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Found 10 results

  1. Shadow Banking

    Shadow banking is a topic I haven't heard discussed much, if at all, by Objectivists. Maybe I don't read enough Objectivist blogs or forums or listen to enough Objectivist podcasts. Anyway, I used the search function on this site and entered "shadow banking" but got no results. In a nutshell, there supposedly exists a vast "shadow banking system" that is mostly untouched by regulators. Investopedia defines it as follows: Then there's this from Investing Answers: And it goes on like this wherever you search on the subject. Every supposedly legitimate source treats this so-called "shadow banking system" that is allegedly shielded from regulations as a reality. Economist Paul McCulley is credited with coining the term in 2007, but supposedly this system has existed for decades without being threatened by lawmakers in any meaningful way. As the story goes, the shadow banking system played an important part in causing, or least exacerbating, the 2008 financial crisis. Wikipedia puts it thus: And: Variations on this narrative have been repeated by politicians, regulators and news analysts ever since the crisis, but it wasn't until a few years ago that the term "shadow banking" started to become mainstream (at least, that has been my observation). The term connotes a sinister conspiracy, and yet analysts and politicians in the know have apparently been well aware of these practices for a long time, going back to well before the subprime crisis. Leftist politicians like Bernie Sanders decry the SBS, but they don't actually do anything to regulate it in any meaningful way. Supposedly even Dodd-Frank did very little to address SBS practices. I have heard Objectivists argue that it's ridiculous to say the financial crisis was caused by lack of regulations, after all there were a ton of banking regulations in effect and basically it was the government's fault for creating a moral hazard after decades of repeated bank bailouts that only encouraged more risky lending. While these are reasonable arguments, they don't directly address the allegations that investment banks, at least prior to the meltdown, were not as heavily regulated as traditional depository banks, and so they were able to conceal their activities in the SBS until everything imploded (this is a deliberate oversimplification of the allegations, I am not heavily versed in lending jargon). Now, I'm sure that politicians and the media have exaggerated at least some facts about SBS practices, and probably have exaggerated the size and scope of the SBS, all in order to make the public scared of a rogue banking system that could easily run wild and cause a repeat of 2008. Nevertheless, I'm very interested to know just exactly how true their claims are. Is all of it B.S., or just some of it?
  2. Future of Objectivism

    I am genuinely interested to know what your views are on the future of Objectivism. There are different ways you could go about answering this; as long as it is constructive you can answer it how you choose. For some examples, your focus might be the practical application of the philosophy to how you live your life. It might be more to do with expanding the influence of Objectivism. It might be creating a new community. To what extent do you think its possible in your lifetime?
  3. A thought I’ve been “chewing” on is the application of the Floating Abstraction Fallacy. I would like some critical feedback on a theory I’ve been working on. First, just as a reminder, from the wiki in Fallacy of the Floating Abstraction: The fallacy of the "floating abstraction" is Ayn Rand's term for concepts detached from existents, concepts that a person takes over from other men without knowing what specific units the concepts denote. I’d add only for purposes of this discussion that any value the Floating Abstraction does have in a discussion is due to the pervasiveness (authority) of the speaker and the willingness of the listener to accept it. This will be important in a moment. Now economics and money: The gold standard is… well the gold standard of money discussion in several theories, including Oism. As a commodity it is a real value connected to wealth creation, or daily work and trade. It isn’t the actually work, like corn or a forged plow, but due to having a universally recognized value can be traded for such stuff. From there you get into pricing theory which is beyond where I want to go. What is important is that gold (or any other similar commodity) is a universal value that represents specific values in the market place. Gold as money is a universal value representing real items created or earned. Fiat Money however can be printed ad hoc and manipulated since it is not connected to any standard. There is no actual connection to real wealth in the market place, which is why it is popular as this allows it to be printed on demand. Money is a universal value which developed attached to existents in the market place, but frequently today is not attached to existents so it can be manipulated by the issuer. It is printed and has value based solely on the promise of the issuing authority and the willingness of the recipients to accept its value. You can say that Inflation is simply the process of Money returning to the intristic value of what it is printed on. That leads me to an observation: Fiat Money is the economic equivalent of a Floating Abstraction. It is detached from its existents and taken over by a Government which doesn’t know or cares about the specific concepts it denotes and came. Critical thoughts are welcome
