Wednesday, October 31, 2012

History of Progressivism

Worth a read I think, though to my knowledge, progressivism started in the 1890's not in 1913 under Woodrow Wilson.  (Indeed it's among the reasons I consider Teddy Roosevelt to be perhaps our worst president ever.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The President's Role

My first column is now out at Forbes.  In it I argue that over the past century we as a populace have unduly elevated the role of the  president in American life, and that this poses a danger which the Founders had tried to stave off.

Here's the opening:
For months now (and seemingly longer) everyone’s attention has been on the presidential election.  Inundated with primaries, polls  and debates, the public at large is fixated on whether their candidate will win and what that will do for them.  At its most crass, it comes down to electing a candidate who gives away “free phones”.  At its most grandiose, as expressed in a ubiquitous Newsmax banner ad, it’s the question: “Who can save America, Obama or Romney?”
Viewing the election this way says much about contemporary attitudes, common to Democrats and Republicans alike.  It suggests that we as a populace see the president as a potential savior, someone to whom we can turn over our burdens, who can magically make the world right.
Historically and globally it’s a common attitude, but in this most uncommon of all nations, it’s a scary aberration.
Please read the whole thing

Monday, October 29, 2012

Get Some Value for your Tax Dollars

Though I haven't yet used this resource, I've heard that the language teachings for the foreign service are quite good.  They're now available online for free (i.e. no additional cost beyond the taxes already spent on them).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Education is Key

Ultimately, the only way to impart political change is through education.  This article provides some concrete data on the subject, which I think should spur activists on.  As a teaser:

This pattern held true with other facts. The U.S. national debt today exceeds $16 trillion, a fact one can confirm at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget or the U.S. National Debt Clock. Those who correctly identified this statement as true support Gov. Romney over President Obama 53-35, and those who thought it was false support President Obama 63-27. These findings confirm a 2010 study by Douglas Schoen for IWV of Independent voters nationally which showed a consistent relationship between those who correctly answered basic economic questions and support for limited government and free markets.
Most interestingly, IWV’s latest research suggests that there isn’t just a correlation between one’s knowledge of economic facts and policy preferences, but that educating someone about those key facts can lead them to re-evaluate their support.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hard to Believe that Obama Still has a Hope of Being Re-Elected

More on Behghazi from Larry Bell and Mark Steyn.  But on the positive side, at least Obama's fanboy mission in Vegas went well.

Fewer Religious in the US?

This story, citing a Pew study, makes the welcome claim that religion in America is waning.

As an addendum, I've often wondered what one could say about the historical impact of religion in hampering economic and intellectual development, and thereby promoting or enabling a class-divided society.  My biggest data point was the relative rise of North America vs. South America, despite the latter having many initial advantages in wealth and resources. (Christianity was hammered into the South Americans, but thanks to men like Jefferson and Madison that wasn't really the case in the US.)  Nonetheless, there was a push in America to make slaves religious, and it seems to have seeped into the black culture as this data point might suggest:
A new study released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that it was not just liberal mainline Protestants, like Methodists or Episcopalians, who abandoned their faith, but also more conservative evangelical and “born again” Protestants. The losses were among white Protestants, but not among black or minority Protestants, the study found, based on surveys conducted during the summer. (my emphasis)
(Please note that I'm not denying that the choice of accepting religion or not is a matter of an individual's free will, it's just that in certain cultures many never come across the arguments or develop the thinking tools necessary to  make an educated choice in the matter.   In those cases the trend and the concerted push by the cultural authorities will generally hold sway.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Would that Rand were Part of the Debate

Don Watkins and Yaron Brook have a good piece out at Forbes outlining how Rand's views contrast with those of the current paradigm.  One small criticism though, while I agree that Romney and Ryan are (much?) better than Obama and Biden, I'm not so sure that the right as a whole is better than the left as a whole. Hence I don't agree with siding with the right against the left as they do in their final paragraph.  (If I've misunderstood either their point or the whole right vs. left issue, corrections and criticisms are welcome, though please try to keep them polite and on point.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Politicized "Science"

