Friday, March 27, 2009

Spotted By Mike's Eyes Mar 27th

A while ago I sent an email to my Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin urging them not to support the stimulus bill. Yesterday, 3/26, I got an email reply from Sen Stabenow extolling the virtues of the bill and how much good it will accomplish. In response to that I sent her another email stating:
Dear Senator Stabenow:

Thanks for responding to my letter about the stimulus bill. It is good that you wish to create jobs here in America, but unless you are a businessperson you cannot create any productive jobs, that is, wealth creating jobs, unless that is, you fight to get government rights violating regulations and taxes out of the way. The only jobs that can be created by government are non-productive make work jobs which consume wealth not produce it.

You correctly talked about changing from the failed economic policies of the past. But ever since the New Deal the economic policies that have been failing are policies of government regulation of the market. Government interference in the market are the policies of the past. You are not trying to change any of them. Instead you are advocating more of the same but on a massively destructive scale.

The government regulated policies of the past have failed because they are based on false premises the biggest of which is the notion that consumption is what drives an economy. It is production that creates wealth and jobs. The cause of production is not money but freedom. Freedom from what? To put it bluntly, freedom from you, that is, freedom from anyone who seeks to use initiatory force against the producers.

If you really want to create prosperity, get the the government out of the way of the producers of wealth by pushing for a discovery of laissez-faire capitalism in Washington and, there-in, a ruthless loyalty to inalienable individual rights.

Respectfully,

Michael Neibel
Today I received another copy of the same email I got yesterday. A form letter. Sigh.
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Speaking of letters,the Detroit News of Friday 3/27/09 carried in its letters to the editor section an LTE by Richard Ralston, Executive Editor Americans for Free Choice in Medicine which said in part:
"It is easy for the government to spend health care money on other things. This has been notoriously done by many states that spend most of the money from tobacco taxes and settlements on anything except anti-smoking programs and health care for smokers. We should all be skeptical of big tax increases proposed by the president to establish a "reserve" for health care."
Pols are probably already licking their chops at the thought of another 'fund' they can raid to buy votes.
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Also in the same editorial section is a commentary by Deroy Murdock of Scripps Howard News Service titled "Treasury leader undermines U.S. currency". The paragraph I focused on:
"While addressing a jam-packed meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Geithner answered Standard Chartered Bank's Doug Smith, who wanted the secretary's thoughts on "the Chinese government proposal about a global currency." People's Bank of China governor Zhao Xiaochuan would shift Earth's reserve currency from the dollar to "Special Drawing Rights," combining the dollar, Britain's pound, Japan's yen and the euro. Call it the international "globo.""
Hmmm, I wonder how that would sound. "I'm down to my last globo." or "Do you have change for a globo?" or "It all boils down to globos and cents." Nahh, it just doesn't have any ring to it.

Update; changed typo in title, was May should be Mar.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Objectivism's Benefit to Me #4

So far, Objectivism has helped me to do away with the unknowable, beliefs and faith in my thinking. Little did I know that this was just the tip of the iceberg; that I had much more to learn about what is knowledge and what isn't. (I'm still learning.)

About knowledge Rand wrote "'Knowledge' is 'a grasp of a fact(s) of reality, reached either by perceptual observation or by a process of reason based on perceptual observation.'" (From the Lexicon) So knowledge then must be based on observation either directly or indirectly. If a claim to knowledge isn't based on some observational evidence, it is not knowledge. Such claims can be some form of revelation, intuition, instinct, feelings or some kind of automatic knowing. All of these can be subsumed I think under the concept of arbitrary which means made up or not grounded in observational evidence.

