Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Perhaps it is unclear what I mean by "variations of egoism, objectivism and libertarianism". It should be clear by my other posts that I consider one philosophy to predominate over the others. Yet, I do enjoy examining the possible variations of ideas which may be mistaken for my own. It's important to be able to correct potential misunderstandings when attempting to persuade others of the Objectivist point of view.

Leonard Peikoff, Robert Mayhew and Ayn Rand herself have dealt with Plato and Kant--great thinkers who, unfortunately, took their ideas (and followers) in the wrong direction. Platonic "Realism" stated that ideas existed in perfect form...somewhere, and that what we experience as reality is the sensation of the imperfect recreation of these "forms" in our lowly dimension. Kant stated that objective reality does indeed exist, it's just impossible for us to know if our senses perceive it correctly. I don't remember if Kant stated openly that he intended to save Christianity by rationalizing a "scientific" understanding of the "other world", but it certainly appears that that is what he was up to.

Libertarianism is a political philosophy which owes its original ideas to Ayn Rand; particularly the Non-Initiation of Force Principle: just behavior is either refraining from initiating the use of force against innocent people or using force only upon and in response to those who initiate the use of force. Libertarianism was originally, however, the doctrine of Free Will--the belief that our will to act is not determined by causality.

Objectivism is the belief that reality is what it is whether we perceive it, or believe it, but that we are capable of perceiving and understanding reality, either with the senses we were born with or tools we create.

Whoops! I'm going to bed.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

The following link may not work as I'd like. I wanted to link to the Ayn Rand Bookstore, but I bought the book via this link to Amazon.com which I got at Capitalism Magazine when I read their review and exerpts.

Craig Biddle, in his book Loving Life: the Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It (Glen Allen Press, 2002), says

In a laissez-faire society, people are free to do what they choose with their own lives and property; they are forbidden to physically harm others or their property; and they are required to support their allegations with evidence. Laissez-faire capitalism is the system of individual rights, private property, and objective law. Objective laws are laws that are grounded in the factual requirements of human life and that uphold the principles of logic; thus, they protect individual rights, including property rights, and they recognize that the burden of proof is on he who asserts that rights have been violated.

Accordingly, if a person (or company or corporation) does violate an individual's rights--and if this is shown to be the case in a court of law--then the government takes action against the perpetrator as necessary on two counts: first, to provide his victim with recompense when and as appropriate; second, to punish the rights-violator for and in proportion to any crime he has committed.

Forgive the extended quote.
Capital is any surplus material or money which is saved for future production; seed corn for example. This is why we capitalists refuse to eschew the term. There is absolutely nothing dishonorable about saving and investing and persuading others to help you achieve your productive ends. However, if what you're doing doesn't fit the description in the previous sentence, it doesn't qualify as capitalism. Not in our book, in which the term laissez-faire is really a redundancy.

We don't accept any other qualifications of the term as valid: Corporatism is Mussolinian Fascism, Crony Capitalism is the same as Kleptocracy (rule by thieves) which just fancying up dictatorship--plain old tyranny, whether autocratic or oligarchic--by stating them in terms of more respectable and more sophistocated systems. The purpose of these new terms is to slander Capitalism by lumping it in with these vile tyrannies. Capitalism with a human face is another term for Socialism (which means, in practice, that bureaucrats direct the use of supposedly private property), and public-private partnerships are more of the same with a bit extra backslapping by politicians.

I use the term "we" in the belief that Mr. Biddle and I are allies in this matter.

The other thing that occurs to me about this passage I cited is the question, "What is the purpose of punishment?" It has been said that there are three purposes for punishment: 1. revenge, 2. rehabilitation, and 3. prevention of a recurrence.
People often ask what our goal is. The goal is a peaceful, happy society in which people may be allowed to peacefully pursue their happiness. Revenge is the emotion you feel when you know someone who hurt you got "the lesson that was comin' to 'em". If that lesson is just, if it's objective then you are right to feel that way. Vengeance is not always evil; sometimes it's just.

Rehabilitation: isn't that just teaching somebody how to live so that harming others isn't necessary?
Rehabbing an injury is building strength and skills sufficient to carry on with life. A fine way to spend your time in prison, but, chances are, you're there, not because you were injured, but because you injured another person's life, liberty, person or property.

Prevention of crime: people usually think that it is the fear of punishment (swift and certain justice) which deters crime, and I suppose it does. Or would, I wouldn't know, I've never seen any. Except for poetic justice. "God gets 'em" sometimes. Not often enough, though. He'd get 'em a lot more, if good people would stand up to the bastards.

But, the prevention that really works is prevention of recidivism by keeping criminals locked up. And, by the way, well supervised, so all these assaults, rapes and murders that people think are so funny couldn't happen. They happen because the prisoners aren't guarded well enough. A petty thief or a minor dope-dealer who gets raped in prison, isn't going to be an improved asset to society.

