Friday, September 29, 2006

Sad Commercial

There is a sad commercial appearing on Michigan TV these days. It is a commercial by Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield and it says that everyone has a right to health care.

I say it's a sad commercial because it demonstrates how even educated people today do not have a clear understanding of the concept "rights."

"The concept of a "right" pertains only to action--specifically to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men." (Ayn Rand from her essay Man's Rights in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)

There can be no such thing as a right to a thing, like health care or education or anything else for that matter. There is only the right to earn a value or create it yourself. To have a right to a thing means that someone must be forced to provide it.

Blue Cross isn't advocating anything new. They are just cashing in on the intellectual disintegration of our time. If leaders like to tell the American people they have a right to health care, can we blame the Blue Crosses of the world if they try to make it their health care? If newspaper pundits tell the public that they have a right to a product or service, and politicians agree to make it happen, can anyone blame businesses for clamoring "Can you make that my product or service"?

(For more info on Ayn Rand see here.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Few Recommendations

Last weekend Mrs. Eyes and I went to see the movie The Illusionist largely based on recommendations by Objectivists. Well we both enjoyed it very much and are now recommending it to anyone who hasn't seen it.

*******************

Gus Van Horn has a link to a Senate speech by Sen. James Inhofe on global warming. I recommend reading the whole thing.

*******************

Steven Milloy at Junk science.com has a link to a report that air bags and seat belts may not be saving more lives. A key quote:

**The behavior responsible for this seeming paradox is called the offset hypotheses, which predicts that consumers adapt to innovations meant to improve safety by becoming less vigilant about safety, said Fred Mannering, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University.

"When antilock brakes were first introduced, insurance companies noticed that the accident rates for those cars increased," he said. "We decided to see whether the offset hypothesis could explain this phenomenon."**

They had to spend money on a study to tell them something most people with common sense already knew.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Geneva Conventions

Another inane Detroit Free Press editorial appears in the Sunday editorial section titled "Don't Bend rules of War, Even if Enemy Does." A subtitle reads "The United States must hold to high standards, not give terrorists more recruiting tools."

First of all, war is not a game with rules that must be followed or you are a bad person or nation.

Second, what is meant by "high standards"? Standard of what?

Third, our enemies don't rely on what we do to recruit more terrorists. Even if we had never humiliated or discomforted a single detainee, our enemies would claim we did and would have doctored photos to prove it just like they have done with the Jews. Plus, our enemies wouldn't have any idea what we were doing with detainees if we didn't have a news media eager to give our enemies those recruiting tools.

The editorial is about the Geneva Conventions which the U.S. signed onto in 1949 and basically how they are noble standards to which we must adhear according to 3 Republican senators who opposed Bush's desire to bend the conventions by giving interrogators more lattitude in extracting information. The fourth paragraph says:

"When dealing with an enemy that crashes planes into skyscrapers full of people and appears to delight in beheading civilians on camera, it is indeed tempting to toss the rules and bring in professional sadists."

I don't agree. To a rational nation and most Americans, the temptation would be to completely destroy the enemy's ability and will to fight. The Free Press must have a low opinion of Americans to assume they would give in to the temptation of becoming savages. The next sentence is "But the United States must be better than that." If the Freep means better than mindless savages, I agree, but the Geneva Conventions will not make that happen. Americans' own sense of morality will keep them from becomming sadists. But why is the Freep worried about how America retaliates against its enemies?

"Congress must ensure the compromise reached last week maintains a high standard. While the proposed law bans some specific actions as "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions, it otherwise lets the president interpret the rules without further oversight. That leaves a lot of gray areas that could continue to tarnish America in the world's eyes."

So we must be concerned not with the facts of reality but with world opinion! Not with substance but with appearance!

"To stoop to the savagery of the enemy is to sink to its level, to cede the moral high ground in the righteous war against these international outlaws and to further imperil Americans who might fall into enemy hands anywhere in an increasingly hostile world."