A good article summarizing new temperature data which further suggests that the threat of out-of-control AGW is a fraud.  And while science can be used to combat these frauds on a piecemeal basis, only challenging the underlying philosophy will have wholesale effects (i.e. will stop new variants from popping up ad infinitum.)  Such a challenge would include fighting for privatizing science, I might add.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Arguments Against the Freedom of Speech

For those wishing to defend free speech, this article has a good summary of some of the types of arguments you must be prepared to defend against.  (And remember that if the right to free speech is lost, as is slowly happening around the world, there is only one alternate method to resolve conflicts: brute force.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Capitalism vs. Socialism Debate

Though I haven't watched the video of this 1984 debate between Drs. Peikoff and Ridpath (representing capitalism) and Drs. Vickers and Caplan (socialism) in decades, I remember it as a tour de force from Dr. Peikoff. You wouldn't know it by the outcome, but the defenders of socialism were credible figures, not hacks. Highly recommended! (The link is to part 1, the subsequent parts are found on the sidebar to the video.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

We Fight

Though it doesn't get too deeply into the content of freedom, I like this video for its production values and its general "sense of life".

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Best Seller

Congratulations to John Allison for having his new book hit the best sellers list.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Obamacare Restrictions

More effects of Obamacare (AARP I hope you're happy).  The real lesson is that unless the people who earn the money decide how to spend it (as occurs in, and only in, a free market) there is no correct or just solution.

Timeline of a Lie

Here's a good summary of the events in Libya and the Administrations direct and indirect lies about it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Congress vs the President on Fiscal Policy

I think this article makes some good points and reminds us that congressional elections are as, or even more, important than the presidential race.

Lying Scum part 2

With an administration this vile, it's hard to tell what's worse, their insouciance vis-a-vis the murder of one of our (and their) ambassadors on national soil, or the complete repudiation of freedom of speech as a made-up excuse for their patheticness.  Thankfully even the lapdog media is beginning to pick up on it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Not Optimal.

It just gets worse.  Now the president considers the murder of an ambassador and three of his security staff "not optimal".  But I guess we already knew the importance of the event in Obama's view, given that when it happened he jetted off to Vegas to campaign with his fan boys and now he's doing the late night TV circuit instead of providing the type of leadership and statesmanship that is the one legitimate role of a president.

Wishing / Hoping that more Businessmen Will Follow Suit

Thomas Peterffy, founded of InteractiveBrokers, has started funding ads opposing socialism and extolling individual achievement and wealth generation.  Here's a story about it, and the ad from youtube:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Opening the Floodgates

Let's hope that the gist of this editorial is true and that the lapdog media and the Obama fanboys will no longer give him a pass on every issue.

Here's the editorial's conclusion following a list of prominent "liberals" who have criticized Obama and are now going to vote for Romney:

For four years, such comments were entirely off-limits. It's not that Democrats, centrists or other thoughtful people didn't have legitimate gripes. They just couldn't air them without being labeled a racist, a hater or a traitor to the liberal cause.
Now, suddenly, it's OK to say you're disappointed in Obama's leadership. It's OK to wonder if he's overrated. It's OK to blame him for the ongoing lousy economy and foreign policy fiascoes. And, after years avoiding Obama altogether, comedians are willing to make him the butt of jokes.

For any other politician, this wouldn't mean much. But now that the massive dam protecting Obama from criticism all these years has cracked, the results could be catastrophic. Who knows? Maybe the mainstream press will even decide to cover Obama fairly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

EMTALA Breeds Obamacare

A good editorial on the origins and effects of the Emergency Treatment Act.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Incentivizing Part Time Jobs

Obamacare will now be responsible for both reduced hiring (see for example the stories on medical device companies scaling back) and reduced hours for many workers.  My sense is that the latter cuts will disproportionately affect entry level workers, though it's hard to feel too sorry for them as they seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of the law.

