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Everything posted by Antonio

  1. I know I said I'm off the discussion, but this topic is almost a different thread. So I'll comment only on the "rule by bureaucratic fiat." The statement above is very true. I don't want to reveal where I work because of the work I do, other than California (need I say more?), but a situation that is an example of this is playing itself out in one of our communities. There is a largely anonymous state agency that regulates water quality, overseen by a regional board appointed by the governor, that is forcing a small town to do a huge public works project that will cost everyone upwards of $250 a month there. Meanwhile, that agency has forced a building moratorium- no new homes, no remodels, no bedroom add-ons, no new business, etc. This debate has gone on for three decades, where if a private company had built that project way back then it would have been done by now. This regional agency is oversen by a state board that again, is largely anonymous, with members appointed by the governor and the houses of the Legislature (mostly Democrat). Those positions are high-paying political plums where officials go to ride out term limits before they can find another office to run for. Both of these agencies, the state board and the regional enforcement board, get to act as legislator, executive and hold roles as prosecutor, judge and jury - all of those rolled into one in a perverse violation of the principle of separation of the three powers of government. This is justified legally under the notion that it's regulatory, or administrative law - that all of these functions are part of delegated enforcement of a law by means of regulation, creating a sub-government of sorts. And if you disagree or question them, they wil try you. And it will cost you a lot of money because you'll need a lawyer. And if you are accused, you are not afforded a public defender of any kind because it's considered civil, not criminal. All of this is justified for protecting the environment. It is fueled by Democrats. Those few who have dared to, ironically mostly Democrats who don't have a lot of money and don't want to see low-income folks displaced by the cost of this project, are dismissed as fools and are subjected to costly lawsuits. All of this put together is the use of the environment for a cover for the worst abuse from government. And it's all local, and very expensive.
  2. Well, this says it all. This statement proves my point absolutely. We disagree, so the solution, like in a church, is a call for excommuniation. Then justify the banishment by denying that a critic said anything at all so as to make it appear that the critic doesn't know anything. This kind of blind reasoning reminds me of the trial scene in the original Planet of the Apes when the ape jurists try to prove the human Taylor is not intelligent because he doesn't know what the sacred scrolls say, and therefore doesn't know the truth because the sacred scrolls are the only truth. Slander? Peikoff is a public figure. This is basic communications law. He is a human like the rest of us, and because deities do not exist, he is not a god and neither is anyone else, and he's not a dictator or a pope. We can all be wrong, and all of us are at some point. When sokmeone puts his opinions out in public, in particular when evangelizing a philosophy or a political view, he is fair game for criticism like the rest of us. Falsely representing statements? No. I'm not representing them at all. I stated my opinion of them. The latter part of Peikoff's Democrat endorsement smacks of religious overtones. That is my opinion and you can't take that away from me. I would be tempted to suggest finding a church where it is rule by the majority and the dissidents be damned, but I would never descend to a point where I would tell people who disagree with me to simply get lost. How disappointing. I made it clear that I respected Peikoff and still respect his right to think as he chooses, as I do of everyone else. I found Objectivism because I grew in disgust at the way religion is practiced and I did not believe in its false gods. I reserve the right that everyone has to get to know a person over the course of a decade or more and make the judgement that I am disappointed in the manner in which he promotes Objectivism.
