Monday, May 24, 2010

Say It Isn't So!

Says German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble:

"We have to adjust our social security systems in a way that they motivate people to accept regular work and do not give counterproductive incentives"
I'm sure that only the recent data points enabled him to realize this - it could not have been ascertained beforehand. Europeans should immediately riot in the streets and blame greedy capitalists for this pesky aspect of reality.
"I am worried that this crisis will also affect me on a personal level, for example, that universities in Germany will raise the tuition in order to pay the loan they give to Greece," said Karoline Daederich, a 22-year-old university student from Berlin.
Don't worry Karoline - in the long run, you will be dead.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Krauthammer: The Fruits of Weakness

Charles Krauthammer recently chronicled the Obama administration's shocking level of default in foreign policy declaring:
This is not just an America in decline. This is an America in retreat -- accepting, ratifying and declaring its decline, and inviting rising powers to fill the vacuum.
He also identified the more fundamental ideology driving the administration's actions:
Nor is this retreat by inadvertence. This is retreat by design and, indeed, on principle. It's the perfect fulfillment of Obama's adopted Third World narrative of American misdeeds, disrespect and domination from which he has come to redeem us and the world. Hence his foundational declaration at the U.N. General Assembly last September that "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation" (guess who's been the dominant nation for the last two decades?) and his dismissal of any "world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another." (NATO? The West?)
The notion that "no one nation is better than any other" is textbook multiculturalism. In Obama Takes the Tiger Out of Paper Tiger, I analyzed how pragmatism and ethical relativism have neutered American foreign policy, resulting in our sovereignty being ceded to a world government. In another post, I claimed that Obama's moral agnosticism was precisely why he was awarded a preemptive Nobel Peace Prize concluding:
Obama's weakness and pragmatic appeasement is making the world more dangerous not less. Obama has given a tacit green light to every enemy of the United States by implying that we will not defend our values either morally or practically.
As America's enemies swarm and riot in this relativist vacuum, Krauthammer logically concludes:
Given Obama's policies and principles, Turkey and Brazil are acting rationally. Why not give cover to Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions? As the United States retreats in the face of Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, why not hedge your bets? There's nothing to fear from Obama, and everything to gain by ingratiating yourself with America's rising adversaries. After all, they actually believe in helping one's friends and punishing one's enemies.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Uh, so you can create life...?

Does this strike anyone else as absolutely amazing?

Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell.

The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell.

The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.

The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Modern Resume

The New Republic discusses a Delaware native, Adam Wheeler, who now faces criminal charges for faking his way into Harvard and conning the university out of $45,000 in financial aid. The best part of the story is their posting of Wheeler's resume which he apparently sent to the New Republic while seeking work. This resume is truly a work of comedic genius and reflects an amazing level of insight into modern academia. Every time I go through it, I find something new to crack me up. For example, here is an excerpt from his description of one of his "in progress" book manuscripts titled Mappings, Unmappings, and Remappings in which he attempts "to explain the experience of geographical and textual space in modern writing":

By restoring the experience of disorientation, I argue that getting lost becomes a radical discourse that reflects back to us how we orient ourselves—what we pay attention to as we move through physical space and how we construe meaning as we move through a text from page to page.
He also claims to have given an invited lecture (among others) titled “The Rime of the Book of the Dove: Zoroastrian Cosmology, Armenian Heresiology, and the Russian Novel" and to have expertise in many languages including "Old Persian." The scary thing is that this could be an actual modern academic's resume, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least. Are we surprised he was able to fool Harvard? Enjoy.

Germans Announce Law to Reverse Cause and Effect - Euro Drops

What if an epidemic of cancer struck, and, in an effort to eradicate the disease, the government's response was to ban x-ray tests that would more quickly detect tumors? Of course, this is insane. But that is exactly what the Europeans have done in banning so-called "naked short selling" of credit default swaps.

Market prices for securities tend to reflect the underlying fundamental value of those securities. Rather than an actual plan to cut government budget deficitis by say, oh, I don't know, STOPPING SPENDING, Europeans have announced the magical creation of $1 trillion of phony money to bail out countries who are broke and can not pay their creditors. Investors have responded by selling eurocurrency and entering transactions to protect themselves from the devaluation of the currency or the default of these governments to pay their contractual obligation. Such activities allow prices to immediately reflect the true value of these instruments. Any effort by government to intervene in these markets only distorts the true value of the underlying securities.