  4. Outside of a few individuals I realize this is preaching to the choir, but with new blood rolling through I thought it would be good to once again visit the embarrassing trend of Krugman discrediting himself through blatant dishonesty. I honestly thought I was getting something better when a friend pointed out the following to me. Lesson learned. You can read the full story here from his hit Blog: Here. Here is the meat of the subject: “The blog Social Democracy for the 21st Century has a fascinating post about Austrian patron saint Ludwig von Mises in the Great Depression, and his attempts to make sense of what was happening. It’s a revealing story, because it bears so much resemblance to current right-wing flailing – and also highlights the lessons Keynes tried to teach but so few, economists included, have been willing to learn. First of all, as the blog tells it, von Mises, faced with the reality of depression, basically dropped Austrian business cycle theory, and for the very reason people like me have always had trouble taking it seriously. (Yes, yes, we don’t grasp the depth and profundity of a theory that can never fail, it can only be failed.) ABCT is essentially a story about the excesses of the boom; it offers no clear or plausible story about how that boom leads to a sustained slump. And von Mises was in effect already conceding that point by 1931.” I about fell out of my chair when I read this first part since the dishonesty literally jumped off the page. I’ll take it from the top and ignore the smears he sets up (which is actually the real purpose here): Mises never conceded any point, having both spoken and written on it he continue to support his theories his whole life. Both are documented which leads up to... Austrian theory does offer a theory regarding the Depression as well as why it was extended further than previous recessions/depressions. He was confident in his theories since… He put these theories to practice in Austria post WWI and the economy turned around. He would have no reason to ignore his theories – This is text book knowledge. You can disagree with his ideas but you can’t say he ignored his own theories since he considered them integral to his own history. Speaking of that… Misses did NOT say that excessive wages and trade unions caused the Depression, he said they extended it by not allowing prices and trade agreements to react to market changes. His theory of business cycle goes into why the depression happened. Again, this is documented in speeches and in writing. As to why Krugman is lying to his readers, outside of the usual desire to prop up collectivist Keynesian theories, must be this: “So what was the story? According to vM, it was excessive wages — trade unions were demanding too much, and unemployment benefits were leaving workers insufficiently desperate. Sound familiar? It should — it is, essentially, the current Republican story, in which unemployment is high because we’re being too nice to the unemployed — that, as I like to say, soup kitchens caused the Great Depression.” This hit peace is ignoring basic ideas from Mises so it can serve as political poo tossing that the liberal-conservative monkeys like to throw at each other in place of a real discussion. I haven’t heard the few conservatives I know of say this, incidentally, but perhaps someone has so I’ll reserve judgment on his honesty in their position too. What is sad as that instead of offering up real differences and discussing the economics involved in a meaningful way (the toss in at the end, not included, is incidental and only offers talking points to round out the smear job at the beginning), he white washes facts (again) to score meaningless political points to those who already accept collectivist economic policy. I would have enjoyed a cross discussion. I got errors that I can remember and I haven’t picked up a Mises book in at least 5 years. As a specialist in economics who writes on this theory, he has no excuse. He is either mind numbingly dense or he is being dishonest. Either way, he does propagate the myth however to those who rely on experts to give them truth so they can make informed decisions. I honestly don’t know why I even clicked the link and looked. I should know better that to expect otherwise from Krugman at this point. Thoughts?
