational and values.

      • JAC, who gets to determine what is reality, A or B?

        Me thinks you missed my point.

        • Charlie

          Neither………………..

          Nobody DECIDES what is real.

          You will know it when it slaps you up side the head.

          Figured you might better understand if I put it in language more common to your tribe.

          🙂

          Play nice or I’ll bring up the Bills.

          • Ah, my Bills … 14-2 isn’t so bad. Our new future hall of fame QB will lead us there … some Irish kid, Fitzpatrick or Fitzgerald or Fitzsomething or other.

            Now, back to reality … that’s the other point with Randism (a/k/a fantasy) … why shouldn’t those who can take by force take by force? If they’re looking out for their self-interest, why should the poor take from the rich? Now, I know she says “no violence” but isn’t that a bit convenient for her purposes?

            It seems to me, if we’re going to play in the jungle with jungle rules, the pack of hyena who steal the grub from the lioness are more than within their rights to serve themselves (others be damned).

            Rand was so busy blowing smoke up her own butt, she forgot to turn off the pressure gauge.

            • Charlie

              Because it is IMMORAL.

              Why? Its called Rational Thinking.

              I know that is an alien concept but bare with me.

              If you kill to take what you want then others can kill to take what they want and pretty soon trust and cooperation give way to fear and alienation. Man the individual can no longer sustain his life as he wants because of the violence. Mankind suffers and eventually falls into chaos and tribal warfare. You have taken us back to the Dark Ages. Congratulations.

              It was not a mere convenience Charlie. It is called morality and ethics. The only way you can be free to pursue your own life is if everyone has the same opportunity or freedom. Thus no violence..because violence is counter to the freedom you need.

              And since neither Rand nor I proposed playing in a jungle or by jungle rules your entire retort is founded on a lie created by you to discredit the conclusion. It is an IRRATIONAL response.

              • Baloney. If i “must” take care of myself and don’t have the means, I owe it to myself to make it happen; if force be the way, tough nuggies. That would be one form of Morality (if you insist on using a term no two people can agree on). I don’t see how Randites ignore that (and in fact, Rand herself didn’t have an issue defending it against the American Indian).

                Please, Rand is your God. You can have her.

              • Charlie

                I am going to stop talking now.

                You are doing quite fine making my point for me.

  17. As I said a few time the past couple of days, too many here are taking a narrow view of what REASON means in the way Rand presents it as part of her philosophy. It is logical thinking and conformance with reality, but it is more. The following is from the Lexicon that Tex posted above. I cleaned it up so everyone could read it here instead of jumping back and forth. I hope this helps some as I seem to be having trouble communicating the meanings.

    REASON

    Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.

    Reason integrates man’s perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions, thus raising man’s knowledge from the perceptual level, which he shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which he alone can reach. The method which reason employs in this process is logic—and logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.

    Reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge—and, therefore, the rejection of reason means that men should act regardless of and/or in contradiction to the facts of reality.
    The senses, concepts, logic: these are the elements of man’s rational faculty—its start, its form, its method. In essence, “follow reason” means: base knowledge on observation; form concepts according to the actual (measurable) relationships among concretes; use concepts according to the rules of logic (ultimately, the Law of Identity). Since each of these elements is based on the facts of reality, the conclusions reached by a process of reason are objective.

    The alternative to reason is some form of mysticism or skepticism.

    [Reason] is a faculty that man has to exercise by choice. Thinking is not an automatic function. In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort.

    Man’s essential characteristic is his rational faculty. Man’s mind is his basic means of survival—his only means of gaining knowledge . . . .

    In order to sustain its life, every living species has to follow a certain course of action required by its nature. The action required to sustain human life is primarily intellectual: everything man needs has to be discovered by his mind and produced by his effort. Production is the application of reason to the problem of survival.

    To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living.

    Reason is man’s tool of knowledge, the faculty that enables him to perceive the facts of reality. To act rationally means to act in accordance with the facts of reality. Emotions are not tools of cognition. What you feel tells you nothing about the facts; it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts. Emotions are the result of your value judgments; they are caused by your basic premises, which you may hold consciously or subconsciously, which may be right or wrong.

