A Quick Letter on Abortion

 Posted by on 27 February 2008 at 8:49 am  Activism, Politics
Feb 272008

Here’s a quick letter to my state representatives that I wrote in early February on a proposed bill to restrict abortion by requiring ultrasounds:

From: Diana Hsieh <Diana.Hsieh(at)Colorado.edu>
Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2008 13:59:56 -0700
Subject: SB 95

Dear Senators,

It is my understanding that SB 95 will be heard in the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee on Monday. The bill would require “a physician to provide information regarding an ultrasound to a woman prior to the woman’s decision whether to have an abortion.”

I urge you to oppose this bill. Colorado ought not impose any such restrictions on abortion.

The purpose of the bill is not to require genuine informed consent. Every woman who chooses to have an abortion knows that she is destroying a potential (but not actual) human being — not a shoe, plant, or a hippo. She violates no rights in doing so. She ought not be forced to look at pictures.

So the sole purpose of the bill is be to make abortion more costly. It is part of an attempt by foes of abortion to regulate it out of existence, since they cannot ban it out right. All such attempts [are] morally wrong. They ought to be opposed.

Diana Hsieh
Ph.D Candidate, Philosophy
University of Colorado, Boulder

Ari Armstrong has more details in this blog post.

Testing the American Dream

 Posted by on 13 February 2008 at 11:30 am  Economics, Politics
Feb 132008

Having been told that it was extremely difficult for poor people to advance up the economic ladder in America, college graduate Adam Shepard conducted an interesting experiment.

He decided to start from the very bottom of the economic ladder, with “a gym bag, $25, and little else”. He moved into a homeless shelter “on the wrong side of the tracks in Charleston, S.C.” He set as his goal “to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year”, without relying on his education or his former contacts.

He worked his way out of poverty, found work as a day laborer, made new friends, and landed a steady job at a moving company. He had to quit his experiment after 10 months because of learning of an illness in his family, “[b]ut by then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000.”

According to the article:

The effort, he says, was inspired after reading “Nickel and Dimed,” in which author Barbara Ehrenreich takes on a series of low-paying jobs. Unlike Ms. Ehrenreich, who chronicled the difficulty of advancing beyond the ranks of the working poor, Shepard found he was able to successfully climb out of his self-imposed poverty.

Clearly, this shows the crucial role that a person’s character, attitude, and work ethic play in whether he is successful or not, as opposed to the exact magnitude of material resources he starts with.

The full article tells more Adam Shepard’s fascinating story: “Homeless: Can You Build a Life from $25?

He has also written a book about his experience, entitled, Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream. It looks like his book has gotten consistently high reviews on Amazon. (We’ve ordered a copy already, but it’s currently out of stock and on back order.)

Update on FIRM Activities

 Posted by on 11 February 2008 at 12:01 am  Health Care, Politics
Feb 112008

Lin Zinser, executive director of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine), has just posted the following summary of our first year of activities to the FIRM blog. I hope this provides a concrete example of (and inspiration for) anyone who is interested in what can and has been accomplished through philosophically principled political activity.

(And thank you, Lin, for driving all around the state giving talks, appearing on radio and TV programs, attending nearly all of the mind-numbing 208 Commission meetings, and talking with our Colorado state legislators. And thanks also go to John Powers for his support of FIRM in the form of website design and sleek graphics for the brochure copies of Dr. Peikoff’s essay that Lin has distributed around the state, to Jennifer Armstrong for her design of the FIRM logo and to Diana for creating the website and mailing lists and giving FIRM its online presence.)

– Paul Hsieh, MD

* * *

FIRM: Year End Results

by Lin Zinser

Today we celebrate the achievements of the FIRM coalition over the past year. FIRM was begun at the end of January 2007, and comprises a group of Colorado citizens with diverse careers, interests and ideas about what medicine and health insurance should (and could) look like in Colorado (and in America, for that matter). They come from different political parties and ideologies.

What these people do agree with is that the government should stop regulating, controlling and intervening in decisions that individuals make about what medical procedures they should have, whether to buy health insurance, and if so, what type of health insurance is appropriate for them and their families, and who should be their provider of services, among the thousand other decisions that people make regarding their health every year.

