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  1. What is abortion?

    Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the induced removal of the fetus which results in the death of the fetus.

    There are two issues raised in abortion debates:

    • Does a fetus have a right to be in a woman’s body against her will?
    • Does the government have the right to restrict reproductive rights to pursue social objectives?

    Anti-abortionists confuse the potential with the actual

    A human being is a physically distinct being who survives by the use of reason. Prior to birth, a fetus is to a human being what an apple is to an apple tree, or an egg to a chicken. A fetus may superficially resemble a human being, but it is no more a baby than an embryo inside an egg is a chick - a picture is not an argument. It has the potential to be a human being, but does not become an actual human being until it is born.

    There is no right to be a parasite

    Rights derive from the fact that human beings need freedom from the coercion of others in order to live. Two properties are essential for a being to possess rights: physical independence and the capacity for rational thought. “Physical independence” means that a being’s existence is necessarily dependent on the sustenance of another.

    A fetus is not an independent entity - in order to live, it must drain the resources of the mother – it is literally a parasite until it is born. A newly-born infant is also helpless, but it does not impose a burden on the mother by its very existence - others may choose to provide for it. A parent who chooses to bring an human being into the world accepts an obligation to ensure that it is provided for, but until that choice is made, the fetus has no more right to live of the mother than a thief has to live on other’s wealth.

    Humans own their own body

    The most fundamental of rights is the right to one’s own life, which means the right to own one’s body. A woman’s body is not the property of the state or society, to be controlled by majority rule. Just as it would be unjust to violate a woman by raping her, so it is evil to force her to remain pregnant.

    Pro-rights is the only consistent pro-life, pro-family position

    “Responsible parenthood involves decades devoted to the child’s proper nurture. To sentence a woman to bear a child against her will is an unspeakable violation of her rights: her right to liberty (to the functions of her body), her right to the pursuit of happiness, and, sometimes, her right to life itself, even as a serf. Such a sentence represents the sacrifice of the actual to the potential, of a real human being to a piece of protoplasm, which has no life in the human sense of the term. It is sheer perversion of language for people who demand this sacrifice to call themselves ‘right-to-lifers.’ “

    — Leonard Peikoff (Objectivism, in the Chapter on Government)

    Further reading

    OneMinuteCase?i=VJ2FaXZy OneMinuteCase?i=kyaCQEIM OneMinuteCase?i=vM9hAjLj OneMinuteCase?i=LK8kYnKj OneMinuteCase?i=JpazMAu3

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  2. Antitrust punishes the best companies

    The list of antitrust targets reads like a Who’s Who of American business success stories. Standard Oil Company, Alcoa Aluminum Company, IBM, and Microsoft, are just a few. These companies were pioneers in developing new and beneficial products. Who doesn’t benefit from cheaper gasoline using methods pioneered by Rockefeller, the aluminum foil and light-weight aluminum parts invented by Alcoa, or the computer revolution, first in mainframes by IBM, and then in personal computing by Microsoft? These companies pioneered new industries and offered new products that were widely demanded by customers. The huge demand for their products and their large marketshare was a sign of how successful these companies were in selling products that many people wanted. Yet, that market share became the basis for antitrust lawsuits.

    Antitrust is used by unscrupulous companies against their competitors

    An honest businessman competes by selling a better product. It is not a coincidence that it is usually second and third-tier companies who use antitrust to hammer a more successful competitor. What does it say about the competitive spirit of a company that must cry to “mother” (i.e., the Federal Trade Commission) when the competition gets too tough? Antitrust is used by less successful businessmen to stifle competition.

    Antitrust is arbitrary and non-objective; it is bad law

    A good law is easy to understand and apply, so that one clearly knows in advance what is a crime and what is not a crime. Antitrust laws make it impossible to know whether one is committing a crime. Under antitrust, it can be illegal to charge less than your competitor (that is considered “price gouging” or “dumping”), to charge the same price as a competitor (that could be “collusion” or “oligarchy”), or to charge a higher price than your competitor (that could be “monopolistic behavior” or “destroying consumer surplus”). Thousands of lawyers and regulators extract hundreds of millions of dollars out of the economy wrestling with these questions. No one should be subject to such arbitrary law.

    Capitalism doesn’t need antitrust

    The great successes in business were achieved by companies that began small, and became large through innovation and lower prices. Antitrust did not make those successes happen. On the contrary, antitrust is poised like a guillotine at the throats of every businessman who has the foresight, perseverance and pluck to become successful. His very success, his large market share, puts a target on his back for unscrupulous competitors and eager bureaucrats.

    Further reading

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    View the full post.
  3. Restricting immigration violates individual rights

    The founding principle of the United States is that “all men” are endowed with “certain unalienable Rights“. These rights are inherent to our nature as human beings, not privileges granted by the government. It is unjust to protect the rights of some but violate the rights of others because of their place of birth.

    Immigration is non-coercive; restricting immigration is

    A foreigner does not steal from anyone when he pays to buy a house or a car - he benefits both parties. But the government engages in coercion when it forbids a citizen from selling to, hiring, or doing business with a foreigner. There is no right to be protected from being outbid for one’s goods or labor just because one’s competitor is a foreigner. As long as immigrants are peaceful, the government has no right to treat them like criminals by preventing them from engaging in the same voluntary transactions as any other American.

    Immigrants make us richer

    Every self-supporting worker produces more than he consumes, adding to total output and raising the real wage rate for everyone. The notion that immigrants cause unemployment is based on the fallacious idea that the total output of a country is fixed, and can only be divided among its residents. But historically, the American standard of living rose fastest during peak immigration periods and continues to rise today. Our greatest source of wealth is not natural resources or the capital base, but the ingenuity and creativity of our entrepreneurs and workers. Each new American creates not only new demand, but also provides the supply and insight to meet that demand.

    Immigrants are not at fault for welfare abuse

    Immigrants are often blamed for living on the public dole. But being born in a particular country does not give anyone a right to the property of others. American welfare bums don’t have any more right to other’s wealth than Mexican bums. It’s the welfare state that’s immoral, not immigration. This argument is also contradicted by legislative efforts to punish the employers of illegal immigrants, and the fact that illegal immigrants and permanent residents are generally not eligible for welfare.

    Immigrants epitomize the American Dream

    Whether they come here to escape political oppression or simply the pervasive poverty of socialist states, immigrants who come here seeking a free, productive life embody the American spirit. They have shown by their actions than they are far better Americans than most people born in the U.S. While most Americans don’t even bother to vote, they abandon their former life and culture and risk everything to embrace the American dream. Upon coming to America, they are usually more successful than their native born-counterparts.

    Further reading

    “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    -”The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

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  4. Atheism is the lack of belief

    Atheism is the lack of belief in the existence of gods. It is not a belief system or a religion but the denial that supernatural beings exist. There are atheists with all sorts of philosophies and beliefs.

    You’re already an atheist

    Even if you believe in a god, you probably don’t believe in other gods - Zeus, Osiris, Jupiter, Thor, Allah or Jesus. It’s hypocritical to be skeptical in the holy book, revealed prophets, miracle stories, or holy men of all religions but yours. You are an atheist when it comes to everyone else’s gods, so why give your god a free pass?

