Sunday, November 23, 2014

What I wish the President had really said.

It has been awhile since I posted here and I apologize for that. I promise to post a lot more often.
This is some wishful thinking that I sometimes like to do. My president's speech on immigration.

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I come before you tonight to address an important problem, immigration and to explain the way I see this problem and what our nation should do about it.

But first, let me say that we are a nation of immigrants and the freedom to immigrate here is one we should want for all people. Our first founding document properly says that "all men are created equal" meaning equal before the law. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness then, belongs to 'all men.' And so America has always had an open door policy regarding immigration. I too believe we should have such a policy.

But such a policy, like any other policy, needs a structure and a method of operation. In other words, to have an open door policy we must first have a house with a door that can be opened and widely so. Right now we don't have that. Now, the question becomes what would this door look like? Would it be an iron door like the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain? Absolutely not. So what would such a door look like?

I envision a streamlined border crossing with a lot more agents and check points to efficiently and rapidly process immigrants and perhaps even with facilities for holdovers for further examination if needed. These checkpoints are needed because we must face the reality of the world around us. There are diseases that threaten to come here and enemies that want to destroy this country. We have to be cognizant of external threats. The streamlined check points will help do this.

What will the new border look like and how will it be operated and funded? Folks, these are the kinds of ideas that should be discussed and debated by our Congressmen and Senators on the floors of their respective chambers. That's not happening now. It will during the rest of my administration.

It is my hope that this new look border will be temporary as we move to address the rest of the problem. Yes, the rest of the problem. You see immigration has traditionally been treated almost exclusively as a domestic problem. It isn't. It's also a foreign policy issue and we need to address this aspect of it.

We need to find out why our neighbors to the south are not creating the conditions in their nations that exist here in the US so their citizens don't have to come here to be free and prosperous. Again, this is something that needs to be discussed not only by our congressional houses but by the State Department as well. Foreign Policy is this Department's domain. It needs to be developing policies with perhaps incentives or even disincentives to be applied to and/or negotiated with our southern neighbors. This isn't happening right now. It will going forward.

Our immigration problems are largely of our own making. Irrational immigration laws, poorly enforced by some law enforcement and ignored by politicians is just part of the problem. We have a terrorist threat because our past leaders have lacked the moral clarity and courage to destroy our enemies once and for all. We have a contagious disease problem because we have been shamefully negligent--even apologetic--about the one social system that has been number one is eradicating disease, capitalism. We need to be proud of our social system and shout its value from the roof tops and stop agreeing with the rest of the world that we are greedy and selfish and therefore evil. We aren't evil. We should lean on them to adopt individual rights. That is the concept that makes it all happen.

The State Dept has already started on this and I'll be submitting proposals to congress within the week.But one thing is for sure, we can't stay with the status quo.

Thank you and good night."

That's what I wanted to hear. Alas, well, maybe someday.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Sander Levin's latest statist efforts

Today (July 21) I received his newsletter from my US Congressman Sander Levin D District 9 Michigan. In it he reports, New study:  "Affordable Care Act (ACA) lowers uninsured rate" according to which 9.5 million additional adults ages 19 to 64 are now covered by insurance, and the national adult uninsured rate declined from 20 percent to 15 percent. He adds that according to this Commonwealth Fund study "a large majority of enrollees report that they are generally happy with their health care coverage."

Well, I don't trust these numbers because the Commonwealth Fund is part of the Commonwealth Foundation which did a major part of the research for the Affordable Care Act so they have a vested interest in reporting rosy numbers. I'm interested in what's missing, the not so rosy numbers. I have been told directly by a few and have read many others complain that their health care premiums have increased along with deductibles. Where are those numbers?

Mr Levin continues with his support of "Not My Boss' Business Act" (H.R. 5051) or formally, Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act. (Should be government interference) He claims "Access to contraception helps to prevent unintended pregnancies, control timing of planned births and treat medical conditions like endometriosis. Yes these are desirable things. So what? I desire lots of things. Can I get the government to force someone to give them to me? But Levin is claiming that the Hobby Lobby decision allows Hobby Lobby to deny access to birth control for women.

Now look at what Mr Levin is really saying: if a company fails to provide employees with anything, it is then guilty of denying access to those things and is guilty of a crime. Congressman Sander Levin has made a living inventing crimes like denying access to just about anything. People don't have access to affordable health care, affordable education, now it's affordable birth control. Nowhere does he show anyone's rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness being violated. That's because there are no such violations. He is ignoring the fact that all those things that are no longer affordable are due to the policies he has legislated in the past. Government financing and regulation of education has made education more expensive not less. Same with health care and insurance.

If armed gunmen stood at the doors of your doctor or your insurance company and said no admittance, that would be denial of access. But not having enough money to pay for something or worse yet, not having someone forced to give it to you, is not denial of access. Businessmen have a moral right to decide what if any benefits they want to offer to employees. Employees have the moral right t decide what wages and benefits to accept. Government has no moral right to interfere in this activity except where rights may be violated. Mr Levin has also invented other crimes like predatory this or that or unfair this other thing. But that can wait for another post.

Lastly, the Congressman bemoans a Supreme Court decision that he says "...undercut the VRA{voting rights act-MN}by invalidating a key section of the law." He doesn't identify that key provision so I can't say exactly what he's talking about. But I have a feeling it's about the ruling that states can require ID for voting eligibility. Now why would he not want states to verify voting eligibility?

Mr Levin has been in office for over 30 years and should, like his brother Senator Carl Levin, retire.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why Republicans Keep Losing to Democrats

It's not often that an article will provide glaringly obvious proof of why conservatives and Republicans have been impotent at stopping or even slowing the liberal's march to dictatorship.  Ayn Rand has said repeatedly that conservatives keep losing to liberals because conservatives share the same moral values as the liberals but don't preach those values as consistently as the liberals do. "In any conflict between two men (or groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins." From the essay Anatomy of Compromise.