I am very appreciative for all of you who have supported the efforts of FIRM, and want to provide you the tangible record of your efforts. Briefly, in a summary form, they are as follows. From January 30, 2007, to January 31, 2008, FIRM coalition supporters had the following public results:

Letters to the editor — 48 (including one in “USA Today”)
OpEds/Columns — 26
Citations in Media — at least 10, perhaps more
Articles/Essays — 2
Talks/Panel Discussions — 9
Media appearances — 6
Formal Proposal Submissions to 208 Commission — 1
Public statements to 208 Commission — 17
Letters to 208 Commission during their request for public comments — at least 5, undoubtedly more
Letter to Colorado Medical Society — 1
Public Statements to Medical Organizations — Total 1
Public Statement to Colorado Joint Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services — 1
Distribution of “Health Care is Not A Right”, by Leonard Peikoff — over 1,000 copies

These are fabulous results. The war is not yet won, and it will be difficult. Last year, at this time, one of the popular ideas in the public was the individual mandate to purchase insurance. This year, at least, it looks like there will not be a push for the individual mandate to purchase insurance in the State of Colorado, and that is due in no small part to the efforts of FIRM supporters — of their own, individual efforts. Individual mandates are not dead, but they are no longer thriving.

This year, it appears that the effort will be to expand government health insurance to all of the uninsured children in the state, increasing the number of people on government programs that don’t work, giving families the illusion of coverage, at an expensive price tag for all, including taxpayers. We expect to see additional restrictions on insurance policies, including benefit mandates and rating issues as well. So there is work yet to do.

Below are the details that support the summary above. I applaud every name on the list, and I also applaud all of you who have written, sent comments and forwarded any of these efforts to friends, family, co-workers, doctors or other health-care providers. Please remember as you read the list, that not everyone on the list may absolutely be in 100% agreement with all aims of FIRM. FIRM is a coalition, and its ideas are expressed in its Statement of Principles and Goals. These individuals have expressed their adherence to some of these goals in these particular writings or public statements.

A special thanks to Paul Hsieh for blogging so diligently and for co-writing with me an excellent article on the state of medicine and health insurance in America.

I have used smaller type so that this blog post is not so long.