    The burden of proof is on the theist

    Can you prove that an invisible pink elephant is not floating above your head? How does one prove a negative in the absence of evidence? Theists make the exceptional claim that there is a god. That claim requires exceptional proof. The burden of proof is on the theist to prove God exists.

    By using reason and science, humans have been expanding our knowledge of the world. Yet religionists continue to claim that there exists a supernatural realm immune to reason. Where is their proof? If a god is needed to create the universe, what created God? Rather than offer proof, mystics have often tried to silence and discredit those who reveal the complexity and majesty of the universe.

    There are natural explanations for the universe

    What keeps flowers from turning into rocks, or rocks from floating in the sky? It’s not the will of a supernatural deity, but the fact that flowers are not rocks, and gravity keeps things on the ground. The universe operates according to causal principles, without the need for any supernatural power to keep things from getting chaotic.

    Morality does not require religion

    Religious texts can offer moral guidance, but they are not the source of moral principles. Humans discovered long ago that following certain rules makes life more productive, peaceful, and pleasurable. Morality derives from human nature, not divine guidance. If one wishes to live a virtuous life, it is better to do so because of the earthly rewards of being virtuous rather than the fear of eternal punishment. Unlike a theist, an atheist knows that one life is all he has, and will try to live each day to the fullest.

    Further reading

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    View the full post.
  5. Welcome!

    The One Minute Case is a new collaborative blog which will present a

    brief argument about a controversial issue that can be read in under a

    minute. The goal is to publish one case per day. You can read the cases

    to learn something new about an issue or use them as a source for

    longer arguments of your own.

    Why so short?

    Some issues can be summarized in 60 seconds, while in other cases,

    we’ll try to make you aware of a new perspective. The goal is to

    encourage critical thinking and discussion rather than present an open

    and shut case. If you disagree, or think something is missing, comment


    Can I contribute?

    Sure. Just register and a submit a case (such as one of the proposed topics) as a comment or email.

    If we like your style, you’ll be given publishing privileges.

  6. By Diana from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    I just posted the following bit about the "Colorado Books Project" to SoloPassion. Please notice the great opportunity to double your donation with matching funds!

    A few years ago, the
    Ayn Rand Institute
    surveyed high school teachers and discovered that the major reason many don't teach Ayn Rand's fiction in their English classes is the simple lack of books. The bureaucracy makes it difficult to obtain them from the school, and they are expensive to buy out-of-pocket. So ARI started its "
    Free Books for Teachers
    " program to remedy that problem.

    How does it work? Often with the help of directed donations, the teachers in a given area are notified of the program by a lovely brochure. They can order any number of free copies of
    The Fountainhead
    from ARI, along with
    teacher's manuals
    . In return, all that the teachers must do is agree to actually teach the novels.

    So far, the project has been enormously successful: demand for the books has been very strong, teachers are delighted with the enthusiastic response of their students, and many more students are submitting to ARI's essay contests. Most importantly, hundreds of thousands of high school students are reading Ayn Rand in their classes thanks to this program. And soon, those students will be voting -- and shaping our culture and politics.

    Last year, Lin Zinser of
    Front Range Objectivism
    donations for Colorado
    . (Minus Denver, since that was already taken.) And because of that, thousands of soon-to-be-voting Colorado students have read
    The Fountainhead
    . Happily, demand was greater than expected: more Colorado teachers wanted to teach Ayn Rand's fiction than ARI anticipated based upon its general response rate. So this year, Lin is
    working to raise even more money
    for the Colorado Books Project. If you choose to donate to the Colorado Books Project, you can get enormous bang for your buck: someone has donated $1000 in matching funds for donations for Colorado greater than those of last year, including any donations from any new donors.

    To take advantage of those matching funds, you can write your check directly to ARI. Just be sure to indicate that it's for the "Colorado Books Project." And you'll need to
    e-mail Lin
    the amount of your donation in order to take advantage of the matching funds. (Full donation directions can be found toward the bottom of
    this blog post
    .) Donations of
    any size
    are welcome -- and for areas outside Colorado too. (Matching funds only apply to Colorado, however.) All donations are tax-deductible.

    If you are interested in changing the culture in America for the better by introducing young people to Ayn Rand's ideas, ARI's "Free Books for Teachers" is a program that you ought to support. Ayn Rand is her own best salesman -- and the impact of hundreds of thousands of high school students reading Ayn Rand's fiction every year will be enormous. Even if you're still wary of ARI, you can support this program without endorsing all that ARI does.

    Please forward this announcement to Objectivists you know unlikely to see it here. Your donations -- and theirs -- could make all the difference in the world.

    Don't delay: The time to act is now!

    Also, Here is Lin Zinser's latest letter on the current funding drive:

    We are closing in on the last 2 weeks of this drive. We need your support. I have received a challenge from 2 supporters -- who will match any contribution over what was made last year -- up to $1,000. So, if you have not given any monies before, then any contribution by you to the Colorado Book project will be matched by them -- up to $1,000.00. If you did make a contribution last year, then any contribution over and above what you made last year will be met by them up to this same limit. This includes pledges. So, if you can't write a check for that amount in the next week, but can do so in the next few months, this counts.

    Make these two people pay, --- make them give 'til it hurts!! (grin) -- and join our group of people donating to make Ayn Rand read by every high school student in Colorado. Remember, these kids will be voting in just 2 to 5 years. These students will be making choices on issues and candidates in a very short while. NOW is the time to provide some positive influence on what they think about and how they think about themselves and the world, including the people around them and the cultural and political issues in this country and abroad. Reading
    The Fountainhead
    can make a difference in their lives -- after all, it made a difference in yours.

    Many tax-deductible donations don't promise a lot because they are easing the suffering or tragedies that have befallen good people -- like the generosity of those who provided monies to those who were hit by natural disasters -- earthquakes, hurricanes or tsunamis. These tax-deducible donations to ARI are a way to a brighter future for you and me because, through these donations for the ARI Colorado Book Project, more young people will understand what it means to be a self-starter, to be first-handed, to be self-reliant, and will want the government to leave them alone to pursue their own visions and values. The only way to meet the political challenges of the leftist louses and the rigid religious right is to change the culture and the only way to affect that change is by philosophy.

    Please help me change the future of Colorado. Take it from the hands of people like our present governor and legislature, who made smoking in public places illegal, but kept eminent domain legal even though there were five bills and two constitutional amendments considered by the Colorado legislature on that issue. One way to affect this change is to give money to ARI for the Colorado Book project so that future legislators and governors will be forced, in response to their constituents, to forget about smoking and outlaw eminent domain.

    All Contributions to the Ayn Rand Institute are tax-deductible. Thank you for your attention to this request.

    Remember, there are now four ways to contribute -- 1) Send a check or money order directly to ARI and indicate on it that this money is for the Colorado Book Project; 2) Send a check or money order to me, payable to ARI; 3) donate stock shares to ARI (contact Kathy Cross at ARI, at 310-876-1633 or [email protected]); or 4) contact me by phone, e-mail or letter with your pledge amount -- to be donated later this year.