    There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man’s reason and his emotions—provided he observes their proper relationship. A rational man knows—or makes it a point to discover—the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no inner conflicts, his mind and his emotions are integrated, his consciousness is in perfect harmony. His emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow—then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction—his own and that of others.

    I have said that faith and force are corollaries, and that mysticism will always lead to the rule of brutality. The cause of it is contained in the very nature of mysticism. Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when men deal with one another by means of reason, reality is their objective standard and frame of reference. But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, no persuasion, communication or understanding are possible. Why do we kill wild animals in the jungle? Because no other way of dealing with them is open to us. And that is the state to which mysticism reduces mankind—a state where, in case of disagreement, men have no recourse except to physical violence.
    Man’s mind is his basic means of survival—and of self-protection. Reason is the most selfish human faculty: it has to be used in and by a man’s own mind, and its product—truth—makes him inflexible, intransigent, impervious to the power of any pack or any ruler. Deprived of the ability to reason, man becomes a docile, pliant, impotent chunk of clay, to be shaped into any subhuman form and used for any purpose by anyone who wants to bother.

    There has never been a philosophy, a theory or a doctrine that attacked (or “limited”) reason, which did not also preach submission to the power of some authority. Philosophically, most men do not understand the issue to this day; but psycho-epistemologically, they have sensed it since prehistoric times. Observe the nature of mankind’s earliest legends—such as the fall of Lucifer, “the light-bearer,” for the sin of defying authority; or the story of Prometheus, who taught men the practical arts of survival. Power-seekers have always known that if men are to be made submissive, the obstacle is not their feelings, their wishes or their “instincts,” but their minds; if men are to be ruled, then the enemy is reason.

    Only three brief periods of history were culturally dominated by a philosophy of reason: ancient Greece, the Renaissance, the nineteenth century. These three periods were the source of mankind’s greatest progress in all fields of intellectual achievement—and the eras of greatest political freedom.
    Western civilization was the child and product of reason—via ancient Greece. In all other civilizations, reason has always been the menial servant—the handmaiden—of mysticism. You may observe the results. It is only Western culture that has ever been dominated—imperfectly, incompletely, precariously and at rare intervals—but still, dominated by reason. You may observe the results of that.

    The conflict of reason versus mysticism is the issue of life or death—of freedom or slavery—of progress or stagnant brutality. Or, to put it another way, it is the conflict of consciousness versus unconsciousness.
    If you rebel against reason, if you succumb to the old bromides of the Witch Doctors, such as: “Reason is the enemy of the artist” or “The cold hand of reason dissects and destroys the joyous spontaneity of man’s creative imagination”—I suggest that you take note of the following fact: by rejecting reason and surrendering to the unhampered sway of their unleashed emotions (and whims), the apostles of irrationality, the existentialists, the Zen Buddhists, the non-objective artists, have not achieved a free, joyous, triumphant sense of life, but a sense of doom, nausea and screaming, cosmic terror. Then read the stories of O. Henry or listen to the music of Viennese operettas and remember that these were the products of the spirit of the nineteenth century—a century ruled by the “cold, dissecting” hand of reason. And then ask yourself: which psycho-epistemology is appropriate to man, which is consonant with the facts of reality and with man’s nature?
    I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.
    This—the supremacy of reason—was, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism. (For a definition of reason, see Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.) Reason in epistemology leads to egoism in ethics, which leads to capitalism in politics.

    • But you see JAC-from what I have read of Rand on rational reasoning-she has decided that my reasoning is mysticism-I obviously am not going to agree with her defining what is rational for me to believe. I actually find it dangerous that she and you think that you can decide for me what is rational. It seems so sensible to say use reason and yet-it seems to go against individual freedom for you to define reason for me based on whatever you deem should be used as fact.

      • V.H.

        Neither I nor Rand are defining reason or rational in anyway that defies that used by man for centuries. Chris is correct in his criticism of Rand here. She did not invent these ideas or relationships, like reason and its link to logic and reality. Her contribution was building the entire system, showing how one level builds upon the other. And she had a great ability to tell the story in a way that folks could relate to the message. She mainstreamed discussion about philosophy.

        It is not your reason and my reason. I can not impose a separate meaning of reason or rational upon you. In other words, to be point blank about it, if you truly operate your life on mysticism you can not declare yourself a reasoned person by declaring the definition faulty. It does not go against freedom for you to believe what you want and me what I want. You can be irrational and I can be rational and both be free. It doesn’t change the fact that one is irrational and the other is not. Those are matters of definitions long established.

