Archive for the 'Philosophy' Category
October 14th, 2014 by Ron Pisaturo
My celebration of Columbus Day yesterday was enhanced by this excellent article by Charlotte Cushman: Save Western Civilization: Defend Christopher Columbus. In this article, which was published three years ago but which I read today for the first time, Cushman writes,
It is important that children know this story. Why? Because it is their story — a story about Western civilization, which is their heritage. They need to know the events that led up to the establishment of their country. They need to know that the United States didn’t always have cars, televisions, computers, stores, and enough food to eat, and then further learn how it came to be that we have all these things. They also need to understand human virtues such as courage, reason, and strength of character and what can happen when someone exercises his own judgment in the face of opposition.
I also recommend Columbus Day: A Time to Celebrate, an article by Michael Berliner, and The Enemies of Christopher Columbus, a book by Thomas A. Bowden.
These works were written in part to defend Columbus because, as Berliner writes, “Columbus is routinely vilified as a symbol of slavery and genocide.” More importantly, these works were written to defend Western Civilization because, as Berliner also writes, “The attacks on Columbus are ominous, because the actual target is Western civilization.”
Search the Internet, and you will see that the overriding opinion today is the opinion of the Leftists—the multiculturalists or whatever they call themselves this year—that American Indians were the good guys who were defeated by the evil Western Civilization.
I will not use a term used obscenely today to denote American Indians: ‘Native American’. Thanks to my grandparents, who immigrated to the United States, I am a native American. The indigenous inhabitants of North America before Columbus were Stone Age savages, lauded today by political Leftists because the Leftists hate the achievements of the West and embrace the primitive ideas of the savages: ideas such as animism (now known as environmentalism), tribalism (now known as identity politics), collective ownership (now known as socialism, communism, fascism, etc.), human sacrifice for the alleged good of the tribe (now known as altruism), and majority rule without regard for individual rights (now known as democracy). A contemporary Leftist is an indigenous savage in mind while his body enjoys the staples and luxuries created by Western Civilization.
The works I cite above do a thorough job of establishing what should be obvious to any rational individual: Western Civilization stands alone—like a hero among drones (or worse)—as the highest achieving, most moral society in the history of the world; and anyone born of another tradition should be profoundly grateful that Western Civilization spread to the Americas—via Columbus—and also to other parts of the globe.
Indeed, the only plausibility in criticizing Columbus for some of his actions comes from moral standards—in particular, the principle of individual rights—established and recognized only in Western Civilization.
But the Leftist attack on the West has taken another terrible toll that cannot be recovered simply by defending the virtue of Western Civilization. Search the Internet today, and you will see that the overwhelming mass of reporting, analysis, and teaching of the history of indigenous peoples in relation to Americans is of alleged abuses by Americans against the indigenous peoples. Then there is also a smattering of defense of Americans. But in the shadow of this lopsided controversy, the life-and-death questions that historians should be asking and answering—and that students should be studying—seem to have been ignored or forgotten.
Here is one such question: Why did some savages adopt Western Civilization, and others not?
This question leads to many derivative questions. Why did savage tribes—upon observing a civilization with a written language, science, mathematics, advanced art, advanced technology, far superior abundance of food, shelter, clothing, etc.—choose to stick to their own, primitive, deadly ways? What about the indigenous individuals who did embrace Western culture? Why did they do so when those around them did not? What happened to those who did so? What actions by American government and private individuals succeeded in assimilating indigenous people, and what actions failed? What actions would have been more successful?
The addressing of such questions seems to be limited to some accounts of religious groups having founded schools for American Indians, and the story of Pocahontas (sometimes told truthfully, often not).
Other important questions are these: What was the best way to deal with savage, often violent tribes to minimize the harm to innocent Americans? What was the safest way for the United States to have gained sovereignty over the entire territory we now have, ultimately denying sovereignty to all of the Indian tribes and thus defending individual rights throughout the land? [This paragraph was inadvertently omitted from the version posted this morning.]
Even to ask such questions as those I raise, one must first know that Western Civilization is vastly superior to the primitive tribalism of the pre-American Indians. But this knowledge has been erased by the Left. We must rescue that knowledge so that serious historical inquiry can even begin again.
The value of such historical inquiry would be immense. The resulting knowledge could be applied to how best to deal with the indigenous savages of today’s Muslim world.