Such actions are equivalent to pretending you don't have cancer by not allowing doctors to perform a test.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Doctors Opt Out of Medicare, In Other News: Reality Still What It Is

Remember when everyone with the ability to reason said that "having insurance is not the same thing as medical care?" Well, as doctors continue to opt out of Medicare at alarming rates - that fact is playing out in reality.

As costs continue to skyrocket and doctors leave the field in droves while insurance card waving patients find themselves either unable to find doctors willing to treat them or standing in line to be seen by overworked and underpaid hacks, will the Obama-Pelosi socialists finally acknowledge individual rights and the efficacy of markets, and restore freedom, abundance, and innovation to the health care marketplace?

Of course not!

First, they will lobby for more money, i.e., more Medicare taxes to be paid by those who currently do not get Medicare. Second, in an effort to control spiraling costs, any doctor who opts to take Medicare patients will then be subject to even more regulations and restrictions on who, what and how one gets reimbursed by Medicare. Third, at some point, as this system collapses, I predict the federal government will propose making medical licensing contingent upon taking Medicare patients and/or will make it crime for doctors to treat anyone who has not purchased or who is not covered under a government "authorized" plan.

Or, maybe that is already the law. I would not be surprised.

Kagan Exposed

In case you have bought into the MSM' s widely reported claim that Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, has no ideological footprint - check out Ed Cline's exposé, Kagan the Pragmatist “Societal” Girl, over at The Dougout. Not surprisingly, she appears to be cut from the same radical statist cloth that litters Obama's thugocracy and could threaten individual liberty for decades. He concludes:
Obviously, her views have not so much “evolved significantly” as expanded to encompass the whole Alinskyite/Obama policy of “hope” for “change.” They certainly have not mellowed and become less strident. The “socialist radicals” have moved from New York City to Washington. Kagan’s “roots” have only grown deeper, and are part of a vast interlocking root system that includes those of Bill Ayers, DavidAxelrod, Cass Sunstein….and Barack Obama.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Hello, Can I Tell You About the Real World?"

In a recent post, I discussed economists who proceed by observing reality as opposed to those who proceed from a fantasy world. I stated that, in economics, this dichotomy is what George Reisman has referred to as productionism vs. consumptionism, and, in philosophy, what Ayn Rand called the primacy of existence vs. the primacy of consciousness.

To see a brief glimpse of this idea in action, here is a
video from a recent roundtable pitting Keynesian Joseph Stiglitz against hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry regarding Greece and the larger problem of unsustainable government debt (the other guy is a Spanish bureaucrat who blames speculators). Note that Stiglitz's entire orientation is not reality based. He starts by disputing the idea that the term "bailout" is appropriate then calls for "social solidarity" between countries seeming to suggest that the solution is for other countries to merely state that they will stand behind Greece (not to actually cut spending) then dismisses the level of Greece's debt as inconsequential.

I love the beginning of Hendry's response - the title of this post. Indeed, Stiglitz should go there sometime. P.s. guess which one is the advisor to Greece (and Obama)?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting A Medal In Bizzarro World

Given the unrelenting barrage of news indicating that everything occuring in the world seems to be the opposite of what should be, in a previous post I hypothesized that we all may have unknowingly moved into the DC Comic Universe place known as Bizarro world:
In the Bizarro world of "Htrae" ("Earth" spelled backwards), society is ruled by the Bizarro Code which states "Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!".
If this is the case, should it surprise us that the military is now considering giving medals for..."not doing something." According to this article:
U.S. troops in Afghanistan could soon be awarded a medal for not doing something, a precedent-setting award that would be given for “courageous restraint” for holding fire to save civilian lives.
Naturally, the military does not view rewarding soldiers who do not defend themselves as a contradiction of the goal of self-defense:
Consideration of such an award, first reported by an Associated Press reporter in Afghanistan, doesn’t mean that, if approved, troops would be pressured to prevent such casualties at risk to themselves, Sholtis said.

