Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ayn Rand Institute's Former Participant essay submission

Below is my submission for the ARI former participant essay contest where I won third place.

Here is the prompt: What was your initial response to the novel(s)? In what ways has reading Ayn Rand inspired you and the choices you have made in your life?

For more information on other contests visit the AYN RAND NOVELS website.

Also, for more information about The Ayn Rand Institute visit their website HERE.

Here is my essay: How Ayn Rand has Affected Me.

“Howard Roark laughed… He laughed at the thing which had happened to him that morning and at the things which now lay ahead.” Roark is laughing at the fact that he has been expelled from Architectural school. He is laughing because there will be more obstacles, and he knows he will win. Seemingly his career should be over, yet he shrugs the incident off as would a child who has scraped his knee and quickly goes back to play. Immediately, Roark’s viewpoint in life had a deep impact on me.

Throughout the novel Roark is never deterred from his goal, and never imagines he might be unable to accomplish his deepest values. Dominique on the other hand believes Roark’s success is not possible. He is great, but greatness can’t live for long in this world, she thinks. While Roark waits for clients and struggles from commission to commission, Dominique actively seeks to ensure he does not attain any commissions. His view is that values are achievable, hers that they are not.

Ayn Rand called these metaphysical views the benevolent and malevolent universe premises.

I was constantly confronted with the malevolent viewpoint. It was a view that seemed always to hamper my progress. At the age of 16 I decided I wanted to be a public speaker and open a seminar production company. I was promptly informed this was not possible, because I’d have to prove myself in some way first. This seemed like good advice, so at 17 I planned out in great detail how I would achieve financial independence by the age of 35 through real estate investing. “Make sure to be practical,” and “that isn’t a likely outcome, but good luck,” were common reactions to my goals. I had no defense against these proclamations except for my desire to run my own seminar production company and travel the country expressing my passion for life. I continued with my plans while this doubt was still picking at my brain.

As I started out on my course of action I realized this plan had a huge hole in it. I did not enjoy real estate investing. How could I stand waiting 15-20 years to do what I actually wanted to do? I had no answers, and that doubt, which became fear, was that I didn’t know if it was even possible.

At 17, fortunately, I read The Fountainhead. In it was the man who laughed at the actions of the Dean, and at Ellsworth Toohey’s attempt to destroy him. I witnessed the portrayal of a hero achieving against seemingly impossible odds. I started to create a new vision of what was possible for me. I had stifled a passion for film years prior, because I was assured nobody can really become successful in the film industry. But, as Roark says to the dean, “I have, let’s say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture.” Roark’s courage, his view that values are achievable, gave me courage, and a similar view of what is possible began to emerge within me.

At 18 I read Atlas Shrugged, and met Dagny Taggart and John Galt. Here I saw the full demonstration of what I felt in reading about Roark and his struggle. I saw what is possible at the deepest philosophical roots. I understood Dagny’s race to find the inventor of the motor, while all the men of the mind are disappearing around her, comes from her deep set need to view the best possible in man. She requires a reaffirmation that man is a being capable of achieving high values on earth. Her search, and the entire novel, showed me the contrasting views of the benevolent and malevolent universe premises, and what the consequences to each were in such vivid detail I no longer held any doubt.

By the age of 20 I was fully on my way to becoming a writer and producer of films. The inevitable responses of how impossible this would be began. However, now I had a deep philosophic base upon which to draw. I often pointed out to people the hundreds of individuals in the credits of just one film, and the hundreds of movies made each year. They made this film, why do you think it impossible for me, I’d ask. Those were the lucky ones, and realistically that rarely happens, I was told. I saw the malevolent universe premise peering its ugly head at me. The people around me did not view achievement as a possibility to any but the born lucky. This was the view of James Taggart, Orren Boyle, and Howard Roark’s Dean. They didn’t believe true success was possible in the world.

For me however, I knew that so long as one assessed reality and oneself, as Roark, Dagny and Galt do, what I sought was achievable. When Dagny looks up into Galt’s face after crashing in Atlantis she says, “We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?” This was the expression of the benevolent universe premise, which has been deeply ingrained into my soul. Success is possible, it is not given to man, he must create it, but it is possible to create the career he desires, to create the life he wants – I can be what I want to be.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy as demonstrated in her novels, and elucidated in her essays, has given me the assurance and courage to pursue my dreams. May, 2011 marks my graduation from film school. During my time there I began a film production company where I’ve produced and written over 14 short films, documentaries, commercials, and promotional videos. I also wrote my first feature length screenplay. The difficulties occur regularly as they do for Roark, and as they would in the pursuit of any worthy endeavor. The benevolent universe premise that is now deeply integrated into my ideas always helps me gain perspective of what I can accomplish.

In Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand calls the shack which contains Galt’s motor, “an altar.” The connection to a religious symbol is not coincidental. When Dagny meets Galt she is witnessing the ideal, the possible. If Galt exists, anything is possible.

Ayn Rand’s work gives me the same euphoric feeling, a feeling of worshipful grandeur, and a fuel to continue through the inevitable difficulties. I can laugh at the unimportant, the irrational, while holding the knowledge that if Rand exists, anything is possible.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Life: Capitalism's Motive Power

In today’s political climate Americans are more thoroughly confused than ever. In the 2008 elections Obama was elected by a large portion of voters long considered politically inactive. A year later these same Americans were utterly shocked when Obama followed through on his espoused ideological aims. There is also a mass of uncertainty in the realm of political issues. A tea party attendee may carry a sign that states, “Keep your hands off my medical care!” But when addressing the issue of financial reform, this same person is likely to say “we should do something about those Wall Street fat cats.”

Constituency shifts occur regularly between the right and left. Moreover, the two major parties have converged into one ideological pot. Lifelong republicans branch away from the party to join libertarian or “constitutional” parties. Claiming they are the “real” conservatives. Liberals join neo-conservative movements and juxtapose concepts of American patriotism with progressive ideas; such as the wholesale slaughter of American soldiers for proportionality in war: As if this is somehow American.

This confusion among serious minded Americans stems from the only alternatives presented to them: Either; a heavily regulated and controlled financial industry, or complete nationalization; a self destructive war or endless and unhindered terrorist attacks on our own soil; today’s semi-free, partially capitalistic, mixed economy - or total statism. There is no large support for any other alternatives. When people are given the choice of death by firing squad or death by slow torture it should be clear as to the reason for American’s difficulty in deliberation.

In the two major parties it is the democratic progressives that have continually accumulated numerous policy wins. The republicans have only accomplished slight speed bumps on the road to a larger socialist state. In any dispute between democrats and republicans, it is the democrats who are called “fiscally irresponsible,” but it is the republicans who are called “morally irresponsible.” The major opposition to Obamacare was that the bill was too big to understand and would lead to economic destruction. There were very few voices questioning the outright enslavement of doctors and the obliteration of individual rights.

Democrats have been long time supporters of a growing moral movement: environmentalism – which establishes as the moral that which is best for nature. The republicans have long been supporters of religion, which states the moral is that which God commands. In practice, the difference means that the democrats claim to hold the morality of reason, science and secularism, while the republicans hold the morality of supernaturalism and faith. In any debate it is the secular moralists vs. the religious zealots.

This has been the state of the fight for capitalism. The moral defenders are pitted as the irrational religious, while the ‘humanist/progressives’ hold reason and science as absolutes. For example, in regards to a complex scientific issue such as energy reform, to whom should the populace agree with - the religious moralists or the secular scientists? So has been the achievement of most of the democratic policy wins.

The democrats have won by moral default. They hold up to a nation of life lovers the ideal that voting for them is a vote for this life, reason and the future of science and technology. They are believed to be the only advocates of earthly motivations to live by.

Men yearn for motivations. And so long as a man desires to live he must take actions. In this there is no choice. As with all living organisms, there must be an acquisition of values in order to continue functioning. A single celled amoeba must obtain its food by surrounding and capturing its prey in accordance with its nature. A plant must photosynthesize sunlight into energy and absorb nutrients from the soil; if these living creatures do not do this, they perish.

The values these creatures seek are set automatically by their nature, and are determined by the type of entity that they are. For instance, a tiger could not survive by seeking the values a shark requires. Neither could a dog plant its feet into the ground and attempt to photosynthesize the sun’s light and absorb nutrients from the dirt. The same is true of man.

Men must seek values congruent with their nature. Man is not born with the knowledge necessary for life. In order to accomplish the continual process of survival and flourishing, men must take certain actions. To not act is a choice which will lead to the death of any organism. Much like a prey’s inability to act in the face of a predator leads to its death. In every hour of every day man is inundated with actions he must take. Upon waking he must decide to stay in bed or get up, eat breakfast or leave without it, work or beg.

This illustrates that every action, from talking to the beautiful woman in dance class to what shirt to wear for the big business meeting, implies choices that must be made. Even taking the action of inaction is a choice. As has already been indicated, animals make their basic choices based on their nature and instincts. A plant can grow towards the sun, but it cannot build a ditch to ensure it receives water. A man cannot absorb moisture and nutrients in the manner a plant can. But he can choose to use his unique tool of survival; reason, to build a ditch.

