Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy (a tip of the hat to the Americans of yore)

I saw the following video at Renee Katz's blog, Adventures in Existence.

Disney's Reason and Emotion is one of the most moving works of art which I have seen in a while. It's not often that I get to see something which captures my values so well; I couldn't believe it as I watched it. I was getting choked up.

I was moved by the fact that a generation of people DID exist who not only could have received the ideas in that video, but also valued them enough to pursue and win a war. The fact that a society of people could exist with even that level of respect for reason was a big inspiration. Sometimes the state of public discourse in America gets me feeling pessimistic and I wonder if reversing the trend is possible. That video proves that it's possible to be better than what we've got now. Do we see inspirational cartoons inciting us to fight the irrational religious horde of the Middle East? Not yet.

They earned the title of The Greatest Generation.

Sad (The 2008 Presidential Candidates)

In one week we will elect a new president. I can't believe the offerings which the two major parties have put on the table for us to accept this year. I was going to vote for John McCain, prior to the Republican party's nomination of Sarah Palin. It's quite clear that they nominated her for two reasons: depth of experience and firm grasp of the issues.


What is not funny, is what her nomination represents for the GOP. It was a clear-cut ploy for the religious vote. The Republican Party has made the Faustian bargain permanent: they'll push the religion-in-government in agenda, if that's what gets them into power. Disgusting.

McCain was pretty bad, even before that. His notion of America is fundamentally fueled by the notion of 'service to country,' not freedom and individual rights. So many of his stump speeches included such gems as "serving a cause greater than one's self" or the flesh-crawling "going after the drug companies." The amount of apathy I've witnessed in people, who are now voting for Obama solely on the basis of the mind numbing, nebulously populist concept of 'change' is amazing.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what will get the country back on track the quickest. I think a key point to consider in this hypothesis is the fact that we have a two party system. Any idea adopted by one party makes the opposite party the advocate of that ideas antithesis, by default.

Democrats are clearly the party of "more state control." A sad coincidence is that this makes the GOP the party of "free markets," even when their policies are clearly anything but. For decades now, the Republicans have given a half-assed, apologetic defense of capitalism. What has this done to the notion of capitalism in people's minds? Every failure of Republican policy is blamed on free markets. So, for decades, Capitalism and freedom have been eroded since "it clearly doesn't work." What actually doesn't work is compromise, but most people aren't aware of that yet.

Probably the most brilliant example of the effects of compromise is happening right now. If you search through the articles dealing with the origins of the finance fiasco, nearly every article blames the problem on "decades of Reaganomic Ayn Randian Greenspired deregulation." Very little mention of Fannie, Freddie, Community Reinvestment Act, Greenspan's ludicrous lowering of interest rates, or the idea that bad investments should be paid for by those who made them.

Greenspan's testimony, blaming the "failure of self-interest" as the root cause of the financial mess, was a tragically dishonest thing. For two decades now his role at the Fed has given him a lot of notoriety and he's been regarded as some kind of mystical fiscal guru, partly due to his association with Rand. The testimony he gave will be used by the advocates of state control as a license to dance on the grave of Capitalism, declared dead by its supposedly foremost chief representative. Because of the importance with which most people respect his opinions, his testimony has done an unconscionable amount of damage to the idea of free markets in the minds of Americans. Rand's concept of the compromiser doing more harm to The Good than its outright enemies can is really coming home for me.

That said, I think it will be a great thing if Obama gets in office and the Democrats have a majority in both houses of congress. Why? Because I think in the long-term, and in the long-term, I want dividends. And by dividends, I mean THAT SWEET PREFERRED STOCK: FREEDOM. Allow me to explain with the aid of a diagram.

As you can see, we expect that The Magnitude of Suck will increase much more quickly under Obama due to his faster imposition of state control in our lives. Since the country will degrade at a faster clip, people will become pissed off at a much faster rate. The ocean of Suck will deluge us, and it will be as swift and painless as death-by-hammer-and-sickle can be. Time and forgetfulness will not accrue for people, apathy will not even be able to set in, and memories of "the way it was before Obammunism" will be much more fresh in people's minds. A Democratic party which openly advocates statism and which has control of the white house and congress will make it far easier to blame the policies of statism for The People's Woes. And hopefully, shit won't completely crash down before Objectivists can get the ideas out and have them play a major role in the swing back to Awesome.

Using my logic, you think I'd vote for Obama since A VOTE FOR OBAMA IS AN INVESTMENT IN FREEDOM! (I will castrate you if you quote that out of context).