Objectivism holds that the arbitrary is always meaningless.
"Let me elaborate this point. An arbitrary claim has no cognitive status whatever. According to Objectivism, such a claim is not to be regarded as true or as false. If it is arbitrary, it is entitled to no epistemological assessment at all; it is simply to be dismissed as though it hadn’t come up . . . . The truth is established by reference to a body of evidence and within a context; the false is pronounced false because it contradicts the evidence. The arbitrary, however, has no relation to evidence, facts, or context. It is the human equivalent of [noises produced by] a parrot . . . sounds without any tie to reality, without content or significance."(Again from the Lexicon)
So now I liken what I allow into my store of knowledge to the 'always allow or block' function on my computer. I can 'always block' or 'always allow' other computers access to mine. Thus, under 'always block' from my knowledge are listed
>the unknowable
>believing (instead of knowing)
>faith (instead of confidence)
>the arbitrary

Under the 'always allow' is listed
>any cognition which has some corresponding evidence in reality.

Needless to say the above still leaves much to be added or updated to these lists. For example, I think the Logical Fallacies should be added to the always block list after one becomes adept at spotting them. As mentioned at the beginning, this is just a brief mention of how Objectivism has helped clear my thinking regarding what should be considered true and what false. For a more in-depth, technical study I recommend Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (ITOE) and Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand (OPAR).

The next post will be about how Objectivism taught me that knowledge can be certain provided it is contextual.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Blogroll Additions March 09

I'm taking a short break in my Objectivism Benefit series to add more good sites to my blogroll.

The first shall be Ramen and Rand where Miranda, who is a photographer, photographed the Vagina Monologues and put them on her photo blog.

Next is Dark Waters Blogs hosted by Doug A. His Mar 4th post is about how Obama rejects absolute truth.

Third is seine ramblings who takes a humorous look at water exports and a more serious take on the concept of jobs.

Fourth in line is Haight Speech where Kyle observes the contradiction between what greens want and what Obama wants.

Fifth will be Words by Woods where Jim posts on how our current crisis is not an emergency but an attempted suicide.

Sixth is Uncommon Sense by Zip and Zhucydides. Now Zip reports on a native man who got so drunk that he let his two baby daughters freeze to death. This man wasn't the only one with no love for human life. His tribe doesn't seem to have any either.

Seventh is The Dirty Kuffar where Ryan's slogan is No Gods or Kings...Only Man.

That's it for March. I want Objectivist blogs to become so numerous that to go on line will mean virtually tripping over one.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Objectivism's Benefit to Me #3

Related to the issue of believing vs knowing is the issue of faith vs confidence. The confusion between these two is actually a corollary of believing vs knowing. If one decides something to be true without evidence, one is believing. If one decides something to be true because evidence supports it, one is knowing.

This understanding seems precisely clear to me and that's the way I like it. Nevertheless, I see mass confusion between faith vs confidence all the time. I've been told things like "I have faith in my religion just as you have faith in your philosophy" at which time I usually interject something on the order of "No, I have confidence, not faith, in my philosophy because it is derived from the facts of reality." That's when I usually state explicitly the precise meaning of faith and confidence and then urge the listener not to confuse the two concepts because they have different meanings.

In my last post I said that I have been purging beliefs from my world view. Of necessity then, the use of faith as a means of knowledge must also be purged.

What this means for me is that I stop using words like believe and faith. This hasn't been easy in the sense that old bad habits can be hard to break. I still find myself wanting to say things like "I believe the Detroit Tigers will do better this year because of the off season trades they made" or "I believe President Obama's stimulus package will fail because it is based on false economic principles". In both cases I should have used words like 'I estimate', 'I judge', 'I predict' or 'I know.' I just have to get into the habit of using these and other words instead of belief and faith.

Objectivism benefit #3 then is that with beliefs and faith gone, I'm left with a knowable universe and the confidence that my mind is capable of knowing any part of it I desire to know. And that will be the focus of the next post in this series: what I have learned about knowledge from Objectivism. Still, knowing where I'm starting from, my relationship to existence; that an other-world deity isn't going to turn my computer into a frog or a demon any moment now, does provide a mental comfort zone.