  5. “ON THE OFFICIAL ESTABLISHMENT OF UNITED STATES SPACE TERRITORY” What new fact will scientists discover about the universe that is as rich as Benjamin Franklin’s discoveries about the nature of electricity? What will be the next invention as rich as Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press? How will such advancements drastically enhance human life? When will humans finally explore, colonize, and terraform Mars and beyond? When will more Americans value exploration, discovery and invention? Once they do, the value of human existence will increase, and as a result we will enjoy a richer economy. Unfortunately communists are in an ideological war against exploration, discovery, and invention. Their tactic is deceptive and relies on lying about the nature of such acts; that they are not individualistic in effort, and thus, no private property exists as a result; only uncooperative, disruptive claims of private property. Everything, the communists claim, exists for the sake of the collective; even your thoughts, for if your thoughts disrupt society’s hypnotic state you are to be condemned and shunned. So long as an individual is altruistic, nothing he or she thinks and produces can be more valuable than anything anyone else thinks and produces. This means a communist economy is mediocre by nature. Note that even the Chinese government knows that pure communism makes for a disastrous economy and thus mixes their economy with a public and private sector. Among the facts which the Chinese government is yet to discover is that a mixed economy is likewise disastrous, and is still communist in nature, and preserves its control of the economy by hypocritical means. If you think the Chinese economy is booming, that is only in contrast to the declining, communizing, American economy which is psychotically obliterating itself with debt (some of which it owes to China). If the American economy was more capitalistic, and more Americans were pioneers, the mediocrity of the Chinese economy would be much more obvious to the superficial observer. Communists know that communist economies are mediocre. They believe in a mediocre economy; they just won’t use the word “mediocre”. Instead, they say they believe in an economy most suitable for the “average worker”; or in Karl Marx’s words: “the proletariat”. President Obama has so fierce a hatred for the individual, and private property, that he led an attempt to force every American to purchase health insurance. His hope was that by forcing everyone to purchase health insurance, they would think there was no time to waste searching for the best possible insurance policy, and would instead rush to a government sponsored policy, which would then cause the price of private insurance policies to skyrocket and repel consumers. He wants Americans to surrender their self-determination, their individuality, and their private property. Obama is even attempting to force Christian institutions to provide birth control as part of their health insurance policies despite their religious opposition to doing so and their first amendment right to act on that opposition. Ultimately, the president is attempting to force us to produce and consume what he wants us to produce and consume. The fact that he has been somewhat successful in his evil ambitions indicates that pioneering, i.e., discovering and/or inventing, in America has declined drastically. Despite what some people may say, the American economy is, in Herman Cain’s words “on life support”. This life support is made possible by the few unrelenting capitalists who vocally and actively oppose communism. Although this life support gives me confidence, so long as there exists a gang of communists supporting president Obama, we are being enslaved, and our economy will weaken. The best solution to this problem is communicating not only the ethical justification of capitalism; it also requires capitalistic action, specifically, actual pioneering, and articulating the value of pioneering and that which is pioneered. If enough people do this, our culture will thrive. In order to pioneer, one must have a rich, ethical value hierarchy. This requires the possession of rational principles, understanding the relationship between principles and values, and understanding the nature of values. The pioneer rationally evaluates his/her surroundings, and then introspects, based on his/her logical hopes and personal ideals, in search of something rational and new to produce. The pioneer is either a scientist or an inventor. The basic source of pioneering is an individual’s logical hopes. A logical hope is a logical, and passionate wish. Unfortunately logical hopes tend to be condemned by the apathetics. Apathetics not only condemn the logical hopes of pioneers, they condemn their own logical hopes. This is evident by how rare logical hope is. That is because logic itself is so widely condemned and incorrectly defined. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. The distinguishing characteristic of the concept “logic” is “non-contradiction”, i.e., identifying facts. Wikipedia, which exists to completely obliterate human intelligence, (and given its popularity is quite successful in doing so) has a disturbing article on logic. Wikipedia defines logic as “the philosophical study of valid reasoning”. What is valid reasoning? Blank out. Eventually the term “non-contradiction” appears but it is not mentioned as a fact. The law of non-contradiction, says Wikipedia, is ambiguous. There is nothing ambiguous about the fact that existence exists and a=a. So long as people surrender their reason to the evil of Wikipedia, logic and its psychological manifestation, logical hope, will remain rare. Actively feeling intense logical hope is the first indication that one is thriving or is on one’s way to thriving. It is one