Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

30 March 2016

Krugman Demonstrates Lack of Focus Once Again

Paul Krugman has once again demonstrated his lack of focus and poor reasoning skills.  His column criticizes Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, and Ted Cruz.

He claims that Ted Cruz's tax reform plan will increase taxes on the poor and he references this analysis by the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institute, for a very socialist viewpoint on Cruz's tax plan.  So what does that report say:
In 2017, the proposal would cut taxes at every income level, but high-income taxpayers would receive the biggest cuts, both in dollar terms and as a percentage of income.
This is not a tax increase for the poor as Krugman claims.  Of course the poorest, who pay virtually no taxes now, will not get as big a tax reduction as will high-income taxpayers.  The report does go on to make a prediction based upon a leftist view of the economy that by 2025, the lowest income quintile will be paying $116 more a year in taxes than they would under the present income tax scheme.  Of course, they also assume that Cruz will not succeed in reducing the size of the government relative to the size of the economy and who knows what other assumptions based on a dismal growth of businesses and a failure to count the value of welfare payments to the poorest quintile.  This economic model is likely no more sound than are the computer models that supposedly buttress the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis.

Krugman also seeks to discredit Paul Ryan by claiming that Ryan has said he returns over and over to read Francisco D'Anconia's Money Speech from Atlas Shrugged.  According to Krugman the Money Speech is:
one of the interminable monologs in Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"
A monolog less than four and a half pages long is too much for Paul Krugman's ability to focus and think.  He, though supposedly an economist, has little interest in the morality of Capitalism and needs escapist novels to pander to his inability to focus and reason.

Global Warming Controls Pointlessly Hurt the Poor Most

I am going to summarize the key points of a Daily Caller article entitled "How the Poor Bear The Brunt of Europe's Obsession with Global Warming" by Andrew Follett.

The important points are:
  • From 2005 to 2014, the cost of residential electricity in Europe increased by 63%, compared to a smaller increase of 32% in the USA, which was itself driven upward by Global Warming Policies.
  • The poor in Europe are hurt by their global warming policies about 1.4 to 4 times as much as the rich are.
  • Britains paid 54% more than Americans for electricity in 2014 than Americans.  7% of their electricity bill is charges for subsidies for green energy.
  • 38% of Brits have to cut back on the purchase of essentials thanks to their high electric bills.
  • This is pointless suffering since catastrophic man-made global warming is a false hypothesis and because the 2005-2014 European reduction of 0.6 billion tons per year of CO2 emissions was swamped by the increases of just four nations, China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil, whose increase in emissions was 4.7 billion tons per year in that period.
Another critical aspect of the European policy of expensive electricity costs is discussed here.  The important points are:
  • About 10% of Europeans live in energy poverty.
  • 7 million German households are in energy poverty.
  • Millions of Europeans had their electricity shut off resulting in 40,000 deaths this winter.
This is a terrible price being paid in the name of bad science.  Those who insist on the bad science and the political barriers to inexpensive and reliable fossil fuels are performing very evil acts.  So many of those who are most vociferous in claiming a scientific consensus for catastrophic man-made global warming also claim to be champions of the poor.  Apparently, they need to make many more people poor so they will have more justification for their subsidies for the poor and claims for the need for income equality!

19 March 2016

Cummins on Ayn Rand's View of Human Nature

Dr. Denise Cummins wrote an article entitled This is what happens when you take Ayn Rand seriously, on which I commented extensively.  She has followed that article up with another in which she takes exception to one of my comments and generally finds fault with Ayn Rand for not embracing altruism.  Her second article is entitled What Ayn Rand got wrong about human nature.  She starts her article by saying that the complaints of Rand's followers "primarily objected to my assertion that Rand celebrated unbridled self-interest."

Her first quote and the only quote of such a "follower" was taken from one of my comments.  This is that quote:
Rand’s good people do care about others. They do not care to be forced to give away the fruits of their invested time to others, but they are delighted to trade what they produce to others and delighted to see those trades improve the lives of others.
To which her only direct comment is "Such objections are without merit." Oddly enough, she then quoted Ayn Rand
Man gains enormous values from dealing with other men; living in a human society is his proper way of life — but only on certain conditions. Man is not a lone wolf and he is not a social animal. He is a contractual animal. He has to plan his life long-range, make his own choices, and deal with other men by voluntary agreement (and he has to be able to rely on their observance of the agreements they entered). The choice is not self-sacrifice or domination.
showing that she also believed in goodwill towards others provided our associations and trades are of a voluntary nature.  She introduces this quote of Rand's by saying that she acknowledged that human beings are social animals who should "look beyond their own immediate self-interest in order to function."  Looking beyond "immediate self-interest" is consistent with Rand's general philosophy and with my comment that Cummins claimed had no merit.  Note the sleight of hand by Cummins in claiming that Rand believed in "unbridled self-interest" in the first paragraph of her article even as she now acknowledges that Rand looks beyond "immediate self-interest."  Actually, Rand and I believe that rational man pursues his rational self-interest, not an "unbridled self-interest."  An unbridled self-interest is an emotion-driven and short-range viewpoint of others and one's relations with them which is not bridled by rational assessment and long-range planning of one's life.

