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edward j williamson

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  1. I wrote, and had published, this article three years ago in response to the President's call for the so-called "Faith-Based Initiative". I noticed a thread here dealing with religion and politics, and it has become a hot button issue, and I imagine, a bone of contention for objectivists. It is also viewed the same by libertarians as well. Anyway, I was going to post this in the essay forum, but since this issue has come front and center in the current political arena, I thought I'd post it here. Feel free to comment and critique.-EJW Uncle Sam’s Charity By Edward J. Williamson Scarcely days after President Bush was sworn into office, he signed an initiative that greatly changed the scope and character of what was once a wholly voluntary and private endeavor, charity. Commonly known as the Faith-Based Initiative, it was formulated on the platform espoused by George Bush during his campaign, that of ‘compassionate conservatism’. We hear slogans being thrown around by politicians, in an appeal to sound caring and sympathetic to the plight of those who are somehow ‘less fortunate’. Empty platitudes such as ‘not a hand up, but a hand out’, or ‘give the people the tools so they can succeed,’ are blown around like so much chaff in a swirling breeze. So just what is this ‘Faith-Based Initiative’ and what are its implications for the future? How exactly does it conform to the Federal Government’s constitutional mandates as enumerated in the Constitution? Lastly, how should we, as freedom loving independent individuals, react and respond to this new ‘caretaker’ initiative? On January 29, 2001 President Bush submitted to the nation his declaration to implement his ‘Faith-Based Initiative’ program. Nary a word had been uttered previously as to this program, so I was quite taken aback when this initiative was being lined up to be signed that very day. In his remarks to those in the audience at the Indian Treaty Room of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Building, President Bush harkened back to his inaugural address: “As I said in my inaugural address, compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government. It is more than the calling of politicians; it is the calling of citizens. It is citizens who turn mean streets into good neighborhoods. It is citizens who turn cold cities into real communities.” In this quote he tips his hand when he insinuates that compassion is the work of the government, along with the work of the nation, as in all of us. This is said in an attempt to establish the fact that we as Americans are responsible to take care of those less fortunate. What is happening here is that charity and charitable giving is being promoted as a collectivist entity, being removed from its proper place of the individual’s contributions through voluntary choice. In essence, in order to appear to be legitimate, the government is attempting another social remedy via the ‘back-door approach’ by legislating voluntary giving through the auspices of religious organizations. Through religious organizations, which are essentially private enterprises, the government, by proxy, seeks to control the distributing of monies given voluntarily by individuals, with the intent to serve a specific group of people or causes. Another problem with the idea of the ‘Faith-Based Initiative’ crops up again in this same speech: “It is one of the great goals of my administration to invigorate the spirit of involvement and citizenship. We will encourage faith-based and community programs without changing their mission. We will help all in their work to change hearts while keeping a commitment to pluralism.” So it can be inferred that if an individual chooses not to voluntarily donate his hard earned money that he is not a good citizen. In this and the former quote, one can deduce that it is inherent and necessary to be imbued with a sense of altruism in order to be a good and worthy citizen of the United States. When governments use schemes such as this, in order to justify using tax money to further a political agenda, we are no longer in complete charge of the hard-earned fruits of our labors. We are then required, either by insinuation and innuendo, or by force as in taxation, to provide an avenue for the government to redistribute the money of the people. Again, on Thursday, December 12 in a speech to thousands of religious leaders, Bush stated, “When the federal government gives contracts to private groups to provide social services, religious groups should have an equal chance to compete.” In other words, by omission, it is the right and duty of the federal government to disburse these funds to any private group in the first place. What is being intimated here is that the government has a right to add new mandates authorizing it to use the people money in order to provide funding for social services. What is this then other than a conservative version of ‘The Great Society’? We all know how well that worked, don’t we? Society’s gullible and duped point out that the government is just providing an avenue to make it easier and more efficient to distribute the funds to where they will do the most good. Governments traditionally rely upon the naivete of this kind of thinking. Since when has anything the government ever proposed, or any government program ever been a model of efficiency. How is it that now, after 226 years of providing food, clothing, shelter, and comfort, our private institutions like churches are no longer capable of providing these services without government interference? Why is it that churches and other charitable agencies need to fill out paperwork for grants in order to provide help for the ‘downtrodden’ amongst us? “I approach this goal with some basic principles: Government has important responsibilities for public health or public order and civil rights. Yet government -- and government will never be replaced by charities and community groups. Yet when we see social needs in America, my administration will look first to faith-based programs and community groups, which have proven their power to save and change lives. We will not fund the religious activities of any group, but when people of faith provide social services, we will not discriminate against them. As long as there are secular alternatives, faith-based charities should be able to compete for funding on an equal basis, and