Saturday, April 19, 2008

We Can Always Count on The Pope ...

I saw this headline this morning: Pope worries that big powers control decision-making.

Of course this implies that the small powers should have a seat at the table to make decisions. I would like to know by what right the small powers should have a seat at the table? Because they are human? Because they exist? Because they are small? What?

Reality does not provide human being with guarantees - be it food on his table or power among men. So, he gets to make one of two choices. Either he is going to earn his food by producing it or trading for it or he is going to expropriate it or depend on handouts. Similarly, he has to earn a position of power or he has to depend on handouts. How does he do this? Either he offers a value which is attractive to those in power and thus earns the right to be among the powerful or he seeks to get into the group by inducing guilt. Inducing guilt is the classic means of getting something by offering nothing of value. Naturally the Pope, being the Pope, chose the latter.

This is the root means of Christianity, which according to Nietzche in his Geneology of Morals, comes from the "slave" morality. "I have no power and since you do not give me a place at the table, I must resort to and am justified in inducing guilt in you so that you will give me something." This is the quintessential expression of the victim mentality. What is in his being and is not stated is "And, of course, I am soooo reasonable and so meek and therefore not a threat to you or anyone."

I assert that believing this places one in the category of fools. It will require from you self-sacrifice - the sacrifice of one's values. Is it no wonder that Jesus purposefully sacrificing his life on the cross is the essential symbol of Christianity?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Some friends have been talking about this movie and it did get four Academy Awards. I'm glad I didn't go to the theater to see it. I would have walked out. I cannot take the kind of terror that this movie recreates. I rented the film, played it the first time with the sound off while I was working on something else. I kept the suspense at bay. I got the visual mood of the film and learned who got shot and killed. Two days later I was ready to sit down and watch it.

Here are three men, all using their brains - well, except for the sheriff. He was, I think observing his belly button. In fact, he was so into being overwhelmed and, I think, scared, that he distracted himself with conversations about the nature of crime and the past. It never ocurred to him, with a terrifying psychopath loose in his district, to get major help. I don't know why he didn't think of it. He finally quit and retired.

The guy who found the money at the "drug deal gone bad" was dumb. He thought the money was worth taking and he hoped to create a life with his wife with the money. But, he could not keep a single focus in order to accomplish his goal. He would get distracted. One of his problems was that he stole the money, an anti-life action, and his pro-life actions screwed him up. If he were to succeed, he would have had to cut off his pro-life concerns and not let himself get distracted in any way until his purpose was accomplished. And, even then, he would have had trouble integrating his ill-gotten riches into a pro-life situation.

The guy who intended to get the money throughout the movie was totally committed to his purpose. Nothing drew him away from it. Pro-life concerns meant nothing to him. At the end, when he was hurt, a boy offered him his shirt. He couldn't take it until he paid for it.

The most consistent wins. In this movie the most consistent person was completely anti-life character. There was no completely pro-life character. Had their been and had that person been 100% on purpose until he accomplished it, then I think he would have won. He would have had life on his side. Further, his actions would have been sourced by his being pro-life.

The sheriff had this potential, but he was ineffective and was not consistently pro-life. Had he been, he would have been motivated to catch the killer.

By existentialist standards, the psychopath was in integrity. He said what he was going to do and then he did that. He was true to himself, at least in a narrow context. Ultimately, he had to run away in order to remain alive whereupon he had to leave everything in a wrecked car. Thus when he chose life, he had to give up what he had consistently worked for. Integrity in favor of that which is anti-life fails to produce the result when the anti-life purpose is given up in favor of life.

For me this brings up what the meaning of integrity really is. I think of it being grounded in pro-life values and there are several reasons for that. Rarely do we find a thief who claims he is a thief and then theives. Similarly, rarely do we find a killer who claims he is a killer and then kills. The only place I've found this is in the movies.

Integrity is the moral of internal consistency, of living according to one's convictions and values, and it is just that - a moral. The purpose of a moral is to guide one's actions to live a successful life. A moral is not for the purpose of living a failed life. I think it makes no sense to choose a value to which to be true that is anti-life. A different formulation for integrity could be "loyalty to rational principles." Thus whatever one's conviction or value is, it must be rational in order to ultimately payoff in the result that one worked for.