Friday, June 20, 2003

I thought of a fictionalized beginning:

"The root of evil is the love of all money!" the sandy-haired guy said.
"What?" asked his bigger, black-haired partner.
Hammered, thought Al, spying an open booth near the back corner.
The little one gathered his strength for another try, "The root of love is the evil of all money!"
"Hah!" countered the second drunk, sounding like Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar Named Desire to Al. "You mean 'the root of money is the love of.... Oh, for the love o' Mike! It doesn't start with 'the root', doornuts! Now ya got me doin' it."
An explosion of hilarity from sandy-hair, then, backhanding his friend in the upper arm, "Hey! What are you now? Some kinda theelogian? 'The love of money is the root of all evil!'" he blurted, finally getting it right.
Al shook his head at this foolishness and moved to the empty booth. While he waited for Karen to show, he ruminated on the drunks' malaprops. He thought they were actually decent corollaries of the original. Hell, the way most religions interpreted it, they might even be more appropriate.
Paul...St. Paul didn't say "money is the root of all evil." Truthfully, money is just a tool to facilitate exchange, so I don't have to give you twelve tons of iron ore in exchange for enough finished wood to build a house. How would you figure the exchange rate on that. Of course...
"What? Oh, Modelo Negro, please." Al found himself blushing in the dim room, having been caught gesticulating alone at the table by the pretty young waitress.
"I saw you talkin' to yourself!" she laughed.
"I was thinking about what those guys were saying."
"Sure, sure." she laughed again, heading back to the cooler behind the bar.
My thesis would be that the satisfaction of human desires (Mises) and the pursuit of excellence (Rand) are more in accord with Paul's saying from the book of Timothy than are these rationalizations for redistribution, including the stealth redistributors of the Monetarist School. Envy is not a need.
I want to write a book on "The love of money is the root of all evil" reconciling the views of Austrian economics, Objectivists and Christianity as against those of the Keynesians, Georgists and Marxists. On this issue. Race you for it.
Oh, by the way, I also like to check in with Don Luskin and Mark Skousen to see how the battle is going.
Ready Recommender, E. G. Ross called me.
I feel the need to live up to that at the moment. At that time I was recommending Liberty and the Great Libertarians, by Charles Sprading and I-forget-what-else. MacCauley's History of England and Jim Powell's book too, probably. I seem to have loaned that book out. I can't remember its exact name nor find it on my shelf.
What's tops on my list of websites? Nowadays, since Ross passed on, Lileks, Instapundit, Mises.org and Econlib.org. I also check the loyal opposition at Antiwar.com, Lewrockwell.com and The Libertarian Enterprise. And I try to read Michelle Malkin, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell and Larry Elder, who are all easiest to reach via the Drudge Report.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

I've reviewed a few books at Amazon.com. ...What the hell are they? Oh, yeah, The Constitution of Liberty, by F. A. Hayek, which may well be the worst bit of writing I've ever done. Although I told the truth, I just couldn't refrain from packing in every clever thought I could imagine into the fewest number of words. And sentences.
Vagrant Viking, by Peter Freuchen. That was an odd thing. My buddy Jon was working in Alaska while I was in Arizona and both of us found that book in our local library and read it at about the same time. Neither one of us was doing a lot of reading at that time of our lives, but....
Let's see, what's the other one?
The Foundations of Morality! By Henry Hazlitt. Along with John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism, Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, Epictetus' Enchiridion, or any one of Epicurus' letters.... Worthy to be read while strolling along your favorite lake or river road.
Whoops! Wiped out another post. Ah, it was just a list of sites and blogs I'd link to if I could figure out how to fit them into the template. Maybe I need a better template.

I keep wanting to type "temple" instead of "template". My blog is a temple!

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

I was just reading Thomas Sowell's article, The Legacy of Eric Hoffer, over at Capitalism Magazine. They seem to have an extended version of it.

Here's a great quote, that even sums up a great deal of Sowell's work as well:

Eric Hoffer never bought the claims of intellectuals to be for the common man. "A ruling intelligentsia," he said, "whether in Europe, Asia or Africa, treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed and wasted at will."

May he rest in peace.
I just wanted to warn you that I don't open my hotmail account while at work. I get too much, as Lileks would say, pr0n spam. Last time I checked that at work the HR spies came wandering in, asking if they could use my computer to do things their software wouldn't allow them to do on their own.

That kind of limits my quick-response time.
Reynolds is rapidly weaning me off Raimondo.

He links to this, in the Sunday Herald Sun:

Dr Amer Abdul a-Jalil, the deputy resident at Baghdad's Ibn al-Baladi Hospital, has told the London Telegraph that "sanctions did not kill these children -- Saddam killed them".