What then are the values a man should seek? Since man does not have the ability to automatically know what actions to take, what actions are right for him, he needs a guide: a compass that can help direct him to a correct course of actions. Man cannot act without a motivation to do so. A car cannot move or even start without a motive power, gasoline, so to humans are incapable of making decisions without motivations, or a motive power to act as their energy source. For machinery, motive power is its primary energy source. Steam was the motive power for boats in the 19th century, and oil for boats today. A motive power is the reason a machine can move. What then is man’s motive power?

Many individuals accept one or both of the two dominant ideologies in America today, Environmentalism and Religion. These two systems offer a ready-made guide to human actions. They claim to hold the right motive power for man.

Man requires a code for all of his values – i.e. an ethics (or morality). As philosopher Tara Smith puts it, “Ethics is a code of values whose purpose is to steer human beings to the achievements of the more concrete values that fuel an individual’s existence.”(Emphasis mine) Even the seemingly innocuous choice between cheerios and cyanide does not come automatically to a person; there must be a reference to all the values man ought to make.

There are various moral theories each offering their own version of what is the proper motive power that moves man. Three codes in existence today are utilitarianism, altruism, and egoism.

Utilitarianism offers the motive power of the “greatest good for the greatest number.” This theory advocates ensuring the actions of each individual are allotted towards the greatest good. When a person deliberates on a career the choice should be that career which provides the greatest good for the majority. It would be irrelevant whether a ‘selfish’ person wanted to enter the field of law enforcement if the majority decided there needed to be more teachers.

Utilitarianism is a variation of one of the oldest motive powers in human history - altruism. But altruism does not require merely a motive power in terms of good for the majority; altruism requires sacrifice to anyone. It is irrelevant to where a person’s rewards are distributed – whether to the old, the poor, or the handicapped person down the street – so long as the person creating the rewards does not receive them. Altruism literally means “other”-ism - the standard upon which all decisions should be made is what is good for other people. Moreover, this means everyone is a slave to any other person’s random need. If other peoples good is the standard of value, the motive power for each man, than any moocher with a cup in his hand requires the sacrifice of anyone capable of filling that cup. Utilitarianism discriminates upon the “others” saying the rewards should be a maximizing of the majority of peoples good. Altruism requires a person to give up any values to any person or thing; to the dipsomaniac, the bum, the enemy to humanity, any tree, rock, or pasture that supposedly needs something. As Dr. Peikoff explains, “altruism is not a synonym for kindness, generosity, or good will, but the doctrine that man should place others above self as the fundamental rule of life.”

There is, of course, never a rational basis to adhere to any of these moralities. Their defense usually boils down to some form of authoritarianism. People are told these moralities are correct because “God said so,” or it is the “will” of the majority, or our noumenel selves demand it as our duty, or the Fuehrer says so. Never are they expounded by the facts of reality. Thus David Hume’s statement that “an is does not imply an ought.” Moreover, these moralities are advocated as the only options available.

Egoism, the morality discovered and advocated by Ayn Rand, is that other alternative. Egoism should not be confused with hedonism, which is the morality that claims the motive power is that which maximizes pleasure. Rational egoism is the theory that advises taking actions which are in an individual’s best long-term interests. A person does not act in their own interests when they destroy their ability to live long-term, as in cases of subjective egoism (i.e. hedonism), wherein a person sacrifices others to self. Rand’s discovery is the idea of non-sacrifice. Opponents of egoism will point to such men today as Bernie Maddoff and Tiger Woods as crude egoists. Bernie Maddoff swindled millions of dollars from people and ended up losing his family, friends, self-respect, money, business, and freedom. Tiger Woods engaged in indiscriminate sex and alienated his wife, lost millions of dollars of endorsements, and lost the respect of most of the nation. It is absurd to proclaim these men were somehow acting egoistically; they in fact acted towards the destruction of all their values.

Life is not a onetime accomplishment. It is an ongoing process. Tiger Woods may have valued his wife enough to marry her, but marriage is not the end of a relationship, it’s the beginning. Certain actions need to be taken in order to maintain the relationship, trust being merely part of that equation. Much like a person wouldn’t try fixing their car by putting vinegar in the gas tank, so to a person shouldn’t undercut other values in their life by sabotaging them with a string of one night stands. When Bernie Maddoff was running a successful investment firm he had to work hard to ensure his customers were happy and would return for repeat business. Tiger Woods worked towards achieving success in golf from the age of three. These true successes do not occur overnight.