I find this in Tara Smith's book, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist. "Although integrity is sometimes thought of as fideltity to moral principles, its scope is actually broader, on Rand's account. Integrity consists in a person's practiced devotion to his convictions and values; these include his moral principles but are not restricted to them. A person typically has convictions and values in many areas beyond morality (e.g., in regard to politics, business, sports, science, literature, movies, the media). A person's actions in regard to any of these could reflect his possession or lack of integrity. A journalist who panders to the taste of his readers against his own judgment of responsible reporting is compromising his integrity. A scholar who endorses a conclusion about global warming or cloning, for instance, not by his customary standards of evidence but because it is politically correct (or anti-politcally correct) is doing the same. So is the person who fails to defend a friend from slanderous charges. In all three cases, the subject of the person's action is not morality but standards in cases, the subject of the person's action is not morality but standards in specific fields (journalism, epistemology, friendship). Yet the breach of integrity is clear. Morals may be indirectly at stake in these cases. Failing to defend a friend betrays the moral bonds of friendship; compromising one's professional standards may violate a tacit agreement with those who depend on a person to perform a service. The point, however, is that although a person's violation of his moral standards constitutes a breach of integrity, violations of a person's other convictions and values can be a breach of integrity, as well."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Opposing Moralities

Neitzche questioned in his writing how it was that the German and European had become so weak and powerless. Christian morality dominated the culture. He thought that Christian morality originated from slavery, particularly the slavery of the Israelite in Egypt. Being a slave, the morality furthered survival. This was later taken up by Christianity and imparted to all the cultures of the west.

On the other hand, there was a morality of the master. If you look at the two moralities, you see that the latter is the morality of success and accomplishment and the former is the morality of victimhood and "ennobled" suffering.

The Master's Morality consisted of these values:

Pride in oneself.

A healthy sense of self-esteem.

Wealth is good, one should profit from his activities.

It is good to be ambitious and bold to seek one's highest dreams.

One should not take garbage from people and should stop that with a vengeance.

Justice is a good thing.

One should seek challenges in order to improve one's life.

Pleasure and sensuality, including sexual pleasure, is good and to be enjoyed.

It is good to be independent and take risks.

One should be an individual.

Admire oneself for what has been accomplished .

Indulge in the rewards of one's success.

The Slave's Morality consisted of these values:

One should be humble because pride goeth before the fall.

Meekness is good. The meek shall inherit the earth.

Poverty is good. Blessed are the poor.

It is good to be anti-materialist because it is more difficult for the rich man
to enter the kingdom of heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

Self-sacrifice is good.

Passivity is good. Be patient and forgiving. Turn the other cheek. Safety and self-restraint are also good.

It is good to be self-deprecating and shamed because one should be aware of his weakness and sin.

One should be altruistic and give to charity and think of others ahead of oneself.

Dependence is good since we are all dependent on one another.

Obedience to parent, preacher and Caesar is good.

I heard this the first time in a lecture by Stephen Hicks which has been published on a DVD entitled Nietzche and the Nazis. The purpose of the lecture is to assess whether Nietzche had a big effect on the Nazis and to what extent.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Obama - not "da bomb" but A bomb.

Obama's latest statement that Americans back in small town Pennsylvania and Indiana "'cling to guns or religion' because they are 'bitter' about their economic status" is so Marxist and Alinskyesque that it is disgusting. A Marxist is a materialist. He always thinks that it is money that is the root of everything and he thinks that there is only so much of it and if one person has it then another person doesn't. This is how wrong not only Marx is, but Obama is. He is sooo disgusting because this has been disproved by the failure of socialism, the system designed to counteract this horrendous condition of the working man. Creativity and the value of the mind is not a factor in human existence according to Marx, Alinksy or Obama. Or, if it is, it is completely separate and unrelated to what is really important in life.

Because he is a materialist, it never occurs to him that people might like a gun or religion for spiritual pursuits like hunting in the great outdoors (or maybe using the gun provides for the unification of material and spiritual needs) or finding a way to feel united to the ALL of it. This just escapes the man.

And, the other reason I really dislike Obama, besides his being so f---king arrogant, is because he is a sore picker. Because he is a Marxist and a disciple of Alinsky, he must - I repeat, MUST - find something wrong with you and blow that up until he can gain power over you. He offers to fix your situation, which he cannot metaphysically do. No one can fix a person's situation by making him more dependent. And, I guarantee you that when things go wrong, Obama's smile will not be there to comfort you. This huge fraud is his entire modus operandi.

Don't take my word for this. Listen to Obama's speeches. He has been completely consistent in his view of man and his condition.

I consider him, along with the other arch-populist bastard of this campaign season, Edwards, to be two of the biggest hypocritical, power-lusting frauds of the race.

