Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Socialized Medicine

Yaron Brook has an excellent editorial out on the subject. Please forward it to anyone who might find it of interest.

A Lesson for Activists

Though I don't agree with the conservative ideology of these professors, their battle is very interesting, as it shows how much of the oppressive and seemingly intractable bureaucracy one can fight if one puts one's mind to it. In particular, a principled, open and direct approach is just what our opponents fear, as that forces them to give reasons for their positions and to set firm precedents -- something which is anathema to their "fluid" thought processes. Here's the authors' summary of their activism approach:
So we responded with boldness and openness in every public venue we could.

We publicized the investigation thoroughly through opinion columns and letters to the editor. We proposed and began to work through university governance on an amendment to the Anti-Discrimination Policy to better protect free speech. We brought the movie Indoctrinate U to campus and leafleted students on the campus Library Bridge urging them to attend. We also began meetings with representatives in the state legislature who were becoming interested in the problem.

The defiance and vigor of our response was almost certainly a shock to the Office for Inclusion and to the university administration generally. And worse still for them was out (sic) outreach to the state legislature. In fact, the investigation (then going on six months) ended the day after Allen and I met with one of the leaders of the majority Senate Republicans in Michigan. The investigation report released in March 2008 concluded that no discrimination had taken place at a "level" that called for any action against the student groups or the advisors.
HT: TU editors

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Sprit of the Crossfit Games

I enjoyed this spectator's description of what Crossfit and the crossfit games meant to him. I share his view that:
Remember when you were a kid, how long you could play outside in the mud and in the snow? Running up hills, down hills, through the woods, throwing snowballs, throwing footballs in the snow? Remember that? It was hard work! But we don't remember it as work, because it was fun. I get that feeling when I CrossFit.
Indeed, I think that regularly participating in games or sports of some type helps one stay young, so crossfit serves a bigger purpose for me than simply staying fit (bouldering is also an important activity for me in this respect).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pull Peddlers

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand describes in great detail the type of bureaucratic leaders who emerge when the wall between economics and state is broken. (She uses the term "pull peddlers" to denote these men, and points out that they become more prevalent and more powerful as the mixed economy slips towards outright statism.) Today's NY Times article describing the new head of Calpers provides a concretization of this type of person and his qualifications:
He was hired in large part for his management skills and political savvy — honed in Washington, where (sic) headed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the Clinton years. He does not have an M.B.A. or any other advanced degree in finance. Harvard, Yale or Wharton is not on his résumé. Instead, his lone degree, in political economy, is from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

“My career sort of culminates in this job, where this combination of investment and political management and organization management come together because that’s what Calpers needs,” he said in his expansive corner office decorated with a photo of himself and Bono. (Bono was a general partner in an equity fund in which the Washington State fund invested.)
(And as an aside, notice the NYT's double standard in its reporting: if private pension funds took significant risks to "double-down" as it were, they'd be crucified by the media; when a quasi-public official does it, he's admired and praised for his "daring". Only the unquestioning acceptance of altruism and the transmorgrifying effect of the term "for the public good" can explain this type of inconsistency.)

The Federal Health Care Muggers

Paul Hsieh has another excellent editorial out at PajamasMedia. Please stop by and leave supportive comments, and/or forward the piece to anyone who'd benefit from reading it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Keynes on the Power of Ideas

I'm surprised to be favorably quoting Keynes, but I ran across this quote in Sowell's "on Classical Economics" and found it to be both true, and of a much wider application than just economics and politics (philosophy being the most important realm of its application).
The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More on the Tea Parties

Here is OActivist Neil Erian's excellent tea party speech (in two parts). It's perhaps my favorite of the ones I've heard.

Part 1

Part 2

Also, Dr. John Lewis has announced that he and other Objectivists will be speaking and giving educational seminars at the next Virginia Tea Party being held in Richmond on July 25th. Check it out and help spread the word.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How Vulnerable is California?

If a particular set of 144,000 people left California -- a state of 38,000,000 inhabitants -- half of its income tax revenue would be lost. This is the result of the state's "stick it to the productive" mentality and says much about the nature of its populist democracy. I personally hope that all these productive giants leave, both to save their own skins and to perhaps force the state into a position where it will have to begin examining the nature and purpose of man's rights, and then implement them to the great benefit of any productive resident (after which hopefully those who were forced to flee would come back).

Moreover I hope that California's situation puts the rest of the nation on guard, as Obama's policies are sure to put the country in the same position California now finds itself in.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Here's hoping for more cuts to public education

One of the good things about the California fiscal crisis is that the State is being forced to leave, or reduce its presence in, certain areas, thereby reducing spending and taxes and perhaps more importantly, making room for productive and efficient private parties to take their place. As an illustration of how the public sector thinks, consider this quote from the president of the University of California.
“It’s important not to take money from enterprises that are really entrepreneurial,” Mr. Yudof said, “and it wouldn’t help us with our deficit. Maybe this will encourage people to be entrepreneurial and go out and get those grants.” (emphasis added)
How many private educators do you think would characterize entrepreneurship this way and how much harm is done to students who are taught this type of “entrepreneurship”?

Every reduction in public education is a twofold benefit, it reduces the State’s ability to propagandize for whatever consensus views it happens to want to foist on its citizens, and it allows the private sector a better chance to bring proper education back. Let’s hope we see many more cuts...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

John Lewis' Excellent Tea Party Speech

Part 1

Part 2

Den. Roy Tokunaga x Polysema


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Good Post

I enjoyed this post over at 3 ring binder on why LB is an Objectivist. It's very personal, self-interested and concrete -- exactly the approach that I think is necessary to benefit from the philosophy on a daily, "real-life" level. I particularly liked this section:
It is unfortunate that the immediate gratification stage of a child is most often mistakenly identified as “selfishness”. As we begin to interact with others, and more importantly, to appreciate some people as values in and of themselves, we learn that achieving our own happiness may often include the happiness of those we hold as valuable (as in friendship and love). When I value someone, their happiness is also important to me. I want them to be happy for selfish reasons. This is in keeping with my desire to be happy rather than in conflict with it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Nature of Paternalism

In a recent editorial, Mark Steyn quotes this description of paternalism written by Tocqueville in the 1830's. I've never seen a more apt and eloquent characterization, and I particularly like how he differentiates what a father does from what a "paternal" state does:
Over these is elevated an immense, tutelary power, which takes sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate. It is absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident, and gentle. It would resemble the paternal power if, like that power, it had as its object to prepare men for manhood, but it seeks, to the contrary, to keep them irrevocably fixed in childhood … it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their needs, guides them in their principal affairs…

The sovereign extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations—complicated, minute, and uniform—through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way… it does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them; rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting on one's own … it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
It's also interesting to note that Tocqueville singled out the dangers of the supposedly modern discovery of "nudging" 170 years ago. Is it possible that during Cass Sunstein's years at Harvard and U of Chicago he never ran across Tocqueville's admonitions?

And while I'm not a proponent of "State's rights", I find much of the rest of the editorial worthwhile, particularly the fact that there is no innate desire for freedom, and that no society can be good without the active participation of good citizens.

PS Sorry about the "read more" at the bottom of the posts. Something has changed in blogger's handling of some HTML codes and I haven't figured out how to work around it yet.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Washington Tea Party

Another excellent tea party speech, this time by Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Tea Party Speeches

Thanks and congrats to OActivists Tim Peck and Doug Reich for seizing the opportunity of speaking at Tea Parties on Independence Day. Click the links to see their excellent speeches (Tim's includes a video of his).

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dendrobium Aggregatum