Cummins then claims:
Despite embracing sociality, Rand saw more evil than good in this kind of interdependence between people. As she wrote in “The Fountainhead,” “The choice is independence or dependence. All that which proceeds from man’s independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man’s dependence upon men is evil.”
Note that in the quote she gives here, Rand is discussing man's independent ego.  She is not discussing an independence from the trade of values with others.  Rand is saying that one's ego should not be dependent upon what others think of you or that you should not let others tell you what to think or whether you have self-value.  The contradiction Cummins claims is not supported by this quote.

Cummins then claims that Ayn Rand somewhat embraces altruism:
Perhaps the key to understanding this contradiction lies in a journal entry in which she writes, “Selfishness does not mean only to do things for one’s self. One may do things, affecting others, for his own pleasure and benefit. This is not immoral, but the highest of morality.”
Seen in this light, altruistic acts are sanctioned insofar as they bring pleasure or other benefit to the giver, who has no moral obligation to offer help to those who are suffering.
 Ayn Rand defines altruism as the act of sacrificing one's own self-interest for the sake of the interest of others.  Cummins appears to believe that any act done for the sake of others is an act of altruism.  There are certainly many situations in which a rational man will act to enhance the interest of others without sacrificing his own interest and indeed by enhancing his own self-interest as well.  Cummins wants to provide legitimacy for altruism by claiming it subsumes both the sacrificial and the self-interested acts that help others.  For strong moral reasons, Ayn Rand wants to separate these very different actions with respect to relations and associations with others.  Cummins wants to muddle them together.

Cummins next takes exception to Rand's claims that socialism does not work.  Cummins says that socialism can lead to abuse and poverty, but it can also lead to wealth, health, and happiness superior to capitalism.  So, she proves this by stating that a certain Prosperity Index lists the United States as the 11th most "prosperous" nation after a number of nations she calls socialist nations.  The criteria for this ranking are not given by her link and that link does not link to the criteria either.  But in any case, one critical assumption in her "proof" is that the USA is an example of an unadulterated capitalist country.  In fact the Cato Institute 2015 Economic Freedom of the World report ranked the USA as only the 16th country in economic freedoms.  The Heritage Foundation Economic Freedom Index of 2016 lists the USA as #11 in economic freedom.  So, it should not be a surprising result of an index of prosperity to rank the USA #11.  According to the Cato Economic Freedom of the World report, New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland and Canada are economically more free than the USA.  According to the Heritage Foundation Economic Freedom Index, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and Ireland all have more economic freedom than does the USA.  Apparently, Cummins is unaware of the many socialist programs and economic controls that American governments have saddled our business sector with.

Oddly, Cummins claims that
while a given individual can benefit from cooperating, he or she can usually do better by reneging.  The end result is that altruists go extinct.  But Trivers showed that altruists can survive if one simple condition is satisfied: Those who fail to reciprocate must be punished through exclusion from subsequent cooperative ventures.
Once again, Cummins is implicitly claiming that one who cooperates and does their part is an altruist, while the rational self-interested person will renege.  But, she says the altruist can do well in cooperative transactions if the reneger is not allowed to enter into future cooperative ventures.  So, the long-range rational self-interest of a person is not to renege, which takes us right back to Ayn Rand's self-interest -- one of rational thought and long-range planning!  Cummins then tries to make a strong contrast between future exclusion and the enforcement of contracts.  The enforcement of contracts as advocated by Ayn Rand does help to prevent harm to the partner in a cooperative endeavor who will live up to the spirit of the endeavor.  The one who does not is subject to legal action to recover damages and also to future exclusion from cooperative endeavors.

Cummins claims that Rand's idea of enforceable contracts says Rand expects "government to play a role in maintaining fairness in market transactions."  She may be trying to claim this opens the door to a version of fairness as Cummins would see fairness, not as Rand would see it.  If this is not the case, I do not see why she has brought this up.

Not surprisingly, Cummins claims that laissez-faire capitalism failed in the 2008 financial crisis.  She fails entirely to recognize the many ways in which that crisis was caused by government policies and the many ways that government policies iced a recovery.

Cummins wraps her article up with the Elizabeth Warren quote that every individual has a collectivist debt, which may be extracted by force, because we gain from living in a society in which we exchange values, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes at the point of a gun.  Well, of course, we gain from living in a society in which we are allowed to choose our own values and act, often in cooperation with others, in the pursuit of our values.  That is central to Rand's philosophy.

