Giving Back? It’s implicit in the trade.

You hear the refrain all too often: “because we (you) have been so fortunate in life, we (you) are obligated to ‘give back.’” Well, it could be true that your earnings and success in life were purely by chance. That, for the most part, whatever wealth or success you have accumulated/achieved was not gained through trading mutually in beneficial exchanges, nor through incredible hardship, long hours, and really hard work; a lottery winner (or Stephen King) comes to mind. If such were the case, then you might feel compelled to simiply premise your actions upon a “give back” approach to those who were not so fortunate, and obviously did not earn it. What is heinous, and uncalled for, is an admonition from others (especially beneficiaries of the give back, social engineers, collectivist ideologues, and various and sundry promoters of the “give back” rant) that it is a moral imperative to “give back,” without judgment or any particular direction. That merely the idea and act of “giving back” is, in and of itself, a pinnacle of virtue – and in the process create out of whole cloth the obscene notion of unearned guilt.

After a lifetime’s worth of trading value for value, after giving your all, your best efforts, in the production of goods or services that others valued so highly that they were willing to trade with you that which they valued? Yet, you must now give more? After the years upon years of paying taxes, fees, subsidies that were promised to cure all the maladies of society, you are asked to forfeit the fruits of your labor? And how about the soldiers; we can argue about the ridiculous premises upon which they have placed themselves into harm’s way, but must they too “give back?” The list goes on and on. In all likelihood, you have already given to many individuals far more than you know; your honest efforts have enriched the lives of others in many ways. The reality is that you, as a successful human being, “owe” no one anything except your honest measure and judgment of them, and your commitment to respect their individual rights. You’ve done your part, you can walk proudly and fully enjoy the product of your efforts with zero guilt.

What you have earned is yours; others do not have a moral claim on your life, your life’s work, or the fruits thereof. If you decide for reasons wholly and rationally selfish that donating to a person, organization, or cause would make your own life better (all things considered), and above all enhance your own happiness, then by all means you should – but only if you have been able to adequately provide for yourself and those for whom you are directly responsible. True benevolence is a concept devoid of coercion, altruism, or (especially) sacrifice.

What is not needed in this world is a creed of self-sacrifice as suggested by those who advocate “giving back” carte blanche. An ethos that would mandate as a moral precept you give up what you value more for that which you implicitly value less (or for a non-value such as “society”), or somehow be duty bound to simply give. We live on the heels of, and indeed in many ways still in, an era in which the creed of self-sacrifice has been drum-beaten into us by mystics of both muscle and spirit; its effects are all around us. We see that “need knows no end,” and that dependency is institutionalized to the extent where generations are now dependent upon generations yet to be born, where money has to be “created” because earning it is too hard. That those born into this world are, in fact, indentured to some inane notion of “the greater good.” Such is a legacy and world-view that assumes the worst in man, celebrating his vices while demonizing his real virtues.

So, the next time you hear some public service message admonishing you to simply “give back,” take it with a grain of salt. Reflect on the wide ranging and meaningful contributions to your fellow man through the honest trades and service you have provided throughout your life. The role model you set as you merely went about your work, your sports, your relations with others. You will very likely find that over the course of your life you have indeed already given back – it was implicit in the trade.

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Ms Rand’s brilliance, and her unwitting description of Warren Buffet

Occasionally I run into items Rand that I very likely ran into before, but on re-reflection catch me more deeply.  

Q:  “Ms Rand, why would anyone accept altruism (properly understood)?”