Exactly how is stooping to the enemy's level ceding the moral high ground? When an enemy attacks you it has already ceded any claim to morality. No matter how an attacked nation retaliates it cannot cede any morality. It is always moral to defend oneself. Always.

The U.S. never should have signed the Geneva Conventions. For one thing they are unenforceable. If a nation refuses to abide by them, who is going to do what against them? We need to recind our signing of those conventions and stop trying to make war the civilized game it cannot be.

The Free Press's contention that without the Conventions Americans will automatically become sadistic savages is false and a confession of how it views Americans.

Noah Stahl has a good op-ed at the Iowa State Daily on this very subject. Judging by the hostile comments he must have hit a nerve with those who advocate the conventional academic dogma.

Detroiter Matt May also posts on this editorial.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More Government Worship

The Thursday 09/21/06 edition of the Detroit Free Press carried an awful editorial titled "Recall Power Can Mean Safer Food." It starts with:

"Contaminated spinach's link to one death and 131 illnesses in 21 states makes a strong case for Congress to empower the Food and Drug Administration with recall authority."

Why? Because:

"While grocers nationwide have heeded the agency's prompt and sensible request to remove the product from stores, food safety is too critical to trust compliance to an honor system."

We can't trust men who deal with each other on a voluntary basis but we must trust an institution vested with a monopoly on the legalized use of force and trust them to use it "sensibly." A hatred of the free market and capitalism can't be made much clearer (though the editorial tries to make it clearer below). Despite the fact that individuals acting voluntarily did the right thing, we can't trust them to do it again. We must give the FDA the power to start the use of force against them. Aside from the fact that Americans can't be trusted, the Free Press has other reasons for relying on government force:

"Many experts believe it's only a matter of time before the food supply is subject to terrorism. So the FDA, and related agencies such as the U.S Department of Agriculture, must be able to swiftly order that products be pulled."

That's right. Without government force, us ignorant unwashed masses will just keep on buying and eating the food poisoned by terrorists. The editorial continues:

"Lawmakers have been skittish about extending recall power. Companies that need to remain competitive balk at anything that might betray trade secrets, including how and where they distribute their products.[Obviously, the Free Press suffers from no such skittishness--ME] Even with one of the safest food supplies in the world, more than 76 million Americans a year contract some sort of food-related illness, with 325,000 serious enough to require hospitalization. An estimated 5,000 people die. [It doesn't occur to the Freep that 76 million sick people every year just might be a good reason to get rid of or at least question the existence of the FDA--ME] Food producers and merchants will play a role in protecting the public health.[You bet! It will be a slave to master role.--ME] But the government can't afford simply to trust these companies to do the right thing."

I said they would try to make their hatred of capitalism clearer, there it is. Despite the safest food supply in the world, despite only 5000 deaths a year from food poisoning out of a population of almost 300 million, despite the fact that private individuals handled the spinach scare promptly and sensibly, "these companies" and us ignorant masses can't be trusted "to do the right thing." More government power is "in order":

"Recall authority is in order, and it's a logical step. [This last is for sure!--ME] The FDA already sends inspectors to farms and cooling and packaging facilities to monitor safety. The visits are part of the agency's "lettuce safety imitative," launched last month to deal with resurfacing of E. coli outbreaks." And:

"The fieldwork will no doubt make FDA officials more knowledgeable about tracing problem produce, maybe even pinpointing a source. Congress must work with equal diligence to ensure that knowledge is paired with the overdue power for the FDA to act quickly so suspected problems don't grow into public health nightmares."

In other words, without government force, "suspected problems" will "grow into public health nightmares." Throughout the editorial, the Freep never does explain why the market can't be trusted, or why governemnt should be. The Free Press's attitude toward the initiation of government force reminds me of Yogi Berra's promotion of Aflac insurance in those TV commercials: "If you don't have it, that's why you need it."