in a manner that does not cause them to sacrifice their mission. And we will make sure that help goes to large organizations and to small ones as well. We value large organizations with generations of experience. We also value neighborhood healers, who have only the scars and testimony of their own experience.” I don’t know about all of you, but contained within these two paragraphs of the President’s speech is some very noticeable contradictions. Juxtapose the last sentence in the first paragraph of the above quote with the first sentence of the second paragraph. He says, “we will not fund the religious activities of any group” then he says, “ faith-based charities should be able to compete for funding”. Last I checked, religious activities of churches included charitable services. Right here is an example of government seeking to become the ‘benevolent caretaker’ of all its many children. Here we have one of the last vestiges of voluntary, no strings attached institutions, our religious organizations, and the nefarious fingers of government are inextricably weaving their way into them, and ultimately into our pocketbooks, once again. We, as a people, can not allow this invasion into the private sector to take place. The future implications of allowing government to decide and dictate how private charities should give and to whom is a slippery slope that we can not allow ourselves to slide down. With government, the old adage, give ‘em and inch and they take a mile’ is most apropos. Allowing government to fund charitable endeavor defeats the spirit of charity. Charity is not mandated; it is a wholly voluntary enterprise. Let’s fight to keep government out of our daily and private lives. Refuse to allow them to get a foothold into one of the values that we cherish – the right to determine if, when, and how we support charitable foundations. Most of all say no to Uncle Sam’s charity.
  2. The first and most fundamental of all natural rights is the right to own property. The basis for this is derived from the right to own one’s own body, which assists in outlining the right to self-defense, the right to be free from invading forces, and the right to peacebly conduct our day to day affairs. Since we are moral agents who own our own bodies, we need no permission from anyone else, or the state, in order to defend ourselves. Since we retain full ownership of ourselves, we have every right to defend ourselves. As such you have the right to do with your own body anything you see fit. As such you also must accept the responsibilities of said actions as well. Conversely, Except in the case of legitimate self-defense, it is a violation of a person's right to his own body to kill, mutilate, torture, kidnap, imprison, or have sexual contact with him without his consent. In other words, one does not have the right to initiate force against another person, in any form, other than self-defense and self-preservation. As a moral agent you have the right to choose for yourself and an obligation to let other moral agents choose for themselves. In order to physically own something, it must be something that can be appropriated and controlled. The laws of nature, celestial bodies, the air we breath are all examples of something not approbiable. As such, we can not be free from these. These laws of nature are immutable, and therefore no one can ever be free from them. They can not be owned, nor controlled individually or collectively. To be ownable something must exist, one cannot own that which currently does not exist. In order to morally partake of, as in the case of food, or control as in land, we must be able to establish and retain ownership. In order to be truly free, we must be able to own economic goods. I can ramble on, but in short, the right to own and control private property is the basis of liberty. One can not have one without the other. It is fundamental to our values of liberty to be able to exercise ownership and control of private property, whether it be goods we own, land that we own and control, or our own bodies. I imagine that you are familiar with the concept of The Homestead Principle. It is based on natural law, and basically articulates that by mixing your labor with unowned resources that those transformed resources become your property. This is built upon the premise that by using property that is already your own, such as your labor and your money, to transform a resource that belongs to no one, it becomes wholly yours and no one elses'. After legitimate ownership is established, then by voluntary contract between consenting parties, ownership of land can be transfered. Others have the same right as you have. It is the basis of free trade and exchange. Legitimately acquired property is yours to do with as you please, so long as you do not impede or abrogate another's rights in the process.
  3. A. West wrote: Well damn, I am completely devastated, your opinions and station in life meant so much to me. Unfortutately I see no libertarianism being practiced anywhere in the world, that is the problem. Really, do Objectivists not believe in the right of self-defense, along with the non-agression principle? Do not Libertarians and Objectivists believe in a self-policing free market? I see several areas where they are compatible. Objectivism has a political theory? Wow, is that why it is considered a school of political thought like Libertarianism, Conservatism, and Liberalism? How many candidates does the 'Objectivist Party' put forth on ballots nationwide? One day leading Objectivists support interventionists like Ronald Reagan and George Bush, the next they are lining up behind a socialist fool like John Kerry. I am of the opinion that Objectivism had better rethink its political philosophy, which pretty much can be summed up by 'Throwing the baby out with the bath water.' The only reason that Peikoff now supports Kerry is due to his perception that Bush will 'christianize' America. As if Kerry doesn't spout diatribes about faith. Now, granted, the infusion of religious dogma and doctrine into the political arena concerns me as well, but I certainly base my political support on more than just one issue. Ironic, isn't it, that you choose to engage me on this topic if it is so uninteresting to you? Fact is, you have a complete lack of manners and grace. I came here to engage in productive and friendly conversation, and I find myself the recipient of ad hominems, simply due to the fact that people here do not like libertarians.