Letters to the editor — Total 48 (including one in “USA Today”)
Diana Hsieh, Rocky Mountain News, 2/5/2007, “Paul Campos: Health Care”
Brian Schwartz, Denver Post, 3/3/2007, “Universal Health Care”
Richard Watts, Rocky Mountain News, 4/16/2007, “End government health-care meddling”
Richard Watts, Craig Daily Press, 4/19/2007, “Health Care”
Paul Hsieh, Denver Post, 4/24/2007, “Health Care is Not a Right”
Russell Shurts, Rocky Mountain News, 4/25/2007, “Health Care in Colorado”
Richard Watts, Rio Blanco Herald Times, 4/26/2007, “Health Care”
Paul Hsieh, Denver Post, 4/30/2007, “Two Arguments Why Health Care is Not a Right”
Brian Schwartz, Denver Post, 4/30/2007, “Fair Health Care”
Brian Schwartz, Rocky Mountain News, 5/3/2007, “Medical insurance restrictions are costly”
Brian Schwartz, Boulder Daily Camera, 5/3/2007, “Health Care: The government would worsen it”
Ralph Shnelvar, Denver Post, 5/6/2007, “Debating health care systems in U.S., Canada”
Hanah Krening, Denver Post, 5/23/2007, “Proposals to reform health care in Colorado”
Paul Hsieh, Pueblo Chieftain, 5/27/2007, “Socialized Medicine”
Richard Watts, Steamboat Pilot, 5/30/2007, “Too Much Control”
Richard Watts, Rocky Mountain News, 5/31/2007, “Health Care”
Richard Watts, Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, 5/31/2007, “Don’t Allow the Government to Dictate Your Health Care”
Gina Liggett, Denver Post, 6/6/2007, “Free Market Health Care Reform”
Gina Liggett, Boulder Daily Camera, 6/9/2007, “There is No ‘Right’ to Any Health Care”
Gina Liggett, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, 6/13/2007, “Need vs. Right”
Gina Liggett, Carbondale Valley Sentinel, 6/14/2007, “Need vs. Right”
Gina Liggett, Pueblo Chieftain, 6/17/2007, “Health Panel Stacked Deck”
Brian Schwartz, Denver Post, 6/19/2007, “‘Universal’ Health Care”
Richard Watts, Grand Junction Free Press, 6/21/2007, “Health Care is Not a Right”
Richard Watts, Boulder Daily Camera, 6/22/2007, “Health Care is Not a Right”
Martin Buchanan, Denver Post, 6/27/2007, “Health Care For All: Whose Responsibility Is It?”
Gina Liggett, Rocky Mountain News, 6/28/2007, “Health Care is Not a ‘Right’, It’s a Need”
Russell Shurts, Rocky Mountain News, 6/29/2007, “Social Responsibility”
Gina Liggett, USA Today, 6/29/2007, “Moore In Denial”
Brian Schwartz, Rocky Mountain News, 7/2/2007, “Health Insurance”
Diana Hsieh, Colorado Springs Gazette, 7/3/2007, “People, not government, responsible for health”
Gina Liggett, Denver Post, 7/6/2007, “Health Care in the US”
Gina Liggett, Northern Colorado Business Report, 7/6/2007, “Free Health Care?!”
Richard Watts, Rocky Mountain News, 7/7/2007, Health Care”
Paul Hsieh, Rocky Mountain News, 7/12/2007, “In-Store Health Clinics”
Diana Hsieh, Rocky Mountain News, 7/17/2007, “Free Market Medicine is the Answer”
Gina Liggett, Colorado Confidential, 7/21/2007, “Health Care”
Paul Hsieh, Denver Post, 7/31/2007, “Rising Health Care Costs”
Richard Watts, Denver Post, 7/31/2007, “SCHIP Program”
Lin Zinser, Rocky Mountain News, 8/7/2007, “Health Care in Colorado”
Brian Schwartz, Rocky Mountain News, 8/13/2007, “Free Markets Key to Affordable Health Care”
James Schroeder, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, 8/28/2007, “Single Payer Health Plan Would Be Costly and Unfair”
Brian Schwartz, Denver Post, 8/31/2007, “Health Savings Accounts”
Brian Schwartz, Denver Post, 9/7/2007, “Funding Health Care”
Russell Shurts, Grand Junction Free Press, 9/13/2007, “We Shouldn’t Be Forced”
Brian Schwartz, Boulder Daily Camera, 9/24/2007, “We Do Not Have Free Market Care”
Brian Schwartz, Boulder Daily Camera, 1/4/2008, “Free Market Health Insurance Needed”
Brian Schwartz, Rocky Mountain News, 1/17/2008, “Politically Controlled Insurance Is a Disease”