Philosopher Ayn Rand once said "Do not, however, make the error of reversing cause and effect: the good of the country was made possible precisely by the fact that it was not forced on anyone as a moral goal or duty; it was merely an effect; the cause was a man's right to pursue his own good." (From "What is Capitalism" in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal." p-29)

The Freep would probably contend that it is not advocating a moral goal or duty, but only a practical solution to a practical problem. But there is nothing more impractical than the unprincipled use of governmental force.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

DDT Malaria Update

Pursuant to my last post below on DDT being approved by the Word Health Organization, I have found no mention of it in either the Detroit News or the Detroit Free Press. You'd think that something that could save the lives of millions of people a year would be front page news. Evidently it's not newsworthy in the Detroit area.

As far as I can tell, this story was available since Friday the 15th of Sept. when
the BBC carried the news.

Also, on the 16th, the New York Times carried this article.

Writer Celia Dugger says:

**Dr. Kochi’s new policies and abrasive style have stirred the small world of malaria experts. Dr. Allan Schapira, a senior member of the W.H.O. malaria team who most recently oversaw its approach to insecticide spraying, resigned last week.**

And:

**“He was professionally insulted by me,” Dr. Kochi said.

In answer to a question, Dr. Kochi acknowledged that he had indeed told members of the staff in meetings that they were stupid. “They are very inward looking, and they do not communicate outside the malaria field,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”**

It sounds to me like Dr. Kochi is the right man for the job because he seems to be reality oriented. The claim that "They are very inward looking...", tells me these people were probably emotionally oriented rather than reality oriented; that they relied on their feelings to guide their thoughts and actions rather than using their thoughts to guide their actions and feelings.

Andy at The Charlotte Capitalist has a good post on this as well.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Finally, the slaughter may be over

Steven Milloy at Junk Science.com. posts that the BBC, the NYT, and the Wall Street Journal are reporting on a World Health Org. press release saying the the WHO now endorses the use of DDT for indoor residual spraying (IRS) in Africa. It's about time. Only about a million people a year died because of the decision of William Ruckelshaus, then head of the EPA, to ban DDT in 1972 despite his investigating committee finding that DDT was harmless to humans and animals. I place the responsibility for all those deaths squarely on his shoulders.

Steve also has "100 things you should know about DDT", here.

I will look at the Detroit newspapers tomorrow to see if there is any mention of this. Both papers have been anti-DDT for a long time.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Housekeeping and Pluto

I apologize to my readers for the less than neat appearance of my blog. It was a little messy and I'm trying to organize it better. My most time consuming task was updating the blogroll. I've eliminated a few links and added some and put them all in alphbetical order. I have resolved to maintain and update my blogroll more often and hope that my site will be slightly more pleasant to visit.

How about poor Pluto. According to a sidebar in the Detroit News 09/15/06 Pluto has been given a number to reflect the loss of his status as a planet. (You'll have to scroll down)

Word is he's taking it pretty hard. I hear his mom is trying to console him:

"There, there now Pluto it could have been worse."

"Yeah how?"

"Well they didn't name you Uranus. Look at him. Earthlings have been laughing at him ever since they discovered him. He doesn't get any respect. Why he's been the butt (see what I mean) of an endless stream of jokes. But you Pluto, you get genuine respect. Now doesn't that make you feel a little better?"

"No, but nice try mom."

Planet, ahem, dwarf planet watchers speculate that this last move will push Pluto into therapy. It's true then, there is a lot of sadness in the world, er, solar system, universe?

The Plain Truth

Sometimes our Islamic enemies tell us in plain and simple terms what they are all about. In Monday's 09/11/06 Detroit News is an AP article by Calvin Woodward about 9/11. It ends with this quote taken from a tape posted on the internet Sunday night about what al-Qaida loves:

**"Planning for Sept. 11 did not take place behind computer monitors or radar screens, nor inside military command and control centers, but was surrounded with divine protection in an atmosphere brimming with brotherliness ... and love for sacrificing life," an unidentified narrator said.**

Doesn't get any plainer than that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Science--Kinda Sorta

The 09/12/06 Detroit News has an AP report by Randolph E. Schmid titled "Study links warming, hurricane strength." The part that struck me was this quote:

**"The work that we've done kind of closes the loop here," said Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., a co-author of the paper.