From the story:

Darden, the world's largest casual-dining company and one of the nation's 30 largest employers, said it offers health insurance to all its approximately 185,000 employees. Many are offered a limited-benefit plan. That type of coverage is being phased out under health-care changes, which will ban annual limits for most plans.
About 25 percent of Darden workers are full time, meaning they work more than 30 hours a week. Though employees say Darden already offers traditional health insurance to full-timers, Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski said the cost of providing that could become higher for Darden under the Affordable Care Act. Because that law requires everyone to have health insurance, more workers will likely choose its coverage, Kalinowski said.
"Even a modest jump up in the amount of employees that decide they want the insurance you're offering could have a meaningful impact on your bottom line," he said.
Under the system Darden is testing, employees are to be scheduled for no more than 28 hours each week. They can run over that if things get busy, but Darden acknowledged they are not supposed to exceed 30 hours.

Two on Immigration

The blog Mother of Exiles is reposting some of the better pieces on immigration that they've come across.  I've enjoyed the first two (1, 2) that they've republished, particularly Harry Bingswanger's piece on open immigration.

(Ignore the obvious error in the date of the Washington quote in piece #2.)


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lying Scum

Sorry for the stark title, but it's my personal appraisal of this administration.   Mark Steyn does a good job of summarizing the facts about the brazen Benhgazi attacks and our president and staff's lying reaction to it.  Here's an excerpt, but read the whole thing:

There was no demonstration against an Islamophobic movie that just got a little out of hand. Indeed, there was no movie protest at all. Instead, a U.S. Consulate was destroyed and four of its personnel were murdered in one of the most sophisticated military attacks ever launched at a diplomatic facility.
This was confirmed by testimony to Congress a few days ago, although you could have read as much in my column of four weeks ago. Nevertheless, for most of those four weeks, the president of the United States, the secretary of state, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and others have persistently attributed the Benghazi debacle to an obscure YouTube video — even though they knew that the two events had nothing to do with each other by no later than the crack of dawn Eastern time on Sept. 12, by which point the consulate's survivors had landed safely in Tripoli.
To "politicize" means "to give a political character to." It is a reductive term, capturing the peculiarly shrunken horizons of politics: "Gee, they nuked Israel. D'you think that will hurt us in Florida?" So media outlets fret that Benghazi could be "bad" for Obama — by which they mean he might be hitting the six-figure lecture circuit four years ahead of schedule.
But for Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, it's really bad. They're dead, over, gonesville. Given that Obama and Hillary Clinton refer to Stevens pneumatically as "Chris." as if they've known him since third grade, why would they dishonor the sacrifice of their close, personal friend by peddling an utterly false narrative as to why he died?
You want "politicization"? Secretary Clinton linked the YouTube video to the murder of her colleagues even as the four caskets lay alongside her at Andrews Air Force Base — even though she had known for days that it had nothing to do with it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Responding to Academia on Free Speech

An excellent, must-read piece defending the freedom of speech.

I don't know Greg Lukianoff (though I'm of course familiar with the great work his organization FIRE does), but while he describes himself as a liberal, I think he's exactly the type of person that Objectivists can and should reach out to, as he seems very aware of the need and importance of principles, which is a powerful common ground to work from.  (Especially with someone who properly holds an important principle like that of the freedom of speech.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dr Peikoff on the Election

Here's Dr. Leonard Peikoff's take on the upcoming election.  His reasoning makes sense to me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Public Pension Watch

In a story worth following, Camden NJ plans to lay off its entire unionized police force and replace with a non-unionized county force.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More on our Lapdog Media

It's good to see this point being made:

“We’ve had nine day of lies over what happened because they can’t dare say it’s a terrorist attack, and the press won’t push this,” said Caddell. “Yesterday there was not a single piece in The New York Times over the question of Libya. Twenty American embassies, yesterday, are under attack. None of that is on the national news. None of it is being pressed in the papers.”
Caddell added that it is one thing for the news to have a biased view, but “It is another thing to specifically decide that you will not tell the American people information they have a right to know.”

