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LeftistSpew

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  1. New Layout

    Like I said, I think the graphical treatment of the OO main site is very nice, well thought out, etc. You should use a modified version of that for your title area and adopt the color scheme from the main site as well.
  2. US Elections 2012

    I first saw RP in person about 20 years ago (I was literally walking by). He's a nice enough guy. I've always had fun watching his presence in the primaries. But he's also a case-study in the pointlessness of libertarianism. Yes, he ducks a lot of questions in the name of constitutionality, and perhaps this is politically expedient. When it comes to the "hard" questions, he's party-line fundy: “I am strongly pro-life. I think one of the most disastrous rulings of this century was Roe versus Wade. I do believe in the slippery slope theory. I believe that if people are careless and casual about life at the beginning of life, we will be careless and casual about life at the end. Abortion leads to euthanasia. I believe that.” The denial of a person's right to an abortion is no more a "state issue" than the denial of any other fundamental right. Wherein he believes that a successfully fertilized human egg is a person yet then says that he 9th and 10th amendments preclude the federal government from prohibiting their murder does not logically follow. Murder is a Federal offense, and no state in the union can legalize murder. *** Another area RP makes me want to vomit is the area of immigration. This in particular proves he has not even the faintest clue about the true origins of liberty. And no, it's not just about adding more people to the dole, because that would have a pretty simple solution that would nicely support his stated goal of countering the police state. In fact, for this particular issue, an all-out police state is exactly what he's necessarily advocating: how else to do systematically identify and deport some 10% of the population, as he advocates? The immigration issue is now and always has been about jobs. It's no accident we only hear about it when the economy is in a down phase and demand for labor is low. The fundamental (immoral) belief that you are owed your high-paying job is what is behind calls for the Berlin-like wall across the southern desert. *** It's worth noting that in the debates the reaction to Paul is, among non-libertarians, one of distrust. He seems slimy to a lot of people. That's because he is, in context, talking out of both sides of his mouth in ducking issues on "constitutional grounds". He's doing what the other candidates routinely do, but on much more fundamental issues and, frankly, not as effectively as they do. Not only is he a con-man, but he's just not a very good one. The next question somebody might ask me would be, "but Mr. SpewTM, how will we make any progress towards liberty without people like Ron Paul who can perform the necessary compromised to make progress?" The answer is, this isn't progress. Ron Paul and the libertarians will kill liberty by displacing it with something that is ultimately false. It's a straw man attack wherein they are themselves the straw man. If you don't believe me, observe what has recently happened to Keynesianism: intellectually, it's dead. It died about two years ago when the $700b stimulus failed to jump start the economy. Obama's new $400b hail Mary--which every Keynesian will tell you is about 5x too small--has a snowball's chance of passing and would make things worse for Keynes even if it passed. Surely we can all celebrate this here. But we should note that the same exact disease that killed one of our enemies could kill us just as dead.
  3. New Layout

    Well, clearly the dollar sign, by her own premises, was a mistake to use because it symbolizes, in the real world, government control over a particular realm of private trade, aka US currency. Clearly if she had thought this through (i.e. had the benefit of hindsight, etc.) then she wouldn't have done this. So in the current context, it has to be explained as in, "it was a mistake, but here's the explanation". Sure, I get it, and I don't fault AR for this and she clearly explained what she meant in the book, but there's no point in continuing a mistake. It would be like making the cigarette the symbol for Objectivism. Not a good idea.
  4. New Layout

    Because this forums website is not the book, Atlas Shrugged. You'd need to add about 1000 pages of text to your title area in order to accomplish that. Without a carefully constructed context, and a cogent qualification, the only way to interpret a symbol is its normal usage. Most people don't look at a dollar sign and think, "that's a symbol of a perfectly, idealistically free version of the USA". On the contrary, it's usually a symbol that means, "a unit of currency minted by the United States government" or merely, "US money (in its present state)". Now, I'm not above the occasional inside joke encapsulated in a misleading graphic and accompanying name. Clearly. Nietzsche had a ball with the idea of being somewhat cryptic to separate himself from mere dum-dums who would only react to surface-level, distracting precepts. But I'm guessing this is not the behavior you want to emulate.
  5. New Layout

