Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Here we go again. The CRA to the rescue.

We can get an idea of how collectivists think from this oped in the Detroit News of 2/27/15. The author, Ms. Kathleen Rogers, is president and CEO Earth Day Network, a left wing environmental group. The title is "The meaning of community reinvestment" and it is revealing in terms of the statist principle it represents: government intrusion into the market place to achieve some alleged social good.

The theme of the oped is that "...25 percent of the energy used in schools is wasted" and if that waste can be eliminated by getting schools to go green then there will be money that can be  "...used for desperately needed funding for additional teachers and school resources."

Ms. Rogers gives several examples of schools that have benefited from going green then suggests ways to find the funds for the poorest schools to go green.

"What if we could secure billions of new, private dollars for school energy-efficiency projects in low-income disadvantaged areas and allow the resulting energy savings to remain with each school?"
So, what does "secure billions" mean? Is it asking for private loans or voluntary donations? Nope.

"The next frontier of green school funding could come from banks through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a federal law that requires (read 'forces'-MN) banks operating in low-income areas to invest significant amounts of money in these areas, usually in the form of loans and grants for economic development projects, low-income housing projects and community centers."

How is it that banks "operating in low-income areas" have all these billions just laying around waiting for the right altruist to come along and point a legislative gun at their heads for such a noble and virtuous redistribution? How did the billions get here? Blank out! It's just here in banks. Notice that all these billions of private money are viewed as the "next frontier" to be "secured". But this frontier is not a new one. It was used before with equally, noble intentions but with disastrous results.

"From 1996 to 2008, banks invested more than $1 trillion in community development and small-business loans in low-income areas in part to score CRA points."
This is certainly true but that trillion dollars, through credit expansion has morphed into many trillions more in derivative debt held all throughout the economy which can't be repaid. This fact was a key player in the mortgage meltdown of 2008 throwing millions of people out of their homes and jobs. You'd think that someone in the educated class would call for the repeal of the CRA if for no other reason than the human suffering it caused. But no, the desire to use the brute force of government to achieve some social good is irresistible to the collectivist/altruist mind. And so it continues:

"Banks take the CRA requirement seriously because the (obedience-MN) points they earn are a determining factor when regulators review requests for mergers and acquisitions." 
I would take a legislative gun pointed at my head seriously too.

"The litmus test for whether banks will receive CRA points is satisfied only if the "benefits" that accrue from these investments remain in the low-income communities.
Now the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the bank's regulator, has proposed a clarification that will allow banks to get CRA credit for investing in energy efficiency in low-income communities."
Great. Another noble cause for which we can use the CRA to "secure billions"! Ms.Rogers concludes with:

"Leaving those energy savings with the school, which allows banks to invest in energy retrofits under the CRA, would open the door to low interest loans or grants. It's a win-win proposition for our nation's poorest schools."
Actually, no it isn't. It will just be another boondoggle. How will the banks get their money repaid if it is to stay with the school? And this notion that banks have billions just laying around not invested in anything is well, absurd.

 The real meaning of community reinvestment is wealth redistribution by force, or as Ayn Rand once said, a policy of have gun will nudge.

Finally, the social system in which businesses (like banks) are nominally privately owned while the right of ownership-the right of use and disposal-is retained by the government, is fascism. That is where we are headed.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Jeb Bush is 2016 material, if you can forgive.

My Friday edition of the Detroit News carries an oped by deputy editorial director Ingrid Jacques titled "With Jeb Bush, look beyond Common Core." Sorry, I can't do that. Common Core is such an egregious example of mind destruction and increased government control of education that one cannot treat it as nothing more than an innocent, forgivable mistake. Mistakes of this magnitude are not made innocently.

Jeb Bush, like the rest of his family, is a neoconservative (neocon), a former liberal turned conservative. But, like them, still has progressive leanings. One of them is a firm belief that government should own and control education. No it shouldn't.

Government is force. It has nothing to offer citizens except the management of force (and the threat of using it). When government controls education it will control what is taught and how it is taught and this will be forced onto teachers and students, and parents.

Don't fall for the notion that parents have elected representatives to appeal to. Those representatives are also part of the government that thinks it knows what is best for your kids better than you do. Yes there has been an increase in parents loudly protesting aspects of Progressive Education and even Common Core. But this only gets the powers that be to back off a little bit and only temporarily. The real backing off is to be done by the parents.

On April 13 213 Melissa Harris Perry  on the Huffy Post said  "we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to their communities." Please understand what this means: parents are not part of the community! Got that?

So what does this have to do with Mr. Bush?  Ms Jacques informs us that since Jeb Bush is a staunch supporter for the Common Core education standards we should look past that fact because he has done well supporting education in Florida. 