OpEds/Columns — Total 26
Brian Schwartz, Boulder Daily Camera, 2/11/2007, “Government-run auto repair? Yes!”
Ari Armstrong, Boulder Weekly, 2/15/2007, “Colorado Medical Socialism”
Ari Armstrong, “What’s Right With Colorado Health Care”, 4/8/2007, Independence Institute
Brian Schwartz, Rocky Mountain News, 4/28/2007, “Government controls violate rights, raise costs, cut access”
Paul Hsieh, Rocky Mountain News, 6/2/2007, “Free market holds key to ensuring quality for Coloradans”
Paul Hsieh, Boulder Daily Camera, 6/10/2007, “Socialized Medicine is Wrong for State”
Paul Hsieh, Pueblo Chieftain, 6/10/2007, “”Blue ribbon panel prescribes wrong approach on health care”
Linn and Ari Armstrong, Grand Junction Free Press, 6/11/2007, “Health socializers ignore benefits of liberty, harms of controls”
Brian Schwartz, Denver Post, 8/5/2007, “Don’t Model State Reforms on Medicaid: How Should Colorado Lawmakers Fix A Broken System”
Russell Shurts, Rocky Mountain News, 8/7/2007, “Socialized Medicine Just Another Gang Operation”
Ralph Shnelvar, Boulder Daily Camera, 8/14/2007, “Your Government Doesn’t Care”
Brian Schwartz, Boulder Daily Camera, 8/26/2007, “Warning: Medicaid is Hazardous to Your Health”
James Schroeder, Grand Junction Free Press, 8/23/2007, “Beware of unintended consequences of health care proposals”
Linn and Ari Armstrong, Grand Junction Free Press, 9/3/2007, “Reformers demand more labor for politically-run medicine”
Paul Hsieh, Ayn Rand Institute, 9/18/2007, “‘Single-Payer’ Health Care Is Anything but Free”
Brian Schwartz, Rocky Mountain News, 9/26/2007, “Government Control Is Bad For Your Health”
Linn and Ari Armstrong, Grand Junction Free Press, 10/15/2007, “Insurance Mandates Threaten Your Health”
Linda Gorman, Independence Institute, 10/24/2007, “It’s Official: Medicaid Managed Care Does Not Save Money”
James Schroeder, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, 11/18/2007, “Expanding Medicaid Eligibility Will Mean Fewer Doctors Accept It”
Brian Schwartz, 11/21/2007, Independence Institute, “Ritter’s health care cure would prove more crippling to Coloradans”
Linda Gorman, Independence Institute, 12/3/2007, “Health care “reform” in Colorado: Go home and die; it’s cheaper”
James Schroeder, Grand Junction Free Press, 12/26/2007, “Here’s Your Prescription”
Brian Schwartz, TCS Daily, 1/14/2008, “Compulsory Medical Insurance as Collective Punishment”
Linn and Ari Armstrong, Grand Junction Free Press, 1/21/2008, “More Political Control of Medicine Comes With Higher Costs”
Linda Gorman and Ari Armstrong, Rocky Mountain News, 1/30/2008, “A Very Costly Health Care Solution”
Brian Schwartz, Colorado Springs Gazette, 1/31/2008, “Compulsory Insurance as Collective Punishment”

Citations in Media — At least 10, perhaps more
Lin Zinser quoted in Colorado Springs Gazette, 5/22/2007, “State health care commission narrows focus”
Paul Hsieh quoted on Mike Rosen Radio show, 6/7/2007
Brian Schwartz cited in Face the State, 8/27/2007, “Does the Effort to Provide Government Health Care For All Kids Leave Too Many Behind?”
Brian Schwartz quoted in Denver Post, 8/31/2007, “Experts pan health savings accounts”
James Schroeder quoted in Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, 10/12/2007, “Community Discusses Health Care Reform”
Brian Schwartz quoted in Rocky Mountain News, 10/5/2007, “Audience at health care forum backs single-payer proposal”
Ari Armstrong and Brian Schwartz cited in Rocky Mountain News, 10/13/2007, Jason Salzman Column
Brian Schwartz and Paul Hsieh quoted in Colorado Springs Gazette editorial, 1/3/2008, “Health Care, Ho! State Should Avoid Repeat of Massachusetts”
Linda Gorman cited in Rocky Mountain News, 1/10/2008, “Mandatory Health Plan Participation Opposed”
Linda Gorman and Brian Schwartz cited in Face the State, 1/31/2008, “Minority Report Critical of Health Commission Findings”

Articles/Essays — Total 2
Paul Hsieh, Colorado Medicine (March-April 2007 issue), “An Open Letter to Colorado Physicians”
Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh, The Objective Standard (Winter 2007-2008 issue), “Moral Health Care vs. ‘Universal Health Care’”

Guest Speaker/Panel Discussions — Total – 9
Lin Zinser, “The Crisis in Colorado Health Care”, 4/17/2007, Colorado Springs Republican Women
Lin Zinser, Aurora Rotary Club, 6/11/2007
Lin Zinser, Grand Junction, 7/19/2007
Lin Zinser, Castle Rock Republicans, 7/20/2007
Lin Zinser, Jefferson County Town Hall Meeting, 8/18/2007
Lin Zinser, Greeley Centennial Rotary Club, 9/6/2007
Lin Zinser, El Paso County Republican Women, 9/17/2007
Lin Zinser, Mesa County Republicans, 9/21/2007
Lin Zinser, Gateway Rotary Club, 9/26/2007