    ARI's Address --

    The Ayn Rand Institute

    2121 Alton Parkway, Suite 250

    Irvine, California, 92606-4926

    My address --

    8700 Dover Court

    Arvada, CO 80005

    Lin Zinser

    Front Range Objectivism


    Phone: 303.431.2525

    Objectivists often lament the awful state of the culture, including the erosion of our liberties. I'm telling you: talk is cheap. Actually changing the culture is not hard, nor even terribly expensive. ARI's "Free Books for Teachers" program can make huge inroads, but that requires money from donors like you and me. So if you do care about the state of the culture, don't content yourself with idle complaints and wishes. Take action! Put your money where your mouth is!


  7. By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    freegan.jpgDrop everything you are doing right now, go straight over to the New York Press, and read this freegan article! You can thank me later.

    Apparently, dumpster diving has become (or more likely, become known as being) a leftist lifestyle, and its practicioners call themselves "freegans".

    Almost every week, [Adam] Weissman organizes an event commonly referred to as "dumpster diving," where he leads an open tour among the various trash heaps and dumpsters of Manhattan to gather discarded food. The activity is part of a larger social movement known as freeganism, which views capitalism as the primary force in destroying the environment and avoids the capitalist structure through such practices as eating discarded food, squatting in abandoned buildings instead of paying rent and refusing to hold a job. Just as vegans are vegetarians who avoid animal products, freegans subsist only on free food found in the garbage as consumer waste. In Manhattan, there is plenty to go around. [bold added]

    Normally, I'd make a snarky comment right about now, but not only can you not tell these idiots to eat s--- (being how they're already practically doing that already), you can't do a better job of pointing out the sheer absurdity of their position than they already do!

    Weissman assembled those who were still present for a final stop back to Daniel's Bagels. As expected, an enormous bag filled with bagels was waiting on the curb. Weissman grabbed a bagel from the bag and a mushy avocado from his backpack. He began dipping the bagel into the soupy avocado and looked around at the surrounding neighborhood.

    When asked whether he viewed living so close to a beacon of unfettered capitalism such as New York as contradictory to his ideals, he quickly denied it.

    "This is exactly where we need to be," he said. "If there's any one place on the planet where there's a vital need for people to be suggesting that capitalism is not a sustainable system, where people need to be demonstrating that we can create alternative ways of living to capitalism, then I think New York is that place."

    Pausing to dab at the gobs of avocado stuck in his beard he said, "I couldn't think of another place in the world that would be more appropriate to what we're doing." [bold added]

    "This is exactly where we need to be?" Well, you've got that right, bud! Might that, perchance, be due to the fact that the whole lot of you would freegan starve unless you hung around the very system you're trying to destroy?

    What really blows my mind about the story, though, is that this isn't even the greatest irony. That honor goes to Weissman's hatred of school because "They promote obedience, they promote conformity, they promote the idea of unquestioning acceptance of authority and they promote the idea that we should accept daily boredom and misery and enforced banality as simply the way that life is."

    As if picking through garbage and droning on about "resources" on a daily basis isn't banal. As if his political ideals aren't the logical extreme of what he was indoctrinated with while he was in school. As if the only way to be an individual is to act like a hippie, spout socialist nonsense, and sponge off everyone else -- just like all the other "non-conformists". This is one kid who was right to drop out, but unfortunately did not do so soon enough.

    Freegan idiots!

    And what's worse, they're turning the rest of us into freegans by providing us all with ... free entertainment!

    God help us all!

    -- CAV


  8. By: Alex Epstein

    Microsoft, Google, and other supporters of "Net Neutrality" legislation claim that they are protecting freedom on the Internet. But, said Alex Epstein, a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, "Any law enforcing 'Net Neutrality' would be a terrible blow to Internet freedom."

    "Just as cable companies have a right to apportion their bandwidth between Internet and television data, so Internet providers have a right to apportion their bandwidth between standard and premium Internet data."

    "'Net Neutrality' laws would forcibly prevent network owners from selling innovative services to their customers," said Epstein. "Shame on Microsoft and Google for trying to deny their competitors the freedom that has made the Internet great."

    ### ### ###

    Alex Epstein is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. Mr. Epstein's Op-Eds on business and government regulation have been published in major newspapers such as the Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Arizona Republic, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Orange County Register.


  9. I have a new Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Elite Keyboard/Mouse ($99 list) and a $25 Amazon gift certificate. The prizes will be given to the two largest contributors to the website.

    There are no conditions, and no time limitations - just make a significant contribution to the content of the website, and they are yours. (Definition of "significant" is entirely up to me.) You can contribute to the Wiki, essays, links, or propose something entirely new. (Forum posting does not count, unless your posts significantly affect the overall forum quality.)

    Hurry! If I stare at this shiny new keyboard for too long, I may decide to keep it :-)


  10. By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    Leave it to the scheduling gnomes of the FIFA World Cup to find a way to get me to root for Mexico.

    I was, of course, pleased to learn the other day that Mexico had, in Jay Leno's words, "gone through Iran's defense like they go through our border." Mexico decisively beat Iran 3-1 in first-round action in Germany.

    And so today, Michael Ledeen has an entertaining piece that discusses how the superstitious Iranians might be interpreting that defeat and other recent Iranian setbacks. For background, a Mexican player by the name of Omar Bravo scored two of Mexico's goals.

    Third is this ominous line from al-Reuters on the occasion of President Bush's jaunt to Baghdad:
    BAGHDAD, June 13 - U.S. President George W. Bush told Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Tuesday Iran's "interference" in Iraq must end, said Iraqi government sources who attended the talks.

    Can it be that, at long last, we are going to take steps against the mullahs to save the lives of our fighters and the Iraqi civilians who have been targeted by the terrorists who are armed and manipulated by the Iranians and the Syrians? Faster, please.

    But that is nothing compared to the clear message from On High on the soccer fields of Germany. No, I'm not talking about the demonstrations against President Ahmadinejad, I'm talking about the Mexican victory over Iran in the first round of the World Cup.

    With the game tied 1-1, a Mexican player named Omar Bravo scored for Mexico, which went on to win 3-1. That name, Omar Bravo, sends chills down the spines of the mullahs. "Bravo" is a universal plaudit, enthusiastic praise for the person to whom the "bravo" is directed. And Omar? Well...Omar is the most hated name in the Shiite lexicon, the symbol of the forces of evil, the incarnation of satanic influence on earth.

    And why? Because after the death of the Prophet, Mohammed's son in law, Ali (the husband of Mohammed's daughter Fatima) was fighting to become the leader of all Muslims. Ali lost out to Omar Bakr and to Omar, his close adviser and successor as Caliph. To this day, the Shiites believe that Abu Bakr and Omar usurped Ali's rightful inheritance as ruler of Islam. Not only that, but during the succession struggle Omar burst into Ali's house, crushing the pregnant Fatima behind the door, leading to the stillbirth of her son. And although Ali formally accepted the elevation of Abu Bakr, and then Omar, the Shiites still speak of Omar with intense hatred. In Iran today, one of the harshest things you can say about another person is Iaanat be'Omar, cursed by Omar.

    To a devout Shiite of the sort that governs Iran today, the defeat of the Iranian national team by somebody named Omar Bravo cannot be easily dismissed as a random event. It cannot possibly be a coincidence (it is hard for Iranians to believe that anything is a coincidence), and it is most certainly a terrible augury. Many Iranians will interpret it as a message to the mullahs: just as Ali was defeated by Omar, so your doom has been signaled by a modern Omar. And that "bravo," can it be an accident? No way. [bold added, link dropped]

    Hmmm. "But that is nothing compared to the clear message from On High on the soccer fields of Germany." I have just two things to say about that. (1) Whose fault is it that the Mullahs fear their own superstitions more than the willingness of the United States to give Iran a free demonstration on the proper use and deployment of a nuclear weapon? (2) It isn't too late for us to recalibrate the Iranian leadership, or at least for their subjects to rise up against them in revolt before such a recalibration becomes necessary.