“We absolutely support the right of our forces to defend themselves,” Sholtis said. “Valuing restraint in a potentially dangerous situation is not the same thing as denying troops the right to employ lethal force when they determine that it is necessary.”
A strange being from outside Bizzarro World, known as the spokesman for the VFW, allegedly said this:
The self-protections built into the rules of engagement are clear, and the decision to return fire must be made instantly based on training and the threat,” said Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “The enemy already hides among noncombatants, and targets them, too. The creation of such an award will only embolden their actions and put more American and noncombatant lives in jeopardy. Let’s not rush to create something that no one wants to present posthumously.”
Us think awards for not defending will result in defending.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Obama Regifts His Consciousness to Europe

A recent story related to the European bailout provides an amazing demonstration of philosophy in action. In a recent post, I discussed the idea of productionism vs. consumptionism in economics as being an expression of the more fundamental idea of the primacy of existence vs. the primacy of consciousness. In that post, I stated:
The idea that the purpose of economics is to study the problem of production or "productionism" rests on the observation that man must produce in order to survive. It recognizes that man's desire for wealth is unlimited but that he must produce that wealth. Fundamentally, this represents a recognition of reality. On the other hand, the idea of consumptionism is a total reversal. It starts with the idea that the "goods are here" and we must figure out how to "allocate" or "consume" them.
In other words, if one starts with reality as his primary frame of reference, he will soon grasp that he must produce in order to survive. However, if one starts with his own consciousness as his primary frame of reference, his focus will be on his own inner desire or wish to consume the wealth that seems to somehow exist, or perhaps, on optimal ways to allocate this magical bounty to others.

The concept of creating paper money out of thin air to pay debt is a fantastic example of this dichotomy. It is predicated on the idea that one can reverse engineer reality, i.e., create actual wealth by simulating a non-essential byproduct of the wealth creation process - the appearance of large sums of paper dollars. Kris Kayce via Not PC points out a staggering fact regarding the European bailout:
It still startles us how our Keynesian friends can’t grasp how illogical it is to just print money. Look at the number again, it’s the equivalent of A$1.1 trillion or greater than the entire yearly output of the Australian economy.

Think of it this way. It will take the European Central Bank about, ooh, a tenth of a second to create the billions of Euros needed. Yet it will take 10.9 million Australians working an average of 35 hours per week for 52 weeks to produce the same output.
With that in mind, consider this New York Times article which discusses the behind the scenes interplay between Washington and the Europeans last weekend. According to the report:
American officials became worried about the European response as early as February, a senior administration official in Washington said on Monday, when European leaders repeatedly stated that the Greece problem was well contained. They believed that mere expressions of support would be enough to calm the markets — and that they did not need to put in real commitments of emergency funds.
Right away, note the primacy of consciousness orientation of these policy makers as they discuss "expressions of support" rather than actual steps to control runaway deficits.

The Americans were less persuaded, telling their counterparts that they had to eradicate “the risk of default.” The Europeans debated this internally and, in the mind of one senior American official, who would not speak on the record, the Europeans “waited too long.”

“Had they acted sooner,” he said, “They might have gotten away with less.”

On the surface, this sounds reasonable. The Americans appear to be rejecting mere words and instead urging actual eradication of the "risk of default." How? Perhaps they demanded that Europe take steps to reign in massive budget deficits by cutting spending. Or, perhaps they demanded that the Europeans encourage the actual production of wealth by lowering taxes, repealing regulation, and lessening the stifling burden of welfare statism. So, what did the Americans really mean?

The United States officials began talking to their counterparts about an American concept: overwhelming force. “It’s all about psychology,” said the senior official. “You have to convince people that the government will get its act together.”

But it was not until Sunday, one official noted, that the meltdown spreading across Europe was regarded as “an existential threat.”

Yes, you read that right. The advice of the American government is not to "get its act together" in reality. It's advice is to "convince people that the government will get its act together" through the "overwhelming force" of psychological manipulation and the creation of phony money.

That's Obama's message - not "face reality" but "carry on with the charade"?! Carry on guaranteeing government bureaucrats cushy jobs, comfortable pensions, and whatever else it takes to stop them from rioting. Carry on spending more than you produce. All you have to do is get people to think everything is ok. In fact, according to this official, if they had implemented this charade sooner, they could have "gotten away with less" as if the sooner you implement a con, the less of a price reality will ultimately exact from you.