  3. Not only that, but as a free-thinking person I find it offensive and hypocritical that a person who claims to be the sole authority on a system of thought that has evolved and refined in the nearly quarter century since its founder died, and is no longer solely dependent on the founder for direction, is telling me that I am immoral if I don't do as he does, whether it's voting or anything else. This arrogance smacks of the "What Would Jesus Do?" concept and that's why I said that Peikoff is acting like a pope. If he wants to share his views, OK. That's what we're doing here. But we're grown-ups and don't have to be patronized by anyone. Though I would disagree because of the reasons highlighed by my post referring to Donald Luskin's economics blog - his priorities differ from mine - I agree he made an objective evaluation of the major national partisan issues in this election. This judgment on my part is neither attacking nor name-calling. This is my conclusion after more than a decade of evaluating the actions and words of someone who I had respected by default because of his association with Ayn Rand. First it was disappointment, years later it has turned into annoyance that I am being talked down to. Rand did advise to always judge. It is part of thinking freely. Inferred in there is to judge objectively. I have. But to stick to the topic of this thread, as to the difference in priorities in the choices people make when they vote, I submit that telling me to vote Democrat out of some sense of greater good or some perceived overall threat would be tantamount to telling me to vote not on the basis of my needs and priorities, but on the perceived needs of the collective. I just can't do that. I'd say it's much like some of the wisdom on the thread here about the Atlas scene where Francisco helps Rearden save his furnace that led me out of some of my confusion about my line of work. I very much love my work, but my craft overall is dominated by leftists, most of whom are misinformed or irrational. So I felt like I was advancing someone else's ideas by doing what I do for a living. Similarly to the issue I raise here, Febod convinced me on that other thread that if I am working to fulfill my selfish needs, I am not working to advance the leftist cause. And I am convinced that I would betray my own values if I allowed the dominance of another point of view to drive me away from work that satisfies my selfish needs. If I chose to vote a certain way because of some so-called greater good rather than my own selfish priorities - prosperity and security for my family - then I would be betraying my own values. And finally I'll add this. Nearly five years ago I moved my family from a major urban area to a mostly rural area that is pretty fragmented politically - the urbanized concentration in our local college town (the county seat) is heavily liberal and anti-growth. From among the dozen or so communities I could choose here, I picked one that is rural, but growing, with damn-near perfect 70-degree weather year-round, and obscene housing prices as the cost of that. This town must have more churches per capita than anywhere else I've lived. And most of the people I interact with in town and my kids' schools are quite conservative and religious. My observation about conservatives versus liberals has proven true. I have found that these conservative, religious people mind their own business about my personal life, how to raise my kids, how to vote, etc. than liberals. I suspect this is because of a libertarian streak and the desire of the conservatives to be left to choose how to raise their kids, vote, live their lives, etc. On the other hand, liberals practically make their living telling everyone else how to think and what to do with their money, what TV kids should watch (like only PBS because corporations like Disney or Viacom are evil). Besides having to hold onto my wallet when Democrats are around, being told what to do in the paternalistic fashion of American liberals turns me off from voting Democrat.
  4. Here's something interesting from Donald Luskin's Web page. It boils down to priorities, really, when it comes to voting. Mine is prosperity and national security. The rest is collateral. The left will rob us of prosperity and weaken America so I don't vote for leftists. The right is not perfect. One should vote according to one's priorities. In particular interest to me is that I'd be paying, as a middle-income head of a family of four, about $2,500 more in income taxes annually without the GOP tax cuts. That's a lot even for an upper-middle income family. As one of the 93 million American individuals who own a piece of our markets and our businesses, I also consider the power of that money when it is invested for the long-term and compounding takes effect. We as individuals can spend or invest that $2,500 more efficiently than government. http://www.poorandstupid.com/2006_10_15_ch...117823731413421 FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS Our friend Dan Clifton at the American Shareholder Association sends along this "Harpers Index"-style look at the "Bush tax cuts by the numbers." What more should any citizen or legislator need to know? * $14,374,330,000,000 Total Increase in Household Wealth Since April 2003 * $5,700,000,000,000 Total Increase in Shareholder Wealth Since May 20, 2003 * $863,654,000,000 Total Amount of Tax Cuts Enacted Since Fiscal Year 2003 * $783,890,000,000 Total Amount of Additional Tax Cuts to be Returned to Taxpayers Through 2010 * $625,000,000,000 Total Increase in Federal Tax Revenues Since FY 2003 * $207,788,000,000 Reduction in the Deficit in the Past 29 Months Due to Stronger Economic Growth * $98,600,000,000 Combined Income Gains for Shareholders From Dividend Increases & Tax Savings 03-05 * $62,000,000,000 Surplus of Capital Gains Tax Revenue Not Accounted For By Revenue Estimators * $60,000,000,000 Deficit REDUCTION Since the Tax Cut Was Signed Into Law * 300,001,643 Total Number of Americans benefiting from President Bush’s Tax Cut * 91,000,000 Number of Individuals Owning Shares of Stock in America * 23,000,000 Number of Small Businesses Benefiting from Income Tax Reductions * 6,600,000 Number of Jobs Created Since the Tax Cut Was Signed Into Law * 12,000 The Magic Number of the Dow Jones Industrial Index is an Arms Length Away * $2,092 Tax Increase for a Family of Four With $50k of Income if Tax Cuts Are Repealed * 200 Number of House Members Who Voted Against This Growth Generating Tax Cut * 50 Number of US Senators Who Voted Against This Growth Generating Tax Cut * 25 Number of Years Dividend Paying Companies Declined Prior to the 2003 Tax Cut * 164.0% % Increase in the Dividend Tax Rate if the Income and Dividend Tax Cuts Expire * 123.0% % Increase in Dividend Income and Share Repurchases Since 2003 Tax Cut * 91.0% % Increase of Stock Ownership in the Bottom Quintile of Income Distribution Since 1995 * 74.0% % Increase in S&P 500 Companies Boosting Their Dividend Since 2002 * 65.0% % of Voters Who Were Investors in the 2004 Elections * 51.2% % of Total Tax Cut “Cost” That Has Been Recouped From Higher Levels of Growth * 14.0% % Margin of Victory for Republicans From Investor Voters in 2002 Elections * 4.6% Unemployment Rate Which Continues To Disprove the Constant Economic Pessimism * 3.7% % Average Quarterly GDP Growth Since Tax Cut Was Enacted (long run average is 3.3%)
  5. To be sure, what Peikoff asserts about the long-term trends of both of our major parties is very interesting and worthy of discussion. Neither are perfect, but one lends itself to long-term prosperity and the other toward a second-rate economy. Kind of like the difference between the worlds of V for Vendetta and 1984 or maybe Max Headroom, to bring it to extremes. Neither are good. All politics are local, and politics is quite complicated. This is especially so in California where our local elected offices are not partisan and the media will not report political affilliations in covering local races (I have lost this battle as a newspaper editor a number of times in my roughly 14-year career). Nonetheless, Peikoff's statements are provocative. All that said, the tail end of this remarks serve only to further the misconception that Objectivism is a cult and that people who like Rand are a bunch of weirdos. Objectivism is a philosophy, not a religion. Telling people what they are based on a blanket statement on something such as partisan choices in voting is tantamount to the actions of a priesthood. Here is comes full circle. Disavowing religion and then creating one's own where rather than worshipping a deity, the worship is of a living human who claims to be the pope of a deceased writer and philosopher (regardless of the fact her ideas were brilliant). We can think for ourselves, therefore I'm sure we are all smart enough to figure out how to vote without needing this false pope from telling us how to do so.
  6. That's provocative. Funny thing is, I have always understood evil exists and I can handle it well on an individual basis - such as when we were both assistant editors (myself and the Atlas-reading editor who's now my superior) and we had a terrible editor who was basically like James Taggart - a faker who usually did not deserve the positions accorded him or the acclaim he'd receive. A colleague of mine never understood how it was that I had the discipline to continue to come into work every day, do my work well and enjoy it. My consistent position, as it has been in cases like this before, was that I would not allow someone who I did not respect or value to control my emotional or intellectual response. In essence, he's lower than me and I will not be low like him. I briefly allowed it to emotionally overtake me - never gain. Now he's gone. But I sometimes have a harder time dealing with this kind of evil when I am in the midst of a collective of it. At any given time I could be prompted to state a political or philosophical position - not unheard of in a newsroom - and to say I would be outnumbered is an understatement. And journalists can be very vicious folks when they get together for a fight. And unlike the case where I had to deal with an evil individual, I am allowing the collective to enter my psychological space. I had never thought of it that way. So am I right to fight the good fight, continue to be a newspaper editor, because this is the work I love, and believe, despite its warts, that I am part of an institution integral to freedom? Being a do-er, in the way Francisco and Rearden were in this scene of Atlas, for some reason in those moments my disdane for my media brethren is cast aside. Here's a thought: Am I right in concluding that when I wander in to pondering whether I am helping evil or helping advance the leftist cause, am I betraying my own selfish needs by, in essence, extending my concern beyond my personal needs and my hapiness?
  7. This is quite right. This happens to me all the time. And it is frustrating because I am a journalist, an editor at a small-to-mid-sized daily paper, and I have loved newspapers since I was 8-years-old. But as you no doubt already know, by liberal or statist media brethren far, far outnumber those who think like me. This affliction also plagues my immediate editor, who is now reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time and is finding it validates almost everything he has valued in his life, particularly on issues relating to work ethics, decisionmaking and common sense. We both fix things here all the time, and many of those times we make things harder on ourselves. The frustration for me is that I wonder, and my fellow rational editor does too, whether we are just perpetually shooting ourselves in the foot. Are we really doing what we love, and doing it well because we know that it is right? Or are we just helping a cause and an industry most of whose membership stands against everything we believe? I think about journalists such as John Stossel who are fighting the good fight, but psychologically this struggle can be madenning.
  8. There are a number of good books out there that are appropriate for children that also teach them good values and how to think for themselves. An Objectivist-specific book might be better for kids approaching pre-teen age or pre-teens, depending on their level of maturity and reasoning ability. For my daughters I always liked Dr. Seuss' "Yertle the Turtle," where a turtle on the bottom of a tower of turtles holding up their king gets fed up with shouldering a burden from which he receives no benefit, then walks away and the tower, analogous to tyrannical government, collapses. Yertle wanted to "be free, as all creatures should be." Another is a Whinnie the Pooh story called "Who needs a king?" I also liked Suess' "The Lorax," though other Objectivists and libertarians I know don't like it because they feel it encourages excessive environmental regulation. I found that it teaches rational conservation of one's resources so that they can continue bearing fruit, rather than using them up to the point that there are no more - be that money that should be invested, trees in an orchard, flowers in a garden, etc. I bought the book by Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion" on Saturday, and at the bookstore told my 9-year-old daughter to read the book's inside flap after she asked me what it is about. She was able to reason the contradiction in Muslims saying the 9-11 hijackers will go to Heaven, while Christians say they'll go to Hell. I then posed the question of whether God could create a rock that is too heavy for him to lift. She replied with a big "Ohhhh," where the figurative wheels in her brain got spinnng. That was a good indicator to me that she is ready to start pondering some big questions.
  9. Presumably, she would think the same of me. At least in my experience they have told me so, so they value something in me as well. To clarify though on my point before, part of the reason I have my favorite physical type is that it is incumbent on appreciation of human beauty, humans being the highest of creatures and because physical attraction to other humans is a natural part of humanity. It is, after all, natural because that's the instinctual basis of reproduction. On the other hand, it is not natural for an animal of any kind, human or otherwise, to have that reproductive instinct with another species. Because nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed, one disobeys nature by having sex with another species. On the other hand, I view my conclusion of what makes a woman physically the most beautiful as my commanding nature. I am taking an instinct, and using the capacity of cognitive reason and logic unique to humans to refine it, in much the same way that we take the instinct to want to be warm and not only create a covering for our bodies, but create clothes that is comfortable or aesthetically pleasing. Or taking the instinct of seeking shelter from the elements and not just going into a cave or under a tree, but building sophisticated structures. So I take my natural attraction to the opposite sex and refine it to a specific standard of beauty that most pleases me. Now, this is on a physical basis only and doesn't cover the intellectual side. As far as the need of the other woman, I guess I hate to put it this way, but I'm frankly just being selfish by wanting to have sex with a beautiful woman whose appearance and sexual skills please me. Exactly! Well put. If someone works out, uses products that make their skin or hair nice, wear makeup in a way that accents naturally positive features and wears clothes that is flattering to one's body type, they value themselves as a human enough to have pride in their appearance and be proud of who they are. Even if, say, I disagree with someone politically, I admire that they care enough of the value of humanity to care about themselves and their value as a person like that.
