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4 hours ago, merjet said:

[1] Yours is one opinion. Many others believe it is vote buying and you have not refuted them. If you believe there is such a thing as vote buying, please give an example or two.

If you demonstrate that something doesn't fit the definition, then you refuted everyone who says it does fit the definition... 

4 hours ago, merjet said:

[2] I didn’t get it from you. I read and saw, for example here and here (both linked in this thread), that “financial obligations” includes more than fines. Apparently, you didn’t read that, forgot what you read, or ignored it.

How come you're talking about financial obligations? We were talking about fines. I mean, am I mistaken saying that Bloomberg was only paying fines, but not the other financial obligations? I should clarify that I feel the same way about fees as I do about fines. 

 

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A difference between paying a bribe and paying a fine is that a bribe is conditioned on the recipient performing an action, and charity is not. If I charitably pay your fine, you are free to thank me

Tony, this horse we children would ride out in the country belonged to that man I spoke of who went to school only through the third grade. He was the second husband of our mother. He was a cattle ran

I don't understand why you guys dump on Trump for not being a perfect defender of individual rights but hand-wave dismiss the Democrats and Biden's complete dismissal of individual rights as essential

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7 hours ago, merjet said:

[1] Yours is one opinion. Many others believe it is vote buying and you have not refuted them. If you believe there is such a thing as vote buying, please give an example or two.

[2] I didn’t get it from you. I read and saw, for example here and here (both linked in this thread), that “financial obligations” includes more than fines. Apparently, you didn’t read that, forgot what you read, or ignored it.


 

No one believes Bloomberg was acting from the kindness of his heart, and make that about the millionth time in history that 'inducements' have been proffered to people to curry favour for a politico, a not too subtle way to sway uncertain voters. (One example, as a youth on the Oakland Ca. waterfront Jack London recounts in a book how the fishermen were given free drinks in the taverns by a minor politician's stooges. Every election time represented a gigantic booze-up for them). What's new? Also typical in African countries is vote peddling a little more overtly than Bloomberg's efforts. The ploys of voter pandering in a Democracy - the inherently compromised institution, which many argue the US Democrats(!) and media have subverted further by daily trying to sabotage or thwart the duly elected president from day one. Not a grand example set of Democracy for governments and populaces in third world countries who are watching proceedings there and learning. From what anyone knows of Africa, a democracy fails when there are not graceful losers and gracious winners. Of course, the USA's Republic and proper Constitution goes far to allay that danger, while not entirely.

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Merlin,

Unfortunately, my computer died a week ago, so in the interim, the main thread has wandered down a number of other paths. I want to focus on the question of whether Bloomberg’s act is bad issues

The causally-primary issue (though not necessarily the most important issue) in this thread is your mention of bribery. I objected to that implication on legal grounds, you responded that your comment is from a philosophical perspective, not a legal one. Here is the problem: “bribery” is a legal concept, and outside of that context it is a floating abstraction. People may use it metaphorically to talk about similar acts, for example “bribing” a friend to help wit a project. I personally find it to be bad practice to talk metaphorically in philosophy, because it makes it very hard to judge a claim, when you only halfway know the meaning of a term. Under what “philosophical” definition of bribery is Bloomberg’s act bribery? Is political advertising bribery, are dollar-off grocery coupons bribery? And so what? What makes bribery bad, if it is bad? Legally, his act does not constitute bribery or vote-buying (which is another quasi-legal term). Philosophically, it has not been established that the act is bad.

Your premises seem to be that (1) that the act is bad and (2) it is so bad that it constitutes the initiation of force and should be prohibited by law. “Seem” refers to a conclusion that I draw based on the evidence of your discussion. I am fairly sure about (1), I explicitly ask you to confirm or deny (2) – pending a direct answer I won’t pursue (2) any further. What I most want to understand is the principle(s) that support the conclusion that Bloomberg’s action is bad (not good, or right in the middle of the scale).