..... But I still couldn't bring myself to do it (I already voted with an absentee ballot). I just couldn't. He's everything I hate about the left. I voted for Bob Barr, for two reasons.

1) I think it was the best way to actively repudiate both parties by showing up in the polls as a "more freedom in government" voter and,

2) I could be confident that Barr wouldn't get into office and misrepresent the ideas worse than McCain and Co.

So that's what's sad: that I'm ready for full-on delicious-crazy leftism, because I'll benefit from it in 4? 8? I don't know how many years.

Monday, September 29, 2008

But at least we are saving the polar bears

I live in Atlanta, Georgia. Last weekend, I drove to six gas stations before finding one that had gasoline.


I love how the article blames the governor, but finds no fault with restrictions from the EPA. When we disregard the principle of Separation of Economy and State, the results will be the same, no matter what continent we are on. Bread lines in Russia and gas lines in The United States.

- Justin

Ugly Societal Barometers, Pt. 1.

Every once in a while I stumble across an editorial or news article that is so flagrantly disturbing, I have to save it in a website folder of horrors which I've dubbed "Ugly Societal Barometers."

Today, we have a piece from the website of Newsweek. It seriously attempts to answer the question, "How will black Americans ever cope if Obama isn't nominated?"


I was dumbfounded by the article, and that was even before reading some of the quotes in it. All I could do was wonder, "What the hell kind of mentality do you have to possess in order to ask that sort of question?" You really have to believe that black people have a tribalistic mentality which does not permit them to be individuals. You have to assume that they reject their personal identity in order to conform to some sort of black collective, rendering themselves incapable of thinking independantly and forming their own values. You have to assume that they value "race identity" more than their own independance. You have to assume that they have so little pride in themselves, that they peg their happiness on the career of a politician with a particular pigmentation.

Racism is making judgements about people based on characteristics wholly unrelated to their character. This is the most racist thing I've witnessed in years.

I suppose that I should not read more into this than the fact that it illustrates the primitive mentality of the Newsweek readership. But jesus effing christ America. Wake the hell up. Racism will NEVER end if we keep thinking like this.

- Justin

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A 25 Year Old's Attempt to Preempt Pain

The subject of 'failed healthcare' in America is worth addressing.

Indeed, American medicine is in a sad state, and needs fixing. What is the root cause of the failure of medicine in America? The platitudes being bandied about would have us blame 'market failure' and would have us regard socialized medicine as a necessity. To save ourselves, we must surely toss the healthcare industry into the hideous maw of complete governmental regulation. But the popular plans of politicians are best known for promising us the moon for free and letting future taxpayers work out the details of the bill. A simple consideration of voting demographics suggests why politicians are very fired up right now about giving you "free health services (for higher taxes)"... The ponderous population known as the baby boomers is getting fairly long in the tooth, and many of them worry about the infirmity of their aging bodies. Old people vote in disproportionately high numbers already, but the unscrupulous elders will be especially willing to vote for candidates who promise them a fountain of youth, overflowing with socialized medicine. In other words, the 'solution' of socialized medicine being offered by politicians is pure political pandering for votes. I guarantee the politicians worry more about voting demographics than the studies which truthfully detail the costs and missed opportunities resulting from a government healthcare system.

As a 25 year old who will suffer the consequences of regulations placed on healthcare now for the rest of his life, I must take issue with the idea of socialized medicine in America. In a just world, the sins of the father should not be visited upon the son. But that will be the way of it with socialized medicine, for future generations will suffer the consequences of our mistakes regarding healthcare policy now. Once medicine is socialized, a very strong constituency entrenching the bureaucracy will develop. This constituency will ensure that the bureaucrats associated with regulation of medicine will retain their jobs. We need only to look at the lobbying clout of the municipal employees labor unions and teacher's unions for examples of these powerful, entrenched special interests. To be sure, these special interest groups, once they develop in medicine, will not be lobbying to provide you with better healthcare at a cheaper price. Any changes back to a freer market in medicine we wish for in the future will be very hard to achieve, once we relinquish our freedom of choice in medicine.

And so, the big-government barbarian horde claws at the gates. The horde is demanding MORE regulation of a healthcare industry which is already burdened by mountains of regulation. Many folks do not seem to notice the direct correlation between centralization and stagnation. Industries infected by burdensome regulations just aren't as vibrant as those markets which are more free. Regulation in healthcare has been increasing for decades. Tax codes have resulted in insurance schemes which have all but severed the beneficial payment/service relationship between patient and doctor. It is the tax code which led to expensive employee-sponsored health insurance programs, as well as the increasing tendency for insurance to have to cover ALL maladies -- whether the insured wanted coverage for the specific malady or not. Costs forced onto insurance companies only drive up the cost of health insurance. Behold, the reason why many of those 47M Americans are uninsured: the government regulation made it too expensive for them, duh!

