Monday, March 31, 2008
Once again, the government has done everything in its power to cause the current financial crisis, yet it simultaneously is using the crisis as an attempt to justify ever more regulations. As always, the initial regulations as well as the entire structure of the central banking system is not brought into question as the culprit. Naturally, it is unscrupulous and even "uneducated" [fill in specific businessmen here] mortgage lenders that are now to blame. Just as the oil companies were allegedly colluding to raise the price of gasoline, now we are to believe that the mortage bankers apparently found that lending money to people who have no ability to repay was really the evil, greedy thing to do.
Are we supposed to believe that in an unregulated environment where the government does not stand as the lender of last resort and/or literally underwrite these mortgages through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that mortgage bankers would have felt comfortable lending money to people with spotty credit and no ability to repay? Are we to believe that under a 100% reserve gold standard, the banking system could somehow manufacture credit in such a way that money is practically given away and that a sector of the economy like housing could become a house of cards? Are we to believe that private lenders, their insurers and re-insurers, as well as their shareholders and depositors would allow this to happen in an unregulated environment where everybody stands to lose everything without a government bailout? Would you feel sorry for a bank and its shareholders that did allow this to happen to itself? Are we now to believe that a "super agency" (a bunch of bureacrats from Washington who incidentally are fantastic at managing their finances) which literally has the power to inspect any institution deemed to be a "threat to the stability of the banking system" will be better suited to manage a bank's risk than the coordinated efforts of all the firms and individuals in a free unregulated marketplace whose sole concern is to make money?
What may be most frightening is that this is being proposed by the Republicans who are supposedly against government intrusion in the economy. The main criticism of the plan is coming from Democrats who don't think the proposal goes far enough! What truly needs an overhaul is the Leviathan federal government which is destroying our economy.
Friday, March 28, 2008
This link discusses the Holland government's condemnation of an anti-koran film, "Fitna", which links verses of the Koran to violent background images from terrorist attacks.
The Dutch government had warned Wilders that a film offensive to Muslims could spark protests in Islamic countries as violent as those two years ago after European newspapers published cartoons of Mohammed.Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said Thursday night that the Department of Justice will investigate whether Wilders has broken Dutch law with his attack on the Quran. Balkenende condemned the film as "out to hurt" the Dutch people.
Here is a major Western government not only unwilling to protect the right of this filmmaker to show his movie but actively trying to suppress the film in order to appease the Muslims. The Dutch government should proudly proclaim that its citizens have the right to free speech and warn that any violence surrounding the release of the film will be met by overwhelming force. Furthermore, other Western media outlets should release the film as a show of support for the principle of free speech and the United States government should stand prepared to defend them. Imagine if this were a Michael Moore film or Gore's film and there were threats of violence against the producers and media. What would be the reaction of the Left? As usual, the so-called defenders of free speech are deafeningly silent. This is an outrageous and frightening development.
As Western governments refuse to protect free speech under Muslim threats, as our enemies in Iran continue their drive to develop nuclear weapons unimpeded, and as the United States government continues to sacrifice soldiers in Iraq while Iranian allied Shiites move to gain more power in the Iraq's new "democracy" - our government is busy at work protecting us in the one way it really knows how - confiscating water, shampoo, and now nipple rings at the nations' airports.
Meanwhile, French president Nicolas Sarkozy is considering a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics over recent Chinese suppression of Tibet and the possibility that the Chinese government will censor live protest footage during the ceremony. How about deciding to boycott the entire Olympics? Well, consideration of a possible boycott of the opening ceremony is a start...(Also, is it kind of scary that the French may now be the most principled Western government?)
While the unprincipled and contradictory policies of our government bear the effects of 200 years of unreason in the social sciences here is a more positive and inspiring note from the world still dominated by reason and logic. An 1860 french recording was found in a patent office and is the oldest recording of a human voice.
The 10-second clip of a woman singing "Au Clair de la Lune," taken from a so-called phonautogram, was recently discovered by audio historian David Giovannoni. The recording predates Thomas Edison's "Mary had a little lamb" — previously credited as the oldest recorded voice — by 17 years.The tune was captured using a phonautograph, a device created by Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville that created visual recordings of sound waves.Using a needle that moved in response to sound, the phonautograph etched sound waves into paper coated with soot from an oil lamp.