"Bush's willingness to embrace the best options to improve learning are a refreshing departure from the Obama administration's playbook, which has tried to squelch true school choice programs."

Evidently, Jeb Bush does not consider auctioning off schools to unregulated private enterprise or even nonprofits where, like IT products (smart phones and such), quality constantly goes up and costs go down, to be one of his 'best options.'

One of the arguments used to maintain government control over our children's minds is the notion that schools must be accountable. But please notice that this accountability is to be directed to government bureaucrats not parents. This is based on the premise that the parents are not competent to determine if their kids can read, write, do basic math and learn history and science and that only government has such wisdom.

The theme of this oped is that even though "Jeb Bush hasn't made it official that he's a 2016 presidential candidate..." we should overlook his Common Core boo boo and consider him for 2016. No we shouldn't.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Skeptical of global warming? You must have faith.

I was surprised to see the Macomb Daily, a newspaper for the county of Macomb, a suburban county just northeast of Detroit, print an editorial from the liberal Bloomberg editorial board. As a rule, the Macomb Daily is a tad conservative on its editorial page so I wondered if they were just being facetious or what.

The title is "Pope Francis could help push climate treaty over the top."

"But of course" was a voice in my head. This is so appropriate. Both the Catholic Church and the global warming alarmists are totally committed to faith not facts. To obfuscate this truth though the article declares:

"He is not the first Pope to sound the alarm on climate change: Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI did so, and in 2011 the Vatican's Academy of Sciences issued a report that called on "all people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming" caused by human activity."

I didn't know the Church had an Academy of Sciences. A religious academy of sciences? Now there's an oxymoron for ya. But what better place for the warmers to go for support for their dogma than to another  institution geared to the acceptance of tenets on faith?

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Where are all the reasons?

In the Dec. 14 edition of the Detroit News Editorial Editor Mr. Nolan Finley penned an editorial "Where are all the black people?" He was referring to the opportunities provided by the comeback atmosphere in Detroit which seems to be absent a sufficient number of black people. He fears that Detroit could become two cities " for the upwardly mobile young and white denizens of an increasingly happening downtown, and the other for the struggling and frustrated black residents."

Now on the face of it I would call this blatant racism. But Mr. Finley writes an entire paragraph assuring readers he is not racist and would rather "have a stick for my eye." I for one tend to believe Mr. Finley harbors no actual racial hatred. But hating for racial reasons is not the only form of racism. People who don't harbor any real racial hatred can still practice racist principles. Before I go any further, I want my readers to understand what I mean by the concept of racism.

My Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary says: "A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." We can see that racism then is a form of determinism which says that your character is not determined by your own values and decisions but by your race or skin color and that this results in notions of superiority or inferiority.

Mr Finley then gives a few examples of why he fears the 'two cities' scenario: "It's a clear red flag when you can sit down in a hot new downtown restaurant and nine out of ten tables are filled with white diners, a proportion almost exactly opposite of the city's racial make up." But I ask why is the city's racial makeup important to Mr. Finley? He continues:

"It's a warning signal when you go to holiday events for major Detroit cultural institutions and charities, and you can count the number of African-American revelers on both hands." Again, why are racial numbers important? And one more:

"It should stop us in our tracks--as it did me the other day--when a group of 50 young professionals being groomed for future leadership shows up to hear advice from a senior executive, and there's only one black member among them." For the third time I'm saying so what? Why are racial quotas important? Why should a city have the same number of races in every social gathering? This is pure racism.

Maybe most blacks don't like the food at that hot new restaurant or can't afford the price. Maybe they don't go to holiday events because their leaders have convinced them not to celebrate white man's holidays. I just don't know. Maybe they don't want to participate in rebuilding downtown while their own neighborhoods continue to deteriorate. Maybe most of the black job creators (businessmen) have left the city for the same reasons white ones did, job destroying taxes and regulations. Whatever the reasons are, they are not mentioned.

There is a lot of rationalizing and evasion in this editorial. For example, what does the notion of "upward mobility" mean? Is that something that automatically accrues to white denizens but not blacks? A nine year old can testify that to step up on a simple foot stool takes some effort. Are we to understand that blacks somehow lack this effort? Use of the term upward mobility evades the reasons for said mobility. After telling us that most of the new kids coming to rebuild downtown are white and that he is not disparaging this fact, he then states:

"We can talk all day about why African-Americans didn't do the same thing. It doesn't matter." What? It sure does matter! Mr Finley is treating the racial numerical differences as the given, as if they are, like upward mobility, causeless, not to be questioned or examined. But everything has causes. To pretend they don't matter is evasion on a large scale.