When the U.S. census bureau tells us that 50% of every dollar spent on healthcare comes from federal, state, and local government, but only 27% of the populace is insured under their schemes, we should rethink the idea that the government will make healthcare cheaper. Perhaps we should not be so quick to accuse the private sector for the flaws of the system, when the pitch of our screams has been proportional to political involvement. A historical perspective, showing the facts which prove that it is government regulation which has led to the ruin of American healthcare are detailed in this wonderfully informative article: ( http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2007-winter/moral-vs-universal-health-care.asp ). This email is just a double-barrelled blast of reality into your eye sockets. But that article is the napalm bomb of truth, ignited by the fire of justice. All of the weak undergrowth supporting the false arguments for rationed healthcare is incinerated by it. Take heed, if you support socialized medicine and choose to read that article, please prepare to have your dreams exposed for the nightmares they actually cause.

Proponents of socialized medicine believe costs can be whisked away to never-never land. If they didn't think they would get more out of the system than they were putting in, they would not promote it. But imagine that: proponents of socialized medicine hope to gain MORE from the system than they put into it... It is bad enough to promote a system of law in which you hope to benefit at somebody else's expense, but it's even worse to promote it under the artifice of an altruistic plan to 'help others.'

There was a time in America when those who wanted to help others reached into their own wallets.

Insurance companies are the special target of the proponents of socialized medicine. And insurance adjustors especially are villified as some of the most 'greedy, heartless' employees on earth. Why is it moral for an insured patient to claim what his contract guarantees, but immoral for an insurance company to pay what the contract guarantees? The adjustor is simply the person who ensures that the company will not be bankrupted by fraudulent claims. Ridiculing insurance companies for this behavior is irrational; every business faces the necessity of controlling costs. Getting emotional over Michael Moore's movie won't eliminate that fact, or the fact that it's the only thing which can prevent health insurance costs from spiralling out of control completely. It will be interesting to see what happens if we eliminate the evil, bean-counting insurance adjustors entirely. Surely a glorious day will result when we eliminate the only thing reigning in health insurance expenditure. As P.J. O'Rourke said, "If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it is free."

The blanket accusations of insurance company's dishonest thievery are tantamount to the ridiculous racist scare tactics of the past. "Insurance company employees are out to rip off unhealthy people." That implication underlies seemingly all of the media 'news' stories which I've read about healthcare. This is nothing more than scapegoating populism. Hitler said the same sort of things about the Jews. It is precisely this blanket disrespect which has led to DECADES of legislation piling up on insurance providers -- which has only increased the cost of insurance to consumers (refer to that article). What has happened to the defense of freedom of association, voluntary trade, and the sanctity of contract? It is only competition and a judicial system protecting contracts which will eliminate any ACTUAL frauds from the healthcare industry.

Did you know that an elderly person in Canada can wait two or three years for a knee or hip replacement, while Canada's free market in pet healthcare can get their dog a new hip within a week? Funny, if it weren't true. Wake up, America. This is not something we can promote simply because 'We feel it would be nice' if everybody had 'free healthcare.' This is a matter of life and death. The amount of suffering, waste, and pain which will occur under a nationalized healthcare system will be stunning for those who have to suffer from it. How will the benevolent bureaucrats learn when they've made a mistake in rationing us our portion of The People's Healthcare? When people start dying, of course. The following is a quote from the "Canadian Medical Association Journal" (CMAJ):

"During the 1999 election campaign, the New Democrats promised to keep cardiac surgery programs operating in both hospitals. However, attitudes changed when people on the waiting list started dying — there have been 11 deaths since 1999 — and both the Liberals and Conservatives demanded Chomiak's resignation. The last straw appears to have been the death of Diane Gorsuch, 58, who died in February after spending more than 2 years awaiting surgery. Thirteen days after she died, the review was announced."

The bureaucrats learned their lesson a little too late for Ms. Gorsuch. And why not? Politicians and bureaucrats in a democracy only really have to worry about pleasing the majority -- who do not need the care that she did. That is the cold, simple explanation for why patients in nationalized healthcare systems have such miserable access to specialized services. Quite a few more gorey details about the Canadian healthcare system are in that linked article above. Ahh yes, but why should we bother worrying about Ms. Gorsuch? We've got pretty ideas about a free healthcare utopia to implement, don't we?

