Saturday, March 15, 2014

Congressman Sander Levin's Republican Bashing

My US Congressman Sander Levin of Michigan sent out his Congressional Connector newsletter this week and like usual never misses a chance to bash Republicans. Here is his first paragraph:
House Leaders Push Through “Polluter Protection Act”

"Instead of taking action to create jobs, or restore benefits to the 2 million Americans who have been cut off from Emergency Unemployment Compensation since December 28, the Republican Leadership of the House of Representatives brought a bill [H.R. 3826] to the House Floor on March 5th to strip the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to address carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants – the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The House approved the measure on a vote of 229 to 183."
First of all let me say that the reason unemployment benefits were cut off is because the emergency benefits legislation expired. Also Mr Levin's President Obama keeps telling us we are and have been in a recovery for several years so why the need for all the emergency benefits?

I'm glad the House passed HR 3826 to strip the authority from the EPA to shut down coal burning plants. First there is nothing in the Constitution giving government the right to manage the nation's power supply. The market would do that nicely if left free to do so. Second, the EPA is one of the biggest violators of property rights in the nation. It's mission is to protect the environment of every creature except one--man. The amoeba, earthworm, spotted owl, et al have a right to their environment. Man does not.

Remember eleven years ago when the eastern half of the grid went down for three days and we found out that most of our capacity was running just under max? Do you really think shutting down 4 more plants as has been done without any new ones built is a sign that Mr Levin cares about the integrity of the grid, that is, your environment and mine? I think that Mr Levin's desire to let the EPA keep shutting down plants and putting all those workers in the unemployment line where Obama's economic recovery now requires emergency benefits is a strange way to show a concern for the unemployed.

Mr Levin's anti-free market bias isn't confined to the environment. It's found in health care as well.
"Also on March 5, House Republicans voted for the 50th time to undermine health care reform. Speaking against the bill on the House Floor, Rep. Levin said, “This time it's the 50th time that House Republicans have brought up legislation to repeal or to undermine the Affordable Care Act.... Just look at this -- 50 votes. With zero votes to raise the minimum wage. Zero votes to renew unemployment insurance. Zero votes to guarantee paycheck fairness. Zero votes to pass immigration reform.” The House passed the bill on a vote of 250 to 160, but – as with the previous 49 attempts – the measure is not expected to advance further and become law."
Wow! 50 times? I admire their persistence even though it's been an exercise in futility. I say futility because the republicans keep limiting themselves to the practical arguments that ObamaCare doesn't work, is a practical disaster and so on conceding the moral argument to the Dems. The Democrats don't deserve the moral high ground. There is nothing moral about ObamaCare. But the moral argument terrifies the Republicans. They won't pick it up because they secretly believe the Democrats are right, morally right. Well they're not and the Republicans need to discover it soon and help the various Tea Parties educate the public. The reason they don't help the Tea Parties and seek to 'crush them' instead is because they're terrified of discovering they share the same anti-capitalist, anti-free market, anti-American collectivist premises as the Democrats.

Yes, the Republicans need bashing but not for the reasons Mr. Levin cites. The Democrats are misleading the people with false ideas as to what is in their interests. The Republicans need to tell the people that things like the minimum wage, welfare programs, subsidies to business and all economic regulations not to mentions this latest notion of guaranteed paycheck fairness[!!], are not in their interests and then explain why; that the history of capitalism in our school books is in error and demonstrate that fact. It will be an uphill fight for sure since the Democrats control the education system. The Republicans need to end that control. Education belongs to the free market not any political party.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Anti-Philosophical Nature of Today's Intellectuals

With a few minor changes I repost this from the New Clarion.

In the introduction to Ayn Rand's book "Philosophy: Who Needs It" heir to her intellectual estate Leonard Peikoff wrote "Ayn Rand was not only a novelist and philosopher; she was also a salesman for philosophy--the greatest salesman philosophy has ever had." Boy was she ever. The first of her writings I read was the title essay of her book "For the New Intellectual." Her nutshell compression of philosophic history in terms of Attila and the Witch Doctor immediately oriented me to the fact that if I wanted to understand the world's problems and by implication, their solutions, I must look at philosophy. And so I did.

