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Linz's New Book
Is Edward Snowden a hero?
Hell yes! His actions were moral.
Hell no! Put him away for treason.
Yes and no. It's a grey area.
Other (please specify)
Total votes: 26
Submitted by administrator on Fri, 2009-08-21 04:22
Lindsay Perigo's ongoing series of commentaries about the presidency of Barack Obama.
Submitted by RicoSuave on Thu, 2006-05-11 18:47
Dr. Edward W. Younkins and Michael Novak are both well educated in philosophy and economics. They seem to have similar conclusions, but adopt different methods or premises to reach a free society. The biggest of these differences would lie in whether or not faith should be foundational to our political and economic system. For one to compare these insightful men, one must consider their writings, their influences and whom they influence in turn.
Submitted by eg on Wed, 2006-03-22 17:04
Barbara Branden has just posted on Objectivist Living her sources previously unnamed for Frank O'Connor's drinking. I certainly believe he had a drinking problem in his last years, but question whether in the context of dementia it is right to call him an "alcoholic." Barbara called him one in an email to me last Fall.
Over Here — by James S. Valliant on Fri, 2007-06-01 23:21
Ms. Branden implies and — by William Scott Scherk on Thu, 2007-05-31 06:40
Thank You — by James S. Valliant on Sun, 2006-09-03 00:55
Submitted by Senator Willcox... on Sat, 2006-02-18 06:44
In 1955 Graham Greene wrote perhaps his most famous novel: The Quiet American. (Yes, Greene was a Catholic and socialist, but bear with me.) It is the story of a very cynical English Journalist in Vietnam during the Viet-Minh-French war. The book is made up of his experiences concerning a very idealistic, innocent, and bloodstained American. The story is less important to my article though, than the idea of the Third Force.
Follow Up — by Senator Willcox L. CO on Sun, 2006-02-19 00:42
'Senator', you described the — by Peter Cresswell on Sat, 2006-02-18 01:10
Submitted by removed on Mon, 2006-02-13 22:01
Over the last several days I have been thinking and writing about the
Another perspective — by sjw on Tue, 2006-02-14 18:40
Submitted by dvo on Fri, 2006-02-10 13:38
Have you all heard of "parecon"? (Short for "participatory economics.") It seems to be a new variation on the idea of economic planning and socialism. The parecon homepage has a quote from Noam Chomsky endorsing it. Maybe it's catching on, because a friend of mine spontaneously told me about it a couple days ago.
Here are some quotes about it from Wikipedia:
"Promoters of participatory economics hold that it is inequitable, and also ineffective, to remunerate people on the basis of their birth or heredity, their property, or their innate intelligence. Therefore, participatory economics advocates as a primary principle reward for effort and sacrifice. Therefore someone who works in a mine — which is dangerous, uncomfortable, and confers no power whatsoever on the worker — would get a higher income than someone who works in an office the same time, thus allowing the miner to work less hours and the burden of highly dangerous and strenuous jobs to be shared among the populace."
Rehashing Is'nt Out- running — by Bikemessenger on Sat, 2006-02-11 08:45
Used to it? — by Charles Henrikson on Sat, 2006-02-11 06:40
This is just disgusting. — by Landon Erp on Sat, 2006-02-11 01:38
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Mon, 2006-02-06 21:00
What's a passive verb? It's a way of writing that removes from what is written both writer and passion. Compare for example: 'You cannot do this' (active) with 'This cannot be done' (passive). Passive verbs are used to soften the sense of a phrase, and too often to camouflage an opinion as being the writer's own. It's a way of speaking for the speechless without appearing to.
Why does this matter? Well, how many times do you hear these phrases used like a stop sign:
It is considered that...
Submitted by removed on Fri, 2006-02-03 21:37
Tibor R. Machan
In ordinary terms, to achieve objectivity one needs to check one's own
Clarification — by sjw on Tue, 2006-02-07 18:26
Shayne, — by Charles Henrikson on Tue, 2006-02-07 16:39
Clarification — by Wes on Tue, 2006-02-07 15:23
Submitted by removed on Fri, 2006-02-03 20:13
Machan's Musings - Cultural Relativism and Freedom
Tibor R. Machan
In one area, classical and modern liberals have tended to agree, namely,
Submitted by removed on Wed, 2006-02-01 21:43
Machan's Musings - Wanting but Reproducing
Tibor R. Machan
At the Dallas/Forth Worth Airport I had to wait for two ours to board my flight back home so I sat before a TV set beaming forth CNN’s various scary stories. (Even as the traffic there was quite calm, and even as my two days of lectures in New Orleans proceeded amidst a city now showing mostly evidence of human resilience, the “news” came to nothing but scary stories!)