Warren claims that we gain even from those goods or services delivered by the force of government that provide us some benefit, even if that benefit cost us far more in expense than is the value of the benefit.  We owe the collective for allowing us to use the roads, no matter how badly government builds and maintains roads.  We owe the collective for long-term unemployment insurance, no matter how irresponsible the beneficiary is for not getting another job or creating his own job.  This is Warren's inversion of cause and effect and hers a great way to reduce productive and creative work.  It is also most strange that she is only interested in laying forceful claim to the products of creative and productive work.  There is no compensation to the creative and productive person in the hours others have invested into their entertainments and pleasures of a non-creative and non-productive manner.  Warren is simply a bank-robber, who claims it is moral to be a thief.

Of course we gain by living in a society in which the knowledge gained by others and the produce of others can be freely traded and made available to us.  Most people who act in the private sector do leave a legacy of values behind them which make it easier for others to survive and flourish in the future.  This is a major benefit of a free society.  It is not a benefit if these benefits of a free society are undermined by the claim that the legacy of prior productive people allows a moral right to take by force whatever one wants in the future from that legacy beneficiary.  This claim does nothing but infest with rot the process of productive and creative thinking and the actions needed to turn those thoughts into actual goods and services.  We rightly admire those who have led productive and creative lives, but this does not make us slaves either to them or to others in society who may not be very productive and creative.  To claim that the legacy of other productive and creative people should be a justification for the use of force to steal the fruits of the time and effort that others invest in their productive and creative work is a sacrilege against that legacy and the good people who left it.

12 March 2016

Obama Justice Department Considers Persecution of Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming Doubters

I am more than a doubter on the matter of catastrophic man-made global warming.  I say the hypothesis is based on faulty physics and as such it is wrong.  There is certainly no empirical evidence it is right and the claim of a scientific consensus is wrong.  Even the committed insiders funded to make the gigantic climate computer models produce widely divergent results, hardly indicative of a settled science and a scientific consensus.  The hypothesis has so much politically and financially invested in it that NOAA and NASA GISS are constantly fudging the surface temperature data to try to keep its failure from being completely obvious.

Now Loretta Lynch, the U. S. Attorney General of the Obama Department of Justice has referred "evidence" to the FBI that some persons have conspired to deny the truth of this alarmist hypothesis.  This blog is certainly replete with evidence that I oppose this failed hypothesis.  The Justice Department wants the FBI to determine if these persons should be persecuted, err ...prosecuted for their efforts to spread doubt about whether man's use of fossil fuels will cause a disaster.  This seems a reversal of the usual process.  Usually the FBI gathers evidence and then consults the Justice Department about whether to pursue a prosecution.  Or at least that is what is supposedly happening in the Hillary Clinton e-mail theft and national security exposure scandal.

It is most strange that many on the left believe or pretend to believe that all of the opposition to the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is due to manipulations by fossil fuel industry powers.  It could not be more obvious that many scientists are opposed to this alarmist hypothesis because scientific observation does not support it.  Some, as is the case for me, also oppose it because the physics that is claimed to cause the warming effect of so-called greenhouse gases is wrong.  Neither I nor many other opposition scientists are being funded in any way by the fossil fuel industry to be in opposition to the hypothesis.  In my case, my arguments are made explicit and can be judged on their own merits.

This is not the case for the arguments of the catastrophic man-made global warmers.  You can hardly ever pin them down on what the physics of their argument actually is.  When you do pin them down, the argument can be shown to be wrong.  So why do they persist in making these wrong and flimsy "scientific" arguments?  It is because they are well-funded by a biased government to do so.  The conspiracy is not nearly so much by fossil fuel companies as it is by big government.  The motive is a huge enhancement of government power through the intensive controls of our energy use.

Note the rapid inroads of this Obama administration in wresting control of our medical care, our finances, and our energy use.  This is a huge transfer of power from our private sector of free choice to the government sector of mandates and dictates.  It is an historic movement from cooperative endeavors among individuals to coerced, involuntary collectivism, with many collective groups favored over others.  It is a massive theft from producers by those who only exercise the political power to use brutal force to take what they want.

In fact, it has become quite the tragicomedy to watch the alarmists bemoan the fact that they ever claimed that greenhouse gases warmed the Earth by 33K and that more of any greenhouse gas would warm it more.  Now they do not wish to be pinned to a warming effect.  No, any climate change now is said to support their argument, even though only a fool is not aware of the fact that the weather is always changing and even short-term climate has always undergone changes.  The measure of their desperation to shut up those who do not agree with their call that the sky is falling, is now a threat of persecution by the law.  Specifically, we are to be persecuted under the anti-racketeering law, RICO.  Such persecutions have long been advocated by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat, of Rhode Island.  A letter recently emerged from a group of government-funded scientists at George Mason University also calling for persecutions by the law.  Of course, some anti-fossil fuel use alarmist advocates have even called for the death penalty for those who disagree with them.