Hillary pulls the same crap and was mentored by Alinksy as well. So, there's not a gnat's body-width difference between Obama and her. She's just as arrogant and stupid because of her erroneous beliefs about human beings. None of them are worthy of America and the distinction that America is in the world.

McCain has been in the shadows recently. I will get to him soon enough.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

April 13: Thomas Jefferson born

In honor of Thomas Jefferson's 265th birthday, born April 13, 1743, I am demolishing one of the myths that have sprouted around Mr. Jefferson. This is an excerpt from David Mayer's Thomas Jefferson, Man versus Myth, originally published in MayerBlog on April 13, 2006 and then reprinted with permission by The Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship of Rockford College, Rockford, IL, 2007.

The "Father of American Democracy" Myth

Jefferson has been long regarded as the "father of American democracy." During the celebration of his 250th birthday in 1993, he was officially proclaimed "the architect of democracy" (a play on words that coupled his famous association with democracy and his achievements as an architect). The first writer to explicitly associate Jefferson with democracy may have been Alexis de Tocqueville, in his classic book, Democracy in America, where Tocqueville referred to Jefferson as "the most powerful advocate democracy has ever had."

Jefferson himself would have been surprised - perhaps even apalled - by this association with democracy because he would have strenuously denied it, and with good reason. Jefferson never explicitly identified his political philosophy with democracy. Rather, he identified with the republican form of government and called his own politics - and the political party that he founded in the 1790s - "republican."

Like virtually all the Founders, Jefferson regarded democracy as a bad form of government. Under the classical "mixed constitution" model of government to which most English-speaking thinkers adhered in the 18th century (a model that could be traced back to ancient political thought, specifically to Aristotle's Politics), democracy was one of three "pure" forms of government (the other two were monarchy and aristocracy) which, by themselves, would degenerate into either despotism or disorder. (Monarchy would degenerate into tyranny by "the one," a dictator - as in the ancient Roman empire; aristocracy would degenerate into tyranny by the "the few," the aristocrats or oligarchs, as in the ancient Roman republic; and democracy would degenerate into tyranny by the "the many," majority tyranny or mob rule, or else into anarchy). An ideal constitution, it was believed, would combine elements of each of the three pure forms into a "mixed" model of government, as Englishmen in the 18th century saw their constitution (with all three forms of government represented by the King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons, joined together in King and Parliament).

Jefferson's mature politcal thought eventually rejected the English "mixed constitution" model and instead embraced republican government, which he defined as, essentially, representative government. The "essence of a republic," as Jefferson understood it, was "action by the citizens in person, in affairs within their reach and competence, and in all others by representatives, chosen immediately, and removabsle by themselves." Governments were "more or less republican in proportion as this principle enters more or less into their composition." Like other American founders, he would have denied that the American system of government was a "democracy"; rather, he insisted, it was a "republic," as he thus defined it. He and his good friend James Madison, who were co-leaders of the opposition political party of the 1790s (the first true national opposition political party in U.S. history) called their party "Republican" because they believed they stood for preserving the republican system of American government against their opponents, the Hamiltonian Federalists, whom they accused of trying to introduce monarchical or aristocratic principles into the American system and thus of trying to undo the American Revolution. (For more on how the terms democracy and republic were used in early American politics, see my previous entry "A Republic, Not a Democracy," Jun3 6, 2005. )

Many people today - including historians, political scientists, and even Jefferson scholars - minunderstand Jefferson's commitment to republicanism and particularly his advocacy of "self-government," confusing it with democracy. But democracy is government by the majority of the people; republican government is government by the representatives of the people; and limited, constitutional, republican government - the American system - is government by the people's representatives whose power is limited by various constraints imposed by the constitution. "Self-government," as Jefferson understood it, meant, literally, individuals governing themselves, without the interference of government. Early in his presidency Jefferson wrote, "Our people in a body are wise, because they are under the unrestrained and unperverted operation of their own understandings." He viewed the United States as the leading model to the world for "the interesting experiment of self-government"; that it was the nation's destiny to show the world "what is the degree of freedom and self-government in which a society may venture to leave its individual members." To "leave" them to do what? To be free - to govern themselves.

Jefferson had much confidence in the ability of individuals to govern themselves - in other words, in their ability to be free of government control. He did not, however, have much confidence at all in the ability of individuals to govern others; like the English radical Whig philosophers who so influenced his political thought, he fundamentally distrusted men who held political power. Perhaps the most important statement of Jefferson's distrust of power can be found in his Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, where he wrote,

Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in
confidence; it is jealousy, and not confidence which
prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those
whom we are obliged to trust with power:. . . . our
Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which,
and no further, our confidence may go. . . . In questions
of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in
man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of
the Constitution.

