Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
What would Ayn Rand do?
Several months ago, my best friend called to ask if I could bring him the Emergency Room; he’d smacked his head hard after his bike tires got caught in railroad tracks.
Though Rand never wrote about bicycles in her several thousand pages of fiction, presumably she would have left my buddy lying dazed by the tracks. Helping him, she’d say, would only prevent him from taking responsibility for his own acts, dampening his ability to learn to avoid train crossings.
Some Rand followers would object to such a cold interpretation, but refusal to help others is the essence of her Objectivism philosophy, summed up by hero John Galt in Atlas Shrugged: “Do not cry that you need us. We do not consider ‘need’ a claim.”
Many say it less bluntly as, “Help others by helping yourself,” but however you phrase it, it has an appealing core. Be selfish! When you go after what you want, that’s also best for other people. Helping others hurts them, so don’t bother; just get what’s yours.
Does that sound too extreme? Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan now suggests it is, a change of heart that Objectivists label “cowardly,” and “traitorous.” After decades of following Rand (she nicknamed him “the undertaker” because of his gloomy disposition), Greenspan admitted that unregulated derivative trading hurt markets in ways he hadn’t expected:
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) pressed him to clarify his words. “In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working,”
“Absolutely, precisely,” Greenspan replied. “You know, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”
It was going well until there was a crisis, as is true for many people’s lives. You may not often need medical malpractice laws, or environmental regulation, or a vibrant support system, but when you do, they prove their worth.
I don’t want a government dictating our every move. You should be free to bike where you want, for instance. But for those rare times you take a fall, it’s good to know that there’s a hand ready to help you get back on your feet.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
'I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?'
Judge Sonia Sotomayor's judicial opinions are marked by diligence, depth and unflashy competence. If they are not always a pleasure to read, they are usually models of modern judicial craftsmanship, which prizes careful attention to the facts in the record and a methodical application of layers of legal principles.
'A law that requires execution when the case for aggravation has failed to convince the sentencing jury is morally absurd, and the court's holding that the Constitution tolerates this moral irrationality defies decades of precedent aimed at eliminating freakish capital sentencing in the United States.'
'While the law is free to promote all sorts of conduct in place of harmful behavior, it is not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message, or discouraging a disfavored one, however enlightened either purpose may strike the government. ...'
Monday, May 25, 2009
- A carbon tax helps market forces work.
- A carbon tax means less government interference.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
'We've so overused the word 'socialism' that it no longer has the bad connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10,' says Anuzis. 'Fascism - everybody still thinks that's a bad thing.'