Media appearances — Total 6
Lin Zinser, 5/10/2007, Amy Oliver Radio Show
Lin Zinser, 5/18/2007, John Caldera TV Show “Independent Thinking”
Brian Schwartz, 6/17/2007, John Andrews Radio Show
Lin Zinser, 7/26/2007, KNZZ Report Radio Show
Lin Zinser, 7/26/2007, Grand Junction TV 5:00 news
Lin Zinser, 9/6/2007, Amy Oliver Radio Show

Formal Proposal Submissions to 208 Commission — Total 1
Brian Schwartz, “Free Markets, Affordability & Individual Rights”

Public statements to 208 Commission Meetings — Total 17
Paul Hsieh (read by Lin Zinser), 1/30/2007
Brian Schwartz, 10/4/2007
James Schroeder, 10/11/2007
Lin Zinser, 1/30/2007, 1/31/2007, 2/21/2007, 3/28/2007, 4/27/2007, 5/17/2007, 5/18/2007, 6/19/2007, 7/18/2007, 8/23/07, 9/24/2007, 11/02/2007, 12/13/2007, 1/10/2008

Letters to 208 Commission during their request for public comments — Total at least 5, undoubtedly more
Lin Zinser, Diana Hsieh, Paul Hsieh, Betty Evans, Richard Watts, and others

Letter to Colorado Medical Society – Total 1
James Schroeder, November 2007

Public Statements to Medical Organizations – Total 1
Paul Hsieh, Arapahoe-Douglas-Elbert Medical Society, 6/21/2007

Public Statement to Colorado Joint Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services – Total 1
Lin Zinser, January 31, 2008

Police Neutrality Concretized

 Posted by on 10 February 2008 at 9:17 am  Politics
Feb 102008

When police remain neutral between criminals and law-abiding citizens, who do you think wins?

If you’re not just quite sure — or if you’d just like a dramatic illustration — watch this mind-boggling video of Berkeley protesters forcibly preventing people from peacefully conducting their business at a local Marine Corps office.

Nick Provenzo has created a petition condemning “the resolutions of the City Council of Berkeley, California which declare that United States Marine Corps recruiters are ‘uninvited and unwelcome intruders’ within Berkeley city limits and applauds those who choose to ‘impede’ the Marines in their recruiting mission.”

I have chosen not to sign the petition, as much as I abhor the City Council’s actions. I cannot reasonably pledge “not to conduct any business within the Berkeley city limits or patronize any company which has its headquarters within Berkeley,” as it requires.

However, if you feel you can do so honestly, please do sign the petition. Last I read, it has over 4,000 signatures. More would be better.

What’s Your Six-Word Motto for the USA?

 Posted by on 8 February 2008 at 11:41 am  Politics
Feb 082008

The Freakonomics blog over at NYTimes has a little contest asking people to try to write a six-word motto for the US. Browsing the comments, I found an amazing variety of self-deprecating, self-hating, cynical, desperate, overly narrow, pathetic, and downright moronic entries. Oh, and there are even some clever and nice ones, too. Here’s some of that variety:

  • “The last best hope of mankind.”
  • “When in doubt, whip it out!”
  • “We came; we saw; we ravaged.”
  • “12 Million Illegals Can’t Be Wrong!”
  • “e plures suffragium, unum claudus rectum” (Translation: out of many votes, one lame decider.)
  • “Land of free, ex-home of braves.”
  • “Our ‘poor’ are richer than you.”
  • “One Nation To Rule The Mall”
  • “All your oil are belong to us.”
  • “Always number one. We insist.”
  • “Dominated the 20th Century — now what?”
  • “We Saved The World from Hitler”
  • “Why can’t you be like us?”
  • “The most gentle empire so far.”
  • “Hold my beer and watch this!”
  • “Birthplace of the earth’s true terrorists.”
  • “We make and break the rules.”
  • “Look, at least we’re trying.”
  • “Where too much is never enough.”
  • “Please step away from the oil.”
  • “Our worst critics prefer to stay.”

Who better than a crowd like ours to name the essence of this land, its promise, its potential. What are your six words? I submitted these:

  • “Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.”
  • “Founded on the concept of freedom.”
  • “Best and last hope of humanity.”

