Friday, February 27, 2009

The Two Moralities - My letter to Glenn Beck

Dear Glenn Beck,

I watched your show this afternoon and thought it was interesting that you juxtaposed your words next to Obama's words and they were practically the same words. Yet, they meant two entirely different things.

What is going on here? Of course two different philosophies are underneath the same words. Marxist thinkers and activists, such as Alinsky in the 30s and later Cloward and Piven in the 60s in their Strategy for Change through Orchestrated Crisis advocate using the morality of the middle class to bring it down and socialize it under dictatorial control. This change to socialism is what is transpiring in our country at this time with Obama as moral and political leader.

The morality that allows this to happen is the morality of altruism - that we somehow have an obligation to take care of our brother - that society is not whole until the rich have sacrificed for the poor, the able have sacrificed for the unable, and the strong have sacrificed for the weak. It isn't sufficient for a person to give a person a helping hand when he sees value in doing so. He must do so because he doesn't want to do so. This is why we hear so much moral sanctimony in every Obama speech. He has the charisma of a revival preacher.

What is the error here and what can we do about it? The error is that a man must sacrifice himself for another man - that he must be a sacrificial animal rather than a man. No man can even properly be a human being in the full meaning of the term unless he seeks and obtains the values that give his life what he needs - his material needs, his spiritual needs and his happiness. To not allow him to do that is an evil of the first sort. And yet, this is what Obama is asking. Well, actually, he is not asking for it; he is forcing it - at the point of a gun, the final authority the government has to achieve its edicts.

The real battle is a moral battle. The battle of sacrifice as a way of life vs. rational self-interest, i.e., egoism, as a way of life. This is the battle we have to fight lest we lose our country down the sewer of all altruist societies and political systems.

Further, the sacrifice of which I am speaking has been invoked in the name of God and a life in the hereafter, and in the name of society and the greater good. Both have to be fought. Although the Founders of the United States of America may have been Christian, or more properly deists, there achievement was not in the name of God nor a tribute to God. It was in the name of man and it is to man that the United States is a tribute.

Here, for the first time in history, every man had a chance to rise to what he could and ought to be. This is the moral vision that we have to have for ourselves and this country if this battle is going to be won.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Ayn Rand Factor

TIA Daily • February 24, 2009

The Ideal Hostess for an Ideological Boston Tea Party

by Robert Tracinski

Last week, in his now-famous rallying cry against the Obama administration's march toward socialism, CNBC financial commentator Rick Santelli called for a "Chicago Tea Party" to protest against the rapid expansion of government.

The idea of a Boston Tea Party-inspired tax protest had already been percolating, if you will, and when Santelli gave voice to it, it emerged as a new movement. A group that calls this the "New American Tea Party" has set up a website to coordinate protests across the nation this Friday, including in Washington, DC.

The comparison to the Boston Tea Party is appropriate, because it is a reminder that the American Revolution began with a revolt against taxes—and against a government that was much smaller and less intrusive than the one we have now.

It is also appropriate because it captures the sense that the political class has been acting without our consent. The ever-changing bailout plans have been hatched by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve on their own apparently unlimited authority, backed by a blank check rammed through Congress last year with little debate. Or consider the automakers' bailout, which the Bush administration decreed after Congress had specifically refused to approve it. Or take the stimulus bill, the final version of which was pushed through the House with only ten hours to read through a thousand-page preserve of leftist giveaways and insidious new regulations.

It has been said that freedom is indivisible, and since the beginning of the financial crisis we have seen that in taking away our economic freedom, our leaders in Washington are also increasingly giving unchecked power to unelected bureaucrats and turning Congress into a mere rubber stamp.