        I doubt that your reasoning would be called mysticism. That would require simply accepting all thing you are told on nothing but faith. It would mean believing in magic as an absolute truth and source of man’s existence. Given your stated faith you probably use reason for the most part with a dash of mysticism thrown in. Or as I will explain in a minute, you may believe in God but not be a mystic at all. In any case, that does not mean your reasoning is mystic. It means your mysticism is mystic and your reasoning is reason.

        So lets cut to the conflict. When you look at her discussions and put it in context, Rand is really attacking the old dogma of the churches, where you are supposed to believe because some priest says he got it from God because he has some special knowledge. It was completely mystic in its nature. The effect of this on human thinking and the millions slaughtered as a result, obviously drives her and others to condemn religion. But what if you separate “man made religion” from God, and Christ if your a Christian? Rand did not consider this point. She simply lumped belief in a “supernatural” being as by definition “supernatural”, meaning above or outside the natural or in other words, outside reality. She, I, and millions of others reject this concept of “supernatural”. But I do not reject the concept of God.

        If your beliefs do not conform to reality then your beliefs are not founded in reason or rationality. Because reality is the foundation. Therefore, this entire issue or role of God is really at the metaphysical level. In other words, what is reality and how does God relate?

        Rand rejects God’s role because we were taught God could defy reality by the old teachers. Myself, among many, don’t accept these concepts of “magic” anymore. God created nature and thus nature is consistent with God, and God is consistent with nature. In my opinion, the mysticism and the contradictions derive from men trying to tell other men what God is and what God can do. Whether it was their faith or some other motive, it comes down to them using mysticism within religion to control others in some way. Thus my suggestion that we separate men from God!

        Because she failed to consider God and Reality equal partners she failed to deal with Religious morale or ethical teachings on the sole basis of ethics. She condemned them out of hand as mystical because they supposedly appeared out of thin air, or the mouths of prophets. But if we accept God is Nature then we can evaluate the various teachings on their own merits using REASON and doing so in a way that does not conflict with nature or the rules of the universe.

        Now in that context lets revisit one of Rand’s summary points. “To control nature is to obey nature.” Lets modify it to our new concept. “To benefit from nature we must understand and obey nature”.

        I am guessing this raises the question of how do we know which teachings are corrupt and which are truth. I suggest that we use reason and logic in this effort as well, as that is our natural and necessary faculty to address such questions. Which of all that we know seem to make sense? Which seem consistent with what we know of the basic principles or tenants of our knowledge of God? Eliminate the contradictions (logic) and embrace the truth. The Bible for example contains many “values” that are consistent with the view of a loving God and that conform with a peaceful and loving society, whether Christian or pagan. In my view these are probably true. Simply look at how these teachings have changed over time as man has applied greater and greater reason to the discussion.

        So now lets take one more look:

        If my view is correct and God exists but much of the historic teachings are corrupt, then Rand’s philosophy still holds, she just didn’t recognize that Man may not have gotten the story right. She didn’t consider that God and Reality are one in the same.

        If Rand and others are correct, and God does not exist, then Rand’s philosophy still holds.

        If on the other hand, the ancients are correct and God exists and can violate the rules of nature and reality, or even worse, those men chosen by God can defy reality, that human knowledge can simply leap from thin air, well then Rand and I are both wrong. But here is the kicker. That means you do not need reason at all. Things will simply appear to you when you need or want them. Or that you don’t need to think because those appointed by God will tell you what to do.

        Now which of these three options fits your view of the universe?

        Please tell me this helped and didn’t hurt more!!!!!

        🙂 🙂

        • I’m gonna read this several times and contemplate(love that word)-then we’ll see. 🙂

          • I guess you will have to define me as irrational, my friend, because I believe in the Bible. I believe that miracles happened and still do. If one believes in an all powerful God who created the heavens and the earth-it is reasonable to believe that he can supersede his natural laws. I hope you have a great trip-and while your looking at that beautiful sky-give God some more thought-I feel a special closeness to him when I am out in nature. Good Night 🙂

            • I guess I’m irrational too, V. I’ll agree that everyone acts in their self interest first. But after that thought and after reading everyone else’s posts, I’m finding myself in agreement with the likes of Charlie (I can handle that 🙂 ), Ray, Chris, and Todd. That scares me to death!