    The interview, linked.
  6. New Layout

    Check out: http://www.ellensplace.net/ar_pboy.html (it's a fun read regardless) Ayn Rand here specifically qualifies her stance on the dollar sign. It's not a negation by any means, but it's not a ringing endorsement of it either: it's merely a plot device in AS (where the meaning is specifically called out in a fictional context). In AS, the meaning is used to signify (a free version of) the USA, not a government-controlled currency. I'm quite familiar with Objectivism, and I don't find it appropriate...
  7. Obama's Fascist Economy

    The implication of this article (dare we call it, "rightist spew"?) is that somehow the democrats are the only such Fascists in the USA. In particular his quick historical review jumped from FDR to Obama, quietly missing about 60 years of varying degrees of republican control and influence. The mixing of private and public control continues to this day, when every speaker at last night's Republican debate firmly committed themselves to various tenants of Fascism. As for socialism "versus" fascism, why again do we care about the difference? When being attacked by a shark, I don't think, "hey, is that a Hammerhead or is that a Great White?"--I just swim for my life.
  8. New Layout

    Why not use a variant of the banner on the main website? That one looks nice and is very appropriate. You would also have to change the color scheme of the forums slightly to match the lighter blue, but that should be no big deal.
  9. New Layout

    You should lose the "dollar sign" in the title graphic as it represents an immoral government-sponsored system of currency. Its a particularly antithetical symbol to be combined with Objectivism.
  10. US Elections 2012

    I'm not sure what you'd mean by, "from an Objectivist perspective", as all of these candidates are committed statists. Another question you might ask is, "based on this debate, who do you think advanced in their goal of winning the nomination the most?". In that regard, I'd say Romney. He, Perry and Paul were the only ones on that stage seriously running for the nomination--and Paul's seriousness is questionable. The rest are running for VP (I think Gingrich did himself a few favors in that race tonight). So either Rick "Social Security should be abolished" Perry or Mitt "Gold Plates" Romney is going to make Obama's work pretty easy. I certainly could be wrong--and the economy is going to suck pretty hard in the next 18 months putting huge pressure on the currently-in-office pols, but the repubs and the bizarre t-party populist line they are taking are, in my view, completely unelectable right now. I watched this because I was flipping through channels and stopped there while distracted by something on my iPad. I'm certainly not a follower of these things and can't imagine why anybody would be. That said, watching the debate commercials was informative in that I got to learn all about the products I will want to start using when I turn 90.
  11. Elizabeth Warren's frightening rant

    As a quick rebuttal for this sort of argument ("you need to give something back"), I start the conversation with the question, "Okay. How much then?" That starts to glue the concept of trade back together: as in, "yes, I agree that people should pay for what they voluntarily make use of, but no, what you are talking about isn't the same thing". Proceed then to explain why stealing--even if its in the form of "giving" something to an unwilling participant and then charging them some made-up price for it--is wrong. On a practical level, you need to discover the price of the things people pay for, and it's always exciting to talk somebody in circles when they attempt to find a mechanism of price discovery that isn't market-based (the Soviets actually used the USAs prices to do this, for instance). Anyhow, that's how I'd go about it.
  12. Fool's Gold (article)

    Yep, the price stability we've seen in the last 30 years has been an impressive achievement given that it's been manually produced. Even when you go back 30 years--and dip into some of the "bad old days" of pre-Volker inflation in the early 80s--you still only get about a 5% CAGR when looking at that web page and cars. Certainly a bit annoying for those who "save" by hiding piles of cash in a mattress, but virtually undetectable for most people who make use of advanced methods like say a "bank", or buy real estate, etc. etc. I suppose you can worry about the current climate in Washington doing "a 180" and suddenly both parties talking about Keynsian-style deficit-driven stimulus again*, but then again you can worry about a lot of things. Personally I think there are more pressing problems. ----- * Wanna take bets as to how many here don't read every word of that sentence and wrongly point to Obama's current proposal as evidence of the contrary (as if that bill had a snowball's chance anyhow)?
  13. My final word on the Gold Standard