Egoism promulgates the idea that man’s proper motive power is his own life. That in the choices he ought to take are those choices which coincide with the values required by the type of being that he is. This would mean not taking actions congruent with the values of a dolphin, amoeba, or redwood, but that of the rational animal.

People living in close proximity, and engaging in beneficial activities require a social system to implement rules of actions that are to be tolerated or outlawed. Murder and theft are normally the first actions to be forbidden. When it comes to more ‘complex’ rules such as: private property, free expression, and freedom to pursue one’s own goals, people need a guide to help them decide. Men living together require rules or chaos will ensue. A system – such as feudalism, communism, fascism, or capitalism – is mandatory. The obvious problem is what rules are proper, and what principles are necessary to guide a society when establishing a social system.

It must be stressed that there must be social rules in any society. Even in a so-called “anarchist society,” eventually one group will rise up and enforce their social rules. Whether the rules are based on, slave to master, proletariat to bourgeois, or that of free men trading their goods for mutual gain and mutual benefit. These social rules must be more than mere taboos, they must be enforceable absolutes. For instance, throughout history, the social rule of property rights has been largely abnegated. That an individual be allowed to utilize and dispose of their property in any way they see fit. The degree this rule was allowed or outlawed is the degree to which that country and its citizens were prosperous – or impoverished. In almost all social systems some form of private property is allowed, if not merely de facto. Feudalism allowed for peasants to own some of their property that was unable to be fully controlled. In communist Russia small and private gardens in people’s backyards outgrew all of Russia’s massive ‘community’ farms.
The purpose of a government is to enforce the social rules believed to be correct by a society. A government is pure force. It serves no other function. A government cannot create, it can only dictate. It cannot produce, it can only command. However, this function is vital to a human civilization. There must be some societal norms which some entity must uphold. A government is that entity.

The type of social system a person, or nation, will advocate is based directly upon the motive power they hold. For someone who holds that the basic motive power for men should be the needs of others he will believe, implicitly at least, in some form of socialism. To hold that proper actions are those that benefit others at the expense of self (i.e. altruism and utilitarianism) inevitably means a country must force those who are not doing their part, to contribute. The same applies to rules against murder; people not respecting this rule must be forced to do so, because it has been established as morally wrong to murder. If sacrificing part of one’s possessions to others is morally right, then those who don’t must be made to do so. The reason Obamacare, or any welfare program in the last 100 years, has passed is because the majority of Americans believed it was right. It makes no difference that this last set of welfare programs woke some Americans up to the bankruptcy these bills will bring about; people needed them, and so something ought to be done about it.

Holding that man’s motive power is “the greatest good for the greatest number” means that person will advocate social rules which put this moral policy into effect. To say what is right is that which benefits the greatest good is to admit that there are no standards, and that man is subordinated to any two people who claim a need. There is no way to quantify or identify a “greater good” in actuality, greater good becomes whatever the “greatest number” says it is. If 51% of the population decides to take the other 49%’s property, this would be the enforceable social rules under this moral social system. This may occur in the form of income taxes, or in the act of a literal destruction of a minority of ‘undesirables’ within a society; the theory is the same, destruction and abnegation of the individual.

Egoism in morality leads to capitalism in politics. If each individual is their own sovereign entity, to which no one can rule, then this will lead a society to delegate government into the role of protector of the individual. This means recognition of each individual’s right to life, liberty, and property. This system has the distinguishing characteristic of recognizing that man’s motive power is his own life.

Respecting this motive power means recognizing the requirements of man qua man. This includes utilizing reason to solve the problem of survival through production, and enjoying the effects of one’s success. Whether the enjoyment is manifested in eating an extravagant meal with a loved one, listening to a symphony, or globetrotting in a private plane; the individual that created the rewards keeps them.

This is the purpose of the concept “Rights” (more specifically, individual rights); recognizing the fact that in order to survive each man must utilize his own tool for survival, means recognizing that each man has a fundamental right to choose which actions he thinks will lead to his success. This concept is also vital to understanding that a person has a sphere of rights that are limited. A Right is a concept which sets the terms for enforceable social conduct in a society based upon mans proper motive power. As Rand elucidated,

Rights are a moral concept – the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others – the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context – the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.