Berkelely scientists were able to recreate the voice recording:
"When I first heard the recording as you hear it ... it was magical, so ethereal," said Giovannoni. "The fact is it's recorded in smoke. The voice is coming out from behind this screen of aural smoke."
This reminds me of a story about the recent discovery of a lost Archimedes work found on the back of a palimpsest dating to the Middle Ages where it was apparently used by Monks as a prayer book. Here is a voice "recorded in smoke" left on a shelf for 150 years. Fortunately, today we still have the scientific knowledge necessary to recreate and appreciate the brilliant ingenuity of this 19th century inventor. However, if things continue the way they are going in the social "sciences", the voices and ideas that have brought us so much brilliance and prosperity may go the way of this recording and Archimedes before - lost in a new Dark Age.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
As a college student in Chapel Hill, John Allison stumbled across a collection of essays by Ayn Rand and was hooked by her philosophy of self-interest and limited government. As he rose over the decades to chief executive of BB&T, one of the country's leading regional banks, Rand remained his muse.
He's trying to replicate that encounter through the charitable arm of his Winston-Salem-based company, which since 1999 has awarded more than $28 million to 27 colleges to support the study of capitalism from a moral perspective.
But on at least 17 of those campuses, including UNC Charlotte, N.C. State and Johnson C. Smith University, the gifts come with an unusual stipulation: Rand's novel, "Atlas Shrugged," is included in a course as required reading.
The schools' agreements have drawn criticism from some faculty, who say it compromises academic integrity. In higher education, the power to decide course content is supposed to rest with professors, not donors. Debate about the gifts, which arose at UNCC this month, illustrates tensions that exist over corporate influence on college campuses.
John Allison, CEO of BB&T, has been engaged in a heroic effort to bring the study of the morality of capitalism to America's universities. As stated above, his foundation has awarded over $28 Million to at least 27 colleges under various stipulations such as that the colleges offer courses that study the ethical foundations of capitalism, that they require Ayn Rand's books to be part of the course offerings, and in some cases hold seminars or fund visiting professors to discuss and analyze the moral foundations of capitalism.
I hardly think that any effort could have a more profound impact on our society than making Ayn Rand's ideas widely known and studied on college campuses. For decades, despite the enormous influence of her ideas worldwide (not to mention the truthfulness of her arguments), entrenched leftist academics who oppose her defense of egoism and capitalism as well as conservatives who oppose her atheism have dismissed Rand's ideas. It is only recently that many Objectivist professors in various disciplines have gained tenure at major universities and with Allison's foundation leading the way it is likely that a serious movement within academia could become a reality.
The above link discusses the sudden concerns of faculty members at UNC-Charlotte who suddenly realized (after they got the $1M grant) that, "gasp", the deal requires them to teach Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand's magnum opus novel). Of course, their concerns will be couched in rhetoric related to "academic freedom" and the like but it is really a smokescreen for the fact that they do not like Rand being brought into their classrooms. Rand's ideas certainly merit serious academic scrutiny and analysis and if the college didn't like the terms then they shouldn't have taken the money.
Here's to John Allison with the hope that his efforts continue on an even wider scale and that the practical effects of Ayn Rand's philosophy can affect the culture before it is too late.
Below is an excellent op-ed defending Allison amidst the recent hysteria surrounding the grants and a link to the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism which is a model example of what Allison has been achieving.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Dr. Reisman's post provides an exposition of the current financial crisis and a short and long term remedy. As he says, although it is extremely unlikely that his proposal will be considered, the first step towards a solution is to understand what needs to be accomplished even if it is not acted upon presently.
Although he is right in attributing a large part of this crisis to a "stew of [economic] ignorance", I would go further and say that economic ignorance is not the primary reason we are at this stage. The explanation lies more fundamentally in philosophy. It is the modern philosophers rejection of the absolutism of reason and the consequent intellectual anarchy reigning in the fields of ethics, epistemology, and politics which has put us in this mess. Many who offer brilliantly rational arguments based on economic science take for granted that economic prosperity and a high standard of living would be considered desirable by today's intellectuals. These are the same intellectuals who call for "pain at the pump" to help a "sick planet" and who block the construction of housing, research laboratories, and new roads in favor of gnats and swamps. These are the same intellectuals who tell us that one cannot judge a culture that respects individual rights, science, and economic freedom to be superior to a culture based on superstition, mysticism and despotism.