The individual rights protections of the First Amendment for Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press do not apply to those who disagree with a pet project of the Progressive Elitist left.  It apparently says so, right there in the Bill of Rights.  It says "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, unless the exercise of those freedoms thwarts the desire of the Progressive Elitist agenda to exercise greater control over the lives of the People."  This is the way First Amendment "privileges" are now taught in the government-controlled education system.  The products of that system believe in this version of the First Amendment with a near total consensus, as evidenced by campus speech codes.  As we are now told over and over, Progressive Elitist consensus determines reality.  The foundational idea of the scientific method that reality is independent of the imaginings of the human mind, is no longer operational in much of our society.  It is evil to oppose the Progressive Elitist agenda and evil must be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law!

The Progressive Elitist likes to claim that they protect individual rights in the bedroom.  Not so much actually, but they are really determined to undermine the individual right to think.  You see thinking is not explicitly mentioned in the Bill of Rights or the Amendments to the Constitution generally.  Yes, any rational person would recognize that the right to think for yourself is protected in the Ninth Amendment, but the government long ago decided that it did not want to recognize any of the individual rights not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.  Protected individual rights always limit the power of government and that is not desired by those drawn to the power of government.  It is particularly not desired by those who deny individuality and embrace collectivism.  They belittle the individual, the seat of thought, and praise the grouping of people into cliques as though they are all high school children with vague, fashionable, superficial allegiances and little ability to generate their own ideas.

So those of us who do think for ourselves and who dare to speak and write about our ideas, must be shunned and shamed, fined and imprisoned -- to the fullest extent of the law!

05 March 2016

Why Some U.S. Companies are Fleeing to Mexico and Trump Cannot Negotiate Us Out of this Mess

In my recent 1 March post Making America Great and Donald Trump, I said
the primary reason the opening of new trade markets around the world has not led to the growth of the American economy is because the American government does not allow American businesses to be competitive.  He notes the importance of corporate tax reductions, but only after implying that bad trade negotiations caused job loses in America.  The job losses in America are due to excessive taxes, paperwork, and regulations that American businesses are hobbled with, thanks to Washington.  Business expenses are very high in America compared to many other countries in the world.  To compete, we need to be free to take full advantage of our design and innovation capabilities, while shedding governmental burdens that provide no or insufficient benefits.  We should be taking advantage of our abundance of inexpensive and reliable energy, not trying to make it more expensive as Obama has done.  We should be taking advantage of our great banking and financial companies, not smothering most of them in disabling requirements under Dodd-Frank so-called reform.  We should not be raising the cost of business with governmental dictates of minimum wages, paid leave benefits, the highest corporate and personal taxes in most of the developed nations, ObamaCare, NLRB rulings favoring forced unionization, and EPA regulations based on exaggerated claims of mercury or catastrophic man-made global warming.
The lead Opinion article in the 4 March Wall St. Journal was titled Trump on Ford and Nabisco.  Trump has been claiming that Mexico hijacked both Ford and Nabisco plants resulting in plant closings in the U.S.  Trump says this is why he "Does not mind trade wars."

The Wall St. Journal response to that is:
That's one way of looking at it.  Another way is that both companies made rational decisions to move some of their operations to Mexico because the tax and regulatory climate in the U.S. under President Obama has become increasingly hostile to business.  Before picking destructive trade fights with the world, maybe the next President could work to make America great for doing business again.
Nine production lines at the largest bakery in the world, in Chicago, are to be closed by Nabisco to build a higher technology plant in Salinas, Mexico.  Nabisco will save $46 million a year with the new plant.  Nabisco gave the labor union at the Chicago plant the opportunity to match that annual savings.  The labor union brought in a Bernie Sanders campaign official to help them.  Operating a business in Chicago is especially tough.  Illinois has unusually high corporate taxes and property taxes, not to mention very high worker's compensation expenses.  Underfunded city employee pensions are forcing taxes upward rapidly.

Nabisco is hardly alone in abandoning Chicago or Illinois.  In 2015, Illinois bucked the increase in manufacturing jobs in other nearby states by losing 56 jobs a working day.  Meanwhile, Michigan gained 74 manufacturing jobs a working day, Ohio gained 58, Indiana gained 20, and Wisconsin gained 18 manufacturing jobs a day.  The unfriendly business climate in Illinois has dire consequences.

Both Ford and General Motors are doubling their production in Mexico by 2018.  Ford is building two engine and transmission plants in Mexico and will manufacture small cars and hybrids required to meet the federally imposed fuel standard fleet requirements on all Ford vehicles manufactured.  These required small cars are money losers, so it is particularly hard to manufacture them in the U.S.

The United Auto Workers Union has won an agreement that will raise the hourly cost of wages and benefits for its members to $60, from the already very high cost of $57/hour cost for Ford and a $55/hour cost for GM.  In comparison, foreign-owned automakers in the U.S. have labor costs of about $50/hour.