  4. A. West, I pretty much read it the same way. Both men tried to cloud the issue, and certainly they couched their responses. However, much can be gleaned from what they said as well. The fusion of religious beliefs and politics is already being manifested through the President's so-called "Faith-based Initiative". Now if that isn't an example of the government becoming involved in the realm and scope of religion nothing else is. Talk about opening Pandora's Box. Wow! I wrote, and had published, an article on this very topic. In this article, I articulated very clearly the dangers inherent within this scheme, and how it is yet another example of government interference in the free market. I just might post it down in the "Essay Forum".
  5. Oakes, Funny that you'd mention the FSP. Those quotes lend no credibility to any debate, or argument, as far as the basis and fundamentals of libertarianism go. Nor do they speak for libertarianism or true minarchist libertarians. The FSP has become somewhat of a laughingstock within many in the LP, and certainly with genuine libertarians. True, it is made up and staffed with libertarians, and a few RLC types, but it has become an abject failure - due of course to politics and stubborn headed choices as far as a location for this experiment. Yeah, who'd have thunk it, right. Their premises, and motivations were correct, and initially their plans showed promise, but for all intents and purposes it died on the vine. They had an opportunity to choose a state to implement their plans that was of a small population, Montana or Wyoming, yet where did they choose? New Hampshire - right in the cradle of Northeastern establishment patrician Republicanism. Why, because the leaders were not about to uproot themselves, most were from New England. Just look at New Hampshire, how many LP members were on ballots in local and state elections? None. Hell, the LP failed to get on the ballot for the gubernatorial election. Yeah, great job FSP. The FSP does not speak for the Libertarian Party, nor is it officially sanctioned by the LP.
  6. Hi BurgessLau, Ah semantics! Ok, so I failed to uppercase Objectivist. Actually I should have stated that I consider myself a student of Objectivism. Since I am a deist rather than an atheist I suppose I couldn't really call myself an Objectivist anyway.
  7. TorturedOne, That was an excellent response, and I believe wholeheartedly in your assessment. Being a registered LP member myself, you articulated well the reasons I am politically a libertarian. I can never justify the reason for objectivists and libertarians to be so contrary to one another, they share many similar values. Hell, the founders of the LP based some of their fundamental doctrines on the writings of Ayn Rand, and you will find that the vast majority of libertarians hold Atlas Shrugged as one of their favorite books. Libertarianism is more of a political school of thought whereas objectivism is philosophical in nature. I consider myself a student of objectivism, and as such, I find the LP and libertarianism compatible with my political beliefs.
  8. I can not fathom how objectivist could even consider supporting John Kerry, the man who thinks government is the solution to every problem. Who supports minimum wage laws, nationalized healthcare, afterschool programs funded by the government, and increased taxes on the wealthy. Of course, President Bush is a lighter version of a socialist with perscription drug coverage, the so-called Faith-based Intitiative, No Child Left Behind, etc. I'm throwing my support behind Michael Badnarik, and while he doesn't possess the intellect of Harry Browne, he is a proponent of minarchist government and an unregulated free market. Supporting Kerry is atrocious, he is the most liberal of all US Senators save for maybe his drunken colleague - Chappiquidick Kennedy.
  9. Hi Oakes, Thanks for the welcome. I have enjoyed reading your responses on this board. If you are alluding to such historical events such as the secession of the southern states during the War of Northern Aggression, then of course states have a right to secede. When that right was abrogated by force and by invasion from the Lincoln Adminstration, the Confederate States of America, a soveirgn nation, had every right to defend itself. Because of wrong headed beliefs and the imposition of the federal government, Lincoln was able to succeed in his quest to largely centralize governmental power in Washington DC. Lincoln was one of the absolute worst of our presidents, and amongst libertarians you will find very few who have a high regard for Lincoln, FDR, LBJ, Truman, Nixon, Clinton, or Bush. In fact, our best presidents were the first five, and in the 20th century it was Calvin Coolidge. The right of secession is guaranteed to the states, but thanks to the exponential growth and scope of the federal government under Lincoln, Andrew Johnson , reconstruction, Wilson, and FDR, the Tenth Ammendment has all but been forgotten.