He continues that paragraph with a veiled threat: "We have to understand that we're buying trouble if we don't encourage more black participation." Really? What kind of trouble? No answer. And what does encourage mean in this context? Does it mean at the point of a legislative gun like forced busing? Or does it mean economic favors like subsidies, loan guarantees or other favors? He does answer this: "This isn't about handouts or set asides or affirmative action. Nor is it about gentrification, an absolutely ridiculous concern in a city that needs so much rebuilding. I don't even believe it is about racism." So government incentives are out. So what is it about?

"Rather, it's about downtown employers making sure they're truly cognizant of the diversity of their workforces, and stretching a bit more to recruit and train native Detroiters, who will then fill the lofts and nightspots." To be cognizant of the diversity of their workforces means to be conscious of the races of ones workforce i.e. race consciousness, exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not want.

"It's about encouraging black entrepreneurs to come to or stay in the city, and recognizing there are cultural and opportunity gaps that have to be closed to create a vibrant base of small business started by people drawn from the city's neighborhood." Again we see another phrase 'opportunity gaps' that doesn't seem to have a cause. Who is to do the encouraging of black entrepreneurs? Since he doesn't mention government it can be assumed that other private citizens are to do it though he isn't very specific about that.

I think it would have been a good editorial if it had noted all the racial discrepancies then focused on their causes. For example why are the black residences struggling and frustrated? Why aren't they attending more cultural events and eating at the hot new restaurants? Why aren't they hastening to take advantage of the new growth opportunities? There are reasons and they need to be identified and addressed.

Off the top of my head I can think of several. 1. The  insane War on Drugs has turned inner cities into gang laden fiefdoms where a kill or be killed sense of life dominates. 2.The equally perverse welfare state has destroyed the black family and made dependency on handouts a way of life. 3.The long waits for police to respond to crime calls and other unresponsive city government departments has caused the almost complete destruction of confidence in the police and the city as such. 4. The government policies aimed at reducing racial tensions--multiculturalism, egalitarianism, diversity, affirmative action and race consciousness--are themselves based on racist principles. I think it would have been a good idea to walk through a black neighborhood and ask them for reasons.

The collapse of Detroit did not happen overnight. It took a long time. Its recovery will take time too. It will only happen when the government stops treating blacks as a herd, a collective and starts treating them as individuals with the full protection of individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing less will do.

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.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

It's the Principles, Dtroit

I'm re-posting this from The New Clarion in case any of my readers don't read the Clarion.

The Thursday 12/19 Detroit News carried an editorial by Reynolds Farley who once conducted the Detroit Area Study at the University of Michigan. Titled "The often-overlooked roots of Detroit's bankruptcy" it looks at these 'roots' only in terms of details, of concrete particulars as if no underlying principles were involved. This detail caused that detail which in turn led to this other detail. But no one asks the obvious question: "What gave rise to the first detail?"

Mr. Farley declares that "Long term economic and demographic trends brought Detroit to its present condition." After reeling off a plethora of depressing numbers of jobs and people leaving the city, all of which are true, he declares as a cause the fact that: "First, Michigan's system of financing local government and schools is broken. In 1911, the Legislature adopted a Home Rule Law encouraging communities to organize their own governments, generate their own tax revenue and pay for their own services. The law gave local governments no incentives to cooperate with one another in solving common problems and , over the years, the law was amended to make it difficult for communities to annex or merge."

I for one don't believe this to be the case. I have lived most of my 71 years in a Detroit suburb and can testify to the fact that local communities have often got together to solve problems. Nor do I accept the notion that it's the State's fault for not being foresighted enough to see that locals would eventually need incentives to cooperate.

But the point I really want to make is look at the cognitive pattern: the details of'economic and demographic trends' caused Detroit's demise. But what caused those trends? The detail of the 1911 Law we are told. But the 1911 Law is not an economic or demographic entity. It's a political one. Politics is a science that deals with the principles of social organization. Thus what is left out of the discussion is any mention of possible political principles that could have had a causal effect on Detroit's suicide. The 1911 Law is not a principle. It is a concrete law based on a principle, the principle of self government which I believe the 1911 Legislature was acting upon and wanted to encourage.

Detroit's failure to its citizens was not caused by an endless string of details but by the principles that gave rise to all those sad details. The main principle behind Detroit's sorry state is the principle that government--a political entity--should provide economic goods and services instead of the market place--an economic entity of voluntary trade to mutual benefit. Government has a legal monopoly on the use of force. It is not an economic entity. Political principles are not the same as economic principles and cannot be mixed. Our Declaration of Independence identified the political principle on which governments at all levels are to operate: "To secure these rights governments are instituted among men." The City (and State) abandoned its role of rights protector long ago and has tried to be the provider of economic services. The mixed economy is Detroit's state. Its real often-overlooked roots are the political and economic principles Detroit has tried to live by. It must now relearn the political and economic principles that actually created a once free and prosperous city. The principles of laissez faire capitalism.