Then, like a drunk who considers hangovers to be the real problem rather than the consumption of alcohol, this brazen attempt to flout the nature of reality was only regarded to be an "existential threat" when the markets began melting down, not when they chose to spend trillions more than they have.

Finally, to conclude the farce, these courageous leaders emerged from days of rancorous debate, bruised and battered, but willing to make the "tough" call: they agreed to counterfeit a trillion dollars.

In case you were wondering, this particularly absurd species of primacy of consciousness has a name: Keynesian economics. Recall that Keynes argued that the long run effects of his policies did not matter because "in the long run, we will all be dead." Well, we are living in the long run, and it appears that the only one who is going to survive is Keynes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Smell Sulphur: Obama, The Left, and the Death of Free Speech

In a recent commencement address at Hampton University, Virginia, Obama echoed a familiar refrain from his administration's ideological assault on free speech:

"You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank all that high on the truth meter," Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia.

"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.

He bemoaned the fact that "some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction," in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.

"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."

Hmmm...Information as a "distraction" and as a "form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment" which is "putting new pressures on our democracy..." This sounds eerily familiar. Recall this quote from the one who shall be named later:

When people’s preferences are a product of excessively limited options, there is a problem from the standpoint of freedom, and we do freedom a grave disservice by insisting on respect for preferences. When options are plentiful, things are much better. But there is also a problem, from the standpoint of freedom, when people’s past choices lead to the development of preferences that limit their own horizons and their capacity for citizenship.

The smell of sulphur should be wafting over you. Hold your breath and recall this quote:
But if I am correct, one thing is clear: a system of limitless individual choices with respect to communications is not necessarily in the interest of citizenship and self-government, and efforts to reduce the resulting problems ought not to be rejected in freedom’s name.
Can you see a recurring theme? Evidently, there is this new media (aka, right wing talk radio and the blogosphere) creating great quantities of information which, unlike Obama's official mouthpieces at the New York Times-Washington Post-CNN MSM, can be inaccurate, distracting, or merely a form of entertainment, i.e., not a left wing hit piece on western imperialist genocide or man's rape of mother earth, and the "resulting problems" can lead us away from realizing our potential as aspiring "citizens", i.e., brainwashed left-wing automatons. Therefore, the government must filter this information overload to assure balance by requiring "unchosen exposures", i.e., use taxpayer funds to fund and support unpopular left wing propaganda.

In his typically Orwellian fashion, Obama had the gall to invoke Thomas Jefferson:

"What Jefferson recognized... that in the long run, their improbable experiment -- called America -- wouldn't work if its citizens were uninformed, if its citizens were apathetic, if its citizens checked out, and left democracy to those who didn't have the best interests of all the people at heart.

"It could only work if each of us stayed informed and engaged, if we held our government accountable, if we fulfilled the obligations of citizenship."

Note that Obama uses Jefferson and the Founder's admonitions that the public be vigilant and educated in order to thwart despotism to justify, you guessed it, despotism! That is because, In this context, being "informed and engaged" is simply his euphemism for supporting his socialist program. Recall, for example, that vehement opposition to his socialist health care monstrosity was smeared as "racist anti-reform hate mongering", a tactic I analyzed here.

If you haven't guessed by now, Obama derives these ideas from the theories of his buddy and self-proclaimed "choice architect", Professor Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Obama is operating from the playbook of an intellectual movement whose aim is full government regulation of speech which I analyzed in detail here.

Sunstein's theory was certainly behind the recent FTC regulation that fines bloggers not disclosing their supposed connections to retailers. But alas, the State has much grander plans for us. Sunstein (and, ergo Obama) is an advocate of a "fairness doctrine" for the internet and, of course, talk radio - the true ideological roots of which were laid bare by MSNBC's Ed Schultz in this frightening audio clip in which he calls for a government takeover of the airwaves:

...It's time now for the Democrats to consider the fairness doctrine - when you've got Rush Limbaugh out there saying....we've got to defeat these bastards, he is now openly admitting he is going to work against and campaign against the Democractic party and campaign against Obama, and he is motivating people with the microphone and he is electioneering...keep on talking Rushky...hell, maybe I'll get on 600 stations too or however many you own...it's not a level playing field when it comes to the audio culture of the country- ownership has its privileges - I'll be honest, if I owned 500 stations, the drugster wouldn't be on any of them - maybe we have the reached the point where the Congress needs to equal it out - equal out the audience - just keep in mind - there aren't any poor people with microphones - I think that hell, if we are going to be socialists, let's be socialists all across the board.