    -- CAV


  11. By Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    File this under impressive:

    One of Britain's most prestigious art galleries put a block of slate on display, topped by a small piece of wood, in the mistaken belief it was a work of art.

    The Royal Academy included the chunk of stone and the small bone-shaped wooden stick in its summer exhibition in London.

    But the slate was actually a plinth -- a slab on which a pedestal is placed -- and the stick was designed to prop up a sculpture. The sculpture itself -- of a human head -- was nowhere to be seen.

    "I think the things got separated in the selection process and the selectors presented the plinth as a complete sculpture," the work's artist David Hensel told BBC radio.

    The academy explained the error by saying the plinth and the head were sent to the exhibitors separately.

    "Given their separate submission, the two parts were judged independently," it said in a statement. "The head was rejected. The base was thought to have merit and accepted.

    "The head has been safely stored ready to be collected by the artist," it added. "It is accepted that works may not be displayed in the way that the artist might have intended." [

    This story is poetic beyond compare. I wonder if the artist will see an increase in demand for his plinths, on the grounds that the Royal Academy found them to have artistic merit? And more fundamentally, will the artist leave modern art altogether, on the grounds that his plinth was recognized, but his head was ignored?


  12. By Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    makes an astute moral observation about the nature of altruism as applied to organ donation at Principles and Practice:

    Not only do eighteen people die each day while waiting for an organ; many people also suffer as they wait. Why are so many people suffering and dying while waiting for organs? Because the acceptance of altruism has convinced Americans that it is better for some people to suffer and die than it would be for others to donate organs for a profit. Profit is plainly selfish; thus, according to altruism, it would sully the whole "beautiful" altruistic "ideal" of people giving away organs for free.

    Moreover, on the premise of altruism, it is wrong for those who possess more wealth or more virtue to benefit from that fact; thus, the authorities must see to it that the distribution of organs has nothing to do with who can afford to purchase an organ or whether the recipient is an innocent child, or a heroic soldier, or a convicted murderer.

    Altruism treats life as a hospice, and the more able or worthy you are, the more you deserve to suffer and die. As Biddle notes, "The solution to such atrocities is for people to repudiate altruism and embrace egoism."


  13. By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    Over at FrontPage Magazine is an outrageous story about how a Wahhabi-trained cleric got a mosque built -- and not for target practice -- at Quantico, of all places.

    We are at war with militant Islam, but you wouldn't know it from the Pentagon, which is busy erecting a shrine to Islam just five short years after Islamic terrorists destroyed a good chunk of its own building and killed more than 100 of its occupants.

    Worse, it's consulting on the project with a Wahhabi-educated cleric posing as a moderate.

    Last week, military brass -- along with representatives from the terror-tied Council on American-Islamic Relations -- dedicated the first Muslim prayer center for the Marines as a symbol of the military's "religious tolerance" and "respect" for the faith the enemy uses to attack us

    . Already, plans are in the works to build by 2009 a bigger mosque at the Marine base in Quantico so Muslim service members can have a "proper place" to worship, and one that "honors their religious heritage," officials say, not realizing that the mosque can also be used by the enemy to build a Fifth Column inside the Marines. [bold and link added]

    So much for today's Quote of the Day over at RealClear Politics ("Maybe multiculturalism is just a nice idea for people who haven't been bombed yet."), which looked like the twenty-first century's answer to "A conservative is a liberal who got mugged," up until I stopped by David Horowitz's web site.

    Foolish ideas -- like multiculturalism -- unfortunately can cause people who should know better to concede the moral high ground to savages. For those of us who appreciate something that our pragmatic, range-of-the-moment administration does not -- the power and importance of philosophic ideas -- this building should serve as a reminder that the battle of ideas here at home must be fought unstintingly.

    -- CAV


  14. By Martin Lindeskog from EGO,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    Here is another example on how the religious right is pushing its agenda. Here is an excerpt from Danny Fortson's article, Moral majority take on GSK and Merck over cancer drugs.

    Conservative groups, including the influential Family Research Council (FRC), have voiced concerns that immunising young girls against the virus that most regularly causes cervical cancer, Human Papilloma- virus, may lead to sexual promiscuity. "We would oppose any measures to legally require vaccination or to coerce parents into authorising it," wrote the FRC in a recent letter to the US government. "Our primary concern is with the message that would be delivered to nine- to 12-year-olds with the administration of the vaccines. Care must be taken not to communicate that such an intervention makes all sex 'safe'." (News.independent.co.uk, 06/11/06.)



  15. By Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    Without any further adieu, let me kick off the 3rd Objectivist blog Carnival.

    The crisis with Iran is clearly on many Objectivist’s minds these days.

    » Thrutch

    Rob Tarr rips the West’s stance on Iran :

    [L]et's do a quick recap:

    - Iran is clearly trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Everyone knows it; no one disputes it (besides Iran).

    - Iran is an indisputable enemy of the West. Weekly prayers include "Death to America" chants. Its president openly calls for the destruction of Israel, and openly expresses his goal that Islam should rule the world.

    - Iran would use a nuclear bomb. Iran is ruled by Islamic fundamentalists with a messianic vision about the coming end of the world. These are not rational people. They "love death", as they openly tell us (and as Islamic suicide bombers prove weekly). They would be exhilirated by the chance to martyr themselves, as long as they could take us with them. A strategy of "nuclear deterrence" doesn't work with irrational people who think death is great.

    - "Diplomacy" with an irrational life-hating dictatorship is dishonest and self-defeating. It is grotesquely irrational and immoral to seek to reward someone in exchange for not killing us. Isn't it blatantly obvious what behavior that encourages?

    - Nothing we say or promise is going to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons in any case. There is nothing in this world we could give them, or that they would want, that could persuade them to cease and desist. They don't care about "this world". Their focus is on the "next world"--which, according to their beliefs, a nuclear bomb will help to bring about.

    Bottom line: Iran wants to destroy us. We don't want to be destroyed (well, I guess I can't speak for the Europeans). There is no middle ground here. There is nothing to discuss, debate, or negotiate.

    There is only one "diplomatic message" that needs to be sent to Iran: Stop developing nuclear weapons, or we will destroy you. And we mean it.

    » Armchair Intellectual

    Here, Gideon Reich takes a look at Michael Ledeen’s recent essay Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's and Iran. Reich ends his post with a call to arms.

    Sadly we are still wasting time treating the Iranians with kid-gloves when open warfare has long been overdue. As the elimination of Zarqawi shows, this war is winnable, these murderers are not invincible, our military is more than capable of destroying them. All that is required is that we commit ourselves to American self-defense.