Her case is just one specific example of how governments fail to allocate services as efficiently as the free market can. How could we have known that cases such as Ms. Gorsuch's would happen? It's not like it wasn't predictable, it's basic economics. When bureaucrats direct the industry instead of prices, they'll inevitably fail at their jobs:

"The significance of free market prices in the allocation of resources can be seen more clearly by looking at situations where prices are not allowed to perform this function. During the era of the government-directed economy of the Soviet Union, for example, prices were not set by supply and demand but by central planners who sent resources to their various uses by direct commands, supplemented by prices that the planners raised or lowered as they saw fit. Two Soviet economists, Nikolai Shmelev and Vladimir Popov, described a situation in which their government raised the price it would pay for moleskins, leading hunters to get and sell more of them: 'State purchases increased, and now all the distribution centers are filled with these pelts. Industry is unable to use them all, and they often rot in warehouses before they can be processed. The Ministry of Light Industry has already requested Goskomsten twice to lower purchasing prices, but the "question has not been decided" yet. And this is not surprising. It's members are too busy to decide. They have no time: besides setting prices on these pelts, they have to keep track of another 24 million prices.'" -- Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics.

If thousands of healthcare industry workers are only able to deliver healthcare to us out from under a mountain of regulation at the prices we pay today, what makes us believe a few elected saviors can carry us off to a utopia of free healthcare? Socialized medicine in America: I hope you are as excited as I am to hurry up and wait in those healthcare rationing lines. Rationing is the only way governments can reign in costs for any industry they monopolize. Waiting lines are going to happen to us, just as they did in Russia for all commodities, just as they're happening right now in every country with national healthcare.

I hope I will be able to survive the wait.

I'm here to tell any reader who promotes socialized medicine: implementing the grandeur of your vision is not worth the cost of Diane Gorsuch's life. She was forced to pay taxes all her life to support a system which permitted her death. They failed. She died. The results will be no different, once these 'dreams' are implemented here and we start suffering their nightmare effects. It is high time for the aspiring healthcare dictators to answer the most important question:

What really matters: the perceived nobility of your vision? Or actual human well-being?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Athletes Shrugged

The Olympics, and all that it celebrates, cometh. Huzzah! I thought I’d use this opportunity to get satirical, and apply some of today’s subjectivism to the event. Here we go!

The idea of wealth redistribution must be extended. We should get the scientists working on wealth redistribution's physiological counterpart: health redistribution. What good is wealth if you don’t have the health to enjoy it?

It’s commonly accepted that the amount of health is fixed. The health possessed by athletic individuals is health that cannot be possessed by others. The total health available is static and it should be more fairly distributed; those who have large amounts of health owe a portion of their health to the less fortunate. This is true because most people believe it to be true.

Singular examples of athlete dishonesty (such as doping) only further prove that enforced, draconian regulation of all athletes is necessary to curb their inherent greed for health. No matter what the costs of these regulations are, they are justified. These regulations will, of course, eliminate all future dishonesty. The regulators will also, of course, be free from all temptation to dishonesty and corruption. One wonders why we have not created regulatory commissions to eliminate every human's imperfection before now. Athlete dishonesty is further displayed by their unfair access to superior training plans from the world’s top coaches. This is known as the practice of “insider training.” After a successful season of training, windfall displays of superior ability are not uncommonly observed in the lives of these athletes. These cases should not be interpreted as providing an inspirational vision of successful accomplishment for people. It is precisely at these times of windfall performance that we should be taxing these athletes for all the health we deem justifiable.

However selfish athletes may be, it is clear that the health created by our domestic athletes should be protected from the vicious competition which they might be exposed to, if they had to compete with foreign athletes. While we might not be able to tax health abroad to even the playing field worldwide, we should do what we can to protect our domestic athletes by instituting health taxes on foreign athletes competing in this country.

Addressing the specific instances of the vices of these athletes won’t do. Athleticism needs to be addressed fundamentally – the spirit of athletic competitiveness is an attitude which is inherently against society’s interests.

Athletes must be taught about the common duty that everyone owes to society. Athletes are egoistic and selfish – all their efforts are aimed at personal improvement. Do they ever consider that the lives of other members of society are threatened by a lack of health? It’s thinking like an athlete which would cause anyone to suggest that they have an inviolable right to their health. There are people who need health, and these athletes have more than they need! One person’s claim of a need for health is sufficient justification for defrauding another person of his health! When it’s almost universally accepted that this is true, how long shall we continue pretending these greedy athletes have a right to hoard all that health for themselves!??!