But I feel like a Cassandra when I try to urge others to study philosophy and all I get is lowered eyebrows and remarks like "Philosophy! Who studies that nonsense?" And so it goes. Now I don't really mind it coming from other non-academics like myself. After all I thought that way myself until I read FTNI. But what really amazed me is the utter anti-philosophical orientation of today's educated class. They seem to think only in terms details i.e. this detail caused that detail and so on. There is no reference as to what principle caused the first detail. Here are two examples:

In the Jan. 9th Detroit News is an oped by Jennifer Carlson, assistant professor in the dept of sociology at the University of Toronto titled "Gun debate misses the mark in Detroit." The theme of the article is "Does Detroit need more guns, or more gun control? Both alternatives ignore the city's bigger problem - the culture."

She writes:
"On the one hand, guns exacerbate a culture in which human life is treated as valueless and disposable."
Unlike so many other modern intellectuals she happily does not blame inanimate matter, guns, as the cause of Detroit's crime but, rather perceptually, cites the culture. She is right.

But like so many thinkers of today she does not ask the next logical question: what causes a culture to be the way it is? To answer that question I think we should ask what is a culture? My dictionary says it's the concepts, habits, skills, arts and institutions of a given people in a given era. So we see that a culture is a dynamic mixture of the ideas and beliefs of many individuals, so by culture we mean the ideas and beliefs that dominate that society even though some are opposing views. Another way to say this is that the dominant ideas and beliefs are that society's prevailing philosophy.

It would be great if today's intellectuals would identify the dominant philosophy in Detroit, Michigan and the nation but they won't. Why? They believe philosophy to be irrelevant. Here is another example:

In the Thursday Mar 6th Detroit News, editorial director Nolan Finley penned an oped "America is on the path it chose". In it Mr Finley cites polls that show while Americans mostly don't like big government, they also don't want to cut the various welfare programs. He writes:
"Because he (Obama) believes that despite what they say they want, Americans prefer indulgence over sacrifice. The concept of smaller government appeals to them, but the reality of actually cutting programs makes them squeamish."
It's unfortunate that Mr. Finley uses the word indulgence, a pejorative term usually projecting the image of a glutton or one who is serving himself. I would have used the phrase self interest over self sacrifice. But for now I want to say that throughout the editorial Mr Finley does not ask the next logical question: Why do people vote perceptually against that which they want conceptually? Why are the culture's perceptions at war with their conceptions? Is there a field of study that can integrate man's perceptions and conceptions so that he doesn't act in contradictory ways? Yes. That field of study is Philosophy.

Philosophy is a broad science having five divisions of study, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and aesthetics. In a nut shell, philosophy studies the nature of everything but in terms of principles, principles that us humans use to guide our lives.

That said, if you look at modern philosophy and see things like post-modernism, post-post-modernism, deconstructionism, and others you would probably conclude that it is all unintelligible drivel. And you'd be right. So, is regarding philosophy as irrelevant the proper attitude for our intellectuals to take?

Imagine for a moment you stepped into a time machine and were transported 100 years into the future. Upon arrival you discover life has deteriorated significantly. People are sick and dying all over the place. You inquire as to why they don't go to a doctor or hospital and are greeted with astonished looks and statements like "That doesn't do any good" and "Modern medicine doesn't make any sense." So you decide to check it out yourself by going to several hospitals. There you see doctors waving rattles and wands over the beds of sick and dying patients, nurses singing chants and incantations alongside patients. You are informed that it is like this throughout the nation.

So, Would you conclude that the science of medicine is irrational and is to be ignored? Or would you, based on your knowledge of 100 years ago, conclude that now it is more urgent than ever to study the science of medicine to discover the turning point at which it went irrational? Naturally you would decide the latter, hopefully. That is where philosophy stands today. It is not my intent here nor would it be appropriate to go into a history of philosophy nor do I have an extensive knowledge of it. I'll just say that the last major turning point where philosophy plunged into irrationality began with the writings of Immanuel Kant. There is no doubt that Rand's philosophy of objetivism marks a turning point toward a rational philosophy. But is there time for it to spread? I think so. Yes, philosophy needs salesman, lots of them and now more than ever before.