"The important conclusion is that the observed (sea-surface temperature) increases in these hurricane breeding grounds cannot be explained by natural processes alone," Wigley said. "The best explanation for these changes has to include a large human influence."**

Please understand what using this kind of criterion for establishing truth means. It means that, in practice, "We don't have any proof that Mr. Walker murdered Mr. Smith, but Mr. Smith's death cannot be explained by looking at any other people. The best explanation is that Mr. Walker had a large causal influence."

Such is the depth to which government funded science has sunk. Ayn Rand said that "Governmental encouragement does not order men to believe that the false is true, it merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood." This study is a glaring example of just such indifference.

There are lots of other things wrong with that report, like how do you "kind of close a loop"? and why are they using link instead of correlation?, but I think I've made my main point.

(The quote is from Ayn Rand's essay "Establishing of an Establishment" which is now in the book "Philosophy Who Needs It?" page 162 and can be found at most book stores or here.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering

On this 5th anniversary of 9/11 I decided to watch a 43 minute video put together by MEMRI which I found at Principles in Practice.

While I think it is good to remember and honor those who died that day, I also think their deaths require another course of action--to balance the scales of justice. So far, under Bush, this is not happening.

That is why looking into the face of naked evil may strengthen our resolve to get those scales balanced by destroying those states that sponsor jihad against the West, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

***************************************

On 9/11 2001, I came home from working the midnight shift and turned on the tv only to see the twin towers smoking. As I watched, the news people were reporting on another plane hitting the Pentagon. "Wow" I thought, "This is war." "This has got to mean the end of terrorist nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia." When Bush said something to the effect of "They will hear from all of you soon" I was behind him 100%.

But I began to lose confidence in his moral resolve when I heard that he changed the name of the Afgan operation by dropping the word Justice because it offended the feelings of Muslims who hold that only Allah can dispense justice. In doing so Bush was in fact agreeing that America does not have the right to administer justice, and by implication, was acting unjustly by attacking Afganistan.

I lost even more confidence in him when I heard he had our military follow bombing raids with peanut butter sandwich drops! It was like Bush was saying "Hee hee, just kidding. Didn't mean it." This had to convince the Taliban that Americans are moral weaklings confused about what they stand for. Well, as far as the educated class is concerned, they are.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Another Notice

Somehow I missed or forgot this announcement from Sept 1st. On the premise that later is better than never, here it is.


The Objectivist Club Association (OCA), a new organization
dedicated to assisting Objectivist campus and community
clubs, has launched a new forum - forums.objectivistclubs.org
- for all those involved in a club or interested in founding
one.

Discussions about recruitment and advertising stategies,
speaking events, club meetings, and other sundry club-related
topics are already ongoing, and you're welcome to start new
threads of your own.

By registering for free, you can ask
questions of fellow club leaders, share your experiences,
discuss possibilities for collaboration, suggest services and
materials you'd like the OCA to provide, and participate in a
dialogue with other Objectivists who take ideas and cultural
change as seriously as you do.

To learn more about the OCA, you can visit the main website at http://www.ObjectivistClubs.org.

Hope to see you on the forum soon!

Regards,

---OCA Staff

Undercurrent Notice

Dear Objectivist blogger and Ayn Rand fan,

The Undercurrent is now accepting submissions for its November issue. The article draft submission deadline is October 1st.

Please send all submissions and inquiries to mail@the-undercurrent.com .

You are welcome as always to send us your article ideas, or an outline to review, if you would like feedback from our editors in advance of the deadline. Please visit our website - the-undercurrent.com - for a review of submission guidelines or to peruse our past and current issues.

Whether or not you choose to submit an article for this issue, we encourage you to please post this announcement to your blog.

Regards,
_The Undercurrent_ staff

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Little More Good News

Zach Oaks at Oak Tree reports that the Penn State Objectivist club had a photo of their ad on the front page of the Penn State student newspaper. Good. The more publicity the better.