As he points out, it is still entirely necessary to understand his plan as a means to achieving economic freedom and rescue from the current crisis, but the intellectual climate must be radically altered before the "solution" is even desired much less executed.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Pastor Wright appears to espouse liberation theology which is essentially Christian socialism. It is the idea that the church's mission is to bring "social justice" to the "poor and oppressed" through political activism. Logically, Christianity is entirely consistent with the principles of socialism. Both uphold the moral theory of altruism, i.e, both hold that the purpose of life is to serve the poor and "oppressed." Capitalism rests on the egoist theory that the purpose of life is self-fulfillment or happiness not service to the meek. (A better way to see this is to ask whether Jesus would vote for Obama or me.)
Obama would not couch his views in the rhetoric used by the more strident and outspoken Pastor Wright and Obama certainly would not agree with everything Wright believes. There are moderate socialists, moderate environmentalists, moderate Nazis, etc. The "moderate" is usually one who implicitly accepts the fundamental premises of an ideology without being willing to act upon or even understand its extreme logical consequences (sort of like: I just believe in the superiority of the Aryan race - I didn't think it would lead to killing the Jews" or "I just believe in not polluting the air and gas taxes - I didn't think it would lead to the abolishment of private property and living back in a cave"). In this sense, Obama is a moderate liberation theologist whose political platform is a watered down version of Pastor Wright's philosophy. Obama's political platform http://www.barackobama.com is typical liberal stuff: the government should steal money from people who earn it and give it to those who don't. The core premise of this ideology is egalitarianism or the idea that everyone should be economically equal regardless of their ability or work ethic which again is based on the altruist idea that sacrifice is a virtue.
For Obama to say that this church's ideology is not his own is ridiculous. The concept of faith and value is necessarily related to one's political views. Questions such as what is the nature of man, what is the purpose of life, what is the role of the government, etc. are interrelated and the answers depend on one's fundamental philosophy. Either Obama is being dishonest or he does not understand the relationship of ideas to politics. Pastor Wright is consistent albeit wrong. Obama is inconsistent and wrong.
At least, for the first time in this campaign, they are talking about ideas. That's a start.
"A Michigan congressman [Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich] wants to put a 50-cent tax on every gallon of gasoline to try to cut back on Americans' consumption."
As I said in my previous post "Probe of Probes" (http://dougreich.blogspot.com/2007/06/probe-of-probes.html), the government does everything in its power to raise the price of gasoline including but not limited to: direct gas sales taxes, taxes on every aspect of the production process, regulations and restrictions on drilling and refining, import restrictions, failure to protect US and other western corporations investment in foreign countries (see Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela) and inflation of the money supply (which raises the price of everything). Yet, every time gas prices rise, it is met with calls for investigations of "Big Oil" and threats of punishment for collusion and other assorted conspiracy allegations. Now in the midst of the worst economic crisis in years where government caused inflation is spiraling prices out of control, destroying capital, and leading to recession and potentially depression like circumstances, this congressmen is calling for Big Government to extort 50 cents a gallon from the American consumer. Why?
Some environmentalists and economists say pain at the pump may be bad for Americans, but good medicine for a sick planet.
But others say it wouldn't change much. Even if Americans abandoned their cars, global emissions would fall by less than one percent.
"A tax on gas is a way to reduce dependence on import oil, reduce traffic congrestion and reduce carbon emissions," said Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute.
If your concern was really reducing dependence on imported oil and traffic congestion then how about eliminating all restrictions and regulations on drilling and refining in the United States and building more roads to deal with traffic congestion? Won't higher prices and the lack of highway expansion lead to less travel and/or higher prices for everything that needs to be transported? Would Dingell and the "Earth Policy Institute" just have us all stay at home like peasants who never venture outside of their village and do with less of the more expensive goods? Would this increase our standard of living or would it be a step backward in human progress?