A backlash has been brewing against this rapid expansion of government power, and this week's tea party protests are just the beginning. The American people as a whole are still largely giving President Obama the benefit of the doubt, and his approval ratings are still relatively high. But what will happen in a year or so, when it is likely that his interventions in the economy will have made things worse, rather than better? The new administration's policies have already driven the stock market down to levels not seen since 1997, wiping out more than a decade of wealth-creation. What happens in 2010, when the public finds that they're still afraid of losing their jobs, and their personal savings haven't recovered? I think we will see these protests grow and spread.

But we will need more than just a political rebellion against the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress. We will need to engage in an ideological struggle, a battle of ideas. Columnist Monica Crowley named it best early last week when she called for a "21st century Boston Tea Party" and said that we needed a "second American revolution of ideas," "of getting back to the ideals of limited government, of constitutional parameters on government power, of individual liberty, and of the free market."

But such an ideological revolution would need to be more extensive than Crowley realizes, because we have to ask: where is the intellectual ammunition for this battle of ideas going to come from? It is important to remember that a Republican administration started us down this plunge into socialism. President Bush started the bailout frenzy, and John McCain pointedly refused to defend capitalism when Barack Obama tried to make the presidential election into a referendum against free-market economics.

For the right, this taxpayers' rebellion should be seen, not merely as a way to regain some of the political power they have lost, but also as a means for the Republican Party to reform itself and revive its ability to defend the free market after a decade of Bush-style "big-government conservatism." For too long, the right has neglected the case for free markets, and they need to re-learn it. That's the revolution we need most of all.

In praising Rick Santelli, conservative author Roger Kimball asks a very good question: "do we really need to go back to economic kindergarten and relearn" the lessons of the failure of statism and the superiority of capitalism? The answer is that we never learned the fullest, deepest, philosophical reasons for the moral and practical superiority of capitalism.

Fortunately, we know where to find the free-market ideas we need, and this source is already indirectly driving the new taxpayer revolt. It's time to bring it fully out into the open.

Note that in defending his stance against the bailouts, Rick Santelli referred to himself as an "Ayn Rander"—a reference to the great 20th-century novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, who is most famous for her ideological defense of laissez-faire capitalism. (That's not Santelli's first reference to Rand; TIA Daily reader Bill Sims found an earlier one.) Similar references seem to be lurking behind nearly every expression of resistance to big government. Rush Limbaugh—whose coining of the term "porkulus" helped galvanize the right's resistance to the so-called "stimulus" bill—has frequently recommended Ayn Rand's magnum opus Atlas Shrugged in recent months, as has conservative talk show host Glenn Beck.

In January, Stephen Moore caused a stir by arguing, in the Wall Street Journal, that the current crisis is turning Atlas Shrugged "from fiction to fact." References to Ayn Rand have even popped up at such unlikely sources as Human Events—a magazine for religious conservatives that recently published a surprisingly friendly article referring to the atheist philosopher—and even from the New York Times's safely timid in-house conservative David Brooks, who is the farthest thing from an "Ayn Rander" that you could imagine. And those who are warning that increased government restrictions will cause the nation's most productive workers to withdraw their talents have taken to calling this the "John Galt Effect," a reference to the hero—and the main plotline—of Atlas Shrugged.

It is no coincidence that the strongest resistance to a government takeover of the economy is coming from people influence by Ayn Rand. She has functioned as a stiffener of resolve and as the fountainhead of pro-free-market ideas.

I have written about this at greater length, but Ayn Rand's contribution to the philosophical defense of capitalism can be summed up in one central idea: individualism. Ayn Rand demonstrated that the ultimate source of all wealth—everything from steel mills to microchips—is the individual reasoning mind. Thus, a society that wants to prosper has to ask what is required by its thinkers and producers, the "prime movers" who originate and implement new ideas. And the first requirement of these thinkers is that they be free from coercive interference by bureaucrats, by blowhard legislators, or by federal "czars."

