“Rise Above” Envy

I am not a rich person as defined by our current leadership in Washington, and while money is very important accumulating wealth is not a driving force in my life. Nevertheless, I was raised to admire but never envy the wealth of others. To never desire that which I have not earned, nor to enjoy benefits, goods, or services for which I have not paid. How did so many Americans lose that idea and, instead, come to think in profoundly opposite terms? In terms which divide us and create class envy and bitterness resulting in scores of people fully dependent upon the redistribution of others wealth, or the government directly.

There’s a discussion in all of this Rise Above rhetoric that seems to be missing. And it is a discussion of the fundamental morality of a viewpoint held by a large proportion of people who think of themselves as upstanding Americans while simultaneously believing that it’s right and proper to tax progressively more from people who they think can afford it. Or, from people arbitrarily defined as “rich” or “wealthy” to the extent that amounts they have earned beyond the arbitrary wealth boundary is deemed fundamentally not theirs, nevermind the fact they earned it. That those who think they need it, in fact have a claim to it. How did we get to this point in America where people are so envious of the earned wealth of others that they actually embrace the idea and empower the government to take more and more by force?

And they justify this scheme uttering empty words such as social justice – a concept devoid of any true sense of equity, or actual justice.

Have those who think this way ever considered the actual number of dollars so-called wealthy people pay in taxes? In many many cases very likely more (far more in the case of the “uber rich”) than they, themselves, earn in total – let alone what they might pay in taxes? Do they honestly think these arbitrarily defined so-called wealthy people are somehow not “paying their fair share” while they, who pay comparatively little or nothing, somehow are? On what basis, what moral code, do people operate that guides them to the conclusion that they have a right to enjoy products, services, or financial assistance at no cost to themselves? How do these people sleep at night knowing they use things and obtain services for which not only have they never paid a dime, but obscenely argue ought not pay a dime!

Here’s a thought to consider: ask not what can be taken at the proverbial point of a gun from other people just because they have it so that you can enjoy some unearned and undeserved reward. Rather, how about demanding less from our government and paying for what you do use and benefit from (something at least). And while you’re at it, rather than begrudging and vilifying the success of those who work hard, save, accumulate, and use wealth as they see fit for their own designs, why not hail them as heroes for their hard work and honest efforts!

In short, I appreciate and admire all this talk about Rising Above. However, if we’re going to rise above something why not rise above the petty social mentality of envy, demand less from government, and focus on our own business rather than our neighbor’s. That would truly be Rising Above; taxing the so-called rich more is neither moral nor a solution to any problem.

Posted in Justice, Liberty, Taxes. Comments Off on “Rise Above” Envy

Ayn Rand and Gun Rights

The one person who clearly delineated the concept of “individual rights” as I think I made rather clear in my two previous posts-more clearly than anyone else-was Ayn Rand. You can study her theory of rights more fully in several places, but three I would recommend (in proper reading order) are Craig Biddle’s book, Loving Life; Ayn Rand’s book, The Virtue of Selfishness; and then Tara Smith’s fantastic work, Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics.

Ms Rand appears to have said very little, and wrote even less, on the specific topic of gun control and gun rights vis-a-vis the individual citizen. One somewhat singular exception to this was in an interview where she stated:

“I have given it no thought at all and, off-hand, I would say, no, the government shouldn’t control guns except in very marginal forms. I don’t think it’s very important because I don’t think it is in physical terms that the decisions and the fate of this country will be determined. If this country falls apart altogether, if the government collapses bankrupt, your having a handgun in your pocket isn’t going to save your life. What you would need is ideas and other people who share those ideas and fighting towards a proper civilized government, not handguns for personal protection.”

In addition, in the book Ayn Rand Answers a Q&A was cited as follows:

I do not know enough about it to have an opinion, except to say that it’s not of primary importance. Forbidding guns or registering them is not going to stop criminals from having them; nor is it a great threat to the private, noncriminal citizen if he has to register the fact that he has a gun. It’s not an important issue, unless you’re ready to begin a private uprising right now, which isn’t very practical.

It’s a complex, technical issue in the philosophy of law. Handguns are instruments for killing people — they are not carried for hunting animals — and you have no right to kill people. You do have the right to self-defense, however. I don’t know how the issue is to be resolved to protect you without giving you the privilege to kill people at whim.