The answer is obvious. The environmentalists are not concerned about man's welfare. They are concerned with the earth in and of itself. So, while the oil companies scour the earth for life giving petroleum which they make available 24 hours a day at reasonable prices, this crew is calling for using the coercive power of the state to significantly decrease our standard of living. Now, who should we be investigating?
Friday, March 14, 2008
Generally speaking most physical scientists would accept the philosophical implications of this statement at face value and this principle is the bedrock foundation of their work and outlook on life. When we study rocks and molecules we all seem to agree that the scientific method is valid. We observe that there are laws of nature which result in the same cause having the same effect. Therefore, we can form theories and deduce the consequences of certain principles. If we have done the science right then our predictions will be accurate. If our theories are wrong it is self-evident and we must modify or augment our theories to take into account new knowledge. The scientific method has revolutionized the world and brought about untold prosperity to billions of people. Is there any doubt that this method works brilliantly?
So, if the scientific method works wonderfully when we apply it to nature why wouldn't we apply the same method to understanding man and his interaction with the world? In other words, should we use the scientific method in the social sciences? Judging by the wholesale ignorance of modern economists and the inane absurdity of modern philosophy, apparently, the answer must be a resounding no.
Could you imagine a biologist saying that man might be made of jello or a chemist saying that wood is made out of ham sandwiches? But, if a modern economist says that the Federal Reserve needs to inflate the money supply to achieve economic prosperity it is accepted. If a political scientist claims that appeasing the Muslims this time will lead them to respect us it is considered reasonable. If Hillary Clinton says that raising taxes and increasing government spending on welfare projects will lead to prosperity it is deemed credible. Apparently, in the social sciences unlike in physical reality, anything is possible.
Unfortunately, this is not true, and occasionally, reality has a way of reminding us that Sir Bacon's statement applies to us as well. You see, goods must be produced and people must work to perform a service (although I would never be so audacious to make this claim in front of the esteemed social scientists). If you create little green pieces of paper it does not make goods fall from the sky. However, it does have the effect of destroying the value of actual goods in terms of those little pieces of paper. It also causes people who must pay their taxes and transact business with those pieces of paper to invest in things that they think are going up in value in terms of the paper. If the things are really not valuable in terms of other things and the pieces of paper suddenly decrease in supply then your thing is called a bad investment or a house.
Creating more pieces of paper will not create more goods. Stealing the paper from people through taxes will not help create more goods. Forcing someone to give his paper to another person or another country will not create more goods. Borrowing pieces of paper from people and spending it on non-productive activities will not create more goods. Creating impediments to people creating goods will not help to create more goods. Punishing those who work hard will not get them to work harder to produce more goods. Restricting other countries from importing their goods will not result in more goods.
As the stock market plummets, as gold and commodity prices spiral upward, as the dollar loses its value against world currencies, and as the government continues to print more money then tax or borrow it in order to waste it on asinine programs while simultaneously creating every possible regulation and impediment to production - we should be reminded, that reality applies to humans too.
Monday, March 10, 2008
It is fitting that a man who built his career using the coercive power of the state to persecute businessmen for victimless "crimes" would have his career ended perpetrating a victimless crime. Despite the sense of good karma and the momentary satisfaction of seeing an evil weasel ruin his political career, the philosophy underlying Spitzer's rise to prominence, the ideas that led to the fawning media lauding "Elliot Ness" as the "Crusader of the Year" for fighting this so-called corruption, is alive and well.
The idea that the businessman is innately guilty, and the idea that those who seek profit and earn vast amounts of wealth are necessarily corrupt or that money making entails crushing others is alive and well. The Marxist idea that the capitalists on Wall Street are parasites who exploit the working man is alive and well. From the SEC's enforcement of the 1934 Securities Exchange Act, the 1940 Investment Advisers Act, and the more recent Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, to the arbitary and vicious anti-trust laws, to the reign of ambitious bureacrats like Spitzer, the American government has treated businessmen worse than common criminals. To quote Ayn Rand (http://www.aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/businessmen.html):
The legal treatment accorded to actual criminals is much superior to that accorded to businessmen. The criminal's rights are protected by objective laws, objective procedures, objective rules of evidence. A criminal is presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty. Only businessmen—the producers, the providers, the supporters, the Atlases who carry our whole economy on their shoulders—are regarded as guilty by nature and are required to prove their innocence, without any definable criteria of innocence or proof, and are left at the mercy of the whim, the favor, or the malice of any publicity-seeking politician, any scheming statist, any envious mediocrity who might chance to work his way into a bureaucratic job and who feels a yen to do some trust-busting.