Huckabee the Theocrat

 Posted by on 17 January 2008 at 11:09 pm  Politics, Religion
Jan 172008

In his October 2006 his statement on the election, Leonard Peikoff urged voting for Democrats rather than Republicans based on an analysis of their respective driving philosophies. He wrote,

In essence, the Democrats stand for socialism, or at least some ambling steps in its direction; the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power.

Socialism–a fad of the last few centuries–has had its day; it has been almost universally rejected for decades. Leftists are no longer the passionate collectivists of the 30s, but usually avowed anti-ideologists, who bewail the futility of all systems. Religion, by contrast–the destroyer of man since time immemorial–is not fading; on the contrary, it is now the only philosophic movement rapidly and righteously rising to take over the government. Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer, and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer, it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because “both are bad.”

He concluded his statement by saying that, “If you hate the Left so much that you feel more comfortable with the Right, you are unwittingly helping to push the U.S. toward disaster, i.e., theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner.”

In response, many people denied — even scoffed at — the possibility of theocracy in America.

Yet less than a year and half later, Mike Huckabee — a devout fundamentalist Christian who explicitly promises to make socialist policy based on fundamentalist Christian faith that drives his decisions — is a serious contender for the Republican nomination for president. As if that’s not telling enough, in a prepared speech in Michigan, he said:

I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the Living God. And that’s what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.”

Here’s the video:

Even if Mike Huckabee doesn’t win the Republican nomination, more explicit calls to entwine government with Christianity should be expected in 2012.

My point? In less than two years, the natural course of politics in America has proven Dr. Peikoff right about the prospects of theocracy in America, “not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner.” Frankly, I wish the definitive proof offered by Huckabee’s candidacy had trickled in rather more slowly.

(As for the much-asked question, “But shouldn’t we vote for the better Republicans?”, you can find Dr. Peikoff’s reply to that and more in his fifth podcast, starting at 2:50.)

Huck’s Army

 Posted by on 14 January 2008 at 6:30 am  Politics, Religion
Jan 142008

The January 13, 2008 New York Times has an interesting article on the split amongst evangelical Christians as to whether to support Mike Huckabee for president (“Huckabee Splits Young Evangelicals and Old Guard“).

In particular, most of the older leadership of the evangelical Christians have chosen not to endorse Huckabee, instead dividing their support amongst the other Republican candidates:

While Dr. Dobson and Mr. Perkins remain on the sidelines, many in the old guard are actively backing Mr. Huckabee’s rivals: Pat Robertson is for Mr. Giuliani, Gary Bauer for Fred D. Thompson, and Paul Weyrich, a founder of the movement, for Mr. Romney. The few national conservative Christian political advocates who have rallied to Mr. Huckabee say they are dismayed by the reluctance of their best-known leaders to do the same.

These are the ones that have some fading attachment to capitalism, even though it conflicts with their explicit Christian philosophy.

In contrast, many of the younger evangelicals are fervently drawn to Huckabee precisely because of his support for the environment and his “populist” economic views. At some level, they recognize that these positions are more consistent with their altruist Christian philosophy:

…Rick Scarborough, an aspiring successor to the previous generation of conservative Christian leaders… recently argued that his allies were wrong to balk at Mr. Huckabee’s turn toward environmentalism and “social justice.”

“Can you imagine Jesus ignoring the plight of the disenfranchised and downtrodden while going after the abortionist?” Mr. Scarborough wrote on the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com.

Brett and Alex Harris, the young evangelicals who created the online network of Huckabee supporters “Huck’s Army” explained:

…[H]e believed in a Christian obligation to care for prenatal “life” and also education, health care, jobs and other aspects of “life.” “It is a new kind of evangelical conservative position,” Brett Harris said.

Huckabee’s appeal has crossed over to many Catholics, for similar reasons:

..[T]he Web site Catholic Online, a hub for dedicated church members, prais[es] Mr. Huckabee’s opposition to abortion rights and his empathy for the poor as consistent with the social teachings of the church.

Although mainstream conservative publications like the Wall Street Journal have correctly categorized Huckabee’s views as “religious left“, that’s entirely all right with these young evangelicals. The NY Times quotes one of them as saying, “Huckabee is a change for the conservative Christian movement, and a welcome one.”