Though today’s Islamists are far worse morally than the pre-American savages (because the Islamists are in a far better position to know better), the Islamists nevertheless have children who are as ignorant as the pre-Americans. Conversely, many of the pre-American adults knew enough to know better too.
Though today’s Islamists have far more military power—robbed from the West—than the American Indians had in the 19th century, the gap in military power between us and our present adversary is far greater. Instead of taking decades to subdue American Indians, we could conquer the Middle East in a matter of days if we chose to use our full military might. But there still remains the question of how best to manage the conquered territory and eradicate the threat of Islamism, as we eradicated the threat of attack from American Indians, while saving and assimilating as many true innocents as possible who are themselves trapped within the evil society of Islamism. I and others already have a general answer to that question informed by history, but a close study of the history of America vs. primitive indigenous tribes—from the perspective of recognizing the moral superiority of America—would help immensely with identifying more specifics of that answer.
In short, the history of Americans vs. pre-American indigenous savages is bound to be full of life-saving lessons on how to deal with Islamists. To discover these lessons, we must first rescue historical inquiry from West-hating political Leftism by recognizing the moral superiority of Western Civilization, and then we must go beyond that rescue mission.
September 12th, 2014 by Ron Pisaturo
Many have discussed the absurd evasion by Obama in his speech on Wednesday evening in stating, “ISIL is not Islamic.” ISIL is acting consistently with the Koran, which is to Muhammad’s Islam what Mein Kampf was to Hitler’s Nazism. But Obama said at least four other very bad things in the introduction of his speech.
1. This is how Obama introduced ISIL: “At this moment the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the Islamic State.” That is, Obama opened with the implication that Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa have legitimate grievances against some other group. Against whom? Obama does not say, but the implication is that the legitimate grievances are against non-Muslims—Americans, Israelis, Jews, and others in the civilized West. That is, Obama opened his speech with an implicit assumption that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is we civilized, affluent Westerners.
2. Obama spoke about the most selfless, death-wishing collection of nihilists—consistent Muslims—in the history of the world and cast them as self-interested, acting “for their own gain.”
3. Obama’s next words were, “Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents … .” That is, any philosophy—simply by including a mystical belief in a supernatural deity—gets a moral pass on any other evil it stands for.
4. Obama’s next sentence was, “And ISIL is certainly not a state.” One sentence later, Obama said, “It is recognized by no government nor by the people it subjugates.” That is, (Islamic) dictatorships such as Iran—our worst enemy in the Middle East—and Saudi Arabia have nothing to worry about from America, because they are states. And murderous groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas have nothing to worry about either, because they are recognized by governments.
In his brief introduction, Obama essentially said this: The fundamental problem in the Middle East is we Westerners; life-renouncing Muslims are the good guys; Islamic states that are resolved to destroying us are safe from us; and we are just going after the few rogues who, like American capitalists, pursue “their own gain.”
That was the theory part of Obama’s speech. The practice part was equally bad, of course. Perhaps I will elaborate next week; but in the meantime, here is the theory and practice I recommended in 2001, and still recommend.
March 24th, 2014 by Ron Pisaturo
The irrational, evil theory of New Left politics—based on denial of the difference between external reality and the content of one’s mind, denial of free will, denial of the ability of the individual to know reality through reason, denial of reason as a guide to action, denial of any causal connection from one’s thoughts and choices to one’s achievements, denial of absolute moral principles, denial of individual rights in favor of sacrificing the individual to others or oneself, denial of the importance of any individual—has been proved wrong in practice again and again, and starkly so by the Obama Administration.
Obama promised that, under Obamacare, you could keep your health care and your doctor. But anyone with common sense knew that it was impossible to keep your doctor and also share him with more patients.
Obama and his Administration—including the Vice President, Secretary of State, UN Ambassador, and Press Secretary—were so blinded by their belief in their foreign policy of friendly dialogue with evil, that they assured the American people for weeks that the murderous attack against the American embassy and consulate in Benghazi, Libya was a spontaneous response to an obscure Youtube video, and they resolved to crack down on such expressions of free speech. But anyone listening to reports from Fox News—a news network derided by the Left for questioning at least some Leftist dogma—knew all along that the attackers were armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, items that would not be carried by spontaneous protesters, and that blaming the attack on the Youtube video was absurd. Moreover, anyone with common sense knew that blaming the attack on the video, and condemning the video as much as if not more than the attackers, was a confession of impotence.
