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1. With threats to industry rising from every direction like the heads of a hydra these days, I am grateful to Jason Crawford for coming up with a memorable name for a key, universally applicable weapon we will need to fight back, industrial literacy:
I've said before that understanding where our modern standard of living comes from, at a basic level, is a responsibility of every citizen in an industrial civilization. Let's call it "industrial literacy." [bold added]
Crawford gives a few examples of what this would mean, and concludes in part:
smokestack.jpg
"Anyone over 30 years of age today, give a silent 'Thank you' to the nearest, grimiest, sootiest smokestacks you can find." -- Ayn Rand (Image by Victor Garcia, via Unsplash, license.)
With industrial literacy, you can see the economy as a set of solutions to problems. Then, and only then, are you informed enough to have an opinion on how those solutions might be improved.

A lack of industrial literacy (among other factors) is turning what ought to be economic discussions about how best to improve human health and prosperity into political debates fueled by misinformation and scare tactics. We see this on climate change, plastic recycling, automation and job loss, even vaccines. Without knowing the basics, industrial civilization is one big Chesterton's Fence to some people: they propose tearing it down, because they don't see the use of it. [emphasis and link in original
Overcoming this problem handicaps every advocate of industrial civilization at the moment, because anything, from a defense of plastic bags to fossil fuels almost always has to include some kind of introduction, refresher, or corrective to alarmingly common misconceptions.

2. With California Governor Gavin Newsom having just commissioned a study on reparations, the first thing any such panel should do is read Harry Binswanger's blog post titled "Slavery Did Not Benefit 'Whites'":
You don't need Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy to know that crimes are not racially shared, that there is no collective guilt. The fact that a group of people with white skin enslaved a group of people with dark skin does not mean that everyone with a white skin bears guilt for the crime. The same applies to the "Jim Crow" laws that used to exist in the Southern states: guilt for this rights violation does not attach to skin color.

But it seems that you do need Rand's Objectivism, or at least quite an advanced understanding of capitalism, to realize the error and the insult to blacks in the idea that whites gained financially from slavery, as the term "white privilege" implies.
It was wrong for plantation owners -- white or black, by the way -- to deprive other human beings of their freedom and the fruits of their labors; and it would be wrong to do the same to people alive today.

To do so based on this contemplated modern equivalent of the doctrine of original sin would be particularly unjust.

3. Ben Bayer of the Ayn Rand Institute takes a look at a very common and counterproductive tactic many people use today to avoid examining or discussing ideas, unserious charges of hypocrisy:
Many of today's unserious charges of hypocrisy aren't merely sloppy. Too often they are a ruse to distract everyone from discussing substantive questions, a tactic to skirt around issues that the accusers don't want to touch.

For instance, branding Greta Thunberg a hypocrite allows some of her accusers to skirt the moral question of whether they should revere her environmentalist ideal. It allows them to evade their sense of guilt about not practicing it, by claiming that it's just impossible to practice. (Similar considerations apply to charging socialists with hypocrisy.) Wouldn't it be more honest to face head-on the question of whether these ideals are actually rational?
As Bayer indicates at least thrice, it is very easy for others to see through such charges -- especially when they are based on actions that could reasonably and properly be motivated by those very ideas. But the real damage comes to the one leveling the charges, both in terms of not understanding an issue and harming a cause he supposedly cares about.

4. Almost everyone has experienced resistance to taking easy steps that could help oneself, according to Jean Moroney of Thinking Directions. After offering three possible sources for such conflicts, Moroney notes:
I hesitate to say that you can always find the proximate cause for why you can't do something you think you should do that is doable. But I will say that it is never appropriate to blame it on your character or personality. Even if there are some bad habits mixed in with the problem, the only way you can change those habits is by analyzing concrete situations and finding a way forward that is compatible with the psychology you have now. You always have choices at the moment; they just aren't always the choices you wish they were!
Perhaps we all need reminding, from time to time, that we have to fight our battles as the soldiers we are, and that that's okay.

-- CAV

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