"Over the past 10 years, the government in Iraq poured money into the military and the construction of palaces for Saddam to the detriment of the health sector," he said.

"Those babies or small children who died because they could not access the right drugs, died because Saddam's government failed to distribute the drugs."

This article certainly weakens the contention that all evils in the world are our fault.
Thomas Jefferson said, "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all."

Go to Freedom's Nest and see what he had to say about Liberty.
Great article by Glenn Reynolds on how to blog well on Tech Central Station.
The keys are: personal voice and links. Or, alternatively, have something to say and say it well. Those of you who endure my early efforts will hopefully be soon rewarded. My high school teachers and college profs all said I was a good writer.

Benton Harbor, MI. Is suffering from riots resulting from the local cops chasing a motorcyclist into a house. The issue appears to be racial. I guess they're saying so now. The national stories I'd seen said nothing about that.

It isn't clear why they were chasing the guy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

There! My experiment worked. Not the email thing; I edited the link without doing anything fancier than inserting the cursor and typing.
Anyway, the family came in and fired up the Muppets (Take Manhatten) on the DVD player. Kinda wrecks the ability to elevate one's thoughts.
Just as an experiment, let's see if it makes my life any worse to give out my email address. It's old_whig@hotmail.com. Send me a letter. I know I suck at this, so don't waste our time on that. Or should I just say "my time". It's a bit presumptuous to assume that I might have more than one reader.
But I'm craving interaction.

I was just reading a thing at www.fredoneverything.net about prigs who want to protect everybody from himself.
Here's a great ad for Hummer. I got that from Drudge, so I wasn't doing any deep research there.

Monday, June 16, 2003

I wonder if Sorens has read E. G. Ross' _The Oregon Rebellion_.

Mr. Ross recently passed away, but his website is still up, and you can buy the book via the links. I suppose I could link you more directly, though the blurb on Ross' site is more complete. Here.
Actually, I promised a bit of current events commentary.

Minnesota just lost its AAA bond rating, which means it will be more expensive to borrow money....

Ooh! Jason Sorens, of the Free State Project is on Jason Lewis.

The bond-rating issue is simply solved. Cut spending. Or rather, don't add new spending.
Yup, wasted it.
The important part was a link to LibertyStory.net. And an effort to sell people on Jim Powell and Thomas Babington Macauley. I called the _History of England_ a "...magnificent, breathtaking rolercoaster ride...." take it.

Here's something you should know--full disclosure, as they say:

I am a Superior Man.

I believe it was Chuang Tzu who said, "The superior man breathes from his heels." Lao Tzu would never say such a thing, would he? That's a quote from a Tai Chi book I borrowed from the library. I think I have some vague inkling of what it means.

Nothing to do with me, of course.

As a matter of fact, some of my classmates would quibble about my Superior status. I actually grew up in the fetid swamps outside of Superior, Wisconsin. But I graduated from SSHS (the unimaginatively named Superior Senior High School), class of '81.

That's my clever thought of the moment, and the explanation that ruined it.
Whoops! I was trying to correct the link to Macauley's _History of England_ when I accidently deleted the whole post. Here it is. I'll try it out myself in a minute. I also need to figure out how to make this thing interactive.
I don't know if my screw-up will post when I post this, but here goes.
I see they're advertising Ayn Rand's _Anthem_ here. I think that's wonderful. Big fan of hers. I ran across a copy of _We The Living_ on a free bookshelf at the Marina up at the lake yesterday.
For those who think that all Ayn Rand wrote was heavy-handed Capitalist apologetics, _We The Living_ was her imagining what life would have been like had she been delayed getting out of Russia by three months.

What lake?

Lake Vermillion (2 Ls or one? I forget) in northern Minnesota. I actually got to jump in and swim this weekend. The water's fine. My mother-in-law, who lives there, would like me to tell all you packsackers that it's a mudhole. Don't bother coming.

But I enjoy listening to Millie's "Aamu Hetki" radio show on WELY up there. Just one thing Millie: three local temperatures is enough. And any weather forecast beyond three days is a lie. No need to take up time from Sibelius and kantele music or even the polkas, for that useless verbiage.
What's an Old Whig, you ask? I ran across the term in Friedrich A. Hayek's _The Constitution of Liberty_. The old whigs opposed King James II's oppressive government. I can't remember right off if they got their start during the Puritan theocracy of the mid-1600s. I may be confusing them with the Cavaliers, who were Catholics and supported the Restoration of the Monarchy under Charles II.
Anyway, Lord Shaftesbury and John Locke were the leaders of the early movement, and their political works were built upon by Trenchard and Gordon of _Cato's Letters_ fame in the 1730s. America's founders read these works and the writings of Cicero and came up with our form of government.
As a first timer, my mind is kind of numbed by reading the TOS. I'll post something interesting when I recover.