The dominant philosophy of our time is that man has a moral duty to live for others and that sacrifice to that end is the good. Since the businessman seeks profit he is castigated as evil. Throughout the culture, the businessman is villified. Movies and literature in popular culture cast the corporation and the greedy businessman as the proverbial villain raping and pillaging the earth or stepping on the "little guy". Business is seen as materialistic and selfish against the more noble pursuits of the idealistic artist or the social worker who helps the drug addict. This attitude is translated into laws which hold the businessman as guilty until proven innocent. Insider trading laws which are undefinable are used to arbitrarily prosecute traders. Anti-trust laws are used to punish those who should be congratulated as the most productive and efficient or to prevent necessary mergers and acquisitions. Now, under Sarbanes-Oxley, CEO's can be jailed if an accountant misses a figure in a thousand page financial statement. Businesses spend countless billions employing teams of accountants and lawyers to comply with the arbitrary mandates of the byzantine bureacracy.
In the past, going "public" was a badge of honor which opened a companies productive entrepreneurs to the vast capital markets, augmenting their ability to expand and improve their product, and enriching its public shareholders. More and more, companies are going "private" to avoid the regulatory costs (and risks) of being public. More and more companies will choose to stay small rather than risk exposure to these laws. Brilliant minds who otherwise would be engaged in productive work, will be employed to spend countless hours untangling the web of regulations and complying with endless government scrutiny. Each time a single fraud is committed somewhere in the universe, the government will tap it as further evidence of the innate evil of the unfettered businessman and the need for more power and regulations. The media clamor for more regulation and laud the bureacrats for protecting the masses from this alleged corruption.
Until great businessmen are revered as life giving heroes who translate ideas into material reality and benefit the lives of untold millions, we will have more Spitzers.
Is there any institution in Man's history that has a sorrier track record than the Catholic Church? If you are wrong about virtually everything for almost 2,000 years, at what point do the true believers begin to get suspicious?
At one point, they would have burned you at the stake for daring to claim that the earth was not the center of the solar system. Now, we must not do research on stem cells or contribute to global warming (uh, excuse me, "climate change").
By my reckoning, burning humans at the stake would result in a massive release of carbon so perhaps the Pope should do some calculations on how much he and the other voices of God have contributed to the problem over the years before admonishing His subjects.
Friday, March 7, 2008
California Court effectively bans homeschooling in the state
"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue
Whatttttt?!!!! This ruling obliterates the rights of parents and means that children are now to be regarded as state chattel and under threat of force will be programmed according to standards set by our omnipotent masters in the state education unions. Recall my post http://dougreich.blogspot.com/2007/09/chavez-real-meaning-of-public-education.html regarding Chavez state takeover of education in Venezuela and my claim that his actions were identical in principle to those who advocate for state education in the United States. Speaking of Chavez:
Socialist dictator Chavez threatening war against Colombia
What causes wars? A few quotes from Ayn Rand from her brilliant essay "The Roots of War" linked here: http://www.aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/war.html :
Remember that private citizens—whether rich or poor, whether businessmen or workers—have no power to start a war. That power is the exclusive prerogative of a government. Which type of government is more likely to plunge a country into war: a government of limited powers, bound by constitutional restrictions—or an unlimited government, open to the pressure of any group with warlike interests or ideologies, a government able to command armies to march at the whim of a single chief executive?
Statism—in fact and in principle—is nothing more than gang rule. A dictatorship is a gang devoted to looting the effort of the productive citizens of its own country. When a statist ruler exhausts his own country's economy, he attacks his neighbors. It is his only means of postponing internal collapse and prolonging his rule. A country that violates the rights of its own citizens, will not respect the rights of its neighbors. Those who do not recognize individual rights, will not recognize the rights of nations: a nation is only a number of individuals.
Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production.
Blair front runner to be President of Europe
There is going to be a President of Europe? What?...Speaking of global government, what are our friends at the UN up to these days?:
Remember, your tax dollars pay for a vast majority of the United Nations - an organization that finds itself unable to condemn a murder rampage at a Seminary.