This is yet another instance of the playing out of the principles identified by Ayn Rand in her classic essay, “Anatomy of Compromise” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal:

In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.

…When two men (or groups) hold the same basic principles, yet oppose each other on a given issue, it means that at least one of them is inconsistent. Since basic principles determine the ultimate goal of any long-range process of action, the person who holds a clearer, more consistent view of the end to be achieved, will be more consistently right in his choice of means; and the contradictions of his opponent will work to his advantage, psychologically and existentially.

Psychologically, the inconsistent person will endorse and propagate the same ideas as his adversary, but in a weaker, diluted form and thus will sanction, assist, and hasten his adversary’s victory, creating in the minds of their disputed following the impression of his adversary’s greater honesty and courage, while discrediting himself by an aura of evasion and cowardice.

Existentially, every step or measure taken to achieve their common goal will necessitate further and more crucial steps or measures in the same direction (unless the goal is rejected and the basic principles reversed) thus strengthening the leadership of the consistent person and reducing the inconsistent one to impotence.

The conflict will follow that course regardless of whether the basic principles shared by the two adversaries are right or wrong, true or false, rational or irrational.

In other words, the less-consistent older evangelicals who still support some diluted form of capitalism, because they (erroneously) believe that their economics follows from their Christian philosophy will eventually lose to the more-consistent evangelicals who (correctly) recognize that their Christian altruist ethics will require government redistribution of wealth, “universal health care”, environmentalism in the name of “Christian stewardship”, etc.

Even if Huckabee does not win the Presidency in 2008 (and I do not believe he has quite enough support to do so), his candidacy will have seeded the ground for a future Christian president much like Huckabee, but who is even more explicit and consistent in his opposition to capitalism and individual rights due to his Christian philosophy. And that is the real danger that Huck’s Army poses today.

FCC Censorship

 Posted by on 1 December 2007 at 7:35 am  Objectivism, Politics
Dec 012007

Since I’ve not paid much attention to the news lately, I’d not heard of this latest attempt at censorship by the FCC. It’s very disturbing, for all the reasons cited in this excellent op-ed:

Doing Violence to Free Speech by Don Watkins

The Federal Communications Commission recently asked Congress to hand it broad powers to regulate “excessive violence” on TV, the way it currently restricts “indecent” speech: broadcasters who violate the FCC’s limitations on “excessive violence” will face crippling fines and, potentially, the loss of their broadcast licenses. Isn’t it time to ask: How did a country that reveres free speech end up with a government agency that imposes continually expanding speech restrictions–and where will those restrictions end?

Free speech means the right to express the products of the mind (scientific conclusions, artistic creations, political views, etc.) using whatever words or images one chooses over a medium one can rightfully access, without interference by the government. It means the right of a publisher to publish a controversial novel; the right of a newspaper to run an article criticizing the government–and the right of broadcasters to decide what content will flow over their airwaves.

But in 1927, just as radios were becoming widely used, the government seized control of the airwaves, declared them “public property,” and assumed the power to regulate them in the name of the “public interest”–an undefinable term that can be stretched to mean anything. Thus broadcasters’ right to free speech was cut off at the root, as the government, having irrationally barred broadcasters from owning the airwaves they made valuable through their technological innovation and broadcast content, went on to dictate how those airwaves could be used.

Initially the government pledged that only “obscene” speech–materials that “depict or describe patently offensive ‘hard core’ sexual conduct”–would be barred from the air. But having abandoned the principle of free speech and established itself as the unchecked arbiter of what could be said on the airwaves, the government was later able to ignore its pledge and, in 1978′s FCC v. Pacifica ruling, expand its speech restrictions to include the broader (and even more nebulous) category of “indecent” speech. Thus, broadcasters could be fined for anything from profanity to sexual double-entendres, to vague references to sexual acts. Now, advocates of censorship are appealing to this precedent in order to justify regulating “excessively violent” content as well.

Moreover, Americans had been assured that speech restrictions would apply only to broadcasters operating on the “public airwaves.” But now, in its quest to regulate “excessive violence,” the FCC is insisting that its regulatory mandate be expanded to cover subscriber-based media such as satellite and cable TV.