In other words, according to Schultz, someone is publicly arguing against left wing policies, and many people voluntarily choose to listen. Conversely, very few people choose to listen to liberal pundits like himself, Chris Matthews, and Rachel Maddow. Therefore, according to him and other proponents of the fairness doctrine, the government must literally force people to listen to him - a profoundly unjust and evil idea predicated on a complete misapprehension of the nature of rights and free speech. Quoting Ayn Rand:

Freedom of speech means freedom from interference, suppression or punitive action by the government—and nothing else. It does not mean the right to demand the financial support or the material means to express your views at the expense of other men who may not wish to support you. Freedom of speech includes the freedom not to agree, not to listen and not to support one’s own antagonists. A “right” does not include the material implementation of that right by other men; it includes only the freedom to earn that implementation by one’s own effort. Private citizens cannot use physical force
or coercion; they cannot censor or suppress anyone’s views or publications. Only the government can do so. And censorship is a concept that pertains only to governmental action.

I will give the left credit for one thing - they understand the power of ideas and the power of propaganda. Step one in every leftist dictator's playbook is: Take Over the Media. In Banana Republics, the regime simply seizes control of the media and executes dissenters. In America, we are being treated to a more urbane, albeit less honest, approach.

Upon taking office, Obama constructed an official department of agitprop which has been a continual sore spot even for the lackeys in the White House press pool. Apparently, according to this report, even these lap dogs are none too happy with Dear Leader's tactics and snarky, irreverent Spin Doctor Gibbs.

Another front in the war on free speech has been the campaign finance laws. We have been told that it is the corporations and Big Money lobbyists that must not be allowed to influence the political process. In order to accomplish this, everyone must shut up, particularly around election time. This will insure that politicians remain able to Platonically assert the will of the collective. Then, and only then, will the political process remain a pure vessel of the public will - which seeks to throttle and tax these evil doers. The Supreme Court surprisingly ruled for free speech which I discussed here, and at least temporarily halted censorship on this front.

On yet another front, we are told that free speech is all well and good, unless it offends anyone, in which case, it must be prohibited. This is the essence of so-called hate speech codes, now enforced in virtually every western country. In my post, Modern Intellectuals at the Gate, I discussed a Canadian case wherein a publisher was being tried for daring to criticize Islam. A very recent example concerns conservative pundit Ann Coulter's "Kafkaesque" journey to Canada where she first received a letter from a University of Ottawa official reminding her to watch out, lest her speech land her in prison. Quoting the letter:

We have a great respect for freedom of expression in Canada, as well as on our campus, and view it as a fundamental freedom, as recognized by our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or "free speech") in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States.

I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here. You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression.For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges. . . . [emphasis mine]

If this wasn't chilling enough, the event was ultimately cancelled after police defaulted on protecting the event from armed thugs. Apparently, police gave her options but the decision to cancel was entirely up to her. Apparently, the choice they gave her was: "you can talk, but you might get killed":

Cops advised that proceeding with Coulter event in face of protesters would be dangerous to her and crowd," and quoted a Sgt. Dan Beauchamp as saying that shutting down the event was "a public safety issue," as well as an unnamed "police officer" who allegedly said that the OPS "cannot guarantee her safety."

Were Canadians outraged at this injustice? Evidently, Canadian "feminist" Susan Cole was not:

We don’t have that same political culture here in (Canada). . . . We don’t have a 1st Amendment, we don’t have a religion of free speech. . . . Students sign off on all kinds of agreements as to how they’ll behave on campus, in order to respect diversity, equity, all of the values that Canadians really care about. Those are the things that drive our political culture. Not freedoms, not rugged individualism, not free speech. It’s different, and for us, it works.