******************************************

My google alert for Ayn Rand mentions in the media also led me to the Iowa State Daily student newspaper and an op-ed writer named Noah Stahl. His op-ed "The boy who cried 'hate speech'" is really well reasoned. I like the way he concretized his points.

******************************************

Dennis Chamberland at Quantum Limit links to a site with some pretty amazing pictures of Earth taken from space. I like the ones taken of Earth at night.

******************************************
IDEAS TO THINK ABOUT

Gus Van Horn has an insightful analysis of Sandall's essay on the role of elites in the decline of their societies.

At Capitalism Magazine Walter Williams discusses the meaning of the concept 'discrimination.'

Craig Biddle at Principles in Practice writes on "Relativism and Religion vs the Lives of Americans."

Cox & Forkum outdid themselves again in two cartoons here and here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Another Witch Doctor Wannabe

The Monday Sept 4th Detroit Free Press carried an AP article called "Obesity called threat to world health" which states that:

**"We are not dealing with a scientific or medical problem. We're dealing with an enormous economic problem that, it is already accepted, is going to overwhelm every medical system in the world," said Dr. Philip James, the British chairman of the International Obesity Task Force.

James said the cost of treating obesity-related health problems was immeasurable on a global scale, but the group estimated it at billions of dollars a year in nations such as Australia, Britain and the United States.**

By saying obesity is not a scientific or medical problem, he is saying in essence "Let the censorship begin. We won't consider any more scientific or medical facts. Instead we only need to focus on an entity called the globe which is losing billions of dollers and now we must decide how to force citizens to change their behavior in such a way that this entity stops losing so much money."

Novelist Ayn Rand pointed out that Attilas (dictators) rule the physical world but they need witch doctors (intellectuals) who rule the metaphysical world, to provide them (the dictators) with a justification (propaganda) for their rule by force. Notice the phrase "...it is already accepted..." Not proven but accepted. By whom? Obviously by other witch doctors.

Dr. Philip James may not regard himself as a witch doctor wannabe, but that is the role he is playing by allowing himself to become an establishment scientist where facts take a back seat to the latest governmentally desired policy.

A Little Good News

My Google alert for Ayn Rand mentions in the media alerted me to this article on a "Riding for Reading" program. What caught Mike's Eyes was the last sentence of the article:

"The Riding for Reading program also supports and contributes funds to the Ayn Rand Institute's essay writing scholarships."

Good Show!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mike's Eyes See The Unseen

With all the hand-wringing articles written this past week about how all the King's horses and all the King's men still haven't put Humpty Dumpty (New Orleans) back together again, I thought it would be good to focus attention not on those things that reporters, photographers and politicians can see, but on things that they can't or won't look at.

They can't see for example that in a laissez-faire economy, the government would not be permitted to interfere in the market in any way, that the government's sole responsibility would be to protect the individual rights of its citizens by providing a military, police and the courts.

What does this mean in regards to Katrina? It means that there would not have been Congressmen and Senators using altruism to pass legislation to provide flood insurance for people who wanted to open businesses or build homes on nothing more that Delta silt. The government would not have been allowed to build levees at taxpayer expense so that some people could live in a paradise at the expense of others. In short New Orleans probably would not exist.

But suppose a conglomeration of wealthy businessmen wanted to build there anyway and were willing to pay for the building and the insurance. Because they are motivated by the quest for profits, insurance companies would have some stringent requirements. I can see where they would insist that millions of yards of sand and soil be brought in to raise the ground level to or above sea level as was done after a hurricane devestated Glaveston Texas at the turn of the century. They would also demand that levees be built to withstand the worst case scenario--a catagory 5 hurricane. To insure those levees, the underwriters would demand that maintenance be performed according to a regular schedule. Inspections would be held to ensure the schedule was followed.

There would be other requirements as well. I can see where the insurance companies would demand for example that all buildings with back-up generators place those generators no lower than say, the third floor. I can see where businessmen would want to work with law enforcement and city and state government to ensure an effective evacuation plan. Of course this is all motivated by the profit motive.