    Prologue I want to thank those here who--intentionally or not--moved my knowledge forward on an important subject. Whereas I started my investigation trying to answer the question, "why on Earth is the price of gold going through the roof?", our conversations took an interesting turn to the currencies, the Gold Standard, macro economics, activist tactics and finally politics and morality. I have certainly answered all of the questions in my mind about the present-day spike in the price of gold. The discussion about the Gold Standard, however, has been particularly interesting. My Conclusion About the Gold Standard The Gold Standard is immoral. Advocating it is not only immoral, but impractical in the USA today from an activist standpoint. Objectivists should not advocate the Gold Standard any more than they should advocate increased spending for public schools. The insidious way in which the Gold Standard muddies the concept of true liberty should make it a mortal enemy of Objectivists. The logical foundation of the Gold Standard is government control over the currency businesses and individuals use to trade. A proper government has no moral right to meddle in the area of trade. Nobody has a right to shove any currency, backed by anything down my throat. The Gold Standard presupposes the opposite. It is said that every government program starts with the "best intentions". While I wouldn't say "every program" it's fair to say that many are started by smart, well-meaning people who think they are doing the most scientifically intelligent thing at the time. Clearly the foundation of this--that you have a right to impose your conclusions on others--is immoral. More subtle, however, is that these people are bad for business. No matter how "perfect" something seems in the present, there is simply no way of knowing what creative entrepreneurs will think of in the future. No matter how practical anything in the realm of business might look in the present, it's bound to be reversed later and if it's enforced as a matter of law, it's bound to restrain trade in unnatural ways. Matters of business are not like those of philosophy, they are not axiomatic and unchanging. Thus the only possible rationale for Objectivists to advocate the Gold Standard is on "temporary practical grounds". That perhaps we should advocate something that we know is ultimately immoral and incorrect because this will "push things in the right direction". To be clear, in narrow cases, I am all for that, and most decidedly live in the "real world" in this regard. But the Gold Standard falls down by this measure for two inter-connected reasons. First, the "house is not on fire". There is no "emergency" with respect to our situation with the US dollar. It is not in immediate danger of being significantly devalued, and even it were, the current legal situation in the US makes this situation non-lethal: we are all currently free to protect ourselves from any marginal issues with our currency, such as buying and using other currencies, and making hedging investments. Second, as a policy move, this is not an easy one. An actual shift to the Gold Standard would be extremely disruptive to world-wide trade if it were done all at once, and it would be extremely difficult to engineer a long-term, less disruptive path. None of the advocates of the Gold Standard that I have seen have written anything along the lines of a paper titled, "Here's How the US Can Painlessly Move to the Gold Standard". My impression is that these advocates actually don't care about such practical details. This is not to say that advocates of philosophical theory should always be concerned with practical implementations--there's work two do in both areas--but in this case, the only moral foundation of the Gold Standard is it's current, here-and-now practical implementation within the current laws of the USA, the current political climate in Washington and one's assessment of the current appetite to make a change like this. But the advocates of the Gold Standard that I have read have not concerned themselves with anything "current". They are "idealists" (as I would consider myself for instance) advocating an "ideal". There's nothing wrong with advocating an ideal as apart from current practical realities. Advocating a temporary stop-gap as an ideal, however, is a perversion. The Objectivist Advocacy of the Gold Standard One of my favorite anecdotes of Ayn Rand's was the story of Aquinas' Angel. The anecdote (I recall from memory) went something like this: Angels, according to Aquinas, are "perfect" in many ways. In particular, one of the amazing things about angels is that they instantly know all of the conclusions of their basic premises. They instantly know what follows, and does not follow from the basic teachings of God, etc. Ayn Rand found this construct important because this is exactly what human beings are not. We are not Aquinas' Angel. It is not enough to simply learn all of the basic philosophical premises there are to learn and assume that you will draw all of the logical conclusions from those premises correctly. You can make mistakes anywhere along the way. The Gold Standard, while not formally in Ayn Rand own words, is closely associated with the Objectivist movement. It is a cause célèbre as it were of virtually all major voices of Objectivism today. It has its place in official lexicon of Objectivism. I would submit that the origins of this fixation--kicked-off perhaps by none other than the famous Alan Greenspan--were wrong. That Greenspan, and those around him, incorrectly applied the premises of the proper role of government. Badly formed concepts are bound to drag in all sorts of riffraff. It's a veritable secret handshake of the anti-conceptual mentality. Objectivism is, on a daily basis, under siege by those whom would understand only a smattering of its tenants and move freely between perfectly correct ideas and perfectly terrible ones without knowing the difference. In the marketplace of ideas, however, a specialty store does not compete with Walmart by being more like Walmart. Not only would "selling out" be a shame for Objectivism, it plainly would not work. I once asked Leonard Peikoff what he thought of Alan Greenspan (this was when he first became Fed chairman). His response was, "I don't know, but he's in Washington and I'm in Laguna Hills". Which was to say (to summarize the context) that maybe he was doing good even though it was unclear he was a "consistent Objectivist". The deeper meaning was also clear: it's hard to argue with success. But however hard, Leonard Peikoff and the rest of the movement should have taken up the challenge. Bad premises always come back to bite you. That the advocacy of the Gold Standard associates Objectivism with all sorts of dodgy characters is no accident. The word should be removed from the Lexicon and removed from the generally accepted list of topics that official voices of Objectivism officially care about. Such a move will serve to puzzle and amaze a lot of people. There will be a lot of talk about it, and many will be forced to check their premises deeper than they have for a long time. Many will reject Objectivism altogether because of this one issue. And all of that, my friends, is a good thing.
  14. Fool's Gold (article)