A:  “Very few people actually do, but the theoreticians of altruism certainly do accept it. Most people ignore the question and simply try to get by in a totally amoral attitude. Most people do not have a consistent moral theory to guide them; a theory they understand, accept, and fully practice. But the reasons why they accept altruism are many. The main one is that men realize, so long as they have to make choices, that they need some kind of code of moral values; a code to guide their choices and the sort of values and goals they will pursue.  They realize the need, yet they have not been offered any code of morality other than the altruistic one. In one form or another altruism has been the dominant moral theory of most societies of history.  And such attempts as have been made by philosophers to devise a different code of morality have been so impracticable, so unsuccessful, that they could not offer competition to altruism. Most people are afraid to be left on their own in moral issues; they’re more afraid of it than in any other issue. Men are not afraid to be scientists and to stand alone in the face of nature, in cognitive issues.  That is in issues of discovering new knowledge, but they are terrified in issues of values. In having to stand alone and define what objectively is right or wrong for men. That, I would say, is the most general reason why men accept altruism, or at least pay lip service to it, but there are many other reasons.”  . . .  “A man who would accept the theory of altruism necessarily has to regard himself as of no value. It is his self-esteem that he has to renounce in every issue. His self-esteem intellectually, his self-esteem spiritually, his self-esteem in the sense of the desire to make something of his own life, to achieve happiness or to achieve some kind of purpose which he desires. That is what he has to give up; the mere idea of looking at yourself as merely a means to the ends of somebody else, whether it is one other person or the total of mankind, implies lack of self-esteem.  That is the start of accepting altruism, and the extent to which you attempt to practice you would have to destroy your self-esteem more and more.  Now what most people do is that they abandon morality, they then decide that nobody can be perfect and that we’ll assert a model as best we can – I will not attempt to be a perfect altruist but I will feel guilty and give to others once and awhile, which really means an amoral kind of existence; the destruction of any firm principles of morality, and any firm base of self-esteem.”

As I finished listening, I was struck by an almost uncanny description of Warren Buffet at 26:18 into the recording..  Source link: The Psychology of Altruism

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What Art IS

Craig Biddle writes:

‎”Thus, Objectivism rejects the idea that art is whatever any self-proclaimed or allegedly “accomplished” artist happens to slap together or place in a gallery. Neither paint randomly splattered on a canvas, nor a bicycle wheel “cleverly” fastened to a stool, nor a word salad neatly printed on a page is art. Such things are not “bad” art; they are not art at all. Art is not the emotional spewing of irrational impulses, but the selective recreation of reality. Since man grasps reality only by means of reason, the creation of art requires the intense use of this faculty; it requires thought, concentration, mental connections, and the transformation of highly abstract concepts and values into the material of perceptual reality. This is not the province of buffoonery; it is the province of genius—and should be recognized and guarded as such.”

Brilliant! Could. Not. Agree. More.

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Carrier

In advance of Skepticon IV, a look at Mr. Carrier’s presentation at Skepticon III

And the answer is.. Yes!

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Michele Bachman

Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachman is the epicenter of what can only be called Let’s Elect A Nutjob! She exudes evangelical nut-jobbery, eclipsing even Governor Rick Perry (TX).

Today, to my horror, I learned first that one of my favorite webzines, The Objective Standard, has a blog piece actually praising Ms Bachman. Now, the piece has its point regarding the DOE (and clearly states it is not an endorsement of her), but please why tout Ms Bachman? She clearly is not the only education reform minded candidate. Given her penchant for peculiar explainations of history, one could argue she displays a certain degree of intellectual bankruptcy..

To the point, today I heard this from Ms Bachman regarding the current fluff over genital human papillomavirus, aka HPV: “there was a woman who came up to me crying after the debate saying that her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine.” Folks, please go out the CDC website and learn what the hell this is all about.. Ms Bachman is an idiot. She has zero background in science, and in fact eschews it on a regular basis in lieu of her faith (the assumption of mysticism notwithstanding facts to the contrary).

This, on the back of her bizarre comments in 2004 (and later), regarding slavery, and that being gay is “personal enslavement.” She went on to state that if same-sex marriage were legalized, “little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and that perhaps they should try it.” Moreover, she actually believes that evolution is a theory that has “never been proven,” and that intelligent design should be taught in schools.

Folks, this is one of the GOP candidates to be President of the U.S.! Perry isn’t much better, and is an abomination in terms of individual rights. There is a common thread that runs through all of these so-called Tea Party candidates: they co-opted a grass roots movement for their evangelical religion-based world view. This is sickening, I would vote for Mr. Obama before a theocrat twit like Ms Bachman.

