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Godless Capitalist

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    originally Ottawa, now in Washington, DC

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    Mike Wevrick
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  1. Enron Convictions

    ^^It's not that clear, which is why I used "seeming." From the release: "the prosecution came nowhere near proving its central allegation that Jeff Skilling engineered a conspiracy to defraud investors." "... Skilling ... destroyed no documents, nor did anything else resembling a criminal cover-up." "conviction for a phantom conspiracy" So the ARI writer seems to be claiming not just that the prosecution failed to prove guilt, but that there was no conspiracy or coverup at all. That certainly sounds like a claim that he was innocent.
  2. Enron Convictions

    Thanks, softwareNerd. I'm still curious about the details of the case and the evidence (or lack thereof) on the specific cases. Megan: Interesting question. Which is the bigger crime, stealing an unattended purse with $100 in it, or causing an an investor to lose $100,000 by deliberately misrepresenting the state of a company's finances? Both seem criminal to me.
  3. Raising Objectivist Children

    Dr. Montessori did not copyright the name "Montessori" so anyone can use it. AMI schools have to meet more rigorous standards than AMS schools. But ultimately parents judging a school should learn about the method themselves and observe a few classes to see how well the method is followed. This thread has more info: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=1726
  4. One more thing: a Catholic school specifically may be better academically than a public school or even other private schools. Catholicism has a long tradition of intellectual rigor that carries over into many Catholic schools. Whatever religious doctrine the child may be exposed to at such a school will probably be no worse than the environmentalism and socialism they will get at most other schools.
  5. There is also this thread: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=1726 For those considering Montessori, try to find an AMI rather than AMS school. (AMI adheres better to Montessori's philosophy.) I agree with posts above that a private school may not be any better than a public one. We will be doing AMI Montessori through Gr 6, then probably public with lots of parental supplementation.
  6. Enron Convictions

    I recently got a press release from ARI seeming to claim that Skilling was innocent. Does anyone have a link to more details on this? Ayn Rand Institute Press Release The Media's Mistreatment of Jeff Skilling October 23, 2006 Irvine, CA--Upon hearing the news that former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was sentenced to 24 years, most Americans, trusting the newspaper articles and books they have read on Enron, think that justice has been served. But, said Alex Epstein, a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, "Jeff Skilling has not gotten justice, and the media bear a major portion of the blame. "Few Americans know that during Skilling's trial, the prosecution came nowhere near proving its central allegation that Jeff Skilling engineered a conspiracy to defraud investors. Few know that Skilling, upon leaving Enron five months before its collapse, destroyed no documents, nor did anything else resembling a criminal cover-up. Few know that the prosecution, unable to prove a conspiracy, spent huge swaths of the trial taking pot-shots at Skilling with issues not even mentioned in the indictment, such as the failure of Skilling, a multi-millionaire many times over, to disclose a failed $50,000 investment to Enron's board. "The media's misportrayal of the case against Skilling long predates the trial. Ever since the fall of Enron, most of the media have treated as fact every conceivable smear against Skilling made by ax-grinding prosecutors or ex-Enron employees, while treating as absurd Skilling's claim that he neither engineered a conspiracy nor lied to investors. "There can be no doubt that the media's treatment of Skilling contributed to his conviction for a phantom conspiracy--and to the outrageous 24-year sentence that he has now received. And the mistreatment of Skilling is part of a broader trend: the trend of treating businessmen as guilty until proven innocent. Our journalists and intellectuals, accepting the idea that the pursuit of profit is morally tainted, assume that whenever anything goes wrong in business, it is the result of crooked behavior by greedy, rich CEOs--and slant their coverage accordingly. This practice is putting numerous innocent men in jail, and instilling terror throughout corporate America. "During Skilling's appeal, let us call for the media to start treating Skilling--and all businessmen--fairly."
  7. Why Is Beauty Not Subjective?