The blog author replies fittingly:

Translated from the original Canadian, “diversity” means “state-mandated mob-enforced conformity.” As for whether “it works” for Canadians, ask Guy Earle. On Monday Mr. Earle, a stand-up comedian of conventionally Trudeaupian views, goes on trial at the British Columbia “Human Rights” Tribunal for putting down two hecklers at his nightclub act. They were, alas for him, of the lesbian persuasion, and so he is now charged with “homophobia.” What a wretched embarrassment to a once free society.

These laws are more than an embarrassment to a free society - they are the coup de grace. In my previous post, Trial Balloon of the Century, I stated:

...if freedom of speech were to be abrogated in the United States, it would be the final straw for advocates of freedom and should lead to an all out revolution. This is because without the freedom to think, all other rights are meaningless.

Regarding this incident, Coulter writes:

If a university official’s letter accusing a speaker of having a proclivity to commit speech crimes before she’s given the speech — which then leads to Facebook postings demanding that Ann Coulter be hurt, a massive riot and a police-ordered cancellation of the speech — is not hate speech, then there is no such thing as hate speech.

When you hear Sunstein, the POTUS, or anyone on the left call for fairness, level playing fields, obligations of citizenship, or "pressures on our democracy" emanating from the free exchange of ideas, keep in mind the image of an armed mob holding hands with university professors, lawyers, and the police ready to put you in jail or a hospital if you say the wrong thing as defined by them.

Keep that image in mind when you hear them say that "efforts to reduce the resulting problems ought not to be rejected in freedom’s name."

Schiff: Is Sovereign Debt Crisis Contained to Subprime?

Good piece from Peter Schiff. Excerpt:
Once again the vast majority fails to see a crisis in the making, even as it stares at them from close range. Just as market observers in 2007 told us that the credit crisis would be confined to the subprime mortgage market, current analysts tell us that sovereign debt problems are confined to Greece, Spain, Portugal, and perhaps Italy. They were wrong then, and I believe that they're wrong now.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Are Ants Eating the House? More "Climate Change Delusion"

In a couple of previous posts, I documented evidence that environmentalism is leading some to psychological madness, including the first documented case of "climate change delusion" among others. I wrote why I believed the effect of environmentalist philosophy on the young will be devastating:

Students are being thoroughly immersed in environmentalist propaganda from a young age...

...Just as those indoctrinated into a cult, a religion, or any philosophy which holds that man is evil and that the standard of morality is sacrifice, the budding environmentalist will be racked with guilt, uncertainty, and fear.

Just as Catholics are famous for the adult psychological consequences of guilt instilled at an early age, now environmentalist children will suffer the same fate - for the same essential reason. In other words, the Catholic concept of Original Sin holds that man is a sinner by nature which requires life to be spent in perpetual self-punishment (penance) to atone for this wrong doing. Similarly, as cited above, the environmentalist view of man's nature as essentially evil must lead to the same type of psychological effect.
I also said in that post:
If one takes the tenets of environmentalism seriously, every action by any man necessarily impinges on the intrinsic value of nature. The basics of life such as eating, drinking, and shelter require consumption of plants and animals and the procurement of materials drawn from nature. Even the act of exhaling results in the emission of the satanic carbon dioxide gas, not to mention the higher forms of technology which entail the burning of fossil fuels or the fission of atoms in a nuclear power generator. To such a mind, literally every form of human action would have to be regarded as evil. The cumulative emotional effect on such a mind must be devastating...

With that in mind, I ran across this study summary presented at The Royal Australian and New Zealand Collage of Psychiatrists' Congress:
A recent study has found that global warming has impacted the nature of symptoms experienced by obsessive compulsive disorder patients. Climate change related obsessions and/or compulsions were identified in 28% of patients presenting with obsessive compulsive disorder. Their obsessions included leaving taps on and wasting water, leaving lights on and wasting electricity, pets dying of thirst, leaving the stove on and wasting gas as well as obsessions that global warming had contributed to house floors cracking, pipes leaking, roof problems and white ants eating the house. Compulsions in response to these obsessions included the checking of taps, light switches, pet water bowls and house structures. "Media coverage about the possible catastrophic consequences to our planet concerning global warming is extensive and potentially anxiety provoking. We found that many obsessive compulsive disorder patients were concerned about reducing their global footprint," said study author Dr Mairwen Jones. [emphasis mine]

In addition to Prozac, they should give these patients a copy of Atlas Shrugged.