of the best emotional experiences one can have. Twelve years ago I read a novel entitled The Cage, by Ruth Minsky Sender, which is about Sender’s experience in Auschwitz. In the novel, she often repeated to herself, a very valuable mantra: “if there is life, there is hope”. It is worth noting that she survived Auschwitz. I should like to add to that: if there is logical hope, there is indeed a logical way to get that which is hoped for. When you have a logical hope, you constantly think about and discuss it. This does two things: 1) since you reiterate your logical hope to your subconscious at a higher frequency, you increase the efficiency of your consciousness getting you what you logically hope for. 2) You share your logical hopes with other people, and even if those among you are completely irrational, so long as they are conscious, regardless of whether or not they are receptive to what you suggest to them, their subconscious’s are at least open to your suggestion, i.e., it records your suggestion. If you make the same suggestion persistently enough, people persistently have to reject or accept your suggestion. The postmodern communists understand this and that is why they dominate the media: so they can reiterate the same evil suggestions over, and over, and over again, to an audience ill equipped to reject and refute their suggestions. But if truth, and evidence of truth is communicated more persistently, the postmodern communists will be incapable of countering all of it and will eventually have to either concede and face reality or attempt to evade it so consumingly that their ideological movement will become greatly weakened, if not obsolete. For example, the segregationists of the 1960’s were defeated, and speaking of the 1960’s, today far less people smoke now than they did then. The best illustration of this point is the fact that so many people use technology, i.e., they accept its high value. Why? Because those who promote the use of technology do so more persistently than those who do not. If scientists, i.e., people who believe in reason, are more persistent in arguing in favor of their beliefs than the postmodern communists, it will stimulate the culture and eventually incite a Renaissance. Consider a rational culture of scientists. People would be more productive not only in the sense that they will be busier but in the sense that they will be producing things which they live for, and which are of high value- this as opposed to resentfully producing junk exclusively for the sake of “paying the bills”. This means: a booming economy: everyone producing and consuming out of love for ingenuity. But currently, postmodern communism is the predominant ideology world-wide and continues to gain more traction. As communistic as the country has been throughout the decades, we were actually heading closer towards more capitalism than more communism courtesy of the technological boom that reached its prime and began declining in the early 2000’s. The technological boom was capitalism’s best defense. The technological boom said to all humans, “look what a human can do when a human is free to produce whatever he or she wants and keep his or her profit!”. Even despite the fact that tax rates were higher during the communistic Clinton administration, the 1990’s saw a stunning and beautiful technological boom. That is because the beauty of new technology still trumped the culture’s frustration with unethical high tax rates. Innovation took priority. I am so grateful to have witnessed, as a child, the contrast of life before and after the internet gained popularity and sophistication. The essence of that contrast was representative of the economy in general, which saw a massive leap in human ability, technological advancement and thus a new, rich, stimulating, life enhancing marketplace which included digital cameras, cellphones, websites, laptops, DVDs, video game systems, Viagra, iPods, digital cable with movies on demand, the International Space Station, et cetera. The innovators, however, despite their capitalistic tendencies, clearly had no understanding of complete metaphysical objectivity and thus surrendered their minds to the postmodern communists. I submit to you, lyrics of a song by a top selling music group which indicates the passionate irrationality of top selling producers, and the passionate irrationality of most consumers: “Science has failed our world Science has failed our mother Earth Science fails to recognize the single most potent element of human existence Letting the reigns go to the unfolding Is faith, faith, faith, faith… Spirit-moves-through-all-things” (“Science”; System of a Down; Doran Malakian, Serj Tankian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan) Each person who has bought that song or that belief is indeed part of a system bring down civilization. Science has not failed our world. Science tells you not to eat a poisonous berry and that if you do you will die. Science made possible the technology used by “System of a Down” to produce and sell that unethical song. Science reveals that the single most potent element of human existence is reason. Without reason “System of a Down” would not have words, i.e., names of concepts, to scream out. System of a Down is nothing but a group of psychotics screaming in a psychological mix of extreme anger and deep, thorough confusion; i.e., they are a bunch of men throwing a very disruptive tantrum. (It should not surprise you, by the way, that “System of a Down” is the psychological result of long term Soviet communism. Even though Russia is no longer “officially” a communist country, and Armenia -where the members of “System of a Down” come from- is no longer part of Russia, the psychological ramifications of living under the tyranny of complete communism do not disappear out of thin air.) This