Included in the bad news viewers were being offered there was story of a family’s financial struggles, one in which both parents worked, earning about $55k per year, voicing drawn out complaints about how strapped they are. They had children already, in their early thirties, plus “one on the way.” Which brought up the issue, at least for me, if they believe they are so strapped, what business do they have bringing yet another child into their home?
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 22:27
Some people define themselves by what they call 'their people.' Do you have a people? 'Professional Maori' Willie Jackson says he's spent his life looking out for "his people" -- when resigning as a Labour MP Tariana Turia declared "it came down to a question of integrity and I had to act for my people" -- her present Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said in his maiden speech to parliament that "the hurt to my people" in being called "haters and wreckers" by [Prime Minister] Helen Clark was "very deep."
So Willie, Tariana and Pita seem to think they have 'a people,' and they're basing it on their race. They are making a virtue of their skin colour, about which they have no choice, but because of which they demand special 'race-based' favours. Such is the mistaken value of ethnicity:
How about you then? Do you have 'a people'? If so, on what basis do you decide who that 'people' is. Think about it for a minute, and while you do, let me ask you a question and offer you a proposition.
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 22:23
There's nothing like an argument about whales to make everyone lose their marbles.
One local blogger, for example, has posted various thoughts on morality and animal rights, and on her former membership of Greenpeace, and how that pertains to Greenpeace's opposition to the Japanese whalers presently in the South Seas. 'Go Greenpeace' she says:'Stop the hand-wringing and break out those guns.' (I paraphrase, of course) Unfortunately, she offers no argument for her position, just simple assertion and a quote from Jeremy Bentham, who was himself not even in favour of rights for human beings ("nonsense on stilts" is what the stupid man called the idea).
The simplest short explanation why animals don't have rights is that they don't understand them -- as PJ O'Rourke pointed out you can tell the lion all you like that it's wrong, but he's still going to rip the guts right out of Bambi. And what do you do when that happens? If Bambi has rights, then you have to throw the lion in jail And if animals really do have rights, what happens when you tuck into Daisy the cow? Should you get thrown in jail with the lion? Who's going to tell the lion about your rights?
Fact is, and much as we may wish it otherwise, rights pertain not to animals, but to species that use their conceptual faculty to produce and to plan long range, and who need the protection of law to do so. As far as is presently known, ours is the only species that does so; if whales or any other species want their rights recognised, then let them show up in court and argue for them. It's not like whales don't talk to each other enough -- all that bloody singing that they do all day.
No, much as we may wish it otherwise, animals have rights only by virtue of our ownership over them -- kill my cat and I'll see you in court (and probably outside as well). But kill a stray cat, and all we can do is judge you by what you've done. How we treat animals is one way to judge a person. And maybe, in all the moral indignation about the whales, we forget that New Zealanders ourselves aren't too bad at slaughtering animals for food (as I pointed out the other day). Writing in The Dominion however, former MP Stephen Franks reminds us:
The Green Party blob objects that Franks "has missed the point. New Zealand has a huge industry in farming sheep. As we all know sheep are generally bred for either their wool or their meat. They are not an endangered animal. Whales on the other hand are."
There are two responses to make here. Minke whales, which the Japanese are hunting, are not endangered. Numbers in the Southern Ocean are in dispute, and are probably not as many as the 760,000 claimed in 1990, but even if much less that is not the sort of order of magnitude one sees if a species is dying out.
But some whales are endangered. True. The second point to make is that perhaps if whales were farmed, they wouldn't be so endangered. I've mentioned this point here many times (just check out some of my posts on Conservation) but developing a property right in whales is perhaps the best way to ensure they don't die out. As a headline describing the work of conservationist and crocodile farmer Dr Graham Webb once summarised: "Eat Them. Skin Them. Save Them." Or, as you might say if you're a Kaikoura whale tourism operator, 'Watch Them, Photograph Them & Save Them.' Pay your money and make your choice, and all that's needed then is a legal and a technological breakthrough, and a change in attitude.