These Olympic games are a sickening display of the inequalities in health distribution. While these athletes cavort about, reveling in the notion that they have ‘earned’ their excessive level of health, the majority of the world’s population languishes in relative mediocrity. And we revere and celebrate these selfish people! Appreciating imperfections is what will make mankind great, not reverence for personal achievement.

Athlete’s extremely competitive natures are anti-social. What about people who try to compete, but come away beaten? Has anyone thought of them? A fair plan of health redistribution can progressively tax the health of athletes, to the degree of their ability… This will not only result in a fair distribution of health but will also ensure that no one’s victory results in someone else's feeling inferior! A fair society is one that taxes the able to construct false realities for the less able.

Some might say, ‘But don’t athletes earn their health through hard work and dedication?’ Lies! How silly is it to suggest that health was “earned” by the athletic! Without society, athletes wouldn't be capable of producing health, so it's really society that creates health. Some individuals just get lucky in receiving it. It is time that we teach the athletic that they have to give back.

Some might say, ‘They didn’t really earn their health at my expense… Just seeing their performance is an inspiration to me!’ Why talk of inspiration and personal motivation when people are suffering?

Some might say, ‘How long will we last, when virtues which result in achievement and promote life only earn contempt and robbery?’ We needn’t consider that… As long as athletes do not shrug!

The Olympics are nothing less than a festival which celebrates a goal-driven individual effort maintained across years of someone's life to achieve an unprecedented level of athletic performance. How should we respond when we see such behavior?

I'll be cheering. ;-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Osama's Reasoning

A friend of mine has recently been trying to convince me that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were justified because America has been "meddling with middle easterner's affairs." My friend's opinion is that Osama bin Laden's reason for attacking us was, "he wants his people's freedom back." From what I saw, Ron Paul's stance was similar to this. Today, my friend recommended I read the book where he got this idea: "Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror," by Mahmood Mamdani. While formulating a response, a point occurred to me which proves that my friend's position is actually quite wrong -- Osama doesn't really want freedom for his people. Here is the email I wrote:

"Regarding that book, I suspect it will only reinforce the stance I already took... We've no right to permit our government to interfere with the lives and governments of foreigners unless we've been harmed by them in some way. This is a rational foreign policy, and it's not the foreign policy that America has been practicing. Regardless of our errors, we DO have a moral right to the defense of our own lives, and a military response to 9/11 was entirely justifiable.

I did do some brief reading up on Osama's convictions, via transcripts of his media statements. Osama is a theocratic thug who dreams of a world ruled by sharia law. He also believes that those who don't comply with Allah's will should be killed. Osama does not fundamentally want us out of the middle east because we are "violating his rights." That assumption is committing two errors. 1) It ignores his militantly theocratic ideology and 2) It is an attempt to mask his ideology by believing that he's promoting OUR belief in an individual's right to freedom.

He does not want us out of the middle east so he can "have his freedom back." He wants us out of the middle east so that he can force sharia law on the Muslims of that region -- and he is willing to declare jihad on the Muslims who deny him this goal. It's really this absurd: he wants the "arrogant, imperialistic Americans" out of the lives of middle easterners.... so that he can move in and force sharia on them. His mentality is straight out of the dark ages, when people were slaughtered for being heretics while monarchs clashed for territory in order to subjugate more poor human beings. So: even if Osama has a case for criticizing our foreign policy, he is NOT doing so on correct moral grounds. In this scenario, I'll even make this qualified statement: I can't imagine how any support we have provided in the past to any democratic, rights respecting nations in that region could have been worse for the people there than what Osama is offering. The qualification for that statement is my foreign policy stance: we shouldn't even be there, unless they attacked us. (And I'm aware that we've supported theocracies in the past; remember I'm not trying to justify our policy, I'm trying to suggest a correct policy).

Socialism died when the Soviet Union collapsed. Multiculturalism died when The World Trade Center collapsed. In our era, I sincerely hope that there won't be a more violently concrete reminder of how necessary it is to recognize that some cultures respect human life more than others. My idea of a rational foreign policy relies on the necessity of protecting people's right to live their lives freely... More innocent people will die if we rationalize the behavior of those who value Allah's will over the lives of humans. The author of that book is distracting us from these crucially important points."

- deexma