              • We’ll be irrational together 🙂 suspect(know) there are a lot more like us out there. As far as Rand-I find I agree with JAC’s statements about Objectivism(except for a couple things I have talked about(fairly big things I will admit)but the main problem is-when I go to Rands actual words they don’t sound like the same philosophy.

              • Oh great, now I have to rethink my entire philosophical outlook on life!!! 🙂 🙂

    • Chris Devine says:

      Human brains are not Boolean engines. We are not discrete devices. While we can learn to use logic and form valid inferences, we are more successful using estimation (which is difficult to quantify).

      We share a good portion of our neurological structure will lower life forms. We also share higher cognitive functions with other primates. This chauvinistic notion of human superiority is not supported by scientific research. While there are some things we are obviously good at (e.g., walking upright), there are many things we can’t do very well (e.g., run, jump, live for long periods without sustenance). Our survival as a species is a result of adaptive traits passed along by our ancestors, min addition to a fair amount of luck. We didn’t get where we are today by people acting as individuals. We are here because others made sacrifices, sacrifices that might not benefit them but would help others.

      It is not a matter of becoming better at reasoning. It doesn’t matter how much you practice you can’t change the overall structure of your brain. You can rehearse and visualize all you’d like, but when a ‘fight or flight’ situation arises you will have acted before the portions of your brain that handle conscious thought have even been notified.

      Rand is a joke. Her nostalgic views of supposed periods of reason and advancement are nothing but selective myths. Ancient Greece relied on slavery and conquest as much as reason and logic. Their greatest mind, Socrates, was condemned to death for asking too many difficult questions. Empire brings people together. People share. New ideas are formed. But don’t forget that for all this to happen people had to kill and be killed. The political freedom she speaks of was only available to rich male landowners. All others were considered property. [Sound familiar?]

      The renaissance was dominated by merchants and princes who paid artists to build elaborate showpieces. They were paid for with the spoils of conquest. There was some commerce, but it was secondary. Without the Medici there would have been no renaissance, but there might have been peace.

      The 19th century is when all-out wars were invented and slavery was modified to give it fake legitimacy. It took another hundred years for the descendants of former slaves to be given what they were promised. In the meantime wars and weapons were the major source of innovation.

      All this nonsense about reason and freedom is nothing but a smokescreen. Reason is useful and our cognitive abilities most definitely distinguish us from other animals. However, we owe as much of our successes to altruism, selflessness, cooperation, and instinct as we do to our ability to think in abstract terms as individuals.

      http://www.thersa.org/projects/social-brain/reports/steer-the-report

  18. I think the thing that bothers me most is that it’s just too easy for someone to see a term like “self-interest” and think “wow, that sounds like a great philosophy to base my life on” and then easily slide into the “selfish mode” of ME, ME, ME.

    I know that’s not Rand’s intension, and all of you here stress the need to study and truly understand Objectivism and how it applies to life and society. But a large percentage of people are just going to grab a few key words and run with it.

    The fact that Rand did not offer a definition of self-interest leaves it open to easy miss-interpretation.

    • Todd

      Your rear or concern is valid and was addressed by Rand in the addition of the term “rational” to the concept of “self-interest”. To this day most of her critics claim she is just promoting greed and dog eat dog.

      She did define, or describe the concept of self-interest. She did not try to establish a single “interest” for everyone. That was the point. You need to set your own. We obviously share certain values regarding interest, like food and shelter, but the other stuff is unique to the individual.

      Here are a couple of her statements about the concept.

      http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/self-interest.html

      I don’t want you to start thinking I am a Rand worshiper. I stated here long ago I was what I call a “modified objectivist” in my philosophy. I also recognize great weakness in her philosophy in the realm of political application. But she admits that she did not spend a great deal of time considering the “implementation” as much as the fundamentals. That is where I have focused my attention over the years. In trying to figure out how to take the moral and ethical principles and then apply them to our political and economic systems.