The "chains of the Constitution" to which he referred were the various structural devices - federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, and ultimately, the ability of the people to amend the Constitution - the devices that its framers put in the document to help check the abuse of political power.

As I show in my book, The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson (University of Virginia Press, 1994, paperback ed., 1995), Jefferson's philosophy of government emphasized the need for citizens to be constantly vigilant - to be ever on their guard against government and all uses of political power - because power was inherently threatening to individual freedom. My study of Jefferson's constitutional thought highlights what was most important about his philsophy of government: his committment to liberty and his distrust of government. Believing that "the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground," Jefferson stressed the importance of written constitutions, scrupulously adhered to, as well as popular participation and vigilance over government, to keep its power from being abused.

Jefferson's politcal philosophy differed profoundly from that of modern-day advocates of democracy, who seek to use politics to "empower the people" - to allow the majority in society to use the coercive power of government to limit the freedoms of individuals, in the name of some amorphous concept called the "public interest." Although Jefferson himself never uttered the famous maxim often attributed to him - "That government is best which governs least" - the sentiment behind the maxim is perfectly consistent with his political philosophy. And although Jefferson frequently defended the democratic principle of majority rule - his Republican party was, after all, far more populist (in the literal sense of the term) than its opposition, the rather elitist and paternalistic Federalist party of the 1790s - it is significant that Jefferson always coupled majority rule with the protection of minority rights. In his First Inaugural Address of March 4, 1801, for example, he urged all Americans to keep in mind "this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression."

Jefferson's well-known advocacy of religious freedom aptly illustrates this concern with the rights of minorities - for, after all, the most important minority of all is the lone individual. Jefferson regarded freedom of religion as a natural right because he understood that, in his own conscience, every individual is free. Accordingly, he authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom because he championed the right of every person to hold (or not to hold) religious beliefs, free of governmental interference. Justifying the Statute in his book (the only truly book-length work he ever wrote), Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson explained: "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neghbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." If one government, the result would be not democratic government but rather limited government - indeed, the same kind of limited government (government limited to the basic function of protecting individuals from harming one another) that modern-day libertarians advocate.

Rather than being considered an "architect of democracy," Jefferson ought to be remembered as a champion of individual rights - and especially of the essential natural right, liberty, the right to be free - and of the limited, constitutional, and republican system of government that best safeguarded that essential right.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Logical Fallacies

Since thinking is passe, logical fallacies are rife and unseen. Truth used to be a concern. Now no one cares. It's all made up anyway. Right?

If, you do get concerned about thinking and using it as your tool of survival which is its purpose, then it may be worth while to notice some of the pitfalls of thinking. I found this list of fallacies in The Art of Reasoning, a logic textbook by David Kelley and published by Norton in 1988. I like this book because it is based on Objectivist epistemology. (See Favorite Books on the sidebar.)


Subjectivist Fallacies

Subjectivism: I believe/want p to be true therefore p is true.

Appeal to Majority: Using the fact that large numbers of people believe a proposition to be true as evidence of its truth.

Appeal to Emotion: Trying to get someone to accept a proposition on the basis of an emotion one induces.

Appeal to Force (Argumentum ad Baculum): Trying to gain the acceptance of argument on the basis of a threat.

Credibility Fallacies

Since we rely on other people for much of what we know, we engage in the argument: X says p therefore p is true. This depends on two conditions: X must know the truth and X must tell the truth. Fallacies misuse the standards for credibility.

Appeal to Authority (Argumentum ad Verecundiam): Using testimonial evidence for a proposition when the conditions for credibility are not satisfied, or the use of such evidence is inappropriate.

Ad Hominem: (X says p) + (X is a bad person) therefore p is false. Variations: Tu quoque: trying to refute an accusation by showing that the speaker is guilty of it. Poisoning the well: trying to refute a statement or argument by showing that the speaker has a nonrational motive for adopting it.

Fallacies of Logical Structure

Begging the Question (Circular argument): Trying to support a proposition with an argument in which that proposition is a premise. Variation: Complex question: trying to get someone to accept a proposition by posing a question that presupposes it.

Post Hoc (post hoc ergo propter hoc): A occurred before B therefore A caused B.