Laissez-faire capitalism respects these rights by banning the initiation of force among men – either direct or indirect – within a given geographical area. In this system all property is privately owned and government is strictly assigned to the protection of individual rights, and they are forbidden interference in the economic realm. This means that if a person wishes to convince others to buy their products they must create the best product available and offer it at the best price. They cannot force a person to purchase their products. Nor can they attain subsidies from the government. There are no subsidies, government creates no money. There are no special favors, government has no power to arbitrarily make new rules that must be obeyed. Objective law is the only king. Businesses cannot lobby, government can do nothing for them, but protect their rights as they do everyone else’s. Wal-Mart may become the richest corporation in America, but there are plenty of people who refuse to step foot in their stores – and there isn’t a thing Wal-Mart can do about it.

Capitalism allows each man to judge his own situation as he sees fit, allowing each to receive their due rewards. Every individual person is able to take actions, unhindered by outside forces. It allows everyone to decide which products or services they desire and gives them the ability to choose which path they deem proper to achieve their values. A person can decide to take actions to save money for the possibility of a medical emergency, or they can neglect to do this, but they will suffer the consequences of their own choices. Society will not fix the irrational decisions of each of its citizens. If someone decides to imbibe alcohol and watch television all day, they are perfectly free to do so, but they are not free to run to the government and ask them to use force on more responsible adults to pay for their irresponsibility. In a just society the population is encouraged to make rational decisions, if they don’t, they, and they alone, suffer the consequences.

Imagine a bank in a free society. This bank can enact policies to lend out money based on a person’s need, but if this policy leads to bankruptcy there can be no bailout by the government. Once these irrational policies catch up to them, they are done. At the same time, a company that provides great products that the majority of people want, and decides to compete by offering a free service with every purchase, they are allowed to do so. Even if this means their competitor must shut down. Each person keeps the rewards of their actions, and decides what to do with them. It is irrelevant whether the person is a janitor or if they represent the collected interests of many individuals that voted them to run their multi-billion dollar corporation.

Capitalism’s defenders give half-hearted defenses for advocating the system of private property and individual rights. Their defenses serve to undercut the core that allows the system to operate; selfish pursuit of ones values. These are normally counterproductive at best and absolutely devastating at worst. To say, for instance, that capitalism is the best system because it provides the greatest utility for the greatest number is to destroy the morality necessary for each person to pursue the values congruent with their nature. In other words, the defense goes, capitalism should be allowed, in spite of the depravity of its motivations, on the premise that it has the awesome ability to produce goods which brings happiness or pleasure to the greatest number of people. As Peikoff points out, “the essence of this argument is the claim that capitalism is justified by its ability to convert ‘man’s baseness’ to ‘noble ends.’ ‘Baseness’ here means egoism; nobility means altruism. And the justification of individual freedom in terms of its contribution to the welfare of society means collectivism.” He goes on to explain that the father of modern utilitarianism – to whom the above argument derives – John Stuart Mill, understood the contradiction in “trying to defend an individualist system by accepting the fundamental moral ideas of its opponents.” This led Mill to eventually proclaim his advocacy of socialism.

Men must be given explicit moral reasons to advocate capitalism. Much like the progressives have given people moral reasons to vote socialism into America piecemeal, so to must advocates of capitalism give moral reasons to scale government back to a point where its only job is to protect the individual. A motive power, a person’s moral code, is what gives energy to each person to make decisions in their daily deliberations. It is the fundamental reason that enables men to decide upon any particular action. The vast majority of proponents for capitalism point out every possible economic reason to fight for capitalism. It brings prosperity, they say. It allows for the free flow of goods and services, they proclaim. There have been thousands of books and articles that show all the economic reasons to establish a capitalist society. Even with all of this there is no massive movement towards unfettered capitalism; in fact the opposite is true. The choice is still between a mixed economy and a completely controlled economy.

Socialist and Communist countries are even beginning to adhere to the economic praise for capitalism. They are proclaiming countries should utilize freedom to achieve ‘progressive’ ends. When the supposed defenders of capitalism sound exactly like the enemies of capitalism, it is time to alter course.

When men join a cause or a war (intellectual or otherwise) they do so for purely moral reasons. No one has ever gone to war or advocated a revolutionary new ideal because their economist decreed this new regime’s economic policy would increase GDP by 25%. When someone goes to war, it’s because they were given a moral motivation to do so.