Ayn Rand was an individualist in the fullest sense: she regarded the unfettered individual, not just as a source of wealth, but also as an end in himself with the right to pursue and enjoy his own happiness, without being forced to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the collective. The issue, as she once put it, is not whether or not you give a dime to a beggar. The issue is whether you have a right to exist if you don't—and whether you have to buy your life, one dime at a time, from every moocher who comes along asking for a handout. She gave the clearest and most consistent "no" to that standard of morality, and clearest and most consistent "yes" to the moral rights of the creators and producers.

There has been some recent crowing about how the current financial crisis has discredited Ayn Rand's defense of the free market, as demonstrated by the defection of Alan Greenspan, who has now gone so far as to advocate the nationalization of failing banks. But Greenspan actually rejected Ayn Rand's philosophy decades ago, and he did it during the triumph of free markets in the early years of the Reagan Revolution. In reality, the current financial crisis does not demonstrate the failure of Greenspan's alleged pro-free-market ideas; rather, it demonstrates the failure of his presumption that a talented "maestro" can ensure prosperity by setting himself up as the monetary central planner of the economy.

In fact, the current crisis has vindicated Ayn Rand's warnings. And the policies of the current administration are about to do so yet again and perhaps more fully than ever before, by sacrificing more and more of the nation's productive minds to provide handouts for the beggars.

Far from facing growing rejection, Ayn Rand's ideas are the mostly unnamed fuel giving fire and confidence to people like Rick Santelli. There are many people who have a detailed practical knowledge of the superiority of markets and of the values behind free markets—but they are cowed and neutralized by the conventional altruist morality which signs our lives over to all of those moochers with their hands out. Even if they don't fully accept Ayn Rand ideas, their encounter with her writings gives them the confidence to embrace their suppressed knowledge and act upon it. She gives them the confidence to declare that they have earned their wealth and that they have a right to keep it and enjoy it.

That's the Ayn Rand factor that we are observing now—and we need more of it.

If we're going to have an ideological Boston Tea Party, a rebellion against the whole theory behind state management of our lives and wealth, then Ayn Rand is the ideal philosophical hostess.

(TIA Daily is a daily news analysis from an objectivist viewpoint written and published by Robert Tracinski. Click on link to subscribe. SCB)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The American FORM of Government

This video is a good presentation of context which has one distinguish the American form of government. My post yesterday was not about the form but about the execution. Clearly the avenues for the plunder taking place today were seeds in the Constitution that have now grown and are bearing bitter fruit.

The American Form of Government (This is 10.5 minutes long)

Private Property - Your Life, My Life

We live in a time when government has exceed its powers and no longer protects individual rights. The means to this end is the idea of public property and the regulation of private property. Consequently to strip the government of its power to do anything other than protect individual rights and private property, it can own no property nor have the power to tax. It must exist within the system of privately owned property and it must raise the money it needs by providing the value of protecting individual rights. Just as any man has to earn what he needs to live, so shall the government earn what it needs to exist. It provides a value which is evident to anyone who has use for those values.

It is government control over property that is the achilles heel of a free society and thus to bring the government under the control of the people for whom it is designed to protect, it can have no access to a means whereby it can usurp the rights of individual people.

This is going to require some new thinking - some entirely new thinking. Never before has such a system existed, but the facts are in on government's that can take people's property or in any way have use and disposal, i.e., regulation of, private property: it doesn't work. By this means, it becomes the master of slaves and places the entire population on its plantation.

It is this unilateral power over property which governments up to this time have had that allow a double standard to exist. With such power, the government lives by a standard that any private individual or group of individuals cannot. An individual cannot steal, the government can. An individual cannot violate another's rights, the government can. An individual cannot pollute his neighbor's property, the government can. An individual cannot lie and cheat his way to power over you, the government can. In other words, because the government can take and control private property, we have unleashed a criminal in our midst. And, this criminal class grows to the point where it must be destroyed lest it destroys the entire fabric of society and ultimately the lives of the people it was created to protect.

We are seeing all of this come to pass at this time. The government is now completely upside down. There is nothing rational about it. It plays deuces wild. There is nothing valuable about it. It has even lost the veneer of value. It has become the apotheosis of lawlessness. It is nothing more than a means for some men to have power over other men and has become a scourge upon the nation.