Europe, Meet Reality


For some untangling.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Coulter: "Obama National Security Policy: Hope Their Bombs Don't Work"

Hilarious and tragic op-ed. Brief excerpt:
[I]t would be a little easier for the rest of us not to live in fear if the president's entire national security strategy didn't depend on average citizens happening to notice a smoldering SUV in Times Square or smoke coming from a fellow airline passenger's crotch. But after the car bomber and the diaper bomber, it has become increasingly clear that Obama's only national defense strategy is: Let's hope their bombs don't work!

If only Dr. Hasan's gun had jammed at Fort Hood, that could have been another huge foreign policy success for Obama.

The administration's fingers-crossed strategy is a follow-up to Obama's earlier and less successful "Let's Make Them Love Us!" plan...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Have You Had "Enough"? Obama's Inversion of Reality

Obama created a stir last week when in a speech arguing for financial regulation he stated, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." Don Watkins of ARC writes:

Coming from one who is on record advocating “spreading the wealth around,” this paean to egalitarianism is not particularly surprising. But unfortunately that sentiment is common even among alleged defenders of the free market. They’re uncomfortable with the idea that some people are earning tens of millions (or hundreds of millions) of dollars a year. Even if they can point out the economic reasons why great producers earn so much, they can think of no admirable motivation that would lead someone who made twenty-million last year to want to earn thirty-million next year.
Obama's quote is important because it starkly reveals the underlying philosophy of the left. In fact, this philosophy underlies most of modern economics as it involves the inversion of the role of production and consumption in human life. At root, it is the philosophy that is destroying the world.

According to Obama and/or Keynesian economists, wealth just exists. Some have it and some don't. This appears to be an injustice. After all, why should some simply have it and others don't? Oh sure, some people work a little harder than others, but what about the fact that some have an advantage over others in terms of genetic factors or their upbringing, aka, their "environment"? No one truly deserves what they have, they claim. It is mostly an accident of nature, and the state's role is to rectify this unjust distribution of wealth. To the left's academic adjuncts, the Keynesian economists, economics is merely the scientific study of this so-called "allocation of resources."

Since this "allocation of resources" appears arbitrary, it is easy to see why Obama would state that at some point one has enough money. An extremely wealthy individual possesses more than his fair share of the resources out there, he would say. Furthermore, since he believes the physical resources which represent wealth simply exist and are finite, one person's gain must be another person's loss. Consequently, the very act of acquiring wealth is a form of exploitation. Given this view, the acquisition of wealth is not a virtue but only something to be tolerated, until that is, one has made "enough."

Such a view represents a total inversion of reality.

First, wealth does not simply exist. It must be produced. Man's life requires production which requires rationality. In other words, one can not consume before one produces, an economic principle known as Say's Law (which I discussed in my post
Cargo Cult Economics). In my post, Production and The Primacy of Existence, I wrote:

The idea that the purpose of economics is to study the problem of production or "productionism" rests on the observation that man must produce in order to survive. It recognizes that man's desire for wealth is unlimited but that he must produce that wealth. Fundamentally, this represents a recognition of reality. The idea of consumptionism is a total reversal. It starts with the idea that the "goods are here" and we must figure out how to "allocate" or "consume" them.
When one properly understands the role of production in this hierarchy, it becomes apparent that the question of whether one can make enough money is the same question as asking whether one can produce enough of anything or whether one can be too happy. Would Obama say that a musician should stop when he has written "enough" good songs or a painter should stop when he has painted "enough" masterpieces, or an athlete should stop when he has won "enough" championships? Why doesn't he apply this logic to the businessman whose rewards, by definition, are measured in terms of money but whose achievement is also a form of creativity and production?