      Hope all is well in the north country.
      Best to you and your family.
      JAC

      • JAC,
        That’s my point. In order for Objectivism to work, everyone must study it and follow it very closely, or else we end up with the dog-eat-dog world. But I think a lot of people will see the Self-Interest and just go with that.

        With Altruism, it’s just the opposite. You posted the “strict” or “technical” (or something like that) definition above. But my experience is that “most people” think of Altruism by the more generic definition of “motivation to help others or a want to do good without reward”.

        If people follow the “generic” definition of Altruism, things work out good.
        If people follow the “generic” definition of Objectivism, we end up with the dog-eat-dog world.

        If people follow the “strict” definition of Altruism, I agree that’s over-the-top and not productive.
        If people follow the “strict” definition of Objectivism, things work out good.

        I don’t see the majority of people following either philosophy by the “strict” definition. Like Chris has pointed out many times, we’re not that rational.

        If the majority are going to follow a “generic” version, Altruism works out much better.

        One other thing – this is from the link you posted:

        When one speaks of man’s right to exist for his own sake, for his own rational self-interest, most people assume automatically that this means his right to sacrifice others. Such an assumption is a confession of their own belief that to injure, enslave, rob or murder others is in man’s self-interest—which he must selflessly renounce.

        If renouncing violence is such a cornerstone of Objectivism, why couldn’t Rand see that in relation to how Native Americans were treated?

        Doing good here – just too much rain! Our dock is almost under water, the little stream on the north side of our property is a raging river, and all the hills on the trails are washed out!

        Looking forward to SNOW in a little over 2 months!!

        • Todd

          Please give this some thought.

          Which has killed more people? Your generic Altruism or the generic Objectivism?

          “If renouncing violence is such a cornerstone of Objectivism, why couldn’t Rand see that in relation to how Native Americans were treated?”

          I can say it any plainer. I DO NOT KNOW WHY. Her response makes no damn sense, except in the context of the period in which it occurred. But she did not say that and I won’t rationalize her response. But as I told Ray, it is similar to those who penned the moral premise that “all men are created equal” actually owned slaves.

          That makes them mistaken, hypocritical or what ever. But it does not negate the philosophical principle. Equality doesn’t lead to slavery and non-violence doesn’t lead to violence.

          I do have one theory on Rand that relates to this one issue and some responses I have read from her on other topics that seem to fall short of her own philosophy. I believe that when it came to the USA she was sometimes blinded for her love of what it was intended to be. Perhaps, because of her life experience, she was blinded by a little bit to much Patriotism at times. Yet she was a strong and vocal opponent to the Viet Nam war. So as I said, the Native American response does not fit. The argument she makes is a sound explanation of some philosophical theories, but it does not fit her own. In fact, look at her criticism of slavery and racism.

          I disagree with Ray’s claim that because she said or did things that didn’t square the concepts and principles themselves were bad. A review of philosophical history will show many, many of the Greats failed to meet their own high standards and some were quite frankly off their nut by the end.

          I suggest that from here out we focus on the actual principles and explanations. Do they make sense today? If not, why not. If so, why so. I happen to think it works real good up until we start tackling the Political branch. Even there it starts fine, but then it is hollow.

          Finally got some warm weather today and supposed to be nice till mid next week. I’m gone for a week to do some fly fishing in eastern Idaho. Tomorrow night I will be camped under the moon staring at the Teton Mtns from the Snake River Valley side.

          So until next time. Take care.
          JAC

          • AC,

            Some thoughts for when you return…

            Which has killed more people? Your generic Altruism or the generic Objectivism?

            I have no idea, but I see the “dog-eat-dog” world having killed many people during mankind’s existence. Not so much for “motivation to help others or a want to do good without reward”.

            What numbers do you have?

            I can say it any plainer. I DO NOT KNOW WHY. Her response makes no damn sense, except in the context of the period in which it occurred. But she did not say that and I won’t rationalize her response. But as I told Ray, it is similar to those who penned the moral premise that “all men are created equal” actually owned slaves.

            That makes them mistaken, hypocritical or what ever. But it does not negate the philosophical principle. Equality doesn’t lead to slavery and non-violence doesn’t lead to violence.

            The difference I see is that slavery was the “norm” during the founding fathers time. Rand’s comments came 100 years after the slaughter of American Indians. It’s that “Hindsight is 202/20 thing”. Rand should have seen the errors of the past.