A possible reason for saying that it is a bad act is those people might vote for Democrats, and any act that enables voting for Democrats is bad. That seems to me to be an unlikely philosophical stance for you to take, but I offer it as one principle. The most reasonable objection that I can imagine is based on a premise about voting: that convicted felons should be permanently voting-disabled, and Florida law on this point in objectively invalid. I first question the premise that “felony” would be a valid basis for distinguishing between those with a right to vote versus no right to vote. Martha Stewart is a felon, but did not violate anyone’s rights. Not all (criminal) rights-violations are felonies. I find the “felony” criterion to be indefensible, whereas at least with “criminal rights violation”, there is a somewhat reasonable basis for saying “that person should never be allowed to vote again”.

Even if we conclude that Florida made a mistake in allowing convicted felons to vote under certain circumstances, it does not follow that contributing to an organization that enables felons to satisfy the legal requirements for voting is therefore immoral. Taxation is initiation of force, taxation is immoral, receiving scholarships funded by taxes is not immoral (I assume, given Rand’s writing on the topic, that you agree: correct me if you disagree). I would like to see the line of reasoning that supportins the conclusion that Bloomberg’s act is bad.

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

Unfortunately, my computer died a week ago, so in the interim, the main thread has wandered down a number of other paths. I want to focus on the question of whether Bloomberg’s act is bad issues. ...

Sorry to hear about your computer. Earlier this year a Windows update wrecked the OS on my desktop. I paid a local computer shop to get a software re-build. That took 3-4 days.

In my view “bribe” has a legal meaning and an ordinary meaning. I disagree that my using “bribe” with its ordinary meaning but not legal meaning makes it a floating abstraction or even a metaphor. Also, one of my premises is not that what Bloomberg is doing or has done constitutes an initiation of force that should be prohibited by law. There are many ways P1 could bribe P2 w/o it being illegal. Suppose a high school coach pays a star athlete and his parents so that the star athlete will attend the coach’s high school. Bribery, yes, but it’s probably not illegal. Nor is it initiation of force or fraud. Modify the example to make it college rather than high school. Then the coach may break NCAA rules, but it is not illegal. Still no initiation of force or fraud.

There are all sorts of wrongs that don’t qualify as initiation of force or fraud – breaches of contract, breaches of trust, even recklessly violating traffic laws. (Many of the breaches could violate civil law rather than criminal law.)

I explained my disapproval of what Bloomberg has done here. It is not initiation of force nor fraud, but it is (arguably) breaking the law and trampling on the principle of the rule of law. It may also be a trampling of rules regarding 501(c)(3) entities and 501(c)(4) entities like I explained here.

If John Doe gives money to ex-felon John Smith so that Smith can pay his financial penalties and Smith then vote in Florida, even if I could accurately predict how Smith would vote, I have no problem with that. Doe’s motive is likely charity rather than a bribe. If John Doe gives or solicits money to give the money to Smith and other ex-felons, I have no problem with that. Again Doe’s motive is likely charity rather than a bribe. But the sort of huge, organized effort of Mike Bloomberg, ActBlue Charities, and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to get around the law to influence vote counts in Florida and maybe abusing tax law, that’s a whole different story.

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16 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

Remember, for Presidential election projections updated daily, scroll down to the map of 100 disks here. In today's (10/7/20) proportion of electoral-win scenarios, the proportion has drifted to 17/83.

I wouldn't rely on that very much.  

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/

Hillary Clinton 71.4%    Donald Trump  28.6%

“It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” ― Yogi Berra

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Yes.

Some of the polling from other organizations that feeds into these projections (and their 40,000 scenarios) have tried to improve their samplings based on their 2016 miss (such as by including more people with less formal education). On the other hand, the Gallup organization, decided after polling poorly in 2010 and 2012, that forecasting US Presidential elections had become no longer feasible, and they quit it. They had been doing telephone interviews, and for better or worse, the data they were supplying is no longer available.