In addition to lower labor costs, Mexico has free-trade agreements with 45 countries, while the U.S. has free-trade agreements with only 20 countries.  Trump clearly wants to reduce our free-trade agreements, hurting the U.S. still further in this competitive advantage.  He will drive still more plants to Mexico following his trade-war policies.

The Wall St. Journal says the way to make the U.S. economy great is to
  • lower corporate and marginal tax rates
  • reform pensions and entitlements
  • institute right-to-work laws
  • repeal ObamaCare
This sounds rather similar to what I was saying in my 1 March post.  It is not the case that we are losing jobs because China and Mexico are better negotiators and Trump can just make better deals with them.  Our problems are mostly self-made and owe to our penchant for big government that acts as a parasite sucking the life out of businesses.

04 March 2016

Europe, Where Mineral Rights Belong to the State, Cannot Frack

In most of Europe, the mineral property rights and sub-surface property rights of land belong to the state, not the landowner.  Consequently, the landowner is only hurt if minerals or oil or natural gas are extracted from his property.  This makes it politically impractical to extract minerals or oil or gas from most of the land. 

Consequently, the hydraulic fracturing now common in the United States is not helping the Europeans at all to free themselves from a heavy dependence on Russian natural gas.  Because of fracking, made possible by mineral rights ownership being commonly in the hands of the landowner in the U.S., the United States passed Russia in the production of both oil and natural gas last year.  But Europe remains in a state of dependence on Russian natural gas.  The most dependent countries are those of Eastern Europe such as the Baltic countries, Ukraine, and Poland, which Russia pressured in 2006, 2009, and 2015 with reductions or interruptions in their natural gas supply.

Brown University Dorms Do It In the Dark

This is the sixth March that Brown University dorms are having a Do it in the Dark competition to reduce energy use.  Actually, it is to reduce electricity use in particular.  They are not doing this to save the university money, so it can lower its tuition.  No, they are doing this to Save the Earth!  The administration is telling the students, mostly eager to hear the message, that this is "a time when there is a growing concern about the environmental impact of traditional energy sources."  Never mind the obvious fact that this is a time of lessening concern about the environmental impact of traditional energy sources as much more clean-burning natural gas is available.

Erin Donnellan, a student academic engagement coordinator in the Office of Energy and Environment says "the competition will, in part, lead to more sustainable living for students."  Christopher Powell, assistant vice president for sustainable energy and environmental initiatives, says “I believe this experience really is an attempt to drive home the message that we can all contribute to the global warming dilemma through individual actions.” I wonder what effect their salaries have on the cost of tuition at Brown and what they add to the learning experience at Brown?

To save energy in prior years during the March competition, students have turned off the lights and limited their showers.  Now what idiot does not turn off the lights on leaving a room just to save money?  But at Brown perhaps they turn off the lights while in a room in March so they have a reason not to study.  Now that is really compatible with the reason they went to Brown!  Not taking showers?  I remember when that was the rage among Pembrokers in the late 1960s.  You do not want to be in the same classroom with a bunch of unbathed students.  Besides, does Brown use electricity to heat water, or do they use the usually more efficient natural gas heating of water?

The draconian anti-free speech code of Brown apparently offers no protections to the feelings of those who understand that catastrophic man-made global warming is a falsified hypothesis, or that people stink when they do not shower, or that the EPA just makes up its claims that the mercury output of coal-fired power plants is significant to human health.  No the herd at Brown just eats up the propaganda of the Progressive Elitists and questions nothing.

As a physics graduate from Brown let me tell you dorm competitors how to win this reduction in electricity competition:  Use a lot more energy in your dorm the other months of the year so you can show a great decrease without lowering your standard of living and negatively impacting your learning during the month of March.  Whatever you do, remember that your family is paying a fortune for you to get your Brown education and try to learn as much as you can in March.  No, do not just memorize the propaganda.  Actually apply your rational faculty to the critical evaluation of ideas and to the accuracy of your observations so your family will get their monies worth from a Brown "education."  Too bad Brown does not push sustainability and efficacy in education!