If we allow this progression to continue, it is only a matter of time before the FCC starts restricting “offensive” philosophic or scientific views (as some religious opponents of evolution would like). And having gutted free speech on radio and television, what is to stop the government from censoring the Internet, books, and newspapers?

What made this trend toward increasing censorship possible–and inevitable? When the FCC assumed the power to subordinate free speech to the “public interest,” it declared, in effect, that individuals are incompetent to judge what speech they and their children should be exposed to, and so their judgment must be usurped by all-wise FCC bureaucrats, who will control the airwaves in their name. Given this disgraceful principle, it did not matter that the FCC’s initial restrictions were supposedly limited to speech pertaining to sex: if the government knows what’s best for us in the realm of sexual speech and can dictate what we watch or listen to, then there is no reason why it should not control what ideas we should be exposed to across the board. To reverse this destructive trend, therefore, we must do more than resist new speech restrictions–we must abolish existing ones and restore our commitment to the principle of free speech.

Does this mean that parents must be forced to let their children view programming they regard as indecent or violent? No. It is a parent’s job, not the government’s, to decide and control what his child watches, just as the parent is responsible for deciding what he himself watches. If a parent determines that a show is not appropriate for his child, he is free to change the channel, turn off the TV, or block his child’s access to it in some other way. His need to monitor what his child views on TV no more justifies censoring broadcasters than his need to vet what his child reads justifies censoring authors.

Americans face a choice: free speech or censorship. There is no middle ground.

Don Watkins is a writer and research specialist at the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand–author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

Copyright (c) 2007 Ayn Rand(R) Institute. All rights reserved.

Supposed Hawk Seeks Death of Military

 Posted by on 19 October 2007 at 6:50 am  Politics
Oct 192007

Silly me, I didn’t think the altruism of the Bush Administration could morally decimate our military any further. Yet, it has: Preventing War Leads New Naval Strategy.

In the first major revision of U.S. naval strategy in two decades, maritime officials said Wednesday they plan to focus more on humanitarian missions and improving international cooperation as a way to prevent conflicts. “We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars,” said the new strategy announced by the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The strategy reflects a broader Defense Department effort to use aid, training and other cooperative efforts to encourage stability in fledgling democracies and create relationships around the globe that can be leveraged if a crisis does break out in a region.

“Although our forces can surge when necessary to respond to crises, trust and cooperation cannot be surged,” says the 16-page document entitled “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.” It also says forces will be concentrated “where tensions are high or where we wish to demonstrate to our friends and allies our commitment to security” — something the U.S. did earlier this year in sending an additional aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region as a show of force toward Iran. “Credible combat power will be continuously posted in the Western Pacific and the Arabian Gulf/Indian Ocean to protect our vital interests, assure our friends … and deter and dissuade potential adversaries,” the strategy document said.

…Adm. Mike Mullen — who just left his job as head of the Navy to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — has said he sees the Navy’s humanitarian work as key to the effort to defeat terrorism by winning hearts and minds. When Roughead succeeded Mullen at the Navy last week, he called in a speech for more international partnerships to make the Navy a “force for good” around the globe.

The various cuts in military funding commonly proposed by “doves” does not compare to the rejection of the basic moral purpose of the military by the supposed “hawk” who sits in the Oval Office. For more details on the effect of altruism on national defense, see Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein’s article “Just War Theory” vs. American Self-Defense. (Via Robert LC.)

Christian Government

 Posted by on 1 June 2006 at 7:44 am  Politics, Religion
Jun 012006

For years, Christian conservatives have been pushing their “pro-family” agenda. After all, who could possibly object to “family values”? No decent person could possibly fail to support to anything so wonderful as Mom and apple pie, right?

Well, now we’re seeing the fruits of their labors. Nick Provenzo reports on a case in which an unmarried couple and their three children face eviction from a St. Louis suburb based upon a zoning regulation forbidding the co-habitation of more than three people unrelated by “blood, marriage or adoption.” An attempt was made to also allow unmarried couples with two or more children to live together, but that was defeated.

As Olivia Shelltrack, the unmarried woman now facing eviction, said, “I’m just shocked. I really thought this would all be over, and we could go on with our lives.”

What chance will any of us have of living our own lives as the Christians assume ever-greater political power?

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha