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LTE opportunities in The Economist

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Paul Hsieh

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As I was reading the latest (July 12, 2008) edition of The Economist magazine, I saw two articles in the "United States" section that offered good opportunities for a brief LTE. Both articles are available for free online, to subscribers and nonsubscribers alike.

The first article was, "Out of the Wilderness"


This article explicitly notes that the old-school conservationists wanted to preserve the outdoors for human enjoyment and use; in contrast, the modern environmentalists want to keep people away from the outdoors. This mirrors a point that Yaron Brook made in his recent OCON lectures on cultural change in the section on environmentalism.

However, the article conflates those two groups, so one possible LTE topic could be on the distinction between the pro-man views of the older conservationists vs. the anti-man views of the modern environmentalists.

(My summary and review of these OCON 2008 lectures on cultural change by Brook and Ghate is available here at:


The second article that caught my eye was, "My country, 'tis of thee":


This article notes that both Obama and McCain are calling for greater "civic engagement" and "community service". However, the article lumps together legitimate activities (such as getting involved in politics) with illegitimate actions by the government (such as mandatory community service).

Because I am personally more interested in the second issue than the first, I chose to respond to the second article. Of course, The Economist is a national publication, so the chances of getting printed are smaller than in one's local newspaper. But I still thought this would be a worthwhile chance to practice my argument.

And I thought I'd alert others to these articles in case they were also interested in sending them a quick LTE on these topics.

For those who are interested, a copy of my LTE is attached below.


Paul Hsieh, MD

E-mail: <[email protected]>

Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine: <http://www.WeStandFIRM.org>


Dear Economist:

I would like to submit the following letter to the editor in response to "My country, 'tis of thee" in the July 12, 2008 edition.



It is important to distinguish between two meanings of "civic engagement". Civic engagement in the sense of participating in politics is good. Americans are ultimately responsible for the actions of their government and should properly stay abreast of those actions.

In contrast, any government-mandated "community service" runs contrary to core American values. Life isn't about putting bandages on other people's sores; it's about creating value, achieving goals, and pursuing a happy full existence in accordance with our nature as rational beings. Charity towards others is perfectly fine when in accordance with one's values and priorities. But as writer Ayn Rand once noted, one's highest moral purpose is to achieve one's own happiness. Charity should be a secondary aspect of one's life, not a primary purpose.

Paul Hsieh

Sedalia, CO

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