03 March 2016

Comments from Comments Following an Article Attacking Ayn Rand's Ideas

A very scurrilous article called This is what happens when you take Ayn Rand Seriously by Denise Cummings has elicited many comments.  The article itself sets up many a straw man interpretation of Ayn Rand's ideas and makes some incredibly obvious false statements about her ideas.  I have commented rather extensively in the comments following it.  Here is one of my comments in reply to other comments opposing Ayn Rand's ideas:
Blaming businessmen for their business practices is one of the frauds most commonly used to justify governments that micromanage our lives and prevent us from individually choosing our own values and pursuing them in a rich and robust private sector. The bogeyman businessman is all too often the false justification for forcing us to give up our individually optimal choices for the sake of one-size-fits-all laws and regulations which are not enforced on the friends of big government, but are often enforced on those who just want to get on with their lives.
Average Joe is always free to start his own business, except that governments make it hard for him to do so and will require him to spend huge blocks of time on paperwork and tax him at every turn. Big government institutes many of its regulations more for the purpose of preventing the formation of small businesses and for preventing them from competing with bigger businesses who find it much easier to comply with the 80,000 pages of new regulations each year. Of course, even some big businesses are not favored by Big Government, such as the fossil fuel businesses.
It is only when a business is allied with big government that it can get away with mistreating employees and customers. A really free market always offers alternatives, as people take advantage of their freedom of association and either start competing businesses or turn to existing competitors or make suitable substitutions. Of course government should prevent the actual use of force or fraud throughout our society. But, what we find is that government itself is the abuser and uses much too much force and defrauds the citizens on a routine basis.
To which one Paul Ruggiero, who often shows up whenever Ayn Rand is the subject, replied:
"Bogeyman businessman" - how about tobacco companies? Was it rational to sell products to people that the company knew were addictive and highly likely to kill them over time? Where was the "self regulation" or rational or moral nature of this?
Businesses can mistreat employees or their customers very easily without the help of government. You are making a lot of assumptions about free market capitalism in your argument without stating them. Many of your assumptions though are not true. State some, and I'm happy to knock them down.
Rand's ideas about companies are unfortunately not true. She assumes that without govt interference all businesses would be rational. This is crap.
To which this patient soul replied:
The left likes to picture the businessman as frequently a predator and government as a protection against these powerful and many predators. Yes, bad people can be found in the business world, but they are actually much less likely to be bad than the politicians and bureaucrats of the government which wields much more power than do businessmen.
Tobacco is addictive and I have never used it for that reason and for health and hygiene reasons. Everyone else also has had this choice, whereas when government runs up the cost of energy or denies me paying a high school summer intern less than the minimum wage, I have no choice. I am forced to comply. It is worse to be robbed of a choice and forced to comply than to be offered a product I should not choose to buy.
Let us also note that government, your tainted angel, long subsidized tobacco farming. It also delighted and still does in the taxes it collects on this dangerous product.
Rand absolutely does not assume that all businesses will be rational or that those that are usually fairly rational will always be so. She also does not assume that all purchases of goods and services will be rational. The trades of the free market and private sector generally are akin to freedom of speech. We do not assume that everything everyone says will be rational or true. We know it will not be. But, there will be a rich diversity of ideas and knowledge in that flow of speech in a free society. People are free to evaluate what others have to say and incorporate or reject viewpoints and ideas according to their own choice. The same is true of the many products and services offered in the private sector.
To the degree that the customer chooses badly, he will be hurt. But he is also free to choose wisely and to benefit greatly from good choices. It is stultifying to be so terrified of making bad choices that one refuses to allow oneself the opportunity to make good choices. I have confidence that most people make more good choices than bad ones and that they benefit greatly from the diversity of choices offered by the free market, just as we benefit greatly from the rich and diverse flow of ideas and information we are offered due to freedom of speech. Just as we tend to stop listening to people who always rattle off nonsensical viewpoints, so do most people refuse to buy goods and services from companies that do not meet their needs. Bad products and poor service tend to bring an end to the company that offers them.
Now, I understand that you think that most people are bad and will fleece everyone else at every opportunity. You also have no confidence in the people to be mostly rational consumers. I do not think so. Then you turn around and seem to believe that the same bad sellers and consumers are capable of choosing good representative politicians and good government policies to protect these basically incompetent people. Your inconsistency could not be more apparent.

To which a good man (Threnody) added:

Savin' this one.
Echoes of Bastiat
"When it is time to vote, apparently the voter is not to be asked for any guarantee of his wisdom. His will and capacity to choose wisely are taken for granted. Can the people be mistaken? Are we not living in an age of enlightenment? What! are the people always to be kept on leashes? Have they not won their rights by great effort and sacrifice? Have they not given ample proof of their intelligence and wisdom? Are they not adults? Are they not capable of judging for themselves? Do they not know what is best for themselves? Is there a class or a man who would be so bold as to set himself above the people, and judge and act for them? No, no, the people are and should be free. They desire to manage their own affairs, and they shall do so.
But when the legislator is finally elected — ah! then indeed does the tone of his speech undergo a radical change. The people are returned to passiveness, inertness, and unconsciousness; the legislator enters into omnipotence. Now it is for him to initiate, to direct, to propel, and to organize. Mankind has only to submit; the hour of despotism has struck. We now observe this fatal idea: The people who, during the election, were so wise, so moral, and so perfect, now have no tendencies whatever; or if they have any, they are tendencies that lead downward into degradation."
The comments following articles misrepresenting and misunderstanding Ayn Rand's ideas are often very interesting.  There really are huge numbers of people who either cannot understand her or who are endlessly eager to misrepresent her ideas.  Many people become so deeply rutted in their line of "thought" that they literally are unable to see any other viewpoint, especially when that viewpoint fundamentally differs with all of their own reference points.  The most blatant inconsistencies in their own viewpoint go totally unrecognized and unaddressed.  Even when you bring such a person to admit they have a problem through hours of discussions, by the next day almost everyone of them will have found some way to forget that they admitted a severe inconsistency the prior day.