As I say above, there is no case for protection of animals on the basis of their rights, but there is a strong case to be made for the protection of animals based on human rights -- specifically on the real, human property rights of ownership. As Dr Graham Webb has long argued, "The proposition that wildlife conservation can sometimes be enhanced through allowing and even promoting the harvesting of wildlife is a sensitive issue," but it is a necessary one to consider.
There is a very good reason that cows and lambs are not endangered, but kiwis, kakapo and some species of whale are: the value of the former is recognised and protected in law, and that protection is in favour of those to whom the animals are a real tangible value, and who own them. The notion of the 'intrinsic value' of animals is not required since real value is protected, and the bogus notion of 'animal rights' is not needed as real, human property rights are protected. As that headline says, 'Eat Them, Skin Them, Save Them.'
Graham Webb's discussion of the proposition makes the point that recognising a property right in animals makes for 'sustainable conservation' [PDF download]:
Graham's own crocodile park outside Darwin is a great example of one way this can work. The private conservation projects here in NZ and the various Southern African private wildlife parks are other good examples of private 'sustainable conservation' that succeed by eschewing vague ideas of non-existent 'intrinsic values' or of animal rights or of simply wishing we'd all just be nice to God's creatures , and instead by answering the question, "Of value to whom, and for what?" and then proceeding to protect the property rights of those to whom there is a recognised right and a clear value.
And if it's just whales you want to protect, then Zen Tiger has yet another solution. Like Ruth, he's on the side of the whales too, only unlike Ruth he's come up with a viable plan: Eat more McDonalds:
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 21:59
"Drug use is not a victimless crime" argued a friend recently. Drug users harm themselves and other people too, said my friend; they are all victims.
Well, as I've explained before, yes it is a victimless crime. Drug use may well make of the user a 'victim,' but as long as nobody initates force against another, no crime is involved. As I explain here, a crime is when somebody does initiates force, or its derivative fraud, against someone else:
The Law — by Ashley on Wed, 2006-02-08 02:58
None at all — by Jason Quintana on Tue, 2006-02-07 22:03
Drugs & Kids — by sjw on Tue, 2006-02-07 21:09
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 21:39
Is Ayn Rand at work in the Southern Pacific? At least one local commentator is wondering that New Zealand businessmen will 'shrug,' or perhaps even go on strike? "The danger is they simply put their cheque books away, they stop investing in capital, they stop hiring people and we could get to a point where we have a very good and very resilient economy that just stops." So says ANZ chief economist John McDermott, as quoted by a worried Chris Trotter, a lifelong socialist worried at the loss of those who really keep the country running -- and I don't mean the politicians. "To hear the idea of tax cuts dismissed [by the Finance Minister] as an 'ideological burp' was almost certainly the final straw for many [local] business people," says Trotter.
And why wouldn't that be enough to break a camel's back? As economist Gareth Morgan points out, the impact of 'ideological burps' has been to radically change the behaviour of taxpayers. And as I argued here at the time, cutting envy taxes makes us all rich. Keeping the shackles on the highly-productive only hampers the productive and the entrepreneurial -- who could blame them if they decided to go on strike.
Whatever the case with local producers, it's clear from a record-high NZ dollar that foreign investors clearly aren't shrugging at all in their enthusiasm to invest in the New Zealand economy-- they're positively frothing at the mouth to get a piece of the local action. High interest rates and confidence in the local economy are attracting foreign investment by the boatload, and pushing up the NZ dollar to record highs. Gareth Morgan points out that investor's enthusiasm for the New Zealand economy is in contrast to the pessimism of Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard. Worse: Bollard's pessimism-fuelled interest rate hikes are in fact fuelling the investment/borrowing orgy that has Bollard so worried, and at the same time revealing as illusory the idea that the governor has the tools with which to control inflation.
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-01-31 21:29
The recent decision to enforce overturn blanket mining ban across New Zealand's beautiful Coromandel Peninsula "exposes a clash of values," said Green MP Nandor Tanczos recently--and of course he's right. It does.