    » Liberty and Culture

    Continuing the Islamic theme, Jason Pappas offers the following observation about failure to call a spade a spade:

    Mainstream political and intellectual writers are unable, on principle, to face the barbarian nature of the enemy’s culture. Instead, they blame America. Both Democrats and Republicans argue over who can engineer a better world in Iraq and win “the hearts and minds” of the Islamic world. It’s we that have to change, not Muslims. We’re the problem, according to this analysis. If they haven’t embraced the liberal democracy that we’ve patiently and generously offered, we must have did something wrong. (Too few troops, too many troops, not enough U.N. troops, too much humiliation, too little force, too soon, too late, etc.)

    The complete blindness to the inherent failure of Arab societies is captured in Colin Powell’s quip on Iraq: “we broke it, we own it.” If Saddam’s Iraq was Colin’s idea of a working nation, let’s hope we never have Powell as a President.

    » Mike's Eyes

    Mike also doesn’t like what he is seeing in the recent negotiations with Iran:

    So we are trying to get Iran to give up its nuclear bomb intentions by giving it a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel! No wonder Iran is willing to "study" the package. They probably can't believe it either. That's like the homeowner offering the thief a guaranteed supply of crowbars in the hopes the thief will use them for "peaceful purposes."

    Of course, the homeowner (West) refuses to identify the fact that such a policy will result in all other thieves (thugs) noticing what works and presenting the same demands to the homeowner (West) until one day he discovers that his money and silverware (freedom) and whatever else he had to negotiate away, are gone. Such is the logical result of ignoring the existence of, and compromising on, principles.

    What I find laughable is a nation sitting upon a massive underground lake of oil claiming it “needs” to develop nuclear energy. Yeah, right—like Antarctica needs to develop ice.

    » Charlotte Capitalist

    Here, Andy Clarkson looks at news reports on the “The College of Rational Education,” a project involving Eric Daniels and Gary Hull. Is this yet another “best kept secret” in Objectivism, because until I heard it from Andy, I knew nothing of it.

    » Cox & Forkum

    No Objectivist round-upo would be complete without including the pen of Cox and Forkum. As always, their latest speaks for itself:


    » Gus Van Horn

    Two good posts from the always good to read Gus: the is on a recent call that Google be regulated by the government because it is so “large”— made none other than by a conservative lobby group, and the second describing Huey Long, Louisiana’s infamous populist governor, and the many parallels to his reign today.

    » NoodleFood

    Pity the Poor Objectivist Center, now attempting to recast itself as the “Atlas Society” in a seeming attempt to be less Objectivist and more Objectivish. Diana Hsieh eviscerates them accordingly:

    This change of name is good news -- and not just because it's yet another highly

    visible example of the organization's incompetent floundering. The name change

    distances the organization from Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. After all,

    the symbol of Atlas refers to far more than
    Atlas Shrugged
    . Given the

    origin of the symbol in Ancient Greek myth, the name "The Atlas Society" does

    not necessarily imply Ayn Rand.

    Of course, this new "Atlas Society" will still claim to represent Ayn Rand's philosophy -- at least for a while. They've been explicitly distancing themselves from that prickly philosophy of Objectivism for some time now; it's just too uncompromising for Ed Hudgins. The new name will allow them to do that so much more easily. I wouldn't dignify that shift by calling it more honest, but it will be more accurate.

    » Acid Free Paper

    canova_3.0.jpg Here, “Toiler” contemplates a brilliant Greek masterpiece photographed by art historian Lee Sandstead.

    This has to be my favorite sculpture. Even in a photograph, I cannot look at it for long without being moved to tears. The woman reaches up for love. She touches him tenderly, bare of soul. He lifts her head to his lips, and they unite in a circle beneath his hopeful gaze. An exalted human experience, love and passion triumphant!

    I agree. I recall that earlier this spring Sherri Tracinski attacked a similar sculpture by Daniel Chester French because it had wings and was allegedly named after a passage in the Holy Bible (a point that seems to be a matter of debate among art historians). Tracinski’s position was that French’s sculpture was an unreal representation of romantic love—and that no artist, save for Sandra Shaw has been able to accurately capture love in their art.

    Um, yeah, right. If you look at art such as that depicted in the photo and all you see is an attack on existence, you need to tone it down a notch. A pair of wings ain't the enemy in art . . .

    » Quent Cordair's Studio

    eightt[1].jpgArtist Brian Larsen describes his latest painting.

    Although this was a relatively quick and somewhat experimental painting, I have to admit that I love the end result. It will take some time for the thick white paint in the brighter areas of the fireworks to dry completely so that the painting can be varnished and professionally photographed, but hopefully at that point I can make a better image available. Until then, enjoy New Year's Eve and please send in any last comments or questions.

    For his age, Larsen is a deeply talented artist. He’s also a man seriously in love with portraying people’s back-sides. I think Larsen will take his art to the next level when he is able to master the human face—and can portray a face that is alive, intelligent, and shows the viewer things like that magnetic form of engagement that we see when we witness the greatest and the beautiful, or a heart that has found serenity. I think if he wants it, it's his for the taking . . .

    » The Ivory Tower

    Amanda Carlson recently celebrated the reasons for her love for Art Nouveau and Art Deco:

    The wonderful thing that I think best characterizes both Nouveau and Deco is that it is functional art. They enliven menial everyday items with inspirational art, not by pasting art on top of things, but by making the style an integral/natural part of the structure of the things one creates. Nouveau does it in a flowing, curvy, often described as "whiplash" style (usually busy). Deco does it in a geometric, angular, bare-bones sort of way. But the same glorious idea that I adore applies to both: beauty and elegance are necessary in the structure of living, and not to be added as an after-thought.

    » The Dougout

    Grant Jones smells a grammatical rat infecting the immigration debate:

    “Border crossers,” is I guess that is the new, official PC term of evasion. They used to be called wetbacks, but that was judged to harsh and even “racist.” After all Americans wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of those who flaunt our laws and national sovereignty. So, the new term became “illegal alien.” While it was an increase to two words and four syllables to say the same thing as one word, it was still accurate.

    Accuracy was still a problem for the arbiters of language. Accordingly, the new, new term became “undocumented workers.” Now we are up to seven syllables to say nothing. “Undocumented,” as if the main problem with these invaders is a paper work hang-up. While shorter, “border crossers” is even more absurd. Millions cross our southern border legally every year. The purpose of the new PC term is to evade the distinction between the law abiding and the law breaker.

    You almost have to admire it—the ability to reframe the debate by recasting the terms.

    » Principles in Practice

    Just in case you missed it, Principles in Practice is the blog of The Objective Standard. There, Alan Germani writes about on several women in Saudi Arabia who had female to male sex-change operations.

    Not being able to drive cars or move freely are minor examples of the oppression women face in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic theocracies. Arranged marriages, domestic abuse, and honor killings are regular aspects of Muslim women's so-called lives. When their alternative is to become a man or to suffer a lifetime of psychological and physical abuse, the big surprise is that more Muslim women haven't had sex-change operations.

    I’d suspect if you are in a position to change your gender, you’re in a position to leave the country. What I would like to know is the number of women who attempt to flee Saudi Arabia in seach of better environs.

    » American Renaissance

    At American Renaissance, Steven Brockerman offers a short biography of Ken Iverson, CEO of Nucor and pioneer of the American mini-steel mill.