I don't know when there will be enough certified results to know one candidate or the other has passed 270. The plain average-of-polls results for this time in the election is for Trump about like Dole in 1996. However, Mr. Trump would likely win not only the states won by Dole (less VA and CO), but LA, AR, MO, TN, KY, and WV as well. That would still leave a wide electoral victory for the Democrat. We'll see.

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If any would care to follow this tortuous discussion. Let's just admit it, guys, it was all about the feelings you at ARI had re: Trump (like everybody else). This intellectualism is rationalization of that.

 

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Errata: ". . . the data they were supplying are no longer . . . "

Tony, well, no, no thanks. I never have in my long adult life ever been waiting for or in need of advice from anyone on whom I should vote for. There are no folks I personally know---from a man with education only through third grade to people with PhD's---who ever needed such advice or changed their mind upon receiving it. I have lots of family who support Donald Trump. They may repeat talking points in his favor or against his opponent candidate that they pick up from advertising and watching television, but they already had their decision before the latest chants. They had their reasons for being Republican, and that was their bottom line, however much they buy that whole typical package, and whomever was that Party's candidate. 

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On 10/8/2020 at 5:01 AM, Boydstun said:

 

Tony, well, no, no thanks. I never have in my long adult life ever been waiting for or in need of advice from anyone on whom I should vote for. 

Stephen, the gentle "advice" from Yaron Brook in his past podcasts has been such statements as: "You Objectivists who support Trump are sell-outs to Objectivism" and "Such Objectivists have been lobotomized by Trump". I'd think that O'ists for - and against - Trump would find this advice objectionable. I resent his authoritarian opinion and believe his judgment of Trump prejudiced by feelings, superficial and wrong. Hearing the debate above, while more balanced or attempting impartiality than before, reminds how the president will be judged by a. impossible standards (e.g. laissez-faire) or b. double standards by some O'ists.

The unfounded response from ARI dating from the first months of Trump's tenure was to predict a theocratic dictatorship, which Brook raised again in this election run-up. Well, where is it? Perhaps planned in his second term..? I will take a bet it won't happen.

That's by the by. The irrational and lock-step reactions by the public in 2016 there and abroad and here which puzzled me, growing in crescendo over four years tipped me off that this hysteria signified something more important to all those people than just the election of a rather rough personality and a non-politician - who was going to build the Wall - to the White House. I concluded from my observations, reading many articles and listening to individuals I know there and locally, that 1. Trump was upsetting the American and international ~sacrificial~ mode expected from the USA and 2. that his ~manner~ offended the aesthetic senses of many. This latter is a consequence of the behaviorism of modern times, slipped into imperceptibly by degrees: style has overtaken substance. The "way' some thing is made or done weighs ~far~ more today than the identity of the thing and action. 

Substance lacking much style is what I recall in my youth and teens and was sometimes coarse and hurtful but now we have gone over to the opposite which is worse: Anti-identity - followed logically with hypocrisy and untruthfulness. Appearances (of virtue, i.e. "love") on display to others (and corresponding second-handedness) count more to many lately, than reality and blunt honesty. Movies and media have been perpetrating this in imagery and symbolism.

(As - I think it was the Romantic Manifesto - where Rand put it that the "what" must always take precedence above the "how". What goes for art, "content and stylization", is also and should be consistent with all man-made things and man-actions, I have found and I think is undeniable. Function precedes form).

All the above I believe Trump knows consciously or implicitly. Under all his crassly chaotic actions and words I see him correcting the drift away from core values in the US and for that he's hated. He clearly knows that Americans are doers. Americans are independents. Those of us, some, on the outside are heartened by this, which might be the last stand of independence existing.