In 2012, the day after the Presidential debate in which Obama ridiculed Romney for considering Russia a threat to the United States, I blogged this common sense:
To Obama, Russia—a nation run by a Soviet thug, persecuting its own citizens for political crimes, supporting Iranian murderers of Americans, violating the rights of our allies, and possessing 1,500 or more nuclear bombs—is not a threat “because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” Presumably, Obama in 1935 would have said that Germany is not a threat because World War I is over.
America—under Presidents Clinton, G.W. Bush, and Obama—has un-won the Cold War. If we don’t fight it again, against both Russia and China, we will lose it.
Regarding Iran, Obama is even worse. …
Just a year and a half later, Russia under Putin has invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, for starters.
There was another recent New Left absurdity that I did not write about directly. I often do not write about a news item when it first becomes news, because I hope that someone else will write what I think needs to be written. But when time passes, and no one has written what I hope to read, the urge to write begins to consume more time than writing would, and I allow myself to fall behind in my other work, and I write what’s on my mind.
I have let too much time go by on this item, but it is too important to drop.
On February 4, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that estimated the effect of Obamacare (known officially as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA) on the labor market. On February 10, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf wrote,
We wrote in the report: “CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor.” The reason for the reduction in the supply of labor is that the provisions of the ACA reduce the incentive to work for certain subsets of the population.
For example, under the ACA, health insurance subsidies are provided to some people with low income and are phased out as their income rises; as a result, a portion of the added income from working more would be offset by a loss of some or all of the subsidies, which represents an implicit tax on earnings. Also, the ACA’s subsidies effectively boost the income of recipients, which will lead some of them to decide they can work less and still maintain or improve their standard of living.
Ultimately, we project that the number of jobs in the economy will be smaller than it would be in the absence of the ACA because some people will choose not to work at all, but CBO did not estimate the size of that change separately from the effect of people choosing to work fewer hours. We wrote in the report: “The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024 … The decline in full-time-equivalent employment stemming from the ACA will consist of some people not being employed at all and other people working fewer hours; however, CBO has not tried to quantify those two components of the overall effect.”
Many on the political Right concluded that this report confirmed the common-sense idea that giving people what they have not earned also gives those people less incentive to work. This common-sense conclusion has always been disputed by many if not most on the Left, who call it an insult to claim that many people getting unemployment checks or welfare checks choose to work less than they otherwise would without such welfare payments.
But the new New Left of Obamaland has adopted a new position.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney released this statement on February 4:
Over the longer run, CBO finds that because of this law [(Obamacare)], individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods, like retiring on time rather than working into their elderly years or choosing to spend more time with their families. At the beginning of this year, we noted that as part of this new day in health care, Americans would no longer be trapped in a job just to provide coverage for their families, and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. This CBO report bears that out, and the Republican plan to repeal the ACA would strip those hard-working Americans of that opportunity.
Many Leftists—such as Paul Krugman writing for The New York Times, and Jill Lawrence writing for Aljazeera America—agreed strenuously with Carney.
In other words, people who have their healthcare subsidized by Obamacare might work less; but—according to the Left—this result will be a good thing, because these people will have more time to do other things, to “pursue their dreams.”
Implicitly, these Leftists are admitting what the Left has haughtily denied for decades: many welfare mothers, many recipients of government-subsidized housing, many on unemployment insurance, many in government-subsidized education programs, etc. choose to stay unemployed or work less because of the payments they receive from the welfare state.
More importantly, these Leftists are evading this question: What if the people who actually earned the money want to work less? What if the actual earners want to work less at a day job in order to pursue their dreams.
A man today might work at his day jobs for 60 hours a week just to support his family. That work might leave him 15 hours a week, on a tired mind and body, to pursue his dream of starting a business, or becoming a musician, or writing a novel. If federal, state, and local governments—through payroll taxes, income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and regulations—reduce this man’s take-home pay by just 20%, then the man must work 75 hours at his day jobs, and his dream is dead. Even a seemingly modest 20%, confiscated or destroyed by government, transforms many lives of dreams and dreams fulfilled into lives of drudgery—forever.
Leftists often call their opponents ‘heartless’, but Leftists themselves are ‘heartless’ because they are mindless. They rob the money that dreams are made real from—even while now acknowledging that it takes money to pursue dreams—and they make themselves oblivious to the suffering they cause and the lives they destroy.