  10. To start with, I am leery of the practice of quoting Ayn Rand and trying to interpret how she would want someone to behave because Objectivism is not a religion and I am loathe to treat Rand and her words in a way similar to the way Christians treat the words of Jesus Christ and his apostles or Muslims and the writings of Muhammed. To be sure, however, Rand's words are interesting and enlightening and excellent food for thought and she was a brilliant thinker. I agree with most of what she wrote and said. Among that is the notion that everyone should think for him or herself based on Objective standards. But she did not found a religion. That said, if one has objective standards of such facets of life like behavior, law, art, beauty, etc. there is nothing wrong with finding value in a person whose body is what one's standards would consider a beautiful physical form. After all, that is the case in art all the time. I find the beautiful physical form even better in person. It is not wrong to get physical and psychological pleasure from experiencing the five senses with a person one finds to be of great physical beauty, as long as that standard of beauty is based on an Objective standard that his highly discriminate. That kind of sex is different than sex based on love or even friendship. For instance, I like women who are curvaceous, not skinny, tall, with distinct lines of body definition and very toned legs, large symmetrical breasts and a perfectly symmetrical, round behind and a pretty face that has striking angular features, and feminine hands and a pretty, straight smile. We've all seen statues and paintings like this made by artists who had similar standards and created or painted representations of what they see as human physical perfection. It is pleasing to the eye so much so that it is pleasing to the mind. I've sought out women (and married one for higher, moral and psychological reasons because I admire her values) like that because being in their presence pleased me, and having sex with them moreso. That is different than debased, animalistic sex because it is highly discriminate and requires an appreciation of distinct forms. There is nothing wrong with that.
  11. IBD is probably the best investment news source available. Used with the Web site, the paper is outstanding. I was an economics writer there a few years ago (now back in the mainstream media). I still read it almost every day. In another thread I get into media bias from a journalists point of view, so I won't repeat it. But suffice it to say, the leftist bias is something I am always needing to be on my toes to watch. I don't think it's so much that it is on purpose, but simply that most journalists are liberal and that's how they see the world - that government is the solution to all our ills and that altruism is something everybody has a duty to practice. IBD's concerted bias is to promote success and good business. It's the only paper I worked at that did not have a majority left bias in its newsroom.
  12. I've never had angst about this in my 10+ years of being an objectivist who is attracted to bigger girls. I'm attracted to smaller ones too. It's what makes me happy and is what is pleasing to my eye and suits my needs and desires. The common denominator I've found in girls I like is that they are what I'd describe best as being larger-than-life - that is, having characteristics (be they physical, personality or intellectual) that make them stand out from the average. Among that attraction, I've liked girls of many shapes and sizes. That said, grouple like Naafa are just grabbing for media attention and are just a lame form of collectivism because they presume that everyone should think just as they do. These people have grabbed on to their weight as a way to get attention or as a way to attempt to justify their existence by being activists. If they looked into themselves rather than at other people perhaps they would see they don't need that justification.
  13. I'll offer the point of view of a journalist of nearly 14 years experience who is also an objectivist. I am one of the local news editors at a small-to-mid-sized daily. Before that I was a reporter for about nine years at papers big and small, national and community, business and general news. I've covered everything from city councils and school boards as a community news reporter to decisions by the Federal Reserve as an economics writer. Members of the craft are generally expected to follow the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. In a nutshell, the way we operate at my newspaper is to produce a fair, accurate and complete report and do the least harm possible in doing so. Presumably, that mantra is intended to establish and protect a news organization's credibility. We are supposed to tell the truth and give people information they need to be citizens. Curiously, that mantra does not address the individual journalist's point of view or frame of reference created by his or her life experience. That sum of life experience, without a doubt, factors into the journalist's news judgement and reporting. I am very comfortable reporting the truth of basic news (where cars crash, what a city council decided or what got damaged in an earthquake). It is when news requires choices on reporting that is not hard news where I frequently get annoyed by my journalistic brethren. For instance: I supervise a health-care reporter on my team who is decidedly liberal and advocates a state-run, single-payer health insurance system with private insurance and private payments to health professionals outlawed - much like in Canada. The reporter frequently cites studies and statistics whose methodology I find flawed (http://blog.mises.org/archives/005523.asp). For context, in our newsroom of about 50 people, there are two Republicans, overwhelming majority of Democrats and a decent amount of decline-to-state registration, according to our local voter rolls. One Republican is in high management, the other a middle manager. My ethical dilemma is that on the one hand, one could argue that someone of my values is needed to keep journalists in check (I'm sure the other side would say the same of me). On the other hand, am I hurting more than helping by being a part of the media apparatus? Journalists like John Stossel as my heroes, and that is what I strive to be. But it's a tough fight.
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