In 480 BC the Persian Empire, ruled by Xerxes proclaimed King of Kings, attempted to conquer the known world based on the moral ideal of Zoroastrianism. This was a view that split the world in to two parts: Those in the Persian empire of “light and truth,” and everyone else of “darkness and lies.” It is no wonder they voraciously attempted to bring “light and truth” to the world. America’s Founding Fathers fought purely for the moral reason of their “inalienable rights.” The rebellions over tea taxes (economic reasons) were only representational of the moral indignation held by the founders. In fact, previous taxes were much higher than the tea tax which set off the revolution. In 1860 America, the south was motivated by the collectivist moral ideology of states’ rights and white supremacy. That each state could justify any collectivist goal they desired – in this instance; chattel slavery. As Dr. John Lewis shows, the north and south were fundamentally skewed by two opposing motive powers. “Alexander H. Stephens, vice-president of the confederacy, knew it, and expounded upon this at the Georgia convention on March 21, 1861: ‘our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea [from abolition]; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man, that slavery – subordination to the superior race – is his natural and normal condition.’” And from the north, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “’slavery is essential to the community, or it must be fatal to it, - there is no middle ground… War has flung the door wide open, and four million slaves stand ready to file through… What the peace which the south has broken was not doing, the war which she has instituted must secure.’” Right or wrong, these men had a motive power to fight for their cause.

Whether the men were ancient Persians, Athenians, Spartans or modern Americans, Japanese, or Germans, they have always, and will always, fight because of the morality they have discovered. The destructiveness of giving men only economic reasons to accept an idea is that it cedes the moral high ground to ones opponents. Like saying one should adhere to a diet of eating healthy foods, but fail to defend against assertions that health should not be purpose of a diet. Instead, the purpose should be the sugar farmer’s needs; therefore, advocate high sugar diets.

Prosperity is not the reason to accept capitalism. Freedom is the reason. No other system allows a motivation of one’s own life as an end in itself.

To win the fight for capitalism, an absolute acceptance of the moral reasons for it are more than necessary, it is mandatory. Most men yearn to live a moral life, simply witness the vehement outcries against capitalism; they are all moral. Capitalism should be advocated because it is the only moral social system that is consistent with the rights of man.

Those who fight for tomorrow live in it today. The fight ahead will be as tough as any revolution; albeit, hopefully a bloodless battle of ideas. Winning is not guaranteed merely because someone is right. However, to those people who choose to struggle for the promise of future values achieve those values during the struggle. No matter the outcome, merely the possibility of long-term values is worth an attempt at the enormous feat ahead. Men must make choices to live. Let us choose life.


1. Rand, Ayn. The Virtue Of Selfishness. (New York: Signet, 1964), 17-20

2. Ibid., 21-23

3. Smith, Tara. Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 23

4. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. October 9th, 2007. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mill-moral-political/ (accessed August 7th, 2010).

5.Peikoff, Leonard. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. (New York: Penguin Group, 1991), 240

6. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Oct 29, 2004. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-moral/#io (accessed July 28, 2010).

7.Craig Biddle, “Capitalism and the Moral High Ground,” The Objective Standard Winter 2008-2009. Especially read pages 21 -22 for specific reasons that have been given as to why one should advocate a morality that requires enslavement of self to others.

8. Sowell, Thomas. Basic Economics. (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 168

9. Rand, Ayn. The Virtue Of Selfishness. (New York: Signet, 1964), 107-115

10. Ibid., 146 -149

11. Rand, Ayn. "What Is Capitalism?" In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand, 1-30. (New York: Signet, 1967)

12. Rand, Ayn. The Virtue Of Selfishness.( New York: Signet, 1964), 92

13. Armentano, Dominick T. Antitrust and Monopoly: Anatomy of a Policy Failure. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1982. There has been an immense amount of literature destroying the myth that free markets create destructive monopolies of any type. This book investigates all major cases of antitrust in America since its inception in 1890, and showing them all to have falsely identified the problem. Other sources worthy of investigation are: 1) Greenspan, Alan. "Antitrust." In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand, 63-72. New York: Signet, 1967. 2) Branden, Nathaniel. "Common Fallacies About Capitalism." In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand, 73-100. New York: Signet, 1967. 3) Epstein, Alex. "Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company." The Objective Standard, 2008., 4)Daniels, Eric. "Antitrust with a Vengeance:The Obama Administration's Anti-Business Cudgel." The Objective Standard, 2009-2010: 21-29