  10. True libertarianism believes this, that is why I, along with true libertarians are minarchists. As such I have no use for the absurdity of anarchy. It is just not workable. We believe in limited government as instituted by our Founding Fathers and articulated in the Constitution and BoR. As such I have no use for the absurdity of anarchy. It is just not workable. That is the government's purpose, to protect individual rights, to provide a conduit to redress grievences, and to provide for the common defense. Anything else is to be left to the private sector. Libertarians believe wholeheartedly in free enterprise and the capitalist system. Also, inherent in libertarian doctrine is that government has no business regulating the free market, that the free market works best when allowed to police itself and through competition.
  11. David, How is gun control possible under the Constitution? It is not. Only through the activism of the judiciary, along with the support of agenda driven, corrupt politicians can this be circumvented. The Constitution is very clear on this subject as articulated in the Second Ammendment. It guarantees the people the right to keep and bear arms. The government has no mandate via the Constitution to impose laws and restrictions on gun ownership. Maybe I should rephrase my argument. In the BoR their is no flaw. Certainly the 16th Ammendment, the 17th Ammendment, and the 18th are flawed, for they usurp natural law and natural rights. They were also illegally and unconstitutionally passed, especially the 16th (with the Taft-Hartley act) That was passed illegally because activist judges and politicians circumvented proper protocols and laws. Incidentally, all these ammendments were passed long after the deaths of our Founding Fathers. Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Monroe, Madison, Patrick Henry - none of them would have for a moment stood for that.. In reality, the BoR was all the was really intended as for the Constitution.
  12. There is nothing flawed in the Constitution. The Constitution means exactly what it says, and it means exactly what it states today as it did in 1787. The beauty and genius of the Constitution is that it is not what liberals call a "Living Document" open to the political interpretations and agendas of the day. It's genius is in its applicability, in its original intent, form, and literalness for all time. Objectivism is not a political school of thought, it is a philosophy. The best one, naturally, but it needs a political conduit. The LP and libertarianism is the perfect political conduit to infuse objectivist thought and rationality into politics and the government. Libertarianism is a political school of thought, which of course, can benifit tremendously through objectivist philosophy. The LP was greatly influenced by the objectivist movement, and many of its founders were followers of Ayn Rand's works. I do wish we could be more harmonious, we'd have a powerful political force, one in which would promote limited government and keep it subservient to individualism and the free market.
  13. Hi J Hall, Yes, I am familiar with all of this in that thread. I have been in many of these same discussions. While I respect the well written and well reasoned insights of each of those posters, I don't necessarily agree down the line with everything articulated in the thread. I do enjoy their logical discourse, of course that is what we expect from objectivists. I like this site, and I will be over here as much as time will allow. Like I stated before, my politics are libertarian, and I am a longtime registered LP member. Philosophically I consider myself a student of objectivism. I find my beliefs and values to be completely harmonious, and I believe that there is much more in common between libertarianism and objectivism than there are differences - especially since one tends to lend itself more to the realm of politics and the other to philosophy. Anyway, it is good to be here. See you all around on the board. Yours in liberty, Ed
  14. I wrote this article a couple of years ago and had it published in a couple of libertarian sites. It was also carried at Sierra Times. Now a little about myself. I consider myself an objectivist philosophically and a libertarian politically. I am curious to find out how the topic of privatizing education is viewed in objectivist circles.-EW Free Market Education – Solutions, Not Talk. by Edward J. Williamson As a long time libertarian many things stand out as abhorrent to me. Naturally, they involve government, more specifically bloated, self-important, caretaker government. More onerous yet, I find repugnant the recruiting arm of the government -–the one with the mandate to secure the future of collectivism – the Department of Education. We libertarians are well known, and on occasion, mocked for envisioning a society of privatized services, of turning the hounds of governmental agencies over to the influences and control of the free market. As if that were a bad thing! One of tenants of libertarianism is the goal of a completely privatized system of education. One that will be regulated by the forces of free enterprise, to grow and flourish through the time honored system of competition. A system of education that will both benefit the student while also benefiting the creative entrepreneur. Proposals for improving the quality of education abound like the grains of soil in a desert sandstorm, yet the overall quality of government education continues its insidious spiral downward toward complete and abject failure. Other than home schooling, a noble and worthy choice, two proposals most often crop up in libertarian debates, vouchers and privatization. Both give parents greater choice, but only complete privatization completely divests schools from government influence and control. We have been hearing for years now about the need for a voucher system. A system in which the government ‘gives’ parents money to be used to choose a school which meets their standards and mirrors the values that they wish to impart to their children. Although this does afford some choice and flexibility for parents, one must always remember that the government never ‘gives’ something for nothing. The government gift packages always come