    I think there is one way you can connect things like symmetry to objective standards. A lack of symmetry in a human face and/or body, or a serious skin problem, is usually a result of a disease or genetic disorder and thus shows that the person's body is not in ideal health. Similarly, a person who is extremely thin or fat is also not in ideal health. There is an objective reason to find unhealthy bodies unattractive. (In some cultures, however fatter people are considered more attractive, but that is because in that culture fatness is an indication that the person is economically successful and can afford excess food.) So it makes sense objectively to consider someone with a healthy body more attractive than someone with a less healthy body. Things like eye or hair color, however, are just personal taste.
  8. Are Humans The Only Species That Can Conceptualize?

    I don't know the answer to the original question but it does seem to be a scientific question rather than a philosophical one. It could be of philosophical relevance if it were discovered that an animal species had conceptual abilities similar to those of humans, and in particular the ability to reason. We would then have to consider what rights such a species might have; possibly the same as humans.
  9. How old are you?

    Ha ha. Computers have been around long enough that even old codgers like me (42) know how to use them. More likely the reason is that college age is when most people discover Objectivism and are most actively involved in it. That's how it was for me, only we didn't have online forums then. (I learned how to type on a manual typewriter, how to calculate on a sliderule, and how to program using Fortran coded onto Hollerith cards. Growing up, hi-tech was color TV and touchtone phones.)
  10. More French Riots

    good opinion piece from TIME: Essay Liberty, Equality, Mediocrity The strangest revolution the French have ever produced By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER Apr. 17, 2006 The French are justly proud of their revolutionary tradition. After all, 1789 begat 1848 and 1871 and indeed inspired just about every revolution for a century, up to and including the Russian Revolution of 1917. Say what you will about the outcomes, but the origins were quite glorious: defiant, courageous, bloody, romantic uprisings against all that was fixed and immovable and oppressive: kings, czars, churches, oligarchies, tyrannies of every kind. And now, in a new act of revolutionary creativity, the French are at it again. Millions of young people and trade unionists, joined by some underclass opportunists looking for a good night out, have taken to the streets again. To rise up against what? In massive protest against a law that would allow employers to fire an employee less than 26 years old in the first two years of his contract. That's a very long way from liberty, equality, fraternity. The spirit of this revolution is embodied most perfectly in the slogan on many placards: CONTRE LA PRÉCARITÉ, or "Against Precariousness." The precariousness of being subject to being fired. The precariousness of the untenured life, even if the work is boring and the boss no longer wants you. And ultimately, the precariousness of life itself, any weakening of the government guarantee of safety, conformity, regularity. That is something very new. And it is not just a long way from the ideals of 1789. It is the very antithesis. It represents an escape from freedom, a demand for an arbitrary powerful state in whose bosom you can settle for life. Nor are the current riots about equality. On the contrary. Their effect would be to enforce inequality. The unemployment rate in France is 10%. For young people under 26 it is 23%, and almost 1 in 10 kids who leave high school don't have a job five years after taking the baccalaureate. Much of that unemployment encompasses those of the alienated immigrant underclass, who are less educated, less acculturated and less likely ever to be hired than the mostly native student rioters. And these young rioters want to keep things just that way--to rely not just on their advantages of class, education and ethnicity but also on an absolute guarantee from the state that their very first job will be for life, with no one to challenge them for it. Ironically, the better imitation of the spirit of 1789 came from precisely those immigrant challengers kept locked away in France's satellite suburbs. It is those poor ambitious huddled masses who late last year lit up the country for three weeks with nights of burning cars. Those underclass riots were politically inchoate, but they did represent the fury of people desperate to escape the marginality imposed on them by their ethnicity and the rigidity of the French bureaucratic state. Those immigrant riots, which had an equal touch of the existential anarchy of the student revolution of 1968, were, if anything, a revolt for precariousness--for risk, danger, upheaval. Against precariousness? The vibrancy of a society can almost be measured by its precariousness. Free markets correlate not just with prosperity and wealth but also with dynamism. The classic example is China today, an economic and social Wild West with entire classes, regions, families and individuals rising and falling in ways that must terrify today's young demonstrators in Paris. In France not a single enterprise founded in the past 40 years has managed to break into the ranks of the nation's 25 biggest companies. Precariousness is an essential element in the life of the entrepreneur, a French word now more associated with the much despised Anglo-Saxon "liberalism" and its merciless dog-eat-dog capitalism. But these days the best examples of the entrepreneurial spirit are hardly Anglo-Saxon: China, India, Korea, Chile, all rising and growing, even as France and much of Europe decline. Against precariousness? That is perhaps to be expected in a country where 76% of 15-to-30-year-olds say they aspire to civil service jobs from which it's almost impossible to be fired. This flight from risk is not just a sign of civilizational senescence. It is a parody of the welfare state. Yes, the old should be protected from precariousness because they are exhausted; the sick, because they are too weak. But privileged students under the age of 26? They cannot endure 24 months of precariousness at the prime of life, the height of their energy? There have, I suppose, been other peoples in other places who yearned for a life of mediocrity. But leave it to the French to make a revolution in its name.
  11. Time To Fight The Real War