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Tony, this horse we children would ride out in the country belonged to that man I spoke of who went to school only through the third grade. He was the second husband of our mother. He was a cattle rancher; paratrooper and aircraft mechanic in North Africa and Italy during WWII; he knew his Catholic catechism. He read newspapers and did his own thinking. He did not need any advice in discerning a con man or discerning human depravity or goodness or in determining who would get his vote. Neither did the children on that horse in their adulthood.

c.1951.jpg

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I worry about the decline of America. That is not only the physical USA, but more the idea "America" which sustains a standard, a reference point to many outsiders. With a weakened US the West and civilisation is under threat too. In a conversation this came up: "Why worry, the US can't end up like Venezuela! It's too wealthy and even America's Left in power won't allow that!" The proposition is something I'm familiar with. When we, the ex-Rhodies arrived in South Africa from Zimbabwe, the refrain went "It can't happen here". But "it" has been happening and worsening in the RSA. When Zimbabwe was at its peak, the farms and mines produced, the country was a net food exporter and the population did well. (That's by the way to a leader who was already persecuting political/tribal opposition). Materially, the ideology of socialism hadn't dug in and the country was wealthy--relative to African countries..."Natural resources" are nothing without the human resources of individual minds, as we know: Venezuela rich in oil, and Zimbabwe with its crops both went to hell when the producers left. 

Relative to Zim, SA had an economy, industry etc., perhaps 1000 times the size. At the peak it was first in Africa in GDP. But fast forwarding, it did "happen here" and now our economy has recently been junked by Moody's. In the interim, everything happened gradually, less confidence in a Govt. promoting Marxist ideas, like redistribution, and intent on enriching its Party members, causing a net outflow of capital, and with it many of the industrial producers, able and skilled people.

The USA was and is maybe several thousand times greater economically to SA. But relatively, can go the same way.

Your nation still represents, finally, individualism and freedom, an opportunity which draws the best of people -to- the best of other people, and a place anything can be manifested. (An Elon Musk, originally from South Africa, but many more unknown lesser figures).

What I'm getting at, don't think "it can't happen" there. Of course, not to a Venezuela - but relative to its own standards "America" - the USA can decline as badly and disastrously. The bigger they come the harder they fall and the USA doesn't do things by halves (so even the Swedish model promised will be far exceeded). When the idea, America, has been tampered with by some most anti-American cynics in power, seemingly ashamed of being Americans, ever so gradually the people with ability and the wealth will depart for other places and those entering will number further to the Left. Eventually, if it goes that way, sure it will recover in another 20 years. And may be, not so bad: many people may learn a lesson about Left/socialism the hard way - you asked for it.

Now's a time to consolidate, as one learns personally in life - for a period after upheaval and tragedy, it can be irrational to take a chance experimenting with the new just -because- it is new and untried.

As I've insisted this most critical election isn't "Trump v. Harris" (er, Biden), simply. Contemplating Trump's possible exit, I was asked by a young girl what Trump had actually and outwardly done wrong, why is he so Bad? and I didn't have an easy reply, in effect: not much, a rough and often deliberately crude personality, his heart was in the right place and he had a view of the USA which could have benefited all Americans, conservative and middle Left, and foreign nations, if he'd been given a chance- but he was faced with the most malignant media and malevolent political opposition I've ever read of and seen, who cared more for defeating him than for their countryfolk and US principles. I think he'll be remembered for that one day. Okay, no more from me. It "can happen here" don't be smug or arrogant, was all I wanted to say.

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How deeply does the "It can't happen here" mentality seek to grasp the causal connections that produce the "it" that cannot allegedly occur?

Viewing election results as an effect puts your take on Trump in the light that many America's sense something is amiss but cannot put their proverbial finger on it. With the news headlines blaring their projected outcomes, the thought of the "Dewey Defeats Truman" incident reminds me of Gail Wynand's attempt to influence a world he had helped to shape by years of inertia while tending to other interests he held.

The influence of history on philosophy, or is it philosophy on history, might look to Newton's identification of his discoveries and how they contributed to the rise of the industrial revolution. Would discoveries in the science of philosophy be exempt from a similar role by those that do grasp and implement them into their own lives?