14. Peikoff, Leonard. The Ominous Parallels. (New York: Meridian, 1982), 120

15. Lewis, John David. Nothing Less Than Victory. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2010), 13-17

16Ibid. 143

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Use It or Lose It

We find ourselves in a peculiar era today. There are many people still alive who can recall a time when America was the envy of the world. Millions of immigrants fled to our borders for the chance to work even a menial job here. Intellectuals, doctors, scientists, and businessmen of all flavors came in droves to the freest country earth has ever held. Yet, we look around today and all the hard work seems to be crumbling in on itself. There are American cargo ships that must prepare for the possibility of pirate attacks (yes, pirates!). The greatest military the world has ever witnessed is unwilling to do what is necessary to protect American vessels on the open seas. Our country currently has over-zealous followers to a demagogue that resorts to extremely derogatory language against any who oppose them. This, of course, is not new, but the fervor has increased to the point of classifying anyone who disagrees with the present administration as right wing extremists (or “teabaggers”), and clumps them with right wing terrorists. Consider what this could mean if someone disagrees with a political policy and is deemed a terrorist under the Patriot Act (especially if the act is expanded).

This is the same country that flooded the world with unimagined goods and services. This is also the country that ushered in an era of unfathomed prosperity. Today, the average person living below the poverty line owns: a television, a car, a refrigerator, shelter, has money for food, and dozens of other amenities never possible to the richest kings of old.

The question becomes how did we get from where we were to where we are? The answer is simple. The hard working people, who produced all the great values we now enjoy, never spoke up against a government that grew brick by brick around them. It is the old story of the boiling frog experiment. Put a frog in a boiling pot of water and it will immediately jump out. Put a frog in a pot of room temperature water and slowly turn up the heat, and it will boil to death. Well folks, it looks like today we are the frog and we’re boiling.

But it’s not too late.

There are a myriad of ways a government can grow to eventually dominate our lives. It inevitably starts with words like “temporary” or “public interest.” A temporary fix will always lead to more “temporary” fixes. Once the government fails, which it almost always does, it will clamor for more, and bigger, “temporary” fixes. Anything done in the name of the public interest or public good is even more dangerous, primarily, because there is no such thing as “public interest.” A public is merely a collection of individuals, each with their own wants, needs and desires. When someone says they are doing something for the “public interest,” ask them; “Well, who decides what that is?” The answer in some form or another ends up being, “I do.”

Medicare in the 60’s was instituted because it was said to be in the best interest of the elderly to not have to rely on private charity. Despite the glaring fact that elderly people who were incapable of paying for their own medical care were taken care of by private charity. Social Security was instituted because it was in the public interest to have a guaranteed retirement plan paid for by everyone together. It was in the best interest of the country to force banks to invest in risky communities they normally avoided (e.g. the Community Reinvestment Act). It was in the interest of America to appease terrorists abroad for decades. Look what appeasement has gained us. The trend continues today. We are told it is in the public interest to bailout big banks, and big automakers. They are too big to fail is the alleged theory. The government tried to tell us it was in our best interests to let them take over our health care industry. Finally, some individuals decided to speak up.

These are only a fraction of our government’s policies for the past sixty plus years. They got away with it because of one reason. Like the frog, the American people never realized they were being boiled alive. As our freedoms were being slowly expropriated, there was silence. The only voices heard were arguing over which freedoms to eliminate next, and how to do it.

Our most important freedom, which is being hampered by both the Right and the Left, is our intellectual freedom. Our freedom to speak out is our protection against the formulation of a tyranny. Our founding fathers had a definite structure to the constitution. The Bill of Rights is our first set of amendments, with our first amendment being strictly about intellectual freedoms; such as free speech. They understood that without these freedoms, none others are possible. Unfortunately, it has been those against individual rights who have spoken their minds the most. The men and women who attempt to corrupt the concept of rights and apply them to whatever they desire.

What else is the meaning of the right to medical care, housing, jobs, food and all the other supposed rights? This is the idea that some people have the right to anything so long as they need it. Who shall provide for their need? This is when a proper right – or a right that infringes nothing on anyone else – is corrupted to mean whatever someone wants it to mean. The people advocating these policies force one group of Americans to pay for the need of another group. They accomplish this by shouting for the biggest gun in the world; the American government. The fact that this group expropriates the wealth of some to give to another by the use of the government, elucidates their true belief; might is right.

The people who advocated these so-called rights were the main individuals in the political and intellectual forum. The hard working American’s who paid for these policies were too busy producing values, and living their lives, to bother looking up long enough to notice the devastation around them.

We see where this silence has led America.

It is now time for those who never spoke up to take a stand, or one day we will all wake up to a totalitarian dictatorship with access to the most advanced weaponry on the planet. To stand by indifferently, crying that this can never happen in America is all our enemies’ desire of us. They aren’t interested in our support. They have their minority of fervent followers. They merely want you out of their way; they’ll gladly take your indifference.

If you do not use your freedoms, you will lose them.