    Nucor planners, engineers, contractors and workers gather. A monumental struggle begins. Seemingly insurmountable obstacles arise, followed by spectacular failures—mounds of capital are expended at an alarming rate—a growing doubt spreads among Nucor investors—naysayers are popping off in the press left and right—and, silently, America’s industrial tycoons for which steel is their companies’ life blood wait in agonizing suspense.

    Then: heroic perseverance—brilliantly ingenious solutions—increasing successes—a muted but steadfast and growing determination—and, in the end, glorious, magnificent triumph! And above it all the while, leading the way—tough, certain, unflappable, his eyes ever focused on the goal—stands Kenneth Iverson.

    Read the whole thing.

    » The Primacy of Awesome

    While some Objectivist blogs are cool, this one is awesome, and here Mike rips a religionist’s attempt to say that the Ayn Rand Institute supports genocide. You’ll just have to see this one for yourself.

    » Truth, Justice and the American Way

    David Vekslar reports that chemistry sets model rocketry is about to become illegal in the name of "Homeland Defense."

    This is a sad development indeed, as many of America’s great inventors got into technology experimenting with chemicals and home-made fireworks.

    Indeed. I for one loved my model rockets as a kid, and I look forward to introducing my future children to them and other “dangerous’ hobbies as well—that is if the Congress doesn’t get in the way first.

    » Capitalist Paradise?

    Here’s a new quazi-blog that’s been brought to my attention. Here the “inspector” takes on the death tax:

    Consider the very idea of a Death Tax, for a moment. The deceased has already paid whatever taxes were demanded in the first place when he earned his wealth. If he wanted to bequeath this money while he was still alive, he wouldn’t have to pay a tax on it first. (although unfortunately, the recipient might)

    So why does he have to pay extra for being dead? Is there something wrong with dying, that it has to be punished or something? No, the answer is far more sinister: in the eyes of the taxman, he’s just collecting what was his all along.

    You see, your property was never yours at all. “Your” property, and by extension your life, belonged to the state. They were just letting you use it. Everything you have is, in the end, their property.

    Well, not if I can help it . . .

    * * *

    And there you have it—the third Objectivist blog carnival! Happy trails to you . . .


  16. By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    Nearly a year ago, I blogged about a longstanding deficiency of Texas property law.

    One glaring inconsistency in the state's protection of private property rights extends for the entire length of its coastline. In addition to forbidding structures past the vegetation line on the beach, Texas lays claim to all land seaward of the high tide line, which can shift dramatically due to beach erosion. This state of affairs has existed for quite some time ....

    At the time, a news story concerning a lawsuit by Texas to evict a man from his own home after he found himself living on the beachfront had come to my attention.

    Now, a moratorium that had kept the state from forcibly removing such homeowners is drawing to a close, and the Texas General Land Office has made an announcement.

    Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is making a stand. He will risk penury and jail, refusing to evict anyone from his home in the name of "ending this gross violation of the property rights of my fellow Texans."

    I wish.

    Needless to say, no such exemplar of rectitude exists in our political system today. Instead, the few men of principle who do exist are the epitome of evil. dedicated to such noble causes as government confiscation of private property, codifying the tenets of their particular religion into law, and the self-immolation of America for the sake of the cause of Islamic jihad. There are no principled advocates of individual rights on the political scene today.

    Most politicians who pass for normal these days -- like the spineless Jerry Patterson -- are anaesthetized to gross injustice by tradition, rudderless in the sea of contradictions that forms their own collection of personal beliefs, completely devoid of imagination, and, besides, deficient in testosterone when crisis arrives. Their answer to the crises brought on by statism is: "More of the same!"

    Last year, I wrote:

    If the Texas legislature can tackle


    , to protect property owners from rapacious local governments, it should also consider some measure of relief for landowners like Royer in the short term -- and reform or repeal of the Submerged Land Law as well as the Open Beaches Act in the long term.

    Well, obviously, the Texas legislature failed to come through. And Patterson's idea of relief?

    Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced a $1.3 million initiative today to help reimburse property owners who agree to relocate homes blocking public access to Texas beaches.

    Patterson said the plan is a more cost-effective and cooperative option than trying to sue more than 100 property owners to enforce state law guaranteeing public access to beaches.

    Not quite what I had in mind. I was thinking more along the lines of letting the homeowners stay; not robbing everyone else of money in order to make the evictions go more smoothly in addition to this mass confiscation of homes.

    This great blow for the affected property owners -- delivered by Patterson -- is enough to give almost a third of those affected $40,000, but only after they first finance relocating their homes themselves! In other words, it's a sad joke even by welfare state standards. And this joke is about as funny as it is effective.

    The only thing worse than this is what some of my fellow Texans are saying.

    "We have those who say that I should probably rent a D-6 bulldozer and roll out at 5:30 (a.m.) next weekend and start knocking down structures," Patterson said.

    "On the other hand we have folks who say it's all the government's fault that this erosion has occurred and you need to compensate me at complete full, fair market value."

    The first group deserves to be robbed of its tax money, the second, to be evicted from its homes. And it is these two groups of bloodsuckers that Patterson has chosen to represent, while attempting to make himself look good by pointing to them and saying, "Look! I'm not so bad!"

    A man's home is his castle, even if that man is a knave. If someone is foolish enough to build his house near a beach known for subsidence and erosion, he has the right to do so, but the risks are his to bear. Too bad nobody in the papers, like -- oh, I don't know -- the Texas Land Commissioner, is saying exactly this.

    -- CAV


  17. By Paul from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog


    The Economist has an interesting article on the technology and economics behind . Here are a few choice excerpts:

    Skyscrapers are hard to build and even harder to make money from. Perhaps that is why they hold such an enduring fascination. "The problem of the tall office building", wrote Louis Sullivan in 1896, "is one of the most stupendous, one of the most magnificent opportunities that the Lord of Nature in His beneficence has ever offered to the proud spirit of man."

    [Fans of "The Fountainhead" may know that Louis Sullivan's life was a "concrete inspiration" for the character of Henry Cameron, although Cameron is an independent character, not a fictionalized version of Sullivan. -- PSH]

    Three sorts of changes have shaped the current wave of skyscraper design: materials, lifts and computing...

    Translucent towers, which aside from looking pretty also alleviate one of the worst things about skyscrapers--the long shadows they cast on the streets below--are now proposed by architects everywhere. Thin-film technology (coating the glass in glazes that repel heat, but let in light) and self-cleaning glass are becoming standard. And glass can be formed into shapes that now make Mies's conceptual design look rather conservative, as at 30 St Mary Axe in London (better known as the "gherkin") or the Hearst building in New York.

    Other changes to materials have helped towers weigh less, which allows them to go higher. Floors and walls have become thinner, thanks to innovations like slim-line insulation made of fibreglass and aluminium foil, an idea borrowed from containers used to transport blood. This brings its own problems, though. When a floor is really large, thin ones become like trampolines and engineers have to find ways to prevent the journey to the photocopier from becoming too bouncy.

    Architects are also grappling with Mies's other idea: dispensing with the central core, or breaking it up. Skyscrapers up to 200 metres tall can stand up with a central core of steel and concrete that houses a building's lifts and the plumbing for support services. Any taller and the building needs outriggers, which provide support like the flying buttresses on a gothic cathedral. This structure can apparently be extended heavenwards indefinitely. The Burj Dubai is made up of a central core with outriggers. [see above image for an example of these "outriggers". -- PSH] It is determined to claim the title of tallest building in the world--so determined, in fact, that its final height is a secret and subject to elongation to keep ahead of would-be usurpers.