hatred of science is extremely dangerous to every aspect of human existence. When a large number of people pay brats to throw tantrums and throw tantrums with them, there is no question that the economy is in a crisis. We need a return to science. Do you notice that science does not make many news headlines today? There is a reason why. Because science is good for the economy and the communists do not want a thriving economy. If the economy is thriving nobody would cling to them for sustenance. Because science is capitalistic by nature, because if the people in the media reported on scientific discoveries, they could only give you the facts and rational commentary, which they do not want to do. Science must return to the news headlines. And by science I do not mean subjective speculations and bogus hypotheses. I mean logically proven facts and following the leads of the timeless pioneers; pioneers such as Aristotle, Johannes Guttenberg, Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Iassac Newton, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, John Locke, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John D. Rockefeller, Anne Sullivan, Maria Montessori Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., Ayn Rand, Steve Jobs, Robert Zubrin, et cetera. We must study them, their curiosities, their methods, their efforts, and their ideals. You will note that even despite their ideological disparities, despite sometimes only being selectively rational, they were all, to extreme degrees, scientific. They were cultural leaders, and the amassers of tremendous wealth. A major consequence of the widespread rejection of science is the widespread belief in the lie that we have somehow drained all of our resources, or that we are severely limited in resources. Even if they do not say it, the fact that our economy is so poor is evidence that they believe it. Scientists and inventors know there are more resources in the universe than each of us could evaluate in a lifetime. There is only one basic resource and only one basic tool in existence: the universe, and reason. The universe is the domain of existence. That means anything that exists, exists in the universe. The nature of the universe is slightly comparable to how mystics regarded their mythological “God” in that it is to be worshipped however, worship is not engagement in a passive state of oblivious awe. To the contrary: to worship is to understand and optimize the use of. To worship the universe we must explore it, study it, and use it for the sake of thriving. Our knowledge of the universe is primitive. We do not know its magnitude. Many people speculate but they do so with a microscopic speck of evidence that is far too limiting. Given how ignorant we are about the universe, and how little of it we have had a glance at, it is illogical to assume that there are no useful resources hidden in rare Earth-like oases. It is furthermore, irrational not to at least search for them. Likewise, it is irrational to assume aliens do not exist, and even if they do not, it is irrational not to search for them, and then rationally conclude that Earth is the only planet in the universe which hosts life. If we explore, understand, and optimize the universe for human use, we will continually thrive, which is our ultimate value; our chief purpose. How do we know this? Our basic tool, reason, confirms it. For a brief elaboration on reason, I shall quote John Galt from Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged: “Man cannot survive except by gaining knowledge and reason is his only means to gain it. Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies, and integrates the material provided by his senses. The task of his senses is to give him the evidence of existence, but the task of identifying it belongs to his reason; his senses tell him only that something is, but what it is must be learned by his mind. All thinking is a process of identification and integration. Man perceives a blob of color; by integrating the evidence of his sight and his touch, he learns to identify it as a solid object, he learns to identify the object as a table; he learns that the table is made of wood; he learns that the wood consists of cells; that the cells consist of molecules, and that the molecules consist of atoms. All through this process, the work of his mind consists of answers to a single question: what is it? His means to establish the truth of his answers is logic and logic rests on the axiom that existence exists. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. A contradiction cannot exist. An atom is itself, and so is the universe; neither can contradict its own identity; nor can a part contradict the whole. No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the total sum of his knowledge. To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict one’s self from the realm of reality. “Reality is that which exists. The unreal does not exist; the unreal is merely that negation of existence which is the content of a human consciousness when it attempts to abandon reason; reason, man’s only means of knowledge, is his only standard of truth”. (p. 930) One of the universe’s basic properties is space, and it is within space which all aspects of the universe exist. There are three major types of space: outer space, mind, and media. Outer space is obviously the primary type of space. It is physical space, and consists of matter and energy. It is therefore, the content of human consciousness. Just like lungs need oxygen in order for a human to breathe, the mind needs to perceive physical space in order to think. The mind cannot advance if we do not further explore outer space. Instead, it will atrophy via depreciation. The mind consists of consciousness and subconsciousness. It operates via thought. A thought navigates the mind’s