Watkins partially quotes Ayn Rand's answer to the question of why someone who is successful continues producing:

When I say man survives by means of his mind, I mean that man’s first moral virtue is to think and to be productive. That is not the same as saying: “Get your pile of money by hook or by crook, and then sit at home and enjoy it.” You assume rational self-interest is simply ensuring one’s physical luxury. But what would a man do with himself once he has those millions. He would stagnate. No man who has used his mind enough to achieve a fortune is going to be happy doing nothing. His self-interest does not lie in consumption but in production–in the creative expansion of his mind.

To go deeper, observe that in order to exist, every part of an organism must function; if it doesn’t, it atrophies. This applies to a man’s mind more than to any other faculty. In order actually to be alive properly, a man must use his mind constantly and productively. That’s why rationality is the basic virtue according to my morality. Every achievement is an incentive for the next achievement. What for? The creative happiness of achieving greater and more ambitious values in whatever field a man is using his mind. For a man to conclude, “I have enough, so I don’t have to think,” would be the same as deciding, “I am rich now and can get around in a wheelchair, so why use my legs?”
The metaphysical idea that wealth just exists and the related issue of productionism vs. consumptionism in economics is an instance of a broader philosophical issue that Ayn Rand referred to as The Primacy of Existence vs. The Primacy of Consciousness.

The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness), that things are what they are, that they possess a specific nature, an identity. The epistemological corollary is the axiom that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists—and that man gains knowledge of reality by looking outward. The rejection of these axioms represents a reversal: the primacy of consciousness—the notion that the universe has no independent existence, that it is the product of a consciousness (either human or divine or both). The epistemological corollary is the notion that man gains knowledge of reality by looking inward (either at his own consciousness or at the revelations it receives from another, superior consciousness).
If one starts with reality, it is obvious that production is necessary to sustain human life. It is obvious that a person's production, rather than representing a threat to be monitored and throttled, should be regarded as a profound benefit to all of mankind. It can also be seen that the production of wealth is not a zero sum game. A new innovation results in the production of more wealth than existed before. That literally means that less production is required to make the same amount as before. In this way, everyone can get rich in absolute terms even if a just gap exists between the most and least productive.

Based on the primacy of consciousness, Obama and the Keynesian's start with wealth as a given. The Keynesian economist focuses on spending and consumption urging the creation of paper money in a literal attempt to reverse cause and effect, or existence and consciousness. In my post,
Cargo Cult Economics, relating South Sea Islanders attempts to replicate a control tower with Keynesian economics, I wrote:
Notice that the cargo cult economists try and imitate the form of a valid economic transaction by advocating the creation and expansion of paper money. When the government prints paper money and offers the paper dollars for goods and services, it appears that someone has produced wealth and is exchanging it for an equal value. After all, in the past, when the paper was backed by real wealth (gold), it was observed that there was a lot of paper money around. So, just as the cargo cults fabricated control towers and runways in the hope that it would bring real goods, the cargo cult economists believe that by creating paper money with fancy ink and stamping a large number on it, wealth will result. But just as the "planes don't land" for the islanders, creating paper money does not create goods.
Politically, this inversion is devastating, as Obama attempts to seize the life sustaining capital of the productive directly through taxation or indirectly through inflation of the money supply. It can be seen in the Obama administration's hostile orientation towards businessmen which reflects his view that businessmen are guilty by definition since he believes they seek to exploit the masses by allegedly taking more than their fair share of the pie.

Culturally, such a view is equally devastating. Rather than encouraging the rational idea that if anyone works to produce, they will succeed, it fuels cynicism and hopelessness as it is implies that one can only acquire wealth by luck, criminal theft, or government theft - a concept Obama passes off as a just "redistribution of wealth" provided by his benevolent regime. Like the Cargo Cult reversal, notice that the gangster character in popular culture exhibits the trappings of wealth: fancy cars, expensive jewelry, etc., as if it is these materials that induce the virtues required to be productive rather than the other way around. Notice the knee jerk reaction to the
Goldman Sach's fraud case in which most assume something nefarious occurred since money was made or the popular caricature of the megalomaniacal Robber Barron industrialist.

In an era in which more production is desperately needed, is it any surprise that a philosophy which attempts to flout the nature of reality would result in policies that overtly call for the limiting of production and wealth creation? I, for one, have had enough of the left's philosophy and their inversion of reality. I say, produce away, please!