The White House has led international condemnation but the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas called the attack "heroic" while not claiming responsibility.
When we got in... we saw young, 15-, 16-year-old guys lying on the floor with their Bibles in their hands - all dead on the floor.
However, the 15-strong UN Security Council failed to agree on a resolution condemning the attack because of reservations from temporary member Libya, which sought to link it to Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip.
The Government continues to destroy the economy
What more can I say? More capitalism will lead to a better economy and prosperity and more socialism (government intervention) will lead to more depressions and misery.http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8V8NN6O4&show_article=1
The continued inanity and irrelevance of the presidential contenders and their "debates"
With the world today collapsing around us, we are faced with the spectacle of watching ignoramuses who obviously have little knowledge of philosophy, history, or economics vie to be leaders of the world and engage in "debates" which supposedly distinguish them from one another. In what way are these candidates materially different from one another and what is the likely outcome of any of their presidencies?
Where is Thomas Jefferson and James Madison when you need them?
Saturday, March 1, 2008
"I saw Duch kneel in front of the trees where Khmer Rouge soldiers smashed children to death," a policeman told reporters after the four-hour tour...
About 14,000 people -- including a few foreigners accused of being CIA spies -- went into the jail to be tortured into confessing to working against a regime deemed responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people...
Tuol Sleng is now a shrine to those killed by the Khmer Rouge, who also eradicated potential opponents of their back to "Year Zero" revolution to produce an agrarian utopia through overwork, starvation and disease...
Irrational ideas will lead to failure in practice (by failure I mean anything that is anti-life such as death, misery, and suffering). For example, if I said that my philosophy holds that one must drink poison everyday, would you be shocked if it led to death amongst its adherents? If my philosophy held that based on the writings of an ancient tribe, I believe that if someone is bleeding to death they must step on a cucumber and throw salt on a ram's horns, would you be shocked if it led to death amongst its adherents? Would success or failure depend on who was in charge? In fact, doesn't it follow that only to the extent that the ideas were not followed could you even continue living? If any philosophy is irrational, then mustn't it lead to failure in practice just as in my examples? In fact, isn't it true that an idea that is bad in theory should logically lead to a bad result and an idea that is good in theory should lead to success? Yet, how many times have you heard the following arguments:
- "Socialism is good in theory but bad in practice..." or a variant of this argument is "when Castro, Pol Pot, Stalin, etc. killed hundreds of millions of people, they weren't really practicing true socialism..."
- Those environmentalists who are quoted as calling for mass human death in order to save the ecosystem are just extremists who don't represent the true environmentalists who just want to pick up cans and see pretty flowers in parks. The ones who call for human death or blow up science labs or spike trees, etc. are "well-intentioned idealists" but "impractical"
- German's who voted for the Nazis were shocked and appalled that the Nazi regime had been maintaining concentration camps where over 6 million people were systematically murdered insisting that the Nazi regime's actions did not represent the goals of true National Socialism (Nazism)...
- The imposition of oppressive theocracies over the past 2000 years resulting in the subjugation of independent thinking, misery and poverty for its subjects was made by those who misinterpreted or distorted the true word of God. If people understood and followed what the Bible truly says then we would live in a literal Garden of Eden" or a variant is "people are sinners and can not live up to perfection...
A more concrete example which is a sub-set of the socialism example might be:
- "Government intervention in the economy (welfare, social security, universal health care, price controls, etc.) to redistribute the wealth of those who have earned it for the sake of those who have not doesn't work in practice, results in catastrophe, and usually harms most the people it is intended to help but we'll keep trying because egalitarianism is noble in theory..."
Note that in each case when people actually act on such ideas, mass death and misery result, yet the believers in such ideas simply assert that it wasn't implemented correctly or that the idea is "good in theory" but man is inherently incapable of living up to such noble ideals. We are led to believe that if only the right people were to implement socialism, communism, environmentalism, theocracy, or if man could be "better" then these ideas when implemented would not lead to suffering and mass death. Yet, it always does lead to mass death and suffering. It is never questioned whether the idea really is "good in theory" nor is the "good" ever defined.