In 2011, I wrote of what the welfare state does to individuals
who work for many years at a job they do not love, for enough savings to pursue a lifetime of what they do love: an art, a craft, an intellectual study, a less financially lucrative but more personally fulfilling business. Instead of accumulating such savings by, say, the age of forty, these individuals may have to wait until the age of seventy. By what right, and to what kind of people, does society sacrifice the best years of the lives of these individuals?
Leftists sacrifice the lives of earners by no right, but by evil.
Every individual, no matter how wealthy, has only so many years of life. Every minute of his life, and therefore every dollar of his earnings, is precious and belongs to him for his dreams.
Now I am at peace and can go back to my day job. But how much more I could have written over the years if my earnings and the earnings of my friends had not been robbed by Leftist government!
February 1st, 2014 by Ron Pisaturo
Based on Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address and everything else Obama has said and done as President, I suggest these slogans and talking points that capture the essence of Obama:
Let me be clear. I will plan your life. Period.
By taking your money so that it is spent on my plans for your life instead of your plans for your life, and by issuing orders for you to follow my plans instead of yours, I will make you free.
My opponents don’t have a plan for the economy, for education, for training, for retirement, for health care, for energy, for jobs, for wages, for investments, for diets. What kind of dictators are they?
If you have your own plan for your life, tell it to me. If I think it’s good, I’ll let you do it! And I’ll force everyone else to follow your plan too!
If you are a “hardworking” worker and “work hard,” or if you would “work hard” if only someone would give you some “hard work,” then you are entitled to a share of what everyone else produces, no matter how much or how little you yourself produce by your own “hard work.” If you work hard scrubbing floors, you are entitled to a heart transplant if you need one. If you work hard cleaning someone else’s house, you’re entitled to a house of your own. If you work hard polishing a lamp, you’re entitled to a genie. (Obama mentioned his Marxist, labor-theory-of-value notion of ‘hard work’ nine times in his SOTU address.)
I am tough on murderous leaders of murderous dictatorships by always telling them they have only one more chance to negotiate with us, reduce their plans to murder more Americans, and become our friends.
Obama is an enemy of freedom and a destroyer of America.
Now that thoughts about Obama are out of my system, I am ready to celebrate Ayn Rand’s birthday tomorrow, February 2.
December 21st, 2013 by Ron Pisaturo
The recent controversy over a TV personality’s comments against homosexuality have reminded me to write the following addendum to my blog posts, “The Volitional, Objective Basis for Heterosexuality in Romantic Love and Marriage” and “I am Married … to a Woman.”
In these prior posts, I argued that marriage is between a man and a woman—not based on religion or procreation, but based on the importance of the sex of each partner in a romantic relationship. I debunked the mainstream theories that affirm non-heterosexual orientations. Most importantly, I presented a positive theory of heterosexual romantic love.
In Part 6 of “The Volitional, Objective Basis for Heterosexuality in Romantic Love and Marriage,” I wrote
Calling homosexual unions ‘marriage’ is as absurd as calling all spouses ‘wives’.
The concepts ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ provide a good analogy to the need for the gender-specific concept of marriage. These concepts are even more abstract than ‘marriage’, as they are derived from ‘marriage’. Yet these concepts still reference gender. Why do we need these concepts when we have the concept ‘spouse’? Doesn’t ‘female spouse’ convey the meaning of ‘wife’?
Well, who wants to say, “I love my female spouse” instead of “I love my wife”? The former statement is not condensed enough to be held it in our mind in the way we need. Yes, ‘female spouse’ contains all the characteristics that are contained by ‘wife’. But ‘female spouse’ is a phrase, not a concept; the phrase is not condensed enough to serve the cognitive need that a concept fills. Similarly, the phrase ‘heterosexual marriage’, with marriage referring to any kind of civil union, would not be condensed enough for holding the current meaning of ‘marriage’.
My criticism above is accurate; but it is much too lenient.
For one thing, if the concept of marriage were extended to include same-sex civil unions, then the phrase ‘female spouse’ would no longer clearly refer only to people we now call wives. A wife is a woman married to a man. But would a man married to a man also be a wife, in virtue of his being married to a man, or would he be a husband in virtue of his being a married man, or would he be both? The only way to be unambiguous would be to employ an awkward and difficult-to-grasp phrase such as “a female spouse of a male spouse’ to refer to what we now know as a wife.