attention and the body’s actions. In order for one’s mind, and moreover, one’s self to thrive it must rationally evaluate outer space. Since no human is omniscient, in order to maximize one’s intelligence, one must trade evaluations via media. Media is published space, and consists of information. (I say information as opposed to knowledge because not everything in the media, in fact, much of the media, is not true. Information is distinct from knowledge or fact because information can be true or false and thus is defined as communicated, published thought.) The internet is the ultimate form of media since it is the most efficient network of mass communication. It is by evaluating contemporary media that we may evaluate our culture. Since most of contemporary media evades science it is extremely impoverished. Unless people rationally reevaluate outer space- the subject of science- their minds, and thus our media will continually atrophy. People must invest- in whatever way rationally suits themselves- more thought, action, and money in outer space. Specifically, the time has come to revive space exploration and begin space colonization and terraforming. To do this, we need a vision for the future. In the words of Robert Zubrin, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (The Case For Mars ;p. xvi) Robert Zubrin’s vision of the future takes us all the way to Mars! A terraformed Mars! He writes, “There are real and vital reasons why we should venture to Mars. It is the key to unlocking the secret life of the universe. It is the challenge to adventure that will inspire millions of young people to enter science and engineering, and whose acceptance will reaffirm the nature of our society as a society of pioneers. It is the door to an open future, a new frontier on a new world, a planet that can be settled, the beginning of humanity’s career as space faring species with no limits to its resources or aspirations as it continues to push outward into the infinite universe beyond.” (p.xvi) While Robert Zubrin sees a path to Mars, he does not, in his book The Case For Mars, identify how the United States government should be involved in the matter. He proposes several ways the government could be involved, however he is not committed to any single proposal. Furthermore, he makes no mention of property rights.... (to read the rest of the essay, visit http://seanoconnorliterature.com/2012/06/04/on-the-official-establishment-of-u-s-space-territory/ )
  6. Natural Monopoly redux

    There has been a little discussion of the objectivist view on natural monopolies, but I haven’t seen any answers which fairly square up to the problem, so I’ll re-ask the question: Why should or shouldn’t the government regulate a natural monopoly? It’s important to understand, first off, what is meant by natural monopoly because there is often confusion over this. A natural monopoly does not exist merely because initial investment costs are high, though this is a central feature of a natural monopoly. Additionally, a natural monopoly does not exist merely because a duplication of infrastructure is messy. And lastly, though there have been industries wrongly treated as natural monopolies, this does not preclude the existence of natural monopolies. A natural monopoly situation exists where initial investment costs (fixed costs) are high, but after that it is very cheap to add new customers, to provided more and more of a product. I’ll use as an example a company that transports natural gas across long distances. It’s very expensive to acquire tracts of land and lay down miles of 48” pipelines, but once those investments are made operating costs are fairly low. That is, relative to the initial cost, delivering a high volume of gas is not that much more expansive than the delivering a low volume; the cost of servicing 10 customers is not much different than the cost of servicing 100 customers. In this situation, costs are typically recovered over a long period of time, often decades. The problem in this situation is the market naturally does not support more than one provider. In a true natural monopoly it is economically irrational (unprofitable) for a competitor to enter the market. Here's explanation, which can be skipped if all the above makes sense: With all that said, my question again is: Do objectivists believe that it is wrong for the government to regulate pricing in this context? Why? I really hope to get an answer that squarely works within the parameters of a natural monopoly context. Meaning, please do not say “there are always alternatives,” or “no one needs natural gas” or “government regulation of pricing is inherently wrong.” This is skirting the question. Just to be clear, not everything is a natural monopoly. Often something gets labelled a natural monopoly when it isn’t one. A company that wants to build and sell cruise ships requires enormous resources at the outset, but no one would call this a natural monopoly context. People used to think air travel was a natural monopoly, but this turned out to be wrong; regulating airlines was only for the benefit of the airlines, the regulators, and perhaps some politicians. Still, there are instances where it is simply economically irrational for more than one company to enter the market. The result of this is a natural monopoly, and it isn’t a government creation. Rather it is a complex implication of economic laws operating in the real world. My understanding is that Objectivism doesn’t posit that government regulation is simply inherently wrong; rather, it’s that government interference in the market is a fundamental deprivation to individuals because competition in a free market is the medium through which individual self-realization is possible. But if the market will not support competition, I don’t understand how regulation could be wrong.