To arm ourselves intellectually will take time and hard work, but it’s worth it. It is much easier to stop a dictatorship from occurring in our country than it will be to overthrow it. One can begin by reading books, articles, blogs newspapers and whatever else is available to start understanding the issues. Listen to intellectuals to hear what all are saying. Find sources on the internet, podcasts, and other online writings of people spending their time fighting for their liberties. Understand this, not all ideas were created equal; tread carefully. Hard work this may be, but vital to our future.

Once armed, it is necessary to be prepared to shoot your enemies on sight. Don’t be afraid, stand up on principles, such as the principle of individual rights, and you will soon discover your intellectual enemies will crumble like a house of cards – assuming you have rational ideas of course. It is very likely you will take fire, and this is why building your intellectual ammunition is so vital. Remember, once that freedom is gone, we’ll never see it again.

If it is your goal to bring America back to our intellectual foundation it must start now. It must start with each one of you. It is in all of our self interests to learn what is occurring in America today and take a stand. There is no longer an easy way to win back our freedoms. The easy way ended over a century ago. Now, we must work towards our own bright future. But not to worry, there have been great thinkers of the past, and today, that you can rely on. They were and are men and women who have paved the way for the possibility of a future with freedom; mental giants all. And, once you expose the enemy for what they are, mental midgets with an inferiority complex, they will shy away from any and all rational responses. Reveal their disguise and fight back the torrent of evils, now, before it’s too late.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Letter to the editor of the Denver Post 12/08/09

Here is another letter I wrote to the open forum of the Denver Post. It is in regards to the article on sunday entitled: CSU Gun Ban is the Right Call.

This author makes several illogical statements to fuel his false conclusions. Point one, accidental shootings might occur if students are allowed concealed weapons (with a permit). This is equivalent to claiming we should ban driving on campus because students may get in accidents. Driving accidents do happen frequently and should be punished accordingly. Gun accidents from a licensed holder rarely happen, but should be punished if they do. Second point, shooting sprees are too rare to really worry about. This is no reason to take away any persons right to defend their life. When was the last time someone accidently shot thirty people? Third point, the killer probably wouldn’t run into a gun holder, especially considering the 21 year old law. This is a good reason to repeal the law banning 18 year olds from acquiring a license. The author raises one more point worthy of addressing. Rape victims don’t need to use guns, they should use pepper spray. The idea of worrying about the offender of a crime is not only silly, but evil.
In regards to the last sentence of students not fighting back; we will.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

LTE to Denver Post 12/06/09

Here is another Letter to the Editor I wrote to the Denver Post in their Open Forum section (unpublished). The title of the article I addressed was "We all Pay the Price for Obesity, Diabetes."
The article is about the growing problem of diabetes and obesity in America.

The author never addresses an actual solution; he simply spews out arbitrary stats and hides his agenda behind his supposed ‘good intentions.’ After all, who wouldn’t want to lower diabetes in America, especially in our children? Yet, look closer and it is clear this author simply wishes to enforce the way he believes we should all live our lives. The fact that costs will go up – because of government mandates, Medicare and Medicaid – is why we must do something, as the author postulates. The author does allude to a personal responsibility we all have to ourselves, but fails to connect that idea to the principle of individual’s rights.

The fact that we are paying people to lead unhealthy lives is the real problem. Begin to rid our nation of the thousands of government intervention in the medical industry, and we will begin to see people take responsibility for their lives. Nothing will get people thinking more about their own health, than when it hits their pocketbooks.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Letter to the editor of the Denver Post 11/29/09

Below is a short LTE I wrote to the Denver Post in regards to THIS op-ed piece. The article is entitled "Salazar Right to Rebuff Critics." The article is about interior Secretary Ken Salazar position on the oil and gas industry, and critics pegging him as an anti-driller.

Be wary whenever you hear a politician claim what they are doing is for the “public good,” or for the good of the “taxpayer.” Salazar stated that trade groups don’t own public lands; taxpayers do. What exactly does that mean? Who specifically is the ‘taxpayer,’ and how does anyone know what’s best for them? An important thing to understand is that there is no such thing as a public. The public is merely made up of individuals. You cannot have a public commodity or a publicly own anything, because this concept “public” is simply an abstract term denoting a group of individuals. The question we must ask is if these policies help me as an individual?

By using this term “taxpayer” Salazar is asking for a free-for-all in his ability to trade political favors. After all, as long as he can say it is in the “public good” he can get away with almost anything. America’s constitution is designed to protect individual rights, not public rights; which is a contradiction in terms.