It's also good to see that fewer and fewer people (though still too many) care about the legacy media's claims and propaganda.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Elan Journo on Our Appeasing Foreign Policy

Here's the opening of his article:
The murders of American diplomatic and military personnel in Libya underscore the consequences of America’s longstanding failure to uphold the rights of Americans to live and speak their minds in the face of the Islamist threat.
 For decades, U.S. policymakers have refused to recognize the religious character and goals of the Islamist movement. That movement—which encompasses Tehran’s mullahs, al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and many others—is a political ideology that seeks to subjugate all the world’s peoples, by physical force, under the supreme governing authority of Islamic religious law, in every area of life and thought.
America has for decades failed to see how that audacious long-term plan of conquest—however grandiose and fanciful it might seem—in fact actuates the Islamist cause. Whether the Libyan murderers and the mobs in Cairo and in Sanaa were truly incensed by a YouTube film or merely using that as a pretext, the Islamist goal remains to enforce submission in body and mind—on pain of death. The West’s long history of religious wars attests to the fact that until religion has been defanged and marginalized by reason, it is deadly.Our failure to understand this has crippled our policymaking.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Next Hong Kong?

Honduras is allowing "free cities", a development worth following.  Of course it will take decades to see if they can remain committed to the principles underlying this change, but if so they could be another beacon to the world.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Market Discipline

All of the costs and problems now being experienced in Germany due to its reliance on, and promotion of, renewable energy were always well known.  But only market forces could prevent them from becoming a reality, and of course the enormous German subsidies were and are meant precisely to blunt any market discipline.

Given that the large majority of Germans are vehemently for these policies, it's hard to feel sorry for them now.  Let's just hope that the British won't continue to follow them down the same path.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

A Worthwhile and Complementary Political Strategy

I like the idea of aiding and grooming young liberty-minded politicians before they become swept up in the two party system.  Bill Frezza describes how one young activist is doing just that:

John patiently addressed my objections. (It took a lot of effort to get him to stop calling me “Sir.”) He explained that he is playing the long game, the results of which may not pan out in his lifetime. The PAC he founded is laser-focused on winning elections where they are actually winnable. That means avoiding large, publicity-generating national contests, while focusing down the ticket instead.
Liberty for All targets winnable elections in small congressional districts, town councils, and school boards, with maybe a mayoral contest here or there. The idea is to help launch the careers of a new generation of libertarian-leaning politicians inside both parties by studying where lightning strikes of money can tip the balance, without attracting counter-strikes by big government lobbies from either the left or right. Liberty for All’s brochure quotes Clausewitz on the need for superiority of force at the point of attack. Like I said, John has done his homework.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The AARP's Disingenuousness

For years now, I've found the AARP to be one of the more disgusting lobbying groups out there, this Kimberley Strassel article reinforces my conclusion.

Watkins Interview

A good interview with Don Watkins touching on issues covered in his co-authored book, Free Market Revolution.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

We're Not Giving Freedom of Speech Away

The second half of this Pat Condell video is very good (around 3:20).

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Fawstin on Islam

Worth a read.  Here's my favorite paragraph:
The future of Islam and the well-being of Muslims is said to be of importance to us. Post – 9/11, the defense of our culture, our values, our very lives has been optional, but our defense of Islam has been absolute. It began with Bush’s “Islam is peace” and it continues with Obama, who said in his Submission Speech in Egypt in 2009, in front of members of The Muslim Brotherhood, “I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.” If only he felt the same about America.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Companies' Life Cycles

Bill Frezza looks at the "natural life cycle" of companies and draws lessons from it.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Freedom of Speech Petition

Charlie Hebdo is soliciting signatures for its freedom of speech petition.  I signed.

A Lifelong Democrat votes Republican

I find it helpful to have specific people in mind when I write or engage in other forms of activism.  Here's a story of the type of person who can be convinced of at least a subset of good ideas, and whose changed mind on these subjects is meaningful. Use it as both motivation to continue reaching out and as a concretization of the types of arguments that are likely to have impact.