            I don’t think Rand’s comments invalidate Objectivism, but they point out how hard it is to put into practice, and how easy it is to miss-use it. That makes it potentially dangerous.

            I happen to think it works real good up until we start tackling the Political branch. Even there it starts fine, but then it is hollow.

            You’ll have to “flush it out” and finish it for Rand! 😉

            Hope you had a productive and restful trip! You’re probably sitting around the campfire as I write this – I’m jealous! I’ve been to the Tetons’ twice – as a kid and hiking 12 years ago. It’s an amazing place!

  19. Answer for Jon (up above). So long as there is no compromise, yeah, in 20 years nothing will have changed except some other nation states will have the means to instigate a war nobody can win (nuclear) … and there’s pretty much nothing we can do about that.

    As for THIS government, one of the compromises that YOU would have to make (as well as the left) is genuine compromise. You’ll have to accept paying taxes to pay the freight of the disadvantaged and lazy and they will have to live without unions (that’s just an example for both sides). But so long as your side uses the “why should I be forced to do something against my will” argument and so long as the left uses the “unions need tenure-like protectionism, nothing gets accomplished. We keep playing this back and forth bullshit game with no end in sight. The recent Republican Pledge … could that be any more absurd (they said nothing new and in fact repeated what they said in 1993). Likewise, on the left, a sudden urge to protect creeps up just before election time AFTER they gave away the store to big business and the like.

    Frankly, I do think it will take a revolution (armed, in fact) but I suspect I’ll be long dead before it gets there. If there’s another depression, maybe. And maybe that’s why there was a bailout … because this government finally feared they allowed business to go too far. I suspect not (they’re not that smart), but once you have soup lines again, it’ll get ugly.

    • I hear what you are saying about compromise, but I am not sure I buy it. In your example, you point out exactly what frustrates “my side”. We already ARE paying the freight of the lazy and disadvantaged, we are just fussing about it because we see the cost is killing us and we see that the lazy and disadvantaged are increasing in number in response to the so-called help. We see the “help” destroying those it is intended for. “Your side” on the other hand is not doing without unions, and are very close to getting more pro-union crap passed.

      I guess it feels like we have been compromising for decades and it is doing genuine damage, so compromise is obviously not the answer. In our discussion, we agree that corruption and power is the problem. Compromise will not fix that issue, since it is going on outside of the issues you and I normally argue over. The fix is to remove the mechanisms corruption is using. If the rich and powerful will always find a way to consolidate more power, take away mechanisms of consolidation. Separate business and state, but things like theft and violence and fraud still need to be illegal. Remove protection for the powerful such that they answer for their actions. Remove the complex tax code and replace it with a flat, universal one that taxes the individual only, rather than hiding it in layers that can be passed on to the individual. Remove the exemptions that the rich can use to avoid taxation. Once the real impact is felt, taxes and the stuff they pay for may not stick around very long. Get rid of every protection for business by government, no more wars for resources, no rattling of sabers over financial things.

      You may be right that it will take armed insurrection to fix this stuff, but in the mean time, let’s at least focus on fixing the actual problems, instead of arguing over the stuff that seems like the problem. Also, I like what you said about third parties below, I have the same sort of arguments. 🙂

      • “Your side” on the other hand is not doing without unions, and are very close to getting more pro-union crap passed.

        Union have been on the decline since Regan. I used to be a union window cleaner in NY for 10 years. They are as corrupt as is Washington. That said, they didn’t spring up because workers were treated fairly without them. We get all worked up over retired union workers get $50-70K after 20-30 years, but what about the CEO who bankrupts his company/the economy and walks away with $20 million in golden parachutes? And THEN we bail them out … how do you stop that without regulation? Sorry, but a free market is not going to correct that (that concept is as much fantasy as is Marxism).

        We need third and fourth and maybe fifth and sixth parties, for sure. The one thing I’ll give the tea party (as much as I disagree with most of its leaders) is they did make the bigger party (GOP) listen. On the left, liberal democrats are so fearful of another Bush-like Presidency (like Obama has been any different) they refuse to demand recognition from their bigger party. They walk lockstep with it and accept being ignored.