My take on this is that to Ms Rand it was ideas that mattered, and to the extent people grasp and understood her foundational concepts regarding the initiation of physical force coupled with the unique status of police and the military gun rights, per se, were clearly a subordinated right to the overriding fundamental right to an individuals own life. I plan on revisiting this one in the future as I contemplate it further.

Posted in Book Referral, Liberty, Philosophy. Comments Off on Ayn Rand and Gun Rights

The Source of Natural Rights: Part II

Physical force is anti-life. And to whatever extent or degree it is used, it restricts or prevents one from acting on his or her own judgment. The greater the force the less human a life one can live. This is not an opinion, a social convention or a divine decree – it is a metaphysical fact.

The way that humans live (survive) is by acting on their rational judgment, as opposed to animals or plants that survive by evolutionary instinct and/or biochemical reactions which mutate over time via natural selection. Of course, humans also evolve and mutate but their fundamental tool of survival is their rational mind. And when we humans are precluded or stopped by force from exercising our rational judgments our lives are ratably lessened, and in the worst case resulting in death. Choosing to ignore this objective, metaphysical, fact of the need to act rationally and use reason to survive and live will just as directly limit an individual’s independence; his freedom to act on his own judgment, which is the definition of liberty. Remember, man has no innate instincts to guide his actions. If a man chooses to ignore reason and rational action there are no innate instincts that will save him; pain, suffering, and even death will eventually find him, and it will find him whether he likes it or not because that is the nature of reality.
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Celebrate Columbus Day!

Tom Bowden of ARI states matters succinctly and absolutely.. Columbus Day really ought to be a national holiday where we celebrate the greatest cultural achievement of all time – western civilization in general, and the birth and development of the idea of America in particular.

Posted in Liberty, National Politics and Policy, Property Rights. Comments Off on Celebrate Columbus Day!

Q: What do you get when …

… you mix a social mystic with a religious mystic?

The Praying Sophist

A: Instead of a well-dressed chap passing a shiny, velvet bottomed, beggars dish along a pew you get a well-dressed aging bureaucrat pointing a gun at your head forcing you to engage in sacrifice.. all the while giving it inane labels such benevolence, caring, responsible citizenship, etc.

The fundamental difference between the religious mystic’s demands for sacrifice and the social mystic’s demand for the same is merely the point of a gun. In both cases you are required to abdicate your individual self-interest, reason, and rationality, thereby subordinating your values and that which makes you human to the interests of a non-entity: God, in the case of religion; society, in the case of social mysticism.

In the case of financial support of a church you are giving up a value (your wealth) for an ostensibly greater value, the work of the church. But what, exactly, is the work of the church premised upon? The will of (or glory of) God, say the priests, prophets, and ministers. If it were provable that such an entity existed then such an offering is utterly meaningless and without any merit; what, pray tell, would an omnipotent, omniscient, being need? This seems like a pretty easy question, does it not?

The giving up of a lesser value for a greater one is not a sacrifice – that’s a trade, a deal, or a bargain. Going down to the gas station and paying for a tank of gas is not a sacrifice because you value the transportation of you, your vehicle, and whatever else you are moving about MORE than the money you pay for the gasoline. The station owner is in exactly the opposite situation; he values your money more than the gasoline. Both parties get what they need, and no one is short-changed provided neither party is forced. In fact, in a free market with rational actors there cannot be any sacrifice simply because only lesser values are given for greater ones. Sacrifice then becomes the heart and soul of misinvestments and malinvestments, and is in fact that which is mistakenly perceived to be the imperfect nature of capitalism. If you are forced to purchase gasoline at the expense of not being able to buy food, shelter or clothing for your family, that is a sacrifice and a malinvestment. If you are forced to buy gasoline from only a single supplier, that too is a sacrifice and a misinvestment. So, it turns out that capitalism is clearly not the problem here – sacrifice is the evil ingredient, slipped in under the cover of darkness.