In the April 3rd Detroit News is an oped by Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. It is titled "Social justice a conservative cause" in which he asks:

"Who owns the term 'social justice'-conservatives or progressives?
Michigan's progressives desperately hope you say they do."

Well, I don't think Michigan's progressives are desperately hoping for any such thing. It's pretty much in the bag. Progressives have always owned the 'social justice'issue. But it's only a successful issue for them because the conservatives don't know how to respond to it. 'Social justice' is of course a collectivist concept based on the notion that the individual has no right to life--no life value--except for his value to the collective; that the group may do with the individual anything it wishes so long as it can claim some social good.

But America was founded on the principle of the supremacy of the individual not the collective. Man's right to life was held as unalienable, that is, politically and morally absolute. But not anymore. The concept of individual rights was and still is so poorly understood that most politicians did not know how to defend it. The Democratic Party has never embraced the ideal of individual rights. The Republicans did for awhile but only half-heartedly so, until the Goldwater defeat at the hands of progressive Johnson after which they dropped all loyalty to it and became the me-too party.

This op-ed by Mr. Brooks reeks of me-tooism. It's as if he's saying "See see! Us conservatives believe in the progressive idea of social justice too. We can be just as collectivist as they are. Never mind their admonition that America can't afford to wait for us conservatives to accomplish the same goals as the progressives can accomplish much faster through physical force. Ignore that. We want the same thing except through kinder, gentler, more voluntary methods." Is that the kind of rallying cry that would inspire hoards of followers?

Mr. Brooks correctly points out that the policies of the Obama progressives have failed to achieve their social justice goals.

"The simple fact is that intentions don't equal results. The left's policies aren't working - which means it's time for conservatives to step up to the social justice plate."!!!

Wow, where to begin. First, if those policies aren't working, don't you think a sharp conservative pundit would want to enlighten voters as to why they're not working, or that there might be something innately wrong with the concept of social justice? Nope, not happening. Ok failing that, wouldn't a half-sharp conservative pundit wonder how, since liberal policies are failing, is it in the interests of conservatives to 'step up' and make them work? Should conservatives be eager to beat the progressives to the punch?

Mr. Brooks is saying in essence that the progressives are going about it all wrong and that:

"Conservatives should start by asking the downtrodden what they need the most. In the conversations I've had over the years, I've identified three things: moral transformation, material relief and opportunity. These are the central components of a real social justice platform."

Presumably, these three things are all to be provided by the government, not by the people themselves as envisioned by the founders.

"Personal moral transformation is the most important."

Let's look at the first of these, moral transformation. A moral code is a set of principles we humans use to guide our actions through our daily life. So what are we supposed to be transforming from and to?

"To illustrate this point, (the importance of moral transformation-MN) I used the 2010 General Social Survey - the country's best sociological database - to identify what makes people happy."

But what makes people happy is such a broad and out of context standard as to be meaningless. Happiness is not doing whatever makes one feel good like whim worship. So what set of principles does this General Social Survey offer us? None. Just a picture.

"Take the example of two men identical in age, education, race and income. The first is religious. He's married with two kids. He also works more and participates in his community more than 90 percent of the rest of the country. The other man meets none of these qualifications. The first man is nearly 400 percent more likely to be happy."

In other words, real social justice must encourage people to participate in faith, family, community and work. Nothing wrong with that as such, but the encouragement here is of course government encouragement, i.e. force. But America is being destroyed by a thousand encouraging cuts. Millions have lost their homes due to government encouragement of home ownership. Right now government is 'encouraging' health care with ObamaCare, 'encouraging' education through Common Core not to mention the philosophy of progressive education as such, 'encouraging' our participation in NSA information gathering, 'encouraging' the destruction of the purchasing power of the dollar with Quantitative Easing.  It goes on and on endlessly. Nowhere in this op-ed is there a call for 'encouraging' politicians to provide citizens with the political and economic freedom that would enable them to provide for their own happiness.

Mr. Brooks' desire to hang on to the welfare state is revealed next:

"Moral transformation goes hand in hand with material relief. No less a libertarian than Friedrich Hayek argued that government should provide "some  minimum of food, shelter and clothing."
Right, and that's why I no longer consider Mr. Hayek to be a credible advocate for Capitalism. Again, people should be free to provide for their own welfare. Private charity has always been up to the task for those in need, except of course when government decides to step into the market with its 'encouragement' bubbles.

"The final piece of the social justice puzzle is opportunity - the path from welfare to well being. Opportunity is under attack everywhere you look."

True enough. He cites the need for education reform that will provide for our children's futures but says nothing about getting government out of education.

In closing the op-ed says:

Conservatives can speak powerfully to these issues. Transformation, relief, opportunity - we have the principles that form the basis of real social justice policies."

And that's why conservatives will keep on losing. Oh there may be a swipe at the progressives in this 2014 election as in the Reagan presidency but I don't see a love fest for conservatives on the horizon.

Nobody should want to own the issue of social justice because there is no such thing. That concept is an intellectual or cognitive package deal designed to destroy a valid concept - individual justice, the only kind of justice that exists, and replace it with the invalid concept of social justice. It permits its advocates to commit individual injustices in the name of all sorts of imagined unfairness such as those invented under egalitarianism. For example, John makes more money than Fred so fairness (social justice) requires that we take some of John's money (an individual injustice) and give it to Fred.

America was not founded on the principle of sacrifice but rather on the principle of rational self interest, a self interest that respects the same rights of others. Conservatives need to 'step up to the plate' of individual rights if they ever hope to win big again.

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.