  7. The Fed Will Save Us!

    Before seeing the ridiculous regulatory board, I came across this very interesting article. While noting the Fed has done little to help 'unemployment' (Even if this is a good way to measure the health of the economy) he still seems to feel like the Fed has supernatural powers to just save the economy. Very unsettling for an advocate of liberty. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/federal-reserve-to-disclose-more-details-on-plans-for-low-interest-rates/2012/01/23/gIQAp2BHMQ_story.html
  8. A major criticism of Objectivism is that Rand talks a lot about the objective value life, yet fails to recognize (or intentionally leaves out) that production and creation do not follow from this value of "life." Do men need reason to survive? Yes. But if it's necessary to use Rand's philosophy to survive, this premise begs the question of how men survived before Rand came along. I think this argument is flawed in many ways, but it does point to a flaw I feel is in Objectivism. Yes- we need reason to survive. But how does it follow production is a moral virtue? Rand defines virtue as how one acts to attain a value. A value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. If building skyscrapers is something to be admired- why? Why is the person who builds a skyscraper more virtuous than a Transcendentalist who goes to live in a shack in the woods? The problem here, I believe, is the failure of Objectivism to explicitly state a "lemon test" on how and why a certain value would be objective instead of mindlessly self-indulgent. If I wanted money, would this be a legitimate value or not? Would it virtuous for me to become a porn director? What if I value lying in the sun instead of making steel? Why is the Objectivist hero the man that moves the world? What if I feel my happiness can be better served doing nothing? I'm assuming Objectivism's answer to this is that life must be furthered. Just as a lion does not have the leg of a deer and say "I'm done", as a tree doesn't grow 4 feet tall and die, man too must further his life and survival. Steel mills, smokestacks, industry, and skyscrapers are all examples of this. The critic could ask that life would be furthered in what way? How has Objectivism come to the conclusion that the furtherment of life entails industry? Again the question must be asked whether these other things would be valued by Objectivists. It is because man survived by adjusting his background to himself that industry is desirable? What of the men before technology? -- While you're contemplating your answer to that question, I would like to talk about this in terms of the whole Mises economic theory. If I understand it correctly, (Which may or may not be true) Mises held that values were ultimately subjective- that what they value today they may or may not value tomorrow. Additionally, how they act and what they buy today may or may not be the same as tomorrow, and even if they were consistent in simple situations, that does not mean they will be consistent in complex situations. Thus his support for "a-priori" knowledge and opposition to empirical evidence. I'm not exactly sure what the Objectivist take on this would be. Do the values that Mises talks about mean economic values (i.e. Pepsi or Coke), whereas Rand is referring more to abstract, philosophical values? Can they co-exist? Are they in complete opposition? What is the Objectivist view of Emprical Evidence in economics? I know there were *some* threads about this, but none really made sense to me. When talking about the last part, please try to dumb it down please and thanks.
  9. As a student, I often find myself arguing with socialists. I have organised many debates with socialists, and am holding conferences in Austrian economics. Doing everything I can with my knowledge, in order to persuade socialists to understand economics, capitalism and rights... I am still young however, so I'm sure there are better methods than I have used to convince people. (i.e. YouTube videos of Friedman, Sowell and Rand) Which tools and methodology (i.e praxeology, natural rights &etc) would you recommend to undertake this task? Thanks for all suggestions, Samuel Marks
  10. Hello all, The first thing I would like to do as a new member is to inform you that I have recently started an objectivism inspired blog that comments on current events in economics, and politics. Please check it out at... http://theindividualistman.blogspot.com/ ... and feel free to share with me any reactions you may have. Thank you. I am a long term Ayn Rand enthusiast and truly believe that Objectivism is the only logical way to optimize the individual's as well as society's success and well being. I am an economist by education and an entrepreneur in life. I have studied most of Rand's works and have read and re-read, a bunch of times, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountain Head. They are my two absolute favorite books ever. My interests in life are: economics, politics, philosophy, health, chess, Italy (the cuisine, the country, the language), and sports. I am pleased to be part of your online society. Kind regards, Sven
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