Consequently, if you do not value what you receive for your life’s work, whatever that may be, the money you earn, then you cannot make a sacrifice by giving it away. If you do value money then you would be making a sacrifice by giving it away, but only to the extent that that which you give it to you value less. Yet, most religions would tell you that God must be, IS, your highest value. Therefore, there is nothing you can logically sacrifice, including your own life, or the life of your child (sorry Abraham, but it is readily apparent that you were self-delusional), if God’s will is your highest value… yet religion is premised upon the creed of self-sacrifice as a moral tenet. On the other hand, if you do value yourself, your child, and, or, the value of your life’s work (your money) higher than God, you are now in a predicament: you can either be moral or you can continue to live – you cannot do both simultaneously. If you desire to be moral, you must hold God as your highest value, if you desire to live you must hold your own life as your highest value. You could only make a sacrifice to God if you truly believed your life was primary; a value higher than God. Does this mean then that we live in a world of fundamental contradiction? No. The answer here is simple: your premise is flawed. There is no God to which you owe anything, and any religion premised upon that idea is fundamentally wrong.

When a thug of social mysticism, aka a politician of the Harry Reid variety, attempts to embody both creeds of self sacrifice you get the worst case scenario. They will demand that you sacrifice for the greater good of another non-entity: society. Your responsibility, they will tell you (perhaps in not so many words), is that you are to live as a sacrificial animal for the benefit of others. That you will benefit in ways neither he nor you can measure, but that surely you can imagine in your minds eye. The fact that such benefit is incalculable is of no consequence. The fact that the costs to you are immense is irrelevant. And to seal this package deal, you will comply because there is a gun to your head if you should consider any other option.. Yet, in a representative republic, as opposed to a dictatorship, the social mystic does not always get his way. He needs votes, and he does face the task of re-election. Consequently, he will, when the going gets tough, appeal to another non-entity, subtly perhaps, to garner support.

This sort of creature is fully prepared to play both sides of the sacrifice scam. They will tell you that it is your duty to help your fellow man, that you are indeed your brothers keeper – not just in spirit, but your mind and your body (and any wealth you may have). That you have a moral obligation to live a subordinated existence. An existence that scans the world for perceived needs, and then obligates you by force and faith to pay for it. They call this abomination either the social contract or the will of God – either way, or both ways together, your life and your pursuit of your own happiness is not just irrelevant, but an obstacle to their plans and schemes. The contradictions and convolutions required in this view are stunning, the implications for individual rights frightening – yet they persist.

So the answer to the question is simply bondage and tyranny over your mind and your life.

For further opinion on this phenomena, see my prior post: GOP: RIP

Posted in Liberty, National Politics and Policy, Philosophy, Property Rights, Religion. Comments Off on Q: What do you get when …

Required reading

The Creed of Sacrifice vs. The Land of Liberty

Craig Biddle

The proper purpose of government, wrote Thomas Jefferson, is to “guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”1 The government “shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”2

Complete essay here..

By the way, there is a great recorded interview of Craig by Diana Hsieh: LINK..

Posted in Liberty, Philosophy. Comments Off on Required reading

Lance, I Will Not Sign Your Petition (Part 3)

In Part I of this three-part reply to Lance Armstrong’s petition-signing request, was a personal anecdote making the point that individuals across this country face challenges with health related issues all the time, including cancer. And, with all due respect to Armstrong, he isn’t unique. Moreover, how we deal with those challenges, and how we view the world around us, makes all the difference. Furthermore, that life can be profoundly short, but that our vision for life cannot: an individual must not, no matter how tempting the reason, give sanction to those who would claim his life (and his progeny’s) as a means to the ends of others. Part I concluded that it was the founding fathers of this country who declared their independence in a document that reflected an idea that the rights of an individual are fundamentally not subordinated to any government; yet, a supposed right to health care implicit in Armstrong’s plea for signatures would usher in a paradigm implementing just that.

Part II was a stroll down memory lane and fact avenue for those of you who do not know why it is that medical services and the insurance to pay for it are so incredibly expensive, and why they continue to be ever-more costly. The reason is clear: government intervention heaped upon government intervention creating a relatively unlimited demand while simultaneously restricting those who provide health care goods and services. Thus, artificially and relative to demand, limiting supply. All of this in an environment of fiat currency inflated at the behest of politicians who operate through appointed government bureaucrats. The solution is clear: unleash the free market, and leash the government.
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Posted in Capitalism Advocacy, Founders Vision, Government Interventionism, Liberty, National Politics and Policy, Philosophy. Comments Off on Lance, I Will Not Sign Your Petition (Part 3)