False Alternative: Excluding relevant possibilities without justification.

Appeal to Ignorance (Argumentum ad ignorantiam): Using the absence of proof for a proposition as evidence for the truth of the opposing proposition.

Non Sequitur: Trying to support a proposition on the basis of irrelevant premises. Variations: Diversion: trying to support one proposition by arguing for another proposition. Straw man: trying to refute one proposition by arguing against another proposition.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Our Most Dangerous Candidate

When I say "dangerous," I mean "involving risk, peril, hazardous situations." I think Obama is our most dangerous candidate and I have two reasons. First, he keeps himself an unknown quantity. Instead of taking a position on a vote, he votes "present." He did this 130 times in the Illinois Senate and Y times in the US Senate. Maybe this is something all representatives do, but I think this is symbolic of his character. He advocates Change but gives no program regarding to what we are to change. Secondly, he's an imposter. He talks about healing and conversations and yet never uses the words "all people" or "all equal before the law." Rather he spews disgusting populist rhetoric pitting one segment of society against another by playing the blame game; and right beside him is his pastor, who he has listened to for 20 years, had him marry him and baptize his children, and who spews disgusting racist rhetoric pitting one segment of society against another by playing the blame game. We learn too that he was reared on Alinsky, the Marxist professor who knew that the issue of politics is not justice, but POWER. He sought the sores of humanity and picked on them until they became inflamed enough that he could get people to march on city hall. And Obama doesn't even address these incredible personal maladies. He just keeps being the imposter, smooth and cool, knowing just how "to be."

We live in "evil" times. I say that because we see in the newspapers where the normal activities of doing business are now, by definition, a crime. (WSJ editorial, April 9, 2008) In this era, a man who creates something, takes his product out in the world to show people what it can do and then lives off the value that people see in it is considered a criminal, while a politician who goes around with a gun in his hand asking people who they want him to threaten or force is considered something to be aspired to. We, as a culture, are up to no good and the results will soon be here. We can count on that.

McCain, Hillary and Obama are all statists believing it right to interfere in the lives of men whenever they think it is for the greater good. McCain at least is focussed on what he thinks are the problems. (Most of them are not problems his problems to solve and should not be under the government's purview in the first place.) Hillary and Obama are more virulent. Given their Marxist, socialist, progressivist background, they have no problem pitting man against man. The bottom line is POWER. Hillary is an old line socialist type and a pragmatist. She's tough and crooked, but at least you don't feel bad battling her. Obama is another type. He is the consummate personality cult leader. He will wield his gun with a conversation and some smooth talk. I know, I know. You don't think Obama would go there. Well I have not seen the countervailing evidence yet.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

John A. Allison IV - A Celebration of Freedom

The following is a tribute to a courageous freedom fighter in our time - John A. Allison IV. I delivered this speech to the Fellowship of Reason for its monthly Celebration of Freedom, April 6, 2008.

John A. Allison IV was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1948. He went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Business Administration, and was graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa Society, a measure of his academic achievements. While at UNC, he discovered articles by Ayn Rand and was profoundly influenced by her philosophy. He went on to receive his MBA from Duke University and then entered the banking industry. His first job came in 1971, at the age of 23, when he went to work for BB&T, a regional bank headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He rose through the ranks to President in 1987 and then to CEO in 1989. He is still the CEO. The bank gained notoriety and romantic appeal when it announced that it would not lend to anyone who gained their property through eminent domain. The bank has grown to the 9th largest financial holding company in the United States with currently reported assets of 131.6 billion dollars. Beyond its headquarters state of North Carolina, it has branches in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C.

If you go to the webpage of the bank, you learn that the principles of the bank's operation are straight out of Rand’s ethics. The company business is “brazenly stated” to be based on the facts of reality. Psychologizing, "do-gooderism" and excuses do not get play here. An outstanding BB&T employee, the website says, embodies Purpose, Rationality and Self-Esteem, the primary moral values of a Randian hero.

As the company grew it formed the BB&T Charitable Foundation. The kinds of projects that the Charitable Foundation have supported have been various but one kind of project has thrust John Allison and BB&T into the middle of one of, if not the greatest of all cultural battles of our time. He has chosen to offer universities grants if they will teach a course in which Atlas Shrugged is one of the books used.