This process has been ocurring for over a hundred years. Only for the first hundred years was America a free society and a free country. But with the inception of the income tax, the Federal Reserve System, the anti-trust laws and some other such devices, the government became the problem, not the solution. Just as King George became the bane of the new colonies such that they had to declare their independence from the British Crown, we are approaching a repeat of this this scenario.

We are now witnessing a coup d'etat, an overthrow of legal government in a stark and startling way. President Obama has never pretended to have the distinction of individual rights and in fact has professed "positive rights" - meaning the taking of property from those who earned it and distributing it to those who have not. President Obama has appointed his czars to handle various segments of his government thus overriding the cabinet system and its approval by the Senate. He has funded ACORN, his henchmen in the field who can take to the streets at a moment's notice and who can overthrow the democratic process. He used threats of legal problems that could result in TV and radio license removal to cut off any speech that questioned his past during the campaign. He's considering The Fairness Doctrine to throttle the speech of talk radio. He chose immoral people for his advisors and various posts so he can easily control his "compromised" people. He placed critically important legislation in his stimulus package so it doesn't come up for debate. He has used executive order to bypass debate. In other words, the man is a dictator - pure and simple.

Now it is time for us to face this fact and start thinking how we are going to handle such a circumstance. It is upon us.

The United States is different than any other country that preceeded it. It was founded on Individual Rights. That means that each of us has a right to his own life in society - just as he would have were he living on a desert island. And it means that the government has no right to it nor any part of it. So long as we don't use our life to damage that same right of another person, then we are free to live as we see fit.

Whenever the government takes over a business or sticks its hand into a business, it violates an individual's right to HIS life. At that moment, the business is the property of the government not the individual even though the deed and contracts still have the individual's name on it as if he owned it. Use and disposal of property is the sine qua non of ownership. Since the government can tell that business what it should do when and it does so at the point of a gun, it is the final authority when it comes to use and disposal. The government has no business there. There is no right the government has to do that. It has usurped individual rights. And until this lesson is learned loud and clear across this land, this scourge will not end. It will continue until we and our children live in poverty. Such is the progression of a voracious, evil government.

So start thinking about what we are going to have to do. This problem is not going away. It's here to stay until we - all the private individuals - handle it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The alarm considering the diabolical nature of the Obama Administration is growing. People are now beginning to distrust Obama's motives. Does he want to take down the United States because he hates what is unique about the United States? It is, after all, the only country on the face of the earth founded on the fact that a human being is the source of value and is unique and individual. No one except the individual can seek to live his life and all human energy is individual human energy which is why the critical formulation in our Constitution is the protection of Individual Rights.

To socialize a nation is to disregard the nature of human being and attempt to annihilate him by recognizing him only as part of a group - racial, gender, sexuality, ethnic, or class. It is without doubt one of the most evil actions any man can advocate or take action to install. This idea is the root of failure of most modern governments and marks the downward direction of a society. Socialism ties up the energy of a person by requiring him to have permission to initiate any of his ideas. The parasites are the only ones who feel empowered. To install this idea over and at the expense of individuals is what I say Obama and his henchmen are up to.

This was apparent to anyone who bothered to investigate Obama during his campaign. I've yet to find a single Obama voter who cared enough about himself or his country to investigate him. Never has such lying and duplicity masqueraded in such an "attractive" form.

The question is increasingly going to become: What now? When?

This article is from Robert Tracinski's TIA Daily. SCB

A Principled Minority

Over the weekend, I got an e-mail from Jack Wakeland pointing out an error in the focus of my commentary on Judd Gregg's withdrawal as Obama's Secretary of Commerce. And it was not just that I incorrectly identified Gregg as a Senator from Connecticut (he's actually from New Hampshire). Here is Jack's comment:

"The story of Senator Judd Gregg is not a story about the incompetence of hot-house leftist Barack Obama.