The success or failure of such philosophies in reality is not dependent on who implements it. If a philosophy is not true, then to the extent anyone actually tries to practice it then it must fail. Failure in practice is logically required of any philosophy that is untrue. For example, a policy upholding "sacrifice" of the productive to the unproductive is suicidal and has to lead to mass destruction and death. A philosophy based on the premise that it is virtuous for man to sacrifice himself will lead to people sacrificing themselves or to its leaders sacrificing its subjects which results in death and destruction. A philosophy that regards individual reason and the pursuit of knowledge as evil will result in ignorance and a society mired in superstition, primitivism, and the rule of brute force. There is no magic formula or dictator that will change these facts.
So, what makes these particular philosophies irrational? At their base, every ideology either explicitly or implicitly contains a view of man's nature. This view gives rise to an explicit or implicit ethical theory and ultimately a political theory. One logically leads to the other. If any of these premises is false then the following premise must be invalid.
Take Socialism for example. What is Socialism? To quote Ayn Rand (http://www.aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/socialism.html source of below quotes can be found at this link):
Socialism is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society, that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.
The essential characteristic of socialism is the denial of individual property rights; under socialism, the right to property (which is the right of use and disposal) is vested in "society as a whole," i.e., in the collective, with production and distribution controlled by the state, i.e., by the government.
Socialism may be established by force, as in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics—or by vote, as in Nazi (National Socialist) Germany. The degree of socialization may be total, as in Russia—or partial, as in England. Theoretically, the differences are superficial; practically, they are only a matter of time. The basic principle, in all cases, is the same.
Now if this characterization of Socialism is accurate, which I believe it is, what in the hell is "good in theory" about it? One must produce in order to survive. If someone can take whatever you produce by force then you are a slave by definition and you would have no means to maintain your own survival. In what sense can a society of slaves be considered a "utopia" and those who pursue it labeled as "idealists"? Quoting Ayn Rand:
Ownership without control is a contradiction in terms: it means "property," without the right to use it or to dispose of it. It means that the citizens retain the responsibility of holding property, without any of its advantages, while the government acquires all the advantages without any of the responsibility.
The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.
Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.
When you consider socialism, do not fool yourself about its nature. Remember that there is no such dichotomy as "human rights" versus "property rights." No human rights can exist without property rights. Since material goods are produced by the mind and effort of individual men, and are needed to sustain their lives, if the producer does not own the result of his effort, he does not own his life. To deny property rights means to turn men into property owned by the state. Whoever claims the "right" to "redistribute" the wealth produced by others is claiming the "right" to treat human beings as chattel.
The essential ideas of socialism contradict man's fundamental nature. Logically, because socialism denies property rights and therefore all rights, it must be imposed on individuals by force. So, to the extent one tries to practice "true" socialism it must lead to tyranny and suffering as witnessed in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Castro's Cuba, Mao's China, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, etc.
The alleged goals of socialism were: the abolition of poverty, the achievement of general prosperity, progress, peace and human brotherhood. The results have been a terrifying failure—terrifying, that is, if one's motive is men's welfare.
Instead of prosperity, socialism has brought economic paralysis and/or collapse to every country that tried it. The degree of socialization has been the degree of disaster. The consequences have varied accordingly.
So why do people hold that Socialism is "good in theory"? Because it is consistent with the dominant morality of our culture: altruism. Altruism is the idea that self-sacrifice is the good and that one should live their life for the sake of others. This should not be confused with benevolence or generosity. Altruism is the idea that one is good to the extent that one gives up more than one gets. If one gets an equal value for helping a loved one that is not sacrifice but essentially a fair trade. If one let's their loved one die in order to help someone they do not care about or even despise then it is a sacrifice.
The moral theory of altruism is the basis of the slogan "socialism is good in theory". Altruism is literally a philosophy of death. Man must act in his self-interest to the extent he wishes to live. Breathing is a selfish act. Eating is a selfish act. Keeping and using the product of your work is selfish. Love is selfish unless you hate your spouse. To the extent you practice altruism you will tend to die. Therefore, upholding altruism as a moral ideal once again puts man at odds with his nature. Under altruism, to the extent you wish to live and be happy you are not moral, and to the extent you sacrifice and are miserable you are supposedly moral. Socialism is consistent with altruism as a moral ideal and that is why it is considered "good in theory" despite the practical arguments against it:
The socialists had a certain kind of logic on their side: if the collective sacrifice of all to all is the moral ideal, then they wanted to establish this ideal in practice, here and on this earth. The arguments that socialism would not and could not work, did not stop them: neither has altruism ever worked, but this has not caused men to stop and question it. Only reason can ask such questions—and reason, they were told on all sides, has nothing to do with morality, morality lies outside the realm of reason, no rational morality can ever be defined.