But in reality, congress decided it would interfere in the marketplace to provide flood insurance. They were motivated by the ritual-oriented morality of altruism, not the profit motive. No politician stood to lose a cent if disaster struck and people died. A rational motivation just wasn't there. But an irrational one was, the ritual of "It's not for me I do this, it's for others." If you perform this ritual, it forgives all evil that may result.

It's obvious that Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin never bothered to ask what if. What if the city flooded with all those buildings having back-up generators on the first floor? What if it flooded and all those school busses were rendered useless? These and other questions were never asked. There was no motivation to ask them. Neither the mayor, the governor nor even the boss of FEMA would lose a fortune in any disaster. Nor would they stand to save a lot of money by doing things right.

The inefficiencies of government were slap-in-the-face obvious. It's way past time to get the government out of the crises preparedness business and let private enterprise handle it. This is not to say there is no role for government in the aftermath of a disaster. The government can and should have troops poised to move in and patrol the streets to prevent looting of homes and businesses until local law enforcement can regain control. The protection of property rights is a proper function of government.

Laissez-faire capitalism can prevent and at least ameliorate most human disasters. Notice also that there would have been no "projects" built by government to encourage able bodied people to adopt a dependency mindset and to make sitting ducks of the infirm and disabled of that group. The efficiencies of the private sector were only glimpsed in Katrina. But it is time to focus all eyes on the private sector and see what they need to handle the Katrinas of the future.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Spotted by Mikes Eyes Sat. 09/02/06

An astoundingly brilliant headline on page 10 of the Detroit Free Press of Sept. 2nd. 06. I don't blame the reporter because often it's the editors who write headlines. It reads "Hiring helps nation's unemployment rate." Yep and the sun rises in the east and the sky is blue and....

*****************************************

A good report by Ergo at Leitmotif, on the censorship going on in India and how that country may be embracing some elements of capitalism, but is nowhere near accepting the moral code on which it is based-rational self-interest. A key quote:

"India is a primitive tribalistic society that’s being dragged out kicking and screaming into the light of modern civilization and capitalism and it does not know how to deal with the bright lights. So, very often it shuts its eyes in desperate attempts to remain in the darkness that it is so comfortable in."

Yes indeed. An aquaintence from India once told me almost the same thing, that the corruption and primativism were too deeply entrenched to allow the grasping of such concepts as rational self-interest or individual rights. But I want to add that the last sentence in that quote describes to a tee the psycho-epistomology of people I know on the left and the right.

*****************************************

Some good how-tos by Craig Biddle at Principles In Practice. There is the one on how to say grace at a table of Christians--if you're feeling bold.

And there is one on how to make your own Jackson Pollock painting.

On a more serious note he tells us how to win the war on terror in 5 simple steps. I concur.

*****************************************

Paul at Noodle Food has a collection of photos of government incompetence. Heh.

*****************************************

Speaking of government incompetence, Kevin at the Smallest Minority reports on a man who was arrested for stealing his own car. But before he was cleared of all charges, the police sold it. Now he can't get it back!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Another Appeal to Envy

In the Saturday 08/26/06 Detroit News is another Katrina-one-year-later article. This one is titled "Still Devastated" by Detroit News writer Francis X. Donnelly.

I'm not going to fisk this article. I just want to comment on one paragraph that caught my eye which reads:

"One year after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is a fractured city, divided between rich and poor, between neighborhoods with power and those without, between residents who celebrated Mardi Gras in February and ones who continue to live in the dark."

I know that a hurricane like Katrina can cause a city to be divided between those who have power and those who do not, but why the reference to being divided between rich and poor? Are we to believe that there was no such divide before Katrina? Or was this just an appeal to that basest of emotions, envy? I think this was an obvious bit of anti-capitalist slanting.

But the implication that somehow N.O. should all be back together again and the fact that it isn't is some kind of new tragedy, is a little irrational. The sheer magnatude of Katrina guaranteed such widespread destruction that no-one could fix everything within one year.