Submitted by removed on Mon, 2006-01-30 01:37
Machan's Musings - Teacher Watch!
by Tibor R. Machan
Here is my imaginary scenario: A black student alumni organization hears
It is doubtful that anyone but the racist professor would complain too
Submitted by removed on Sun, 2006-01-22 07:18
The University of Chicago Law School’s Cass Sunstein is now nearly as prominent a modern liberal-Left legal scholar as is Harvard Law School’s Lawrence Tribe--just the other day I heard someone mention him as the equivalent on the Left to Samuel Alito on the Right, someone who might be nominated for the Supreme Court by a Democratic president.
In a detailed review he wrote for The New Republic (1/10/06) of UC-Berkeley Law Professor John Yoo’s The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs After 9/11 (Chicago, 2006), Sunstein argues pretty effectively against Yoo’s idea that, as far as the Founders, Framers, and the Constitution are concerned, the President has the legitimate power to make war without a Congressional declaration.
Submitted by removed on Tue, 2006-01-17 09:43
It would really be extremely valuable for today’s children to understand what is meant for a right to be unalienable. But it isn’t likely they will be taught about this much in today’s school—from elementary to graduate ones, in fact. That’s because, if they realized that the American Founders understood every individual to have unalienable rights to, among other things, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they would begin to wonder, well, how is it that their city, country, state, or federal governments fail to heed this fact.
For a right to be unalienable means it cannot be lost by a human being, unless his or her humanity itself has been lost. So, for example, if a person no longer can be conscious as a rational being—is brain dead—that would suffice to alienate his or her rights, but short of that nothing will do.
Machan's Musings - What Does "Unalienable" Mean? — by Melior on Sat, 2006-01-21 09:45
Submitted by removed on Mon, 2006-01-16 02:39
Machan's Musings - Tyranny Taught at Yale Law School
Tibor R. Machan
Yale Law Professor Kenji Yoshino wrote a piece for The New York Times magazine, “The Pressure to Cover” [01/15/06], that’s a frightening
This man proposes that everyone who is dissatisfied with any condition in
Submitted by removed on Wed, 2006-01-11 06:02
At the beginning of each term I mention an apparent problem for students taking my business ethics course in our school of business and economics: While economists tend to approach their discipline with the understanding that human beings are relentless utility maximizers, in business ethics that idea would be very odd. The reason is that business ethics assume economic agents to be free to choose what they will do and holds them responsible to do the right thing.
The late Nobel Laureate George Stigler of The University of Chicago put the widely embraced economists’ stance quite succinctly when he said, “. . . Man is eternally a utility-maximizer—in his home, in his office (be it public or private), in his church, in his scientific work—in short, everywhere.” In contrast, the position of business ethics teachers could best be expressed as Professor M. van Swaay of Kansas State University puts it: “Because ethical behavior implies free choice, it cannot be captured in rule. The standard of reference for what is ethical has to exist 'outside human definition,' and therefore cannot be open to human negotiation. Some may know that standard as Human Rights, some may know it as the Seven Virtues, some may know it as the Ten Commandments, and some may know it by yet another name. It is impossible to force adherence to that standard: the notion of coercion itself is foreign to it. But individually we can make a promise to abide by it....” Ethics and, in particular, business ethics assumes that human beings can choose what they will do, what they will pursue in life, how they will conduct themselves.
Submitted by Marty on Mon, 2006-01-02 09:29
Click here to read the article, "East Versus West: One Sees Big Picture, Other Is Focused."
The article contains some good observations and stimulates thought. But it does makes some errors. There's confusion on perception and our interpretation of the perception. There is also confusion between a mental setting for context as opposed to a separate form of cognition. If an Englishman hears 'paddle your own canoe,' he will interpret it one way, while if a Frenchman hears 'pas de leur on connu,' he will interpret it differently. It's a no-brainer that cultures can influence the way we interpret data. But that doesn't add up to a difference in the way man engages in concept formation, quantitative reasoning, induction, deduction, causality, etc. This article is an example of today's "gather-lots-of-data" science without sound philosophical guidance and interpretation.
Submitted by removed on Mon, 2005-12-26 05:09
Most of us who champion a certain political system concern ourselves mainly with showing why its full implementation would be best. Few people argue for a halfway house—socialists, libertarians, welfare statists, and so forth all tend to find their system of political economy to be sound when it is in full bloom.