        I like a lot of what Libertarians have to say but not all of it and that which I oppose I oppose with a passion. I want national health insurance. I want the money being pissed away in Afghanistan and Iraq poured into education. But I also want border control and the proven lazy (those capable who refuse to work) to be shown the door and anti-pregnancy measure utilized for people (men and women) who prove they can’t handle one child, never mind six. I feel your pain … but I don’t for a second buy free markets as the answer.

        Those last few (regarding pregnancy) I guess make me a fascist … so be it.

        Most of all, I want corrupt officials (gov’t and private) punished with genuine severity (not protective custody club feds). Toss a few off a building (those arrogant SOBs from Goldman Sachs who showed up for that Senate dog and pony show to name a few) and lets see if that works …

  20. A bit dramatic but still a cool video

    • To dramatic let me add, absurd, silly and exactly what the Democratic Party prays for come 2012. You should be sure to keep this video on this site (or in states where people don’t roll their eyes) because nothing will insure President Obama’s victory (the guy you believe is in charge of tyranny–Jesus) more than nonsense like this video.

      I am totally against Obama and his party (obviously not for the same reasons you are) but this silliness will chase most like me (especially independents) to register democrat. Frankly, it’s scary how this kind of silliness is taken serious.

      Tyranny? Please …

      • Be nice Charlie. I had your back up top a little ways! 🙂

      • Ha! I like the video-as far as being dramatic, you my friend remind me of the pot calling the kettle black-I think if we had a vote-you could take me and Anita on the being dramatic thing 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 At the very least we are equal in that arena. 😆

        • YEAH! What she said! 🙂

          • I appreciate (and appreciated) the support, Anita. But that video is what Steven Colbert is going to use in his Keep Fear Alive parody of Glenn Beck. The problem is it implies those who don’t agree wholesale with the message are not good Americans. There are an equal number of headstones for war veterans who were democrats.

            I’d like to see both parties booted to the gutter and at this point I could live with either extreme taking power (for the sake of change, if nothing else), but those messages are gonna chase people not quite as fed up as I am (and most, trust me, aren’t as fed up). I get into it with liberal democrats all the time because they insist a third party will NEVER (always all caps) win the White House. I don’t agree. I suspect once we’re back to soup kitches for the middle class, we’ll have genuine change (no matter which party gets us there but I suspect both will).

            The woman who told Obama last week she was frustrated trying to defend him spoke for a lot of people; but these types of videos and messages (essentially calling her a non-American) will not help your cause.

            Now, onto more important issues: Bills over the Pats today?

    • Anita,
      Just a “bit” dramatic. I loved the fact that they quoted President GW Bush in regards to freedom. Do you see any irony in that?

      So, how many people does this video represent? 1 – 2 – 5 million? A lot of people – yes. A majority? No.

      Do you expect Obama to listen to a small minority just because they have a petition and video?

      Did Bush listen to the “millions” of people that disagreed with him?

      Do you really think this message is true? Obama and dems are trying to ruin America?

      Do you remember where America was when Bush took office?
      And where it was when he left?

      Who’s ruining America?

      • Who’s ruining America?

        The NFL officiating! Did you see that “review” at the end of the Bills game. The guy’s need was clearly down and they gave Mr. Kraft (big business) the first down.

        We was robbed … again.

        Go Bills!

        As for Obama … he apparently only listens to the press clippings from his Presidential campaign when perhaps he thought himself a messiah. His press secretary calls the left “the professional left” (and he ignores them like the plague) and nobody has yet to figure out that Nobel Peace Prize for upping the anti in Afghanistan (although according to Woodward, he did that looking for a way out–so why do it?). Obama is Bush light (sometimes Bush heavy) … both as useless as tits on a bull.

      • Before Bush took office we were on the path to destruction, people were oblivious to it, but we were. Afterwards, we had lost a crapload of freedom, and people went along with it because they were fearful and bought the propoganda. Also, we were farther along the path to destruction. Then Obama came and hit the gas, basically doing most of the stuff Bush started, only faster.

        So yea, it goes way back, and the only finger pointing is at who does the most damage the fastest, as opposed to who is ruining america or not. ultimately, they all are, faster or slower is darn near irrelevant. Its like, whats worse, your car engine rusting away or your car engine locking up from overheating and warping the heads. Either way, its broken down.

  21. 8)

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