Few people can change their worldview after they have held it for many years.  It is often claimed that Ayn Rand's ideas appeal only to the young and therefor to the immature.  It is not entirely true that only the young are greatly influenced by her ideas and it is certainly not the case that her ideas only attract interest from the immature.  But, there is a reason why so many individuals who do become interested in Ayn Rand's ideas do so when they are young.  It is because such a large fraction of those older are mired in deep ruts in the mud of ideas they have held a long time and which have so distorted their view of the world that they cannot see or will not see the truth anymore.

02 March 2016

Steven Allen on Hillary Clinton as Thief and Liar

Dr. Steven Allen, the Vice President and Chief Investigative Officer of the Capital Research Center, has written a clever article on Hillary Clinton describing what she has accomplished in matching the record for corruption of many a male politician.  He goes on to quote a number of progressives about why her lack of honesty and trustworthiness is a positive attribute or at least not a negative one.

On Hillary's mendacity and her advance of female equality:
She has advanced gender equality by proving that a woman in politics can be as corrupt as any man—with the “commodities deal” scheme for laundering payoffs from polluters… the Whitewater deal (selling people real estate they couldn’t afford, repossessing the properties, repeating the process)… the apparent mass collection of information, suitable for use in blackmail, from Republicans’ FBI files… Clinton flunkies’ role in the sale of missile technology to China… the granting of presidential pardons based apparently on political considerations and cash… the Benghazi deception (silencing critics of radical Islam while leading voters in 2012 to believe wrongly that Al Qaeda was “on the run”)… the theft of at least 66,000 government e-mails (and the storage of those e-mails, containing some of our country’s most precious life-or-death secrets, in a way that made them readily available to our country’s enemies)… and the “speaking fees” (ha!) that made Hillary and Bill and Chelsea ultra-rich. In the eight years prior to her presidential run, which included Hilary’s time as secretary of state, the Clintons raked it in at an average of almost $350,000 a week. Politico reported last September: “She earns more for a 20-minute speech to an industry trade group than a dozen fast-food workers make in a year.”
Indeed, it is clear that Hillary has surpassed any male politician's accomplishments for brazen theft and dishonesty that I know about.  Women should be proud!  And to imagine that she denounces income inequality even as she rakes in the cash for one of those 20-minute speeches that would remunerate a dozen fast-food workers for a year!  But she does advocate a minimum wage for them of $15/hour, to be paid by their employer, who manifestly is not a Clinton.  Hillary is such a good person, with money she has government's steal from others.

Max Ehrenfreund of the Washington Post says
For progressive voters looking for the candidate who could best advance their goals in the White House, personal traits other than honesty might be more relevant: skill in negotiation, say, or in managing the bureaucracy or the press.
Those who make a pretense of Progressivism, care only about their agenda 
Steve Allen responds:
Got that? You don’t want to elect an honest president, because he or she might not be an effective negotiator.
Because the most effective negotiator is someone whom no one trusts. Right?
It is interesting to note that the Progressive Obama is not off-put in negotiating with Iran, North Korea, China, or Putin in the least, despite their proven track records for mendacity.  Apparently, it is a trait of the Progressive that concern for the honesty of those with whom you reach agreements is of no interest.  Now anyone with a smidgen of knowledge of history would know better, but there is no one better at ignoring the lessons of history than a Progressive.  For them, it is easy to square Obama's oath of office to preserve and protect the Constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic with his many violations of the Constitution. How well has the American Peoples' contract with Obama the Mendacious worked out?  Would that contract with Hillary the Mendacious work out any better?

01 March 2016

Making America Great and Donald Trump

America is great when the American People are free to exercise their broad and sovereign rights to life, liberty, property, self-ownership, and the pursuit of their own happiness.  There is no greater value than that of enjoying these liberties.  Donald Trump is a materialist who does not seem to have any concept of this.

I do not like Donald Trump.  I do not like how he has practiced business.  He has been a crowing crony capitalist who has used subsidies and eminent domain extensively in his business dealings.  Several of his businesses went bankrupt, though this happened just after he sold them to suckers.  His business ethics has been immoral.  His success has substantially come at the expense of others, not often enough in the form of mutually beneficial trades and too often at the expense of unwilling taxpayers.  The state of New Jersey, both under Corzine and Christie, has poured subsidy monies into the gambling industry in Atlantic City, to Trump's great benefit.  That industry is failing badly and at the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of New Jersey taxpayers.  I do not like the meanness in Donald Trump.  Decent people do not make fun of other people's afflictions.  Now, I am not politically correct, but if you do not like how someone else looks, keep it to yourself.  A man who would be President ought to be a gentleman and one can easily be a gentleman while telling the truth about the many issues that government must deal with and about the tasks it should leave to the private sector.