Yet hardly anyone expects a full blown actualization of the theory he or she has conceived as the best. This is because we are all aware that millions of people make up a society and there is a great deal of disagreement among them as to what is the best kind of human community. Although whatever system one defends, one will make the case that it is indeed right for everyone, that will not suffice since many will no be convinced and will continue to support others.
Submitted by removed on Wed, 2005-12-21 06:02
Here you have it, the result of government education: Academic freedom is dead—a federal judge decided what Pennsylvania teachers may teach in biology classes.
As MSNBC reports, “The Dover [PA] Area School Board violated the Constitution when it ordered that its biology curriculum must include ‘intelligent design,’ the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled.” No, I do not believe Intelligent Design makes sense—you need to have a brain to design anything intelligently or otherwise, and since Intelligent Design is supposed to have created brains, the idea is viciously circular.
No disagreement — by removed on Fri, 2005-12-23 15:27
Truth in Teaching — by AdamReed on Fri, 2005-12-23 07:48
AF again — by removed on Thu, 2005-12-22 23:55
Submitted by removed on Fri, 2005-12-16 19:37
Political outlooks rarely get put into practice completely, without many compromises made in their principles. Even Soviet-style socialism had a lot of free market elements interspersed with it when nearly 40% of farming was done on the black market. And there is no such thing as capitalism in America or anywhere else, not full-blown, no-holds-barred laissez-faire capitalism.
Still these political visions can be tested by way of thought experiments and some careful history, to see which would be best to try to achieve in practice. And one of the major challenges put before champions of a fully free, capitalist political economy comes from those worried about environmental degradation.
Correct, Tibor, and let's — by Ross Elliot on Sat, 2005-12-17 08:51
Submitted by removed on Fri, 2005-12-16 01:58
When Plato warned that artists cannot be trusted about truth because they deal with images, fantasies, not facts, he could have been talking about today’s Hollywood celebrities who are making movie after movie feeding the public half-truths and out-and-out misinformation. The latest one to join in this orgy of anti-capitalism and Neanderthal economics is George Clooney. Frankly I liked Rosemary much better since she tended to stick to what she knew something about: singing. George is now out there, taking over Martin Sheen’s role as the wise political sage who will awaken us to what we need to know about world economic and political affairs.
Hollywood and political fantasy — by removed on Mon, 2005-12-19 16:53
Hollywood as Fantasia — by Mark Humphrey on Mon, 2005-12-19 00:45
Submitted by removed on Tue, 2005-12-13 03:38
Someone help me out—why do journalists, priests, psychiatrists and such folks (I can understand about attorneys) get a pass when they obstruct justice? Yes, that’s what they are doing when they refuse to tell who told them about some crime.
It is my impression, and correct me if I am wrong, that the laws of a free country require that no one be complicit in the commission of a crime, neither before nor after the fact. Aiding and abetting criminals is itself criminal, or so I thought. But over the years I have been witnessing this exemption which I just don’t understand. It is my impression, too, that the laws of a free country are supposed to apply equally to all citizens. So, if my friend tells me of a crime, and I am obligated to notify the authorities, I don’t see why if a person tells a priest of a crime the priest gets a pass. Or the psychiatrists. Or, especially, a journalist.
"Compelling" testimony — by removed on Sun, 2005-12-18 22:39
Bad laws and the press — by removed on Sun, 2005-12-18 22:33
Isn't 'compelling' a person — by Robert Malcom on Thu, 2005-12-15 15:12
Submitted by removed on Mon, 2005-12-12 22:32
The decision by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger not to commute the death penalty sentence of multiple murderer Stanley “Tookie” Williams was as right and it could be under the circumstances. The case had attracted much attention because the man had been something of a model prisoner though not because he had asked forgiveness—he never admitted to the crime—but because he had become a rather well-regarded children’s book author.
Whatever the details of this case, there should be no death penalty, however. Not because some people do not deserve it or it’s cruel or barbaric but because we ought to reduce the chances of a mistake as much as it is possible. It’s a matter of prudence, not justice. (If we had infallible knowledge, it would make sense, though. But we do not.)
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Fri, 2005-12-02 22:52
NZ HERALD: "A multimillion-dollar claim against the former Building Industry Authority (BIA) over an Auckland apartment complex with leaky building syndrome [picture right] has been struck out by the Court of Appeal...
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