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Puts productivity in perspective:

GDP above 1.5 Trillion Dollars

USA 19.5

China 12.2

Japan 4.2

Germany 3.7

India 2.7

United Kingdom 2.6

France 2.6

Brazil 2.1

Italy 1.9

Canada 1.6

Russia 1.6

S. Korea 1.5

Ranked by GDP per Captia in Thousand-Dollars

USA 60

Germany 45

Canada 45

United Kingdom 40

France 40

Japan 38

Italy 32

South Korea 30

Russia 11

Brazil 10

China 9

India 2

(Only the rank of Brazil and China switches if we instead use a formula for GDP per Capita that takes into account purchasing power within the country. Figures are rounded from those given by Worldometer for 2017.)

 

Obj 1.jpeg

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MS, I watched your clip. He said he was voting for Trump. He did not say, imply, nor insinuate that anyone else should vote for Trump. He did imply that either choice was consistent with being an Objectivist. This is sensible, this not advising others who to vote for. We've never stood in need of any advice from anyone on such a decision.

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Although it is significant in that the same divisions that exist amongst us and the country exist in the Ayn Rand Institute.

In hind sight, maybe 10 years from now, the reasons why will be discovered.

The other issue is that Peikoff has now said that Yaron Brook is crazy. Again another disturbing turn of events.

I suspect the biggest loser in this election is going to be Objectivism.

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ET,

No. What is significant about Objectivism was not affected in a detrimental way by the split between Rand and Branden, not by Rand morally condemning me and others devoting our after-hours to working for the Libertarian Party, not by N. Branden condemning gay Objectivist-types as being by their gayness of low self-esteem, and not by the split between Peikoff and Kelley.

There will always be hucksters with money who try to get votes by saying “I like Ayn Rand” etc. The good news is that overwhelmingly Americans are not nitwits. And that is so all the more for people who read and absorb Rand’s novels and develop their own first-hand critically rational values.

Rand’s fiction and other articulations of her ethical theory will continue to help people in the making of their own lives. Same as ever. Her articulation of individual rights and its connection to an original theory of value will continue to be of the same modest influence as ever within the culture. Some of her ideas in value theory and in the theoretical areas of philosophy will continue to be examined, developed, and critiqued in some scholarly print by some with much education in philosophy. Such are the only genuine, significant winnings Objectivism has had or will have.

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I just wonder if the purges are going to start again at the Ayn Rand institute.

I guess time will tell.

Although the Branden thing was a major hit. Objectivists had to take sides etc..

Hopefully you are right about this. It certainly is the philosophy that has effected me the most and I support, but times like these requires some adaptation that I wish was not required.

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Elections are a reminder that we have the power of choice. When the focus is on how bad the 'choices' are (Trump/Biden), instead of seeking to discover why election after election provides 'the lesser of two evils', the focus usually boils down to analyzing down to the minutia of what is right/wrong with this or that particular candidate. 

Lately, as I've listened and re-listened to Galt's Speech while cutting the grass or working out at the gym, I've noticed her emphasis, when directed toward such, is not so much on the irrational as it is honed in on identifying those who have abandoned reason. 

The canons of Objectivism champion reason. An admirable objective might be to not get sucked into the games those who have abandoned reason generate in order to attract others seeking to cut corners that ought be left intact. (Please pardon the poetic license.)

 

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16 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I just wonder if the purges are going to start again at the Ayn Rand institute.

I guess time will tell.

Although the Branden thing was a major hit. Objectivists had to take sides etc..

Hopefully you are right about this. It certainly is the philosophy that has effected me the most and I support, but times like these requires some adaptation that I wish was not required.

Not to derail this topic, but what actual affect does any Objectivist rift have on your life? Or on the effectiveness of Objectivism as a philosophy? How would any negative outcome from the petty bickering between Objectivists compare to China's censoring of the internet, or Russia's disappearing of political independents, or the American welfare state?

As far as I have seen, bickering between Objectivists is no different from regular old bickering - it only hurts those involved, it helps no one, and it's best to just ignore it completely. There's nothing special about "philosophic" bickering that doesn't make asses out of its participants.

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1 hour ago, JASKN said:

but what actual affect does any Objectivist rift have on your life?

I suppose it may be a false expectation that things have been thought through, "rational", so the bickering has been ringed out of it.