    ^^ lol Well, actually it seems that there wasn't good evidence that there were WMD, or any clear connection between Saddam and 9/11. I still don't think Bush lied, and I don't think we have any need to apologize for deposing a viscious dictator, but the case for invading Iraq in order to protect the US is very shaky.
  12. Illegal Immigration & Objectivism

    ^^Agree. Open immigration should not even be considered until governments stop handing out free services like education and health care. Why work within the system? Because what is important is not just your innocence, but that your innocence can be demonstrated by some open and objective process. If everyone just does what they think is right, and ignores the objective legal system, the result is anarchy (even if each person's judgement is in fact rational). On the drugs question, I generally agree with you. The friend might break the drug laws, but is no more likely to break other laws.
  13. Do you know any "natural" Objectivists?

    I'm not thinking "genetic" and I don't think anyone else here is. I'm thinking your second meaning. The core ideas of Objectivism already exist in Western culture; it's not surprising that many people learn them from parents, books, etc. before seeing them in Objectivist literature.
  14. Illegal Immigration & Objectivism

    ^^I think the answer to this depends on the nature of the government you live under. In the US, or other Western country with a relatively fair legal system, you should work within the system to appeal your conviction and prove your innocence. If you are in a corrupt or dictatorial country with no chance of fair treatment, I think it would be moral to escape if possible. As for rule of law, the problem in our society is that the choice is between following all laws as written, or acting, at least slightly, as an anarchist. As the speeding example shows, most of us choose to be partial anarchists. Neither situation--slavish obedience even to bad laws, or widespread civil disobedience--is very good. Good article, and I agree with it. This point is why I think we need to be tough on illegal immigrants: "Entry into the U.S. should ultimately be free for any foreigner, with the exception of criminals, would-be terrorists, and those carrying infectious diseases." We need to be able to screen who enters to make sure they are not criminals or terrorists. (The disease issue is fairly minor.) So regardless of our immigration policy, we still need to protect our borders so people cannot just come in whenever they feel like it, with no scrutiny or background checks. There is another issue that Dr Binswanger does not address: open immigration could flood the US with people who do not share US values. Europe is already having this problem with Muslim immigrants.
  15. Time To Fight The Real War

    ^^Not to mention that Iraq did in fact still have the capacity and intent to restart their weapons programs once the inspections were eased. Wow! So I guess you believe Iran's claim that the enriched uranium is just for power plants, despite the fact that Iran has loads of oil and thus no need for nuclear power, and despite Iran's explicit and aggressive rhetoric against the US and Isreal? Regardless of what one thinks about Iraq, Iran is far more clearcut.
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