But my earlier criticism is too lenient in a deeper respect: it omits an important issue regarding concepts. The issue is that a definition does not equal the meaning of a concept; the classic example is that the defining phrase ‘the rational animal’ is not the same as the concept ‘man’. When I wrote my initial blog posts on sexual orientation and marriage, I was not fully convinced that this issue applied. But now I am convinced, as I shall now explain. (For one analysis of the difference between a definition and the meaning of a concept, see Peikoff 1990, 88–106. My own analysis below has some significant differences.)
It is true that the phrase ‘rational animal’ refers to all men (including women) and only to men. It is true that all rational animals are organized to stand upright and move gracefully on two legs, have faces that express their powerful emotions that can be consistent with their rationality, have hands to shape the world in accordance with their rationality, have the capacity to integrate rational values with sexual desire, and are all members of a single species that has a distinctive physical appearance and other distinctive physical characteristics. That is, the phrase “rational animal,” once informed with the above knowledge, can identify all the attributes identified by the word “man.” But the words ‘rational’ and ‘animal’, taken separately, do not so identify all these attributes. And that fact leads to the crux of the issue.
As Ayn Rand (1990, 66–67) has identified, a concept is (metaphorically) a kind of “file folder” that includes many—open-endedly many—attributes of the referents of the concept. In my judgment, a phrase—such as “rational animal”—can also be such a file folder. However, in my judgment, the content of such a file folder, of either a concept or a phrase, is not a mere list of characteristics. The characteristics within a conceptual file-folder are arranged in a hierarchy. Such a hierarchy is the basis for, among other things, the rule of fundamentality: the most fundamental characteristics of a concept—such as the characteristics ‘rational’ and ‘animal’ of the concept ‘man’, belong in a concept’s definition. (In my “Theory of Propositions,” I write at length about the characteristics of a concept being in a hierarchy.) Other characteristics, such as that man can speak language, are derivative of more fundamental characteristics.
And here we arrive at the crux of the issue. Although the phrase ‘the rational animal’ means more than its constituent parts ‘rational’ and ‘animal’—that is, although the phrase ‘the rational animal’ encompasses all the characteristics encompassed by the concept ‘man’—the phrase nevertheless encompasses all of these characteristics in a different hierarchy, a different order of importance than the order entailed by the concept ‘man’. The phrase ‘the rational animal’ overly emphasizes the characteristics identified by each word—in particular, the word ‘animal’—taken separately, in an order of importance relevant to each word taken separately. That is, the phrase ‘the rational animal’ elevates and emphasizes all characteristics of all animals (such as that animals locomote and have a certain kind of cell structure in contrast to plants), and it de-emphasizes characteristics beyond rationality and even derived from rationality that are specific to and important to men (such as the characteristics of standing upright, having expressive faces, and having the capacity to integrate reason and emotion). Even on a perceptual level, the phrase ‘the rational animal’ tends to summon to mind the figure of a non-human animal rather than the figure of a man. Therefore, beyond the issue of condensation that I wrote about in my prior blog post, the phrase ‘the rational animal’ does not do justice as a substitute for the concept ‘man’.
Similarly and even more starkly, the phrase ‘female spouse of a male spouse’ does not do justice to the concept ‘wife’. Beyond being extremely awkward and difficult to hold in one’s mind, this phrase overly emphasizes strictly biological features of being female and male (such as having specifically male or female reproductive organs), along with legal and social characteristics of being a spouse, and de-emphasizes the distinctive kind of regard that a rational married woman qua woman has for her rational husband qua man (and vice versa).
As I discussed at length in my blog posts referenced earlier, this distinctive kind of regard includes that the husband is the primary source of physical power, is the physical protector of the wife, and is in charge sexually, while the wife is the primary source of physical beauty and is the supreme judge of the man in the man’s aforementioned responsibilities. Related to these different roles of the man and woman in marriage are clear differences in physical appearance of a man and woman. But in the current context, the specifics of why heterosexuals are sexually interested in members of the opposite sex and not the same sex are not the crux of the matter. The crux is that to a rational human being, the sex and sexual orientation of one’s spouse is important. Concepts such as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ must continue to capture that importance, identifying sex and sexual orientation with emphasis and definite clarity.
Even the phrase ‘woman spouse of a man’ de-emphasizes essential characteristics of being a wife, characteristics that are not contained in the meaning of the words ‘woman’, ‘spouse, and ‘man’ considered separately.