"It is a story about Judd Gregg's integrity. Senator Gregg naively accepted a nomination to the cabinet by the president of the United States—uncritically accepting the idea that it would be a great honor to serve the top man in American government, because this is America. But after taking one good quick look at the shackles for our incremental enslavement being fashioned in the White House, he recoiled and said 'No!'

"No one quits a cabinet post one week after being nominated. No one quits after making a complex series of state and federal arrangements about who the Democratic governor of New Hampshire will appoint in his place (so as not to seal in more firmly the left's 60-vote steamroller-majority in the Senate). No one quits before hearings for his confirmation can even be scheduled. No one says no to a newly elected president so bluntly and unceremoniously—not without a substantial and very public provocation.

"Whatever faults he has (and I'm sure he has them), in quitting, Senator Judd deserves the best words of praise that can be penned.

"And one of the reasons why Senator Judd quit is the census. The census? That is one subject that should never be the object of partisan debate—not in a republic that has spent the past 80 years decaying towards democracy.

"The story of Rahm Emanuel's attempt—with the obvious approval of President Barack Obama—to take over of the census invites a retelling of the story of Joe Stalin's order that the head of his census bureau be shot for reporting that the population of the Soviet Union had decreased—thus giving evidence of the millions who were murdered in his purges and in his starvation of the Ukraine. It invites a reference to one of Stalin's best-known quotes: 'He who votes decides nothing. He who counts the votes decides everything.'

"The American people have handed the reins of our country over to a bunch of incompetent Chicago patronage hacks. They're deliberately planning to steer the whole nation into a ditch just to get the kickback for awarding the towing contract to their cousins. That is the whole dirty little extent of their idea for 'a change in direction.'"

A few weeks ago, I wrote that TIA Daily would respond to the bleak news of the Obama years by "looking for and highlighting the story of the people who are supporting and defending civilization. That is always more important than any other news, because in the long run, that is the story that actually explains the state of the world." That is why Jack is right that Senator Gregg's integrity is a more important story than the Obama administration's bumbling.

In fact, one of the bright spots of the current situation is the unaccustomed sight of Republican integrity on the issue of big government. A Washington Post analysis describes the battle over the "stimulus" that is just beginning: the battle over who gets the credit or the blame from its results. The most interesting fact from the article: "Rep. Eric Cantor, the House minority whip who led the fight to deny Obama every GOP vote for the plan, is studying Winston Churchill's role leading the Tories in the late 1930s, a principled minority that was eventually catapulted into power over the Labor Party." A "principled minority" that is rewarded by being "catapulted into power"? Sounds like a good plan to me.

I will resist the temptation to ask why the Republicans weren't more principled when they were in the majority, because we should still acknowledge that, even while Bush was still office, it was Republicans who offered the only glimmers of resistance to the bailout frenzy.

Jack points to another example of the new stiffening of the Republican opposition.

"Republican Congressman Tom Price (Chairman of the Republican Study Committee) was so furious with the non-objective vote on the 0.8-trillion-dollar Pelosi-Obey 'stimulus package,' that he couldn't wait for a news conference. So on Friday morning, while the vote was being rushed through, Rep. Price did a little one-minute video on the fact that no congressman or congressional staff member could possibly know what was in the 1073-page document that was to be voted on within 10 hours of its being marked up in the House-Senate Conference Committee. In the video, he shows two of the arbitrary and unaccountable scribbles in the margins of the thick document—one pencils out accountability for one of the thousands of appropriations in the bill and another pencils in the number $150 million in place of the number $100 million that had been typed in ink."

(In a similar vein, TIA Daily reader Ashley King asks a very good question: "I'd like to know when we will see a budget. We are going from one ad hoc monstrosity to the next. So I say again, where is the budget?")

The bracing effect of standing on principle is beginning to have more appeal to right-leaning intellectuals in the media, as well. The Wall Street Journal has just carried a second article by Judy Shelton advocating a return to the gold standard as the solution to the monetary central planning that helped cause the current financial crisis—and which now threatens to cause runaway inflation.

So all of that is good news. Unfortunately, it is happening in an evil context. Remember the Broken Culture Fallacy. The Republican Party trying to transform itself into a "principled minority" is a bit like the industrious glazier busy at work repairing a window broken by a vandal. It's good that he's repairing the damage—but everyone would have been better off if the vandal hadn't tried to smash everything to pieces in the first place.

Just to make sure that you are appropriately un-reassured, let's take a look at some of the things that were in the "stimulus bill," tucked away in those hundreds of pages that reporters and the public are just now getting around to reading.

We know that the bill authorized the federal government to spend hundreds of billions of dollars of money it doesn't have. But in addition, the Democrats in Congress couldn't resist exploiting the financial panic to add other statist elements. Thus, there is a cap on executive pay for companies that have taken bailout money under the TARP plan:

The pay restrictions resemble those that the Treasury Department announced this month, but are likely to ensnare more executives at many more companies and also to cut more deeply into the bonuses that often account for the bulk of annual pay.

Even the Obama administration thought that this provision "went too far and would cause a brain drain in the financial industry during an acute crisis."

One observer on Wall Street offers an ominous observation:

At some point, you begin to wonder: has the government given up on these companies anyway? Why would the government or White House want to go along with that unless they have come to the conclusion they will have to nationalize these firms anyway?

The flip side of punishing bank executives for the crime of being promoted to high-ranking jobs is to reward workers for losing their jobs. Thus, I have seen several reports indicating that the pseudo-stimulus undermines key provisions of the 1996 welfare reform that encouraged state-level "welfare to work" programs to move millions of people off of dependence on the government dole.

According to an overview in the London Times,

Robert Rector, a prominent welfare researcher who was one of the architects of Clinton's 1996 reform bill, warned last week that Obama's stimulus plan was a "welfare spendathon" that would amount to the largest one-year increase in government handouts in American history.

Douglas Besharov, author of a big study on welfare reform, said the stimulus bill passed by Congress and the Senate in separate votes on Friday would "unravel" most of the 1996 reforms that led to a 65% reduction in welfare caseloads.

Several TIA Daily readers sent me an excellent article detailing how the Democrats loaded into the "stimulus" various provisions for increased government control of medicine. The whole article is worth reading, but here is just one sample:

One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and "guide" your doctor's decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis." According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and "learn to operate less like solo practitioners."

The bill takes its cue from Daschle in more than one way.

Daschle supported the Clinton administration's health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. "If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it," he said. "The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol."

If a principled minority rises to oppose this unprincipled government takeover, they will be the heroes of the story of the next few years, because if anyone halts the renewed march toward socialism, it will be them. But let's not forget how grave the dangers are and how great the evil is that they will be struggling to save us from.—RWT

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

King of Shade

Obama is turning his administration into a Monument to Shade. Shady, compromised, crooked characters populate Obama's entire life and his administration is no exception.

Why should you pay your taxes if two people in his administration didn't think it was important? Why should you not be a racist if his minister didn't think it was important? Why should you not be a terrorist if his friend did not think it was important? Why should you not worry about our government being bought by Arabs if the husband of your Secretary of State didn't think it was important? Why should you be straight when the defenders of Fannie and Freddie aren't worried about their being straight? Why should you be respectful of people if his Chief of Staff thumbs his nose at President Bush at the inaugural? Why should you care about doing anything right if your President doesn't think it is important?

What influence will this have on the country when the head of our government not merely has to deal with it because it pops up once in awhile, but picks and defends shady characters as a signature of his administration?

He will empower every immoral creep - the hustlers, the con men, the moochers - the world over and bring them out of the woodwork and to his and America's doorstep.

Why? They have a champion in the White House.

There will be no sunlight for the next four years.