stat counnnter

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Certain thinking not allowed?

 My local paper, The Macomb Daily,--in Macomb County Michigan--carried an editorial by Joan Bregstein, a health-care worker in a New York hospital extolling the arrival of a covid-19 vaccine as if it were another V-Day. But she laments the idea that there are others who declined the vaccine.

"But I was shocked to discover that several health care workers I know declined their vaccine dose. In the staff lounge this week, I heard: “Too early; I’ll wait and see.”

“Not interested.”

“Not for me.”

It’s the same attitude you find among people who don’t vote: “Too much trouble.”

“One more vote won’t count.”

“Someone else will do it.”

We cannot allow such thinking to take hold. As with voting, the only way our nation can succeed in moving on from this pandemic is if we all do our part."

What is meant here by "not allow such thinking to take hold"? Does she mean government should force everyone to get the vaccine? Or does she mean we must advocate--use persuasion--for the benefits of the vaccine? 

In a rights respecting nation people are not "allowed" to decide for themselves but have an inalienable right to do so. This right needs to be protected, adamantly.

So what is meant by "do our part"? Does that mean submit to government authority i.e. legal force? Or does she mean we should agree with her view of the virtue of vaccine?

Thankfully, she tell us:

"In March, we asked you to stay home to help us save lives. Now we are asking you to get vaccinated. Next phase will be the elderly and essential workers. When you are called, please say yes."

So persuasion is her preferred MO and that is a good thing. But we need to be careful of our choice of words, to qualify their meanings to avoid confusion like in the meaning of "allow such thinking", and "do your part" and  the vaccination is not enough. We need to get 61% of the population or herd immunity. 

While I disagree with this last, I think the vaccination should protect others from contagions from you since the vaccine is supposed to be preventing the virus from reproducing thus killing it. It's my hope that legislators will remove the governor's authority to order lock downs to fight viruses.



Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Promoting Objectivism

 Here is a copy of a letter from Tal Tsfany reporting on the growing success of the Ayn Rand institute. I reprint it here because I'm a big fan of Rand's ideas. This growth is great.

Dear friends,

A few weeks ago, Ayn Rand Institute board member John Allison wrote an eloquent letter describing how, regardless of the state of the world, Ayn Rand’s ideas can transform your life for the better. And, he noted, ARI is helping countless people around the globe use Rand’s ideas to do just that—transform their lives for the better.

One of the things I discovered when I became CEO of the Ayn Rand Institute two and half years ago was how much I, a long-time supporter, didn’t know about the scale of ARI’s impact. ARI was founded 35 years ago to advance the philosophy of Objectivism. As we near the end of 2020, I want to give you a brief glimpse into our achievements—and an indication of what lies ahead. 

From the start, ARI has believed that the best spokesman for Ayn Rand’s ideas is Ayn Rand. And so, a core part of our strategy has been to promote her books—especially to young people, who are actively forming their philosophic convictions. 

To date, our essay contests have attracted submissions from more than 440,000 students—and some of the best intellectuals we have today started as participants in our essay contest program. Our Free Books to Teachers program has distributed 4.5 millions books to students and we estimate that, in total, more than 9 million students have read these books as teachers reuse those books. With the awareness of Ayn Rand’s ideas that this program has created over the years, Rand is more widely regarded as an important writer today than she was during her lifetime. Her books keep inspiring young minds toward better, more fulfilled lives.

Once someone has read Ayn Rand’s books, it’s vital that they have avenues through which they can increase their understanding of her ideas. On our YouTube channel, for example, ARI has made available nearly 1,000 videos, covering every topic from art to epistemology to morality to politics to current events. These videos have collectively been viewed over 7 million times and our channel is growing faster than ever. Last year, we saw our subscribers increase from 30,000 to 45,000; this year the number is more than 64,000. Thousands of people discover Ayn Rand and her ideas every month and go on to watch hours of Objectivist content on our YouTube channel, our mobile app and our online campus.

ARI is charged with preserving Ayn Rand’s legacy, which includes storing, cataloguing and maintaining tens of thousands of items in the Ayn Rand Archives. We are currently heavily investing in upgrading the infrastructure, the systems and, eventually, the presentation and accessibility of the treasure trove that is the Ayn Rand Archives. Both the physical and digital items of the archives are managed with great care to ensure that Rand’s legacy is preserved for generations to come. We plan to bring forward many more collections that will allow interested individuals to learn more about Ayn Rand’s genius and the heroic life that she led.

For the community of people who agree with Ayn Rand’s philosophy, we offer an array of products such as advanced courses and ARI’s annual summer conference, OCON, which this coming year takes place June 29–July 5 in Washington, D.C. For those who choose to become supporters of ARI, we offer a series of web meetings called ARI Donor Roundtables, where we dive into different aspects of the Objectivist philosophy and feature community members who are successfully applying Rand’s philosophy in their lives and productive careers.

For those who are serious about careers as professional intellectuals or intellectual professionals, we’ve created the leading training program on Objectivism: the Objectivist Academic Center (OAC). Participation in the OAC has never been higher, with 120 students and auditors taking classes on Objectivism, philosophic thinking, and objective communication. In our view, the OAC is the best school of philosophy in the world.

Starting with the Objectivist Graduate Center, the precursor to the OAC, more than 1,000 students have taken part in our training programs. Some of those students have gone on to become professors. Others are working at influential think tanks or have started their own successful think tanks. And yet others have launched or are engaged in successful businesses, careers in the arts, activism efforts, and other endeavors. 

Finally, ARI believes that in order to help people to properly approach and grasp Ayn Rand's radical system of ideas, we need to offer meaningful educational engagements. Last year, despite the pandemic, we gathered the largest number of conference attendees (both in person and online) we’ve had in any year: 2,874 participants. The year before that, our in-person conference attendance reached 1,547. We are planning to continue to offer the unique experience of an Ayn Rand Conference in the US, Europe, Latin America and hopefully other regions of the world. 

We are rightly proud of these achievements, and we’re grateful to you for helping make them possible. But the question we ask ourselves each and every day is: what more can we be doing? 

I’ll be talking about this in our annual report, which you should be receiving in a few weeks. For now, I’ll just say that as we enter 2021, our core strategy is to better leverage our strengths—and to grow our skillset and become even better at reaching people. There are many exciting projects in the works.

I’m an optimist. But I’m not blindly optimistic. My optimism about the future is based on the fact that Rand’s ideas are true—and that there is clear evidence of a continual increase in interest in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. We see readers and viewers around the world discovering Objectivism and, with your help, we’ll continue to demonstrate how her ideas help people around the world live richer, happier, freer lives. 

But I want to underscore “with your help.” Right now, the enemies of reason, individualism, and freedom are able to raise billions by appealing to duty, fear, guilt, and the phony moral superiority that comes with endorsing socially popular causes. What I’m appealing to is your self-interest. 

Today is “Giving Tuesday”—though we prefer to call it Trading Tuesday. On this occasion, if you believe that Ayn Rand’s ideas are true, if you believe they are important, if you would like to see thousands more trained by the OAC and millions more reading and studying Ayn Rand, then please consider trading with ARI by increasing your support. We will make sure that whatever you rationally allocate to supporting this cause will be used effectively and efficiently to create a better world—for you and the people you love. 

What could be more selfish than that?

Tal Tsfany
CEO, Ayn Rand Institute