John Allison - along with many others - have seen that capitalism has won the materialism side of the argument. With the collapse of communist Russia, and the inability of many other socialist societies to produce the basic needs for a society possible in this modern time, and the quick turnaround of countries that have embraced capitalism, such as Ireland, Poland, India, China to the extent it is able to be free, plus the older cases of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the evidence is in. To the extent a country’s government fails to provide a legal structure that recognizes private property or it economically controls its society it will remain primitive or fail. If it controls the economy completely, it will fail completely. If it mixes control with some free aspects, it will be sluggish to the extent of the mixture.

So. What is capitalism? I quote Allison’s mentor, Ayn Rand:

Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.

Rand’s definition makes sense and can be rationally validated. But, morally we, as a culture, cannot whole-heartedly abide it. We, at this point in time, are committed to a different moral base – altruism – where everything has to be justified in terms of the society as a whole or the welfare of another person. To stand up for one’s own life and the right to live it by using the individual faculty of one’s mind and the economic freedom that entails which is the basis of capitalism is impossible to do unless you are MORALLY prepared to do so. (By that I mean that you have developed within yourself moral certainty, which I call a “tap root.”) Mr. Allison’s mission, which he chose to accept, was to establish in the culture the moral basis of capitalism, the weak leg of its foundation. The book which elucidates that foundation most clearly at this point in time is Atlas Shrugged, hence, his requirement that Atlas Shrugged be taught in the course(s) supported by BB&T’s grants.

The grants Mr. Allison offers are voluntary. No university is required to accept the grants. To this point, 27 colleges and universities have chosen to accept BB&T’s gifts and its conditions. In fact, now colleges are seeking out BB&T’s offers.

In some cases, the gifts pay for a professor to teach the moral basis of capitalism. In other cases, BB&T has funded a chair at the university or a separate department. The colleges and universities which have accepted these grants are the following:

Carolina Colleges

Appalachian State University
Campbell University
Clemson University
Duke University
Greensboro College
High Point University
Johnson C. Smith University
North Carolina State University
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
University of South Carolina

Other than the Carolina Colleges

Christopher Newport University (VA)
George Mason University (VA)
Marshall University (WV)
Rockford College (IL)
University of Charleston (WV)
University of Florida
University of Kentucky
University of Texas at Austin
University of Virginia
Virginia Tech
West Virginia University
Western Kentucky University
Wheeling Jesuit University (WV)

As these gifts have been announced, they have kicked up the dust that must arise by confronting the prevalent moral code. Professors have argued that they are being “forced” by these gifts. They are confused between choosing freely and not having a choice. In the context of their original freely chosen selection, they cancelled their right to the “force” argument. What happened that they forget that?

Or, they argue that this undermines academic freedom and the right of the professor to select what he wants to teach. They fail to mention how other gifts have been designed to specialize in a particular area or of government grants that shape research and hence course material. They don’t want opposition to the ideas they profess. If you go online and Google BB&T and the grants, you can find any number of newspaper columns and letters to the editor that argue against the conditions of the grant. Also, there are bloggers who feel they must let us know that they are disgusted by Atlas Shrugged and its advocacy of selfishness as a virtue. Or how boring the book is. Or how long it is. Or how poor a writer Ms. Rand is.

So the battle goes on.

Lest you worry about the complaints leveled at Atlas Shrugged, C. Bradley Thompson, the Executive Director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism, says it this way:

“I’ve taught Atlas Shrugged for fifteen years during which time I’ve witnessed many remarkable things. For example, some 95% of my students report that Atlas Shrugged is the best book they’ve ever read. No book that I’ve taught comes remotely close to fostering a more robust exchange of ideas in the classroom. My students typically come to class after pulling an all-nighter debating Atlas with their friends, and then they pepper me with dozens of questions. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Ayn Rand’s ideas, few could deny that this is what the college experience is supposed to be like.

“During those few weeks each year when I teach Atlas Shrugged, I’ve seen hundreds of students become intellectually engaged in ways they weren’t before reading this extraordinary book. The comment I hear most often from students goes something like this: 'Atlas Shrugged sums up everything that I’ve always admired and believed but could never put into words.’ Ayn Rand’s novel speaks to many students’ deepest values and aspirations: it appeals to their sense of justice, integrity, honesty, and independence, and it appeals to their desire to live in a world where achievement and heroism are rewarded.

I chose to celebrate John A. Allison IV of BB&T and his courageous commitment to political freedom because it is one of the most crucial, philosophically fundamental, exciting, pro-freedom advances happening in the world today. Now that you know that it is happening, I hope you will join me in my joy of seeing this mighty moral battle unfold. The United States, the only country founded on individual rights is either going to blossom into full flower or fade from the earth.