The fallacies and contradictions in the economic theories of socialism were exposed and refuted time and time again, in the Nineteenth Century as well as today. This did not and does not stop anyone: it is not an issue of economics, but of morality. The intellectuals and the so-called idealists were determined to make socialism work. How? By that magic means of all irrationalists: somehow.
The notion of sacrifice was put into practice quite explicitly by the Nazis (which stands for National Socialists in German). Quoting Dr. Leonard Peikoff (same link as above):
The Nazis defended their policies, and the country did not rebel; it accepted the Nazi argument. Selfish individuals may be unhappy, the Nazis said, but what we have established in Germany is the ideal system, socialism. In its Nazi usage this term is not restricted to a theory of economics; it is to be understood in a fundamental sense. "Socialism" for the Nazis denotes the principle of collectivism as such and its corollary, statism—in every field of human action, including but not limited to economics.
"To be a socialist," says Goebbels, "is to submit the I to the thou; socialism is sacrificing the individual to the whole."
By this definition, the Nazis practiced what they preached. They practiced it at home and then abroad. No one can claim that they did not sacrifice enough individuals.
If altruism is antithetical to man's nature and results in death, chaos, and misery then why is it upheld as the good? The key was alluded to in the quote above. Morality is considered to be beyond reason or put another way, human reason is not considered valid by modern philosophers or religionists. Modern philosophers tell us there is no truth or certainly no absolutes in the realm of morality and accept altruism by default. Religious thinkers tell us that morality can be defined absolutely but through faith not reason, i.e., by reference to sacred scriptures or commandments from God. In major religions, the good consists of sacrificing on behalf of God and therefore Jesus, the various saints, and priests are upheld as moral ideals or exemplars of sacrifice. Socialism tells us to sacrifice for the proletariat. Environmentalism tells us to sacrifice for the earth. Religionists tell us to sacrifice for God. In each case, the essential philosophy is the same. All that changes is the recipient of the sacrifice.
So if sacrifice is the good and selfishness is evil then what system can all of these philosophies agree is absolutely evil? What one system requires selfishness, rewards success, and punishes failure? What system results in wealth being obtained in proportion to an individual's effort and not through sacrifice? What system demands rationality, independent thinking, and relies not on individual sacrifice but on trading to the mutual advantage of both parties? In other words, what system is most consistent with man's nature? And what system over a brief period has produced wealth, prosperity, and happiness on a scale unparalled in human history? Capitalism.
Let me finish with a series of quotes from Ayn Rand(http://www.aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/individualrights.html this link contains all the below quotes with links and references to their original source):
Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man's survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don't. Since men are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgment. Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man's mind.
Individual rights is the only proper principle of human coexistence, because it rests on man's nature, i.e., the nature and requirements of a conceptual consciousness. Man gains enormous values from dealing with other men; living in a human society is his proper way of life—but only on certain conditions. Man is not a lone wolf and he is not a social animal. He is a contractual animal. He has to plan his life long-range, make his own choices, and deal with other men by voluntary agreement (and he has to be able to rely on their observance of the agreements they entered).
The source of man's rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man's nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational. Any group, any gang, any nation that attempts to negate man's rights, is wrong, which means: is evil, which means: is anti-life.
A "right" is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man's right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)
The concept of a "right" pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.
Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive—of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.
When individual rights are abrogated, there is no way to determine who is entitled to what; there is no way to determine the justice of anyone's claims, desires, or interests. The criterion, therefore, reverts to the tribal concept of: one's wishes are limited only by the power of one's gang. In order to survive under such a system, men have no choice but to fear, hate, and destroy one another; it is a system of underground plotting, of secret conspiracies, of deals, favors, betrayals, and sudden, bloody coups.