replete with attached strings. I happen to believe that vouchers are simply a way for the government to infuse their fingers into private education. Not long in following this voucher mania, will come the inevitable government guidelines for accepting these vouchers and the entire slate of rules and conditions that must be adhered to by schools who now hope to benefit from this 'windfall’. This is a Trojan Horse in the making. As soon as these private schools become dependent upon these new found funds, the list of government mandates will come spewing forth from the horse’s mouth, and what was once believed to be a private school will, for all intents and purposes, become one more notch on the belt of governmental conquests of the free market. Is that what we aspire to happen? I wonder just how many people can see this happening? That leaves two viable options in the quest of educational choice, home schooling, and the complete privatization of America’s educational system. Most of us are familiar with the great successes of home-schooled students. This is an endeavor that is both ideal, and requires a great deal of organizational skills, perseverance, and the ability to foster a love of learning in one’s own children. Not all parents can do this, either because they do not have the requisite time required to fully implement and carry out this program, or they are not equipped to do so. This leaves privatized education. How do we go about privatizing our educational system? How is it to be financed and supported? How do those from lower income families pay for the education of their children? Actually, turning over education to the free market is easy. A number of solutions can be implemented in order for schools to be self-supporting, profitable, and most importantly – efficient businesses that turn out a superior product. I am going to discuss one idea, an idea modeled after my own experience in a private secondary school. The purpose and goal of education should be, besides teaching the traditional subjects, to foster a love of learning, to teach students to think and set goals, and to equip them with the tools to succeed at a practical level. I attended a private high school in a rural setting. We had a large, school owned dairy, a poultry farm, a farm where alfalfa, wheat, and corn were grown, a packing plant, a well known book bindery, and a large commercial laundry. These industries were owned either by the school, private individuals associated with the school, or by partnership between individuals and the school. These industries employed both full-time adult workers and the students from the school. We had a vibrant work program, tailored to the students learning work skills, and at the same time earning money towards tuition. This was a boarding academy, with 80% of the students living in dormitories, and 20% living at home. All students were required to work as part of their educational experience. Seniors and sophomores attended classes from 7:50 A.M. to 12:10 P.M. From 1:30 P.M to 5:00 P.M. they were at work. Juniors and freshmen reversed the schedule, work in the morning and school all afternoon. In addition to the above mentioned industries, many students worked in campus maintenance and grounds, in the custodial departments, in food service, and some even served as ‘readers’ for teachers. Not only were we taught excellent academics, we also learned and garnered practical work experience, gained workplace skills, and learned to be financially responsible for some of our own upkeep. These enterprises were profitable as well. Students who worked in the packaging plant received a base pay plus a piecework bonus if they attained a certain level of production. In the other industries, we earned a going wage for minor workers. The bookbindery, for example, did superb work. They had contracts from publishers, public schools for textbook binding, libraries, and medical publications. Our dairy sold their products to other businesses. Our farm sold alfalfa hay to feed stores and fed our dairy cows. Our poultry farm sold eggs to area grocery stores. All were profitable. These profits, of course, rewarded the entrepreneurs, helped support the school, and provided means for students to help fund their education while at the same time gain valuable work experience. The fact that these industries had a large and ready supply of student workers kept the overhead low and the profits high. The school benefited because they received tuition money via a percentage of student earnings, received rent for the businesses’ housing, and each business agreed to pay a stipend to the school. It was a win-win situation for everyone all around. Many schools today, especially high schools and colleges can implement this very system. The students not only receive academics, academics that will certainly be far superior in a free market environment, but also receive valuable workplace experience and skills, as well as learning how to earn money and be responsible for at least part of their financial well-being while learning the value of a hard earned dollar.
  15. Hi Everybody, Great site you have here. Let me introduce myself. My screen name is who I am. Feel free to call me Ed. Politically I am a libertarian and an LP member, philosophically I consider myself an objectivist. Naturally my favorite author is Ayn Rand, with favorite book being Atlas Shrugged. I am a teacher in an upscale private school who believes strongly in the privatization of all education ( I know, typical libertarian LOL). I have never quite understood the anymosity between libertarians and objectivists, being that libertarianism is more in the realm of politics while objectivism is more philosophical. The two systems have much in common, with similar roots. Libertarianism is the perfect conduit for objectivist philosophy, much more compatible than the Democratic or Republican parties. As an objectivist I have always felt more at home in the LP than in any other party. Those are m thoughts, I'll delve into specifics in the politics forum. Hey, it is good to be here. I am an administrator at another political/opinion board, so I'll try to stop by when my duties allow. See you all on the board. Yours in liberty, Ed
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