    The second issue is elevators (or as the British call them, "lifts").

    But engineers also have to work out how to get people to the top floors.

    Tall buildings have always relied on changes to lifting technology to go higher--the first hydraulic lifts around 1870 made it possible to go higher than the steam-powered lifts they replaced. Now, however, the constraints come less from the ability of a lift to travel half a kilometre vertically than from how long people must wait in the lobby for a lift to take them to the 50th floor. That makes it necessary to find ways to speed up their journeys around the building.

    Most tall towers now have at least two banks of lifts: one for the lower floors and one for the upper ones. In the tallest towers in Asia (home to eight of the world's ten highest giants) this still means waiting too long. So engineers run two or more lifts in each lift shaft, and build "sky lobbies" where passengers cross between lifts if they want to go the whole way down or up.

    These arrangements, whereby cappuccino-carrying office workers or hotel porters are directed to a particular lift according to where they want to go, are collectively known as "hall call". KONE, a Finnish lift company, is working on a lift system that sends text messages to people's mobile phones as they enter a building, informing them to take lift five, say, if they want to go to their desk or lift seven if they want the cafe on the 60th floor.

    And finally, advances in computing,

    Contemplating buildings this complicated has been possible in recent years only because computers have became powerful enough to build three-dimensional models that developers, architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers and builders can all work on. Before such computer systems arrived, design changes had to be made on several sets of drawings, which increased the chances of mistakes. Strange shapes constructed at lower levels were possible before computers sped up. But ambitious forms like the new 230-metre China Central Television building in Beijing (which looks a little like a bent croquet hoop) needed computer processors to design.

    Computers have made other things possible, too. Engineers can use them to test how a building might stand up to a fire or an aeroplane crash. When the main tower at Canary Wharf was proposed in the 1980s, according to Peter Bressington of Arup, an engineering firm that is a prolific builder of skyscrapers, nobody was able to predict accurately how long it would take to evacuate if a fire broke out. Now Arup can run a simulation in which a fire starts on the 35th floor, one lift is out of action and a few thousand people have to get out, and see how long it takes.

    As well as allowing skyscrapers to go taller, these changes have made them more efficient machines for living or working in and brought their running costs down.


  18. By Gus Van Horn from Gus Van Horn,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    Anyone who takes for granted the notion that -- no matter how foolhardy our politicians may be, and no matter how many handouts our government gives -- we'll never have a dictatorship in America -- should drop everything and read this book review/article on the political career of Louisiana's famously corrupt governor and United States senator. It starts off with a description of a man's "disappearance" that sounds like it could have come straight from a history of the Soviet Union.

    Mayor T. Semmes Walmsley, of New Orleans, called Irby's disappearance "the most heinous public crime in Louisiana history." No one had any doubt about who had engineered it.

    There is a limit to what our system can take, and that limit was crossed in Louisiana during the 1920s and 1930s. I would argue that today, we are closer to that limit nationwide. A couple of things here sure sound familiar.

    From the start of his political career, Long operated according to a different set of principles. At twenty-five, he ran for and won a seat on the state Railroad Commission, turning practically the first meeting he attended into a denunciation of Standard Oil. At the following meeting, he demanded that the oil company be declared a public utility, a move that would have given the commission regulatory control over its pipelines. In the next several years, he also took on the railroads, the telegraph companies, and the administration of the governor at the time, John M. Parker. (At one point, Parker sued Long for libel; Long lost and was fined a dollar.) In almost all of his battles, Long took the side of ratepayers and small businesses against large (and, to a great extent, predatory) corporations. In 1923, he forced one of the state's major phone companies to give up a twenty-per-cent rate increase that it had been granted. Thousands of customers received refund checks, and Long made sure that they knew whom they had to thank.

    Just a few days ago, I heard someone raise the notion of regulating Google as a utility. No one batted an eye. And refund checks.... While I support a lowering of the income tax, I would have been more thankful to have learned that the cuts were permanent than I am knowing that the cuts might go away, only to allow someone else to demogogue refund checks some time in the future. [Clarification: It would be more accurate to say that, as a supporter of laissez-faire capitalism, I favor repealing the income tax. A lowering is truly acceptable only as a preliminary move in that direction.] This decision concerning the income tax tells me that the Republicans -- supposedly the party of small government -- figure that the American people value small sums of money over their freedom. To the extent that they are correct, we're in trouble, because it makes another Huey Long (or worse) possible.

    Two quotes from the article pertain to Huey Long vs. Franklin Roosevelt, who did more than any other American President to build the welfare state, which both violates our economic freedom and prepares people for the yoke of tyranny -- by discouraging self-reliance and acclimating people to the taking of orders during their daily lives.

    First, it tells us something that Roosevelt, of all people, said of Long that, "We have to remember all the time that he really is one of the two most dangerous men in the country."

    And second, Long corroborated Roosevelt himself when he attacked FDR for not being enough of a socialist. "So it has been that while people have begged for meat and bread, Mr. Roosevelt's administration has sailed merrily along, plowing under and destroying the things to eat and wear."

    Taken in isolation, this sounds like it could have come straight from Richard Salsman's critique of the Progressive policies of Hoover and Roosevelt that helped bring about, worsened, and greatly prolonged the Great Depression. However, Long's actions made it clear what he meant.

    ... Long introduced what he called "the Long Plan" for "Redistribution of Wealth." To push the plan, he formed a group, the Share Our Wealth Society, which took as its slogan "Every Man a King." Long claimed that he had come up with a way to provide each family in the United States with five thousand dollars, or enough money "for a home, an automobile, a radio, and the ordinary conveniences."In reality, Long's plan -- to the extent that it existed at all -- was made up of a series of tax proposals, with no provision to distribute the proceeds, and the numbers never came close to adding up. (One economist calculated that, in order to provide just fourteen hundred dollars to every needy family, the government would have to impose a tax rate of a hundred per cent on all income above four thousand dollars.) Critics condemned Share Our Wealth as false hope for the poor -- "This is not water for the thirsty, but a mirage," Walter Lippmann wrote -- but the poor apparently were not dissuaded. Share Our Wealth clubs began to spring up in other states, mostly in the South, but also in New York and California. In late 1934, the society boasted more than three million members. To manage Share Our Wealth, Long hired a charismatic young clergyman named Gerald L. K. Smith, whom Mencken described as "the champion boob-bumper of all epochs." Smith was a virulent anti-Semite and an avowed Roosevelt-hater. "We're going to get that cripple out of the White House," he promised.

    Smith sounds like Pat Buchanan -- but evidently with a charisma implant. His ilk, as I indicated earlier, are still around. Many are regarded as coalition partners by small-government conservatives in the Republican Party.

    This story is fascinating in a macabre sort of way, but it also has a very interesting end. I'm no expert on Long, but it sure sounds like his own meddling ultimately contributed to his demise. After he was shot by Carl Weiss,

    Long was rushed to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, where

    a physician he had installed a few years earlier was in charge. The physician botched the surgery

    , and two days later Long was dead. [bold added]

    Hmm. He might have been better off letting -- oh, I don't know -- the hospital, perhaps, choose its own surgeons.... If only all dictators would suffer so directly from their own actions! But they do not, and their power lust ruins many lives before they are stopped -- if they are stopped before they die.