The chaos and bickering in nascent, non-thought out philosophies, is standard, expected and not finding solutions is par for the course.

Objectivism, certainly in abstract areas, areas that Boydston mentioned is pretty solid and complete. There is no bickering there.

The more concrete on gets, i.e. practical application, it starts looking almost like all previously validated principles are now suspect.

As far as ignoring goes, I can't simply ignore something Peikoff or Brooks said. I have to examine what I thought I didn't have to examine.

That's what is distressing to me.

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what actual affect does any Objectivist rift have on your life?

I’ve thought about this off and on for a couple of decade, after I discovered that there exist rifts. Let’s take a bigger rift for contrast: the division between Objectivists and outpoken militant Kantian nihilists, awoke progressives, or the religious right, especially strangers. I view them as an evil that I should work against for the sake of my own survival qua man (being only slightly hyperbolic). The reason is that the consequences of these philosophical errors are not trivial. The destruction wrought by the disintegrationists over the past 50 years is palpable, and over the past 10 years has become frightening (whereas I see the danger of the religious right as being, at this point, not directly relevant to my life).  It is even more problematic when some person of personal value holds these evil views, because I know that they are not evil, they are just seriously misguided, and I occasionally have a misguided view that they are open to reason and therefore can be corrected. I personally don’t care to reform the philosophy of my local city council, I just want them and their ilk gone. I am happy to denounce those wingnuts, because they are of no value to me.

Objectivists have a special position in my hierarchy of values, because of our shared values. The problem is that the facts and logic lead to just one conclusion, and clearly you must agree with me, so how can we tolerate someone in our own ranks who does not agree with us? Reason is a precise tool – it’s is man’s proper tool for survival – so reason can’t be at fault. Isn’t it therefore reasonable to think that the problem is that the other guy has abandoned reason? An Objectivist abandoning reason is a serious betrayal. Of course one has a strong negative emotional response to betrayal of fundamental principles.

I suppose there may be other explanations for disagreements amongst Objectivists. I personally don’t deal with the conclusions of the top Objectivists, and in general, I don’t deal with instant sound-bite logical connections between the perceptual and high-level conclusions. I am most interested in developing the hierarchy, in my hierarchy of knowledge, especially being able to actually say what the hierarchy is and why A must be above B and not the other way around. I would love it if someone could lay out a system of abstract conclusions, and a proper justification for the conclusions, that would lead me to see that I should vote for Biden, or for Trump, or for Jorgensen.

The main effect of rifts is that it increases the noise to signal ratio, so that all you can hear is denunciations based on foundations, rather than reasons.

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6 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

Objectivists have a special position in my hierarchy of values, because of our shared values. The problem is that the facts and logic lead to just one conclusion, and clearly you must agree with me, so how can we tolerate someone in our own ranks who does not agree with us? Reason is a precise tool – it’s is man’s proper tool for survival – so reason can’t be at fault. Isn’t it therefore reasonable to think that the problem is that the other guy has abandoned reason? An Objectivist abandoning reason is a serious betrayal. Of course one has a strong negative emotional response to betrayal of fundamental principles.

I like one of the points Onkar Ghate made in his Study of Galt's Speech. The patience exercised on the behalf of the strikers. Consider the passages leading up to what Hugh Akston told Dagny: "

"Consider the reasons which make us certain that we are right," said Hugh Akston, "but not the fact that we are certain. If you are not convinced, ignore our certainty. Don't be tempted to substitute our judgment for your own."

If someone does not agree with me, and I am right, why does the other guy have to have abandoned reason, or even be irrational. In fact, my being right (or anyone else's for that matter) does not depend on others agreeing with my conclusion. What should matter is what is right, and, if needed, why is it right.

Self-esteem comes from the reliance on one's ability to think. Did Hugh Akston or any of the others in Galt's Gulch consider Dagny irrational for not agreeing with them? Did they think she had abandoned reason to return to New York? While it was many in the world that had abandoned reason, Galt's broadcast was to those who had not.

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