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Ryan’s Plan Pushes Debt Limit UP ~ 9 Trillion

Well, if anyone thought the GOP was pushing to NOT raise the debt ceiling you would be both wrong and naive. As I pointed out below, Paul Ryan had already stipulated this way back in January. Apparently Senator Schumer’s office thought they were being prescient earlier this week by intimating that just last week the GOP had only recently gone down this road. Schumer needs to do some fact checking, or perhaps stop in here for real enlightenment!

I have some numbers to compare to my estimate of 2.5 to 5.0 trillion as mentioned the other day. My assumption then was an amount of increase for the next budget year, assuming that would be the end of it for the foreseeable future… Below are the Ryan numbers right out of the proposed legislation he ran around Wisconsin advertising..

My admonition regarding taking him seriously as a bold fiscal conservative stands. I see no long term commitment or overt strategy whatsoever to re-forming (reducing) the size of government at the federal level.

Here is a portion of the actual text. You can look at the whole plastic bananna budget proposal here. Please note that I have added in parenthesis the annual increase.. All told, Ryan’s plan increases the debt limit just shy of 9 trillion dollars in 10 years..

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
Establishing the budget for the United States Government
for fiscal year 2012 and setting forth appropriate budgetary
levels for fiscal years 2013 through 2021.

(5) DEBT SUBJECT TO LIMIT.—Pursuant to
23 section 301(a)(5) of the Congressional Budget Act
24 of 1974, the appropriate levels of the public debt are
25 as follows:

1 Fiscal year 2012: $16,204,000,000,000….(+ 1.9 trillion
2 Fiscal year 2013: $17,177,000,000,000….(+ .973 trillion
3 Fiscal year 2014: $17,955,000,000,000….(+ .778 trillion
4 Fiscal year 2015: $18,704,000,000,000….(+ .749 trillion
5 Fiscal year 2016: $19,513,000,000,000….(+ .809 trillion
6 Fiscal year 2017: $20,257,000,000,000….(+ .744 trillion
7 Fiscal year 2018: $20,981,000,000,000….(+. 724 trillion
8 Fiscal year 2019: $21,711,000,000,000….(+ .730 trillion
9 Fiscal year 2020: $22,416,000,000,000….(+ .705 trillion
10 Fiscal year 2021: $23,105,000,000,000…(+ .689 trillion

In all fairness to Rep Ryan, I understand why this is in here. He is doing this so as to inoculate himself and the GOP from hysterical criticism for not compromising towards the Democrat’s overt statist position. However, and this is the troubling part for me, Mr. Ryan also caved in on the whole bailout bash not all that long ago.

This has become his unfortunate trademark now, he talks a fiscally conservative, free market, line (, even pushing copies of Atlas Shrugged to his staff) , but clearly isn’t crafting legislation in concert with either. Compromise toward what he ought to (and I suspect he does) understand is evil is not leadership, it is foolish.

Our direct, demonstrable, personal interests, apart from any collectivist notions of “national interest,” are not advanced by going down this path. In fact, it is a clear and present detriment towards the attainment of long run, rational individual values. Moreover, this is all enforced at the proverbial point of a gun; and that is evil.

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List of Unusual Measures

I love this stuff.. The jiffy, the microfortnight, a zeptosecond (10^-21 of a second), etc.. It all started with an inquiry and discussion into the number of gallons of water in an olympic-sized swimming pool!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unusual_units_of_measurement#Volume

For example, Nines..

Numbers very close to, but below one are often expressed in nines (N – not to be confused with the unit newton), that is in the number of nines following the decimal separator in writing the number in question.

For example, “three nines” or “3N” indicates 0.999 or 99.9%, “four nines five” or “4N5” is the expression for the number 0.99995 or 99.995%.[citation needed]

Typical areas of usage are: the reliability of computer systems (the ratio of uptime to the sum of uptime and downtime); “Five nines” reliability in a continuously operated system means an average downtime of no more than approximately five minutes per year. Also, the purity of materials, such as gases and metals.

So, is this where the phrase “dressed to the nines” comes from? If the goal is to be dressed-up 100%, then being dressed to the nines would be approaching perfection in ones attire…?

Update: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_origin_of_the_phrase_’dressed_to_the_nines

. . . Plot thickens.

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