    This is why they must always be opposed completely. Government favors may seem harmless in and of themselves, but there is always a reason people like Long offer them.

    -- CAV


    Today: Added a clarification within the text.


  19. By David from Truth, Justice, and the American Way,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    The following message is brought to you by The Future.. Faster industry campaign.

    This week, the Senate is poised to vote on the issue of “Net Neutrality,” which is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and threatens the Internet freedom we now enjoy.

    It is up to YOU to stop it. Please
    click here
    to contact your legislators, and demand they oppose “Net Neutrality.”

    The Internet has been successful to date because the government has maintained a vigilant, but hands-off approach that has allowed companies to innovate in direct response to the evolving wants and needs of their customers.

    A consumer’s Internet experience is today unimpeded - in the absence of virtually any regulation of the Internet - because there exists a powerful consumer mandate for Internet freedom. “Net Neutrality” supporters want to change all of that, putting the federal government in charge of how consumers use the Internet.

    With Congress set to vote on “Net Neutrality” as early as Thursday, it is imperative that you contact your legislators right now and tell them, Say NO to “Net Neutrality.”

    Existing net neutrality bills are solutions in search of a problem.

    In a new communications era defined by multiple choices - multiple communications pathways - consumers simply will not continue to purchase service from a provider that blocks or restricts their Internet access.

    When consumers have choices in the marketplace, consumers have control. Consider the following:

    • There is vigorous competition between DSL, cable modem, wireless, satellite, and other Internet access providers.

    • In some areas free Wi-Fi access is available.

    • In others, access over power line is becoming available. This competition directly benefits consumers - and the latest evidence is the announcement of $12.99/month DSL service from AT&T.

    Unnecessary regulatory or legislative intervention in marketplace activities would stifle, not enhance the Internet. Laws are inflexible and difficult to fine-tune - particularly when applied to technologies that are rapidly evolving.

    The last thing that consumers need is government regulation of the Internet, disguised as “Net Neutrality.” Please click here to tell your legislator, Vote NO! on Net Neutrality.


  20. The following message is brought to you by The Future.. Faster industry campaign.

    This week, the Senate is poised to vote on the issue of "Net Neutrality," which is a wolf in sheep's clothing and threatens the Internet freedom we now enjoy.

    It is up to YOU to stop it. Please
    click here
    to contact your legislators, and demand they oppose "Net Neutrality."

    The Internet has been successful to date because the government has maintained a vigilant, but hands-off approach that has allowed companies to innovate in direct response to the evolving wants and needs of their customers.

    A consumer's Internet experience is today unimpeded - in the absence of virtually any regulation of the Internet - because there exists a powerful consumer mandate for Internet freedom. "Net Neutrality" supporters want to change all of that, putting the federal government in charge of how consumers use the Internet.

    With Congress set to vote on "Net Neutrality" as early as Thursday, it is imperative that you contact your legislators right now and tell them, Say NO to "Net Neutrality."

    Existing net neutrality bills are solutions in search of a problem.

    In a new communications era defined by multiple choices - multiple communications pathways - consumers simply will not continue to purchase service from a provider that blocks or restricts their Internet access.

    When consumers have choices in the marketplace, consumers have control. Consider the following:

    • There is vigorous competition between DSL, cable modem, wireless, satellite, and other Internet access providers.

    • In some areas free Wi-Fi access is available.

    • In others, access over power line is becoming available. This competition directly benefits consumers - and the latest evidence is the announcement of $12.99/month DSL service from AT&T.

    Unnecessary regulatory or legislative intervention in marketplace activities would stifle, not enhance the Internet. Laws are inflexible and difficult to fine-tune - particularly when applied to technologies that are rapidly evolving.

    The last thing that consumers need is government regulation of the Internet, disguised as "Net Neutrality." Please click here to tell your legislator, Vote NO! on Net Neutrality.


  21. By Christian Beenfeldt

    The recent ban on abortion in South Dakota is a victory for the "pro-life"

    movement--and thus, anti-abortionists claim, a victory for "the sanctity of human

    life." But is it?

    The South Dakota law bans abortions in all cases except saving the life of the

    mother. Consider what this would mean for human life--not the "lives" of embryos or

    primitive fetuses, but the lives of real, living, breathing, thinking women.

    It would mean that women who wanted to terminate a pregnancy because it resulted

    from rape or contraceptive failure--or because the would-be father has abandoned

    her--or because the fetus is malformed--would be forbidden from doing so. It would

    mean that they would be forced to endure the misery of unwanted pregnancy and the

    incredible burdens of child rearing. It would mean that women would be sentenced to

    18-year terms of enslavement to unwanted children--thereby suffocating their hopes,

    their dreams, their personal ambitions, their chance of happiness. And it would mean

    that women who refused to submit to such a fate would be forced to turn to the

    "back-alley" at a staggering risk to their health. According to a World Health

    Organization estimate, 110,000 women worldwide die each year from such illegal

    abortions and up to six times as many suffer injury from them.

    Clearly, anti-abortionists believe that such women's lives are an unimportant

    consideration in the issue of abortion. Why? Because, they claim, the embryo or fetus

    is a human being--and thus to abort it is murder. But an embryo is not a human being,

    and abortion is not murder.


  22. By David from Truth, Justice, and the American Way,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    Microsoft has just announced that it is removing PDF features from the next version of Microsoft Office because Adobe will sue it for antitrust violations if it does.

    The key to the success of Adobe's PDF format is that it is free of any licensing restrictions, so anyone can implement PDF readers/writers. Microsoft's competitors have - both operating system vendors like Apple and Linux and competing office suites like Star Office and OpenOffice.org. However Microsoft isn't allowed to - not because Adobe has any legal right to prevent it, but because Adobe claims that it won't be able to compete with Microsoft if Microsoft makes PDF features available for free like most everyone else does. Adobe charges $449 for Adobe Acrobat - something it can only get away if Microsoft isn't allowed to compete with it. In effect, it is saying "anyone can use our format and compete with our products... unless you actually present a competitive challenge."

    Microsoft expects Adobe to sue anyway because it will offer its own portable document format instead of selling Adobe’s products for them in its own software. (Meanwhile, anti-Microsoft advocates continue blasting it for rejecting "open standards.")

    You can bypass Adobe and get free PDF creation software here.


  23. By Andy from The Charlotte Capitalist ™,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    Some familiar names in this story from heraldsun.com: Founders College has submitted an application projecting a fall 2007 start and an enrollment of 500, said Michelle Howard-Vital, associate vice president of academic affairs for UNC General Administration. Eric Daniels of Durham filed the request, Howard-Vital said. She identified Daniels as a faculty member at Duke University.

    ... ... read more here.

  24. By Andy from The Charlotte Capitalist ™,cross-posted by MetaBlog

    From MAKE:

    Popular Science's How 2.0 has a round up of Theodore Gray's articles from the past 3 years, tons and tons of experiments and how-tos - " Ever yearn to make your own silicon? Preserve a snowflake on a microscope slide? Fuel a rocket ship with sugar? Theodore Gray undertakes these and many more mind-bending projects in his monthly PopSci column, archived here for your entertainment. Just


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