Similarly and just as starkly, the phrase ‘heterosexual civil union’ does not do justice to the concept ‘marriage’. This phrase emphasizes strictly physical sexual characteristics along with legal and social characteristics, and de-emphasizes the characteristics pertaining specifically to the romantic relationship between husband and wife.
But if the ‘LGBT’ activists had their hypocritical way—observe the strident hypocrisy of insisting on the separate words ‘lesbian’ (female homosexuals, the ‘L’ in ‘LGBT’) and ‘gay’ (male homosexuals, the ‘G’ in ‘LGBT’)—what we now know as ‘marriage’ would mean nothing more than ‘heterosexual civil union’.
Peikoff, Leonard ( 1990), “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy”, The Objectivist 6(5)–6(9). Reprinted in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded Second Edition. Edited by Harry Binswanger and Leonard Peikoff. New York: Meridian.
Rand, Ayn ([1966–1967] 1990), “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology”, The Objectivist 5(7)–6(2). Reprinted in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded Second Edition.
November 22nd, 2013 by Ron Pisaturo
Ayn Rand wrote and spoke extensively on the welfare-statism of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. On the 50th anniversary of the day that John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson each were President, I present this passage by Ayn Rand, from the speech “How Not to Fight Against Socialized Medicine,” published in The Objectivist Newsletter, March 1963, and reprinted in The Voice of Reason (New York: Meridian, 1989, pp. 284–289; quoted passage on p. 285). Ayn Rand was speaking to a group of doctors, many of whom had opposed President Kennedy’s precursor to President Johnson’s Medicare program.
The majority of people in this country—and in the world—do not want to adopt socialism; yet it is growing. It is growing because its victims concede its basic moral premises. Without challenging these premises, one cannot win.
The strategy of the Kennedy administration, and of all welfare-statists, consists of attempts to make people accept certain intellectual “package deals,” without letting them identify and differentiate the various elements—and equivocations—involved. The deadliest of such “package deals” is the attempt to make people accept the collectivist-altruist principle of self-immolation under the guise of mere kindness, generosity, or charity. It is done by hammering into people’s minds the idea that need supersedes all rights—that the need of some men is a first mortgage on the lives of others—and that everything should be sacrificed to the undefined, undefinable grab bag known as “the public interest.”
Doctors have no chance to win if they concede that idea and help their enemies to propagate it.
An important part of the legacy of President Kennedy is the administration of President Johnson. Johnson’s War on Poverty was a continuation of a war that President Kennedy initiated. The legacy of Kennedy and Johnson is the political part of the legacy of the 1960s, which the United States has never recovered from. (Of course, Kennedy and Johnson were not original thinkers in any significant way; their legacy is merely a continuation of a tradition going back at least as far as Plato.)
I close with a personal account of this legacy of the 1960s. The following passage is from my blog post on January 17th, 2013.
The United States is no longer the safe and civilized place that it was before the 1960s, when the New Left took over our federal government, our cities, and our popular culture. I witnessed the change, which was as abrupt as a nightmare.
People born after 1960 have no idea of the civilization that has been lost since then. I grew up in the Bronx in New York City, in a lower middle class melting pot. In 1961, when I was six, I would play in the park with my friends without adult supervision—at night. Mothers would wheel their baby carriages into the park and sit and talk—at night. On the day President Kennedy was assassinated, when I was eight, I was with my six-year-old sister in the park while she played with her friends. There was no adult supervision. I was the male supervision. In 1964, when I was nine, I went to about twenty baseball games, including a World Series game, at Yankee Stadium with my eleven-year-old friend—with no adult. I walked to school alone—everyone did—when I was seven, and the only reason I did not walk alone earlier was that I was too short for drivers to see me.
On the day the local orphanage had a field trip, half of my first-grade class was empty, because half of the children in the class were orphans. I don’t recall any rich people in my neighborhood. But there was no crime, no fear, and no ugliness of any kind.
By 1966, no one went into the park even in the daytime.
My family’s apartment was burglarized. So were apartments above and below us. We witnessed other burglaries. Race and ethnicity suddenly became an issue. Suddenly there was ugliness everywhere: profanity, harsh and dissonant music, unkempt dress and grooming, rampant drug use, and crime.
Politically, the New Left’s welfare state gave an excuse for every thug to rob from the richer to give to the poorer. Culturally, deliberate ugliness migrated from isolated museums and galleries and playhouses into American living rooms via the popular media, making it ‘cool’ to insult and ultimately destroy every civilized, Western, American value.
Reported per capita violent crime more than doubled in the decade of the 1960s, just when the welfare state expanded similarly. By 1991, the reported violent crime rate per capita had increased nearly five-fold. Since then, the rate has dropped, due in my opinion to Republican governors and mayors (such a Mayor Giuliani in New York) replacing more-Leftist predecessors (such as Mayor Dinkins in New York). But the reported per capita violent crime rate today is still more than double the rate in 1961, and I think the actual crime rate today is much higher. Reporting a crime is undoubtedly a very dangerous thing to do for an illegal immigrant or an individual living in a gang-infested ‘neighborhood’.
Both crime and New Leftist welfare-state politics are results of the same philosophical ideas: subjectivism, denial of an absolute reality, denial of the difference between external reality and the content of one’s mind; denial of free will; denial of the ability of the individual to know reality through reason; emotionalism instead of reason as a guide to action; denial of any causal connection from one’s thoughts and choices to one’s achievements; therefore relying on plundering and destroying others instead of producing; denial of absolute moral principles; denial of individual rights in favor of sacrificing the individual to others or oneself; denial of the importance of any individual; extreme egalitarianism, casting anyone who has less of anything—whether wealth or esteem—as a victim.
In a few weeks, I will write a brief personal account of the pivotal contribution of another man—also assassinated, but much later—to the legacy of the 1960s.
(Here are some writings by Ayn Rand about Presidents Kennedy and Johnson:
“Have Gun, Will Nudge”, The Objectivist Newsletter, March 1962.
“An Intellectual Coup d’Etat,” The Ayn Rand Column, July 15, 1962.
“Who Will Protect Us from Our Protectors?”, The Objectivist Newsletter, May 1962.
“The National Interest, c’est moi”, The Objectivist Newsletter, June 1962.
“The Fascist New Frontier”, pamphlet, 1963.
“The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus”, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
“Our Cultural Value-Deprivation”, The Objectivist, April and May, 1966.
“Books—Poverty Is Where the Money Is, by Shirley Scheibla, Reviewed by Ayn Rand”, The Objectivist, August 1968.)
November 16th, 2013 by Ron Pisaturo
A few years ago, I saw a three-year-old child open a book of sheet music, place it on her toy piano, and begin banging on the keys. I immediately thought, “Oh, that’s Obama.”
Of course, Obama is not really like that innocent, healthy, normal three-year-old. Obama is the equivalent of someone who forces concert pianists to bang on the keys his primitive way.
Obama knows nothing of medicine, yet he thinks he can pick the people who pick the people who dictate to doctors how to practice medicine. He thinks he can tell doctors, dedicated professionals with decades of training and experience with individual patients, to issue prescriptions en masse for “the blue pill” instead of “the red pill.” (Remember that example, which Obama used in 2009?) After all, that’s what doctors do, right? They look at their patient, say “Hmm,” and then write on their pad, “the red pill.”
Similarly, Obama knows nothing about energy or education or “infrastructure,” yet he thinks he can “invest” countless billions of dollars—confiscated from private citizens—in these industries. After all, that’s what investors do, right? They meet people in their office and say, “Hmm, here’s a billion dollars.”
Undoubtedly, the three-year-old I saw has by now discovered her error, and has decided either to learn to play the piano for real or to be content with enjoying the playing of others. Obama, on the other hand, though he said this week about the failed implementation of Obamacare, “what we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy,” as if the professionals in the field did not already know this fact, just bangs the keys harder.
November 8th, 2013 by Ron Pisaturo
I have written numerous posts on the evil of Obamacare. This post distills the essence.
If you like your promise, you can keep your promise … unless your promises contradict each other.
Obama promised that you can keep your doctor and your health insurance. But he also promised to give away the time and property of your doctor and insurer to people who did not have health insurance. You can’t have your doctor and insurer, and give them away too.
In making these contradictory promises, Obama was also issuing this implicit command to doctors and insurers: If you like your patients and customers, you can keep your patients and customers. But you also must accept new patients and customers that you don’t like or don’t want or don’t have time or money for. And no one cares about you, because you exist to care for us. Besides, you have few votes.
To those now just waking up to