Trump has been in favor of a universal, government-provided health care system.  That idea is a huge assertion of collective ownership of every individual by the state.  He says he will repeal ObamaCare, but there is no mention of this on his website.

His website says he is interested in the following reforms and provides some information on what he plans to do:
  • U.S. - China Trade Reform
  • Veterans Administration Reforms
  • Tax Reform
  • Second Amendment Rights
  • Immigration Reform
On U.S. - China trade reforms, what is written is not as bad as the overt trade protectionism Trump advocates on the campaign trail, but it also fails to note that the primary reason the opening of new trade markets around the world has not led to the growth of the American economy is because the American government does not allow American businesses to be competitive.  He notes the importance of corporate tax reductions, but only after implying that bad trade negotiations caused job loses in America.  The job losses in America are due to excessive taxes, paperwork, and regulations that American businesses are hobbled with, thanks to Washington.  Business expenses are very high in America compared to many other countries in the world.  To compete, we need to be free to take full advantage of our design and innovation capabilities, while shedding governmental burdens that provide no or insufficient benefits.  We should be taking advantage of our abundance of inexpensive and reliable energy, not trying to make it more expensive as Obama has done.  We should be taking advantage of our great banking and financial companies, not smothering most of them in disabling requirements under Dodd-Frank so-called reform.  We should not be raising the cost of business with governmental dictates of minimum wages, paid leave benefits, the highest corporate and personal taxes in most of the developed nations, ObamaCare, NLRB rulings favoring forced unionization, and EPA regulations based on exaggerated claims of mercury or catastrophic man-made global warming. 

The Veterans Administration certainly needs reform.  Trump would make a key correction by allowing veterans more treatment in non-Veterans Administration hospitals and doctor offices.  He does not actually note that the many ills of the VA are endemic in government operations and would be propagated to other government attempts to control medical care.

Tax Reform is horribly overdue and the Trump plan is a pretty good one, with the exception that he would exempt single people from paying any income tax if they make less than $25,000 a year and married couples if they make $50,000 or less.  This gives them no skin in the cost of government and I do not think this is a good idea.  They should pay something.  It seemed he was going to outlaw corporation inversions overseas, but upon further reading he is really saying he will make them unnecessary.  He will continue to tax corporation earnings abroad, which I think is bad, but he will give them the credit to paying taxes abroad, so the U.S. tax of 15% will actually only be paid as the difference of the foreign tax and the US 15% should the foreign tax be less than 15%.  That is not bad at all.  His tax reform would allow a great leap of growth in the American economy.

On the Second Amendment:
The Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that belongs to all law-abiding Americans. The Constitution doesn’t create that right – it ensures that the government can’t take it away. Our Founding Fathers knew, and our Supreme Court has upheld, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to guarantee our right to defend ourselves and our families. This is about self-defense, plain and simple.
It’s been said that the Second Amendment is America’s first freedom. That’s because the Right to Keep and Bear Arms protects all our other rights. We are the only country in the world that has a Second Amendment. Protecting that freedom is imperative.
That is excellent and is the only place I know of in which Trump has spoken of individual rights and the need to maintain constitutional law.

On Immigration Reform, he is apparently not going to send the Army into Mexico to make them pay for the wall at the southern border.
Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards – of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options].  We will not be taken advantage of anymore.  
But he is going to try to control immigrants seeking jobs that he claims Americans need.  Companies will have less say in who they hire under his plan. Fewer highly skilled foreign workers will be allowed to immigrate.  This is a short-sighted example of populism.

There are too many other issues he has not given a plan to treat.  I do not have great certitude in his keeping his word either, especially given his history of many changes of mind.  He comes out of a primarily Democrat Socialist New York/New Jersey background and he played those Democrat politicians to the hilt.  Perhaps he was just using them.  He does pride himself as a manipulator.  Is he also manipulating those who vote for him?  Will he turn on those who vote for him now as he has turned on the Democrat Socialists he supported a short while ago, perhaps because they were then useful to his businesses?  Perhaps his voters now are only a useful means for him acquiring great power?  Donald Trump is a vapor.  He has no consistency.  He has no substance that one can perceive in his speeches.  Will his website policy statements also become vapor when he has the power he wants?

But these few plans that are given some substance are better than I had expected.  This is good, because it is looking more and more as though this man may be the next President of the United States of America.  I still have concerns that his temperament is much more suited to that of a dictator than to the presidency of a constitutionally limited government in the U.S.A.  I also suspect that these policy positions are written by advisers who understand much more than Trump does and they may be shoved aside once he is in power. After all, he thinks he is better than anyone else, just as Obama does.  We can expect much more arrogance in the extensive use of power should Trump become President.  And how many months will it take for him as President to subject each and every one of us to is childish name-calling?