    But arguing for the gold standard is not like arguing for (better teaching methodologies) in schools for several important reasons. First, bad teaching methodologies which will have adverse effects "here and now". The US dollar is not creating any problem "here and now" as it's a perfectly viable and stable instrument of trade at the present time--and I simply don't buy that our current government is itching to debase our currency and basically end civilization as we know it which is what would happen in today's context (which is very different than say the 70s). Yes, it still has a small amount of inflation associated with it, and yes, this is "wrong", but compared to say, income tax or capital gains tax, this is a non-issue--especially when you consider that unlike income taxes, it's fairly easy to invest around the problem. I'm personally in control of significant money [in my work shall we say]. The "inflation problem" is not on my radar. Not even remotely. The people freaking out about pending inflation right now are chasing shadows and making up all sorts of problems that aren't problems to any normal investor. So in short, whereas if we continued bad teaching methodologies in schools there would be immediate and irreparable harm to children. If we continue to live with a US dollar that inflates at a rate of about 2% per year, then there will be very minimal harm to the economy--especially when compared to the massive harm caused by other things. Second, there is no force here, at least at the margin. Anybody in the USA is free to trade in gold, silver, Pesos, Euros, Linden Dollars, or whatever--and they very much do every day. There is a perfectly free market here in the trade of currencies. The open markets are choosing dollars right now, but they could change their minds at any time. This would be true of any currency in the future. Third, unlike changing the curriculum in schools, which would require some new books and training for teachers (my local public schools already teach phonics fwiw), actually moving the USA to a gold standard today would be a massive undertaking that would be incredibly disruptive to the world economy. It's almost impossible to imagine how, practically, you would even do it. For that reason, and the reasons above, this is an event that will simply never happen even in a completely Objectivist-controlled world because it's not worth the trouble. Fourth, teaching phonics in public schools is something that people can agree that we immediately, specifically need. The technical argument is "simple" compared to the massively complicated business question of currency. As you mentioned, if we abolished the US dollar, markets would probably choose different baskets of goods, or move from one commodity to another, and so forth. So the gold standard doesn't belong in Utopia where there would be no government-advocated currency at all, and it doesn't belong in the "here and now" world because it's practically not the right solution, doesn't solve any real problem, and is not at all "easy" to do.
  15. Fool's Gold (article)

    The original topic (and thanks for reeling this back in as the thread slid off the rails about six or eight posts ago) was that the Gold Standard is not something that Objectivists should be interested in supporting. The original point was that gold in particular has various practical problems, AND that qua the primary usefulness of a currency, the US dollar is perfectly fine for now, and that yes, we all probably have much bigger fish to fry. I also tried to make the point that making a big deal out of something that is in fact a small deal diminishes your credibility. Others here pointed out something that I started to write myself in a separate follow-on thread: that Objectivism cannot and should not have any particular opinion around what is essentially a business decision. Moreover, advocacy of the gold standard is actually harmful as it muddies the entire issue of the proper role of government. It's like arguing for more objective, more rational forms of income taxes. At that point, I thought the thread would end, as my point had been made. I even received a genuine Green Square of approval, a first for me as I had only collected red boxes before. (And now technology has made the green square / red box currency worthless don't ya know). So in summary, I'm saying the current situation with our fiat currency is not a particularly pressing issue, and that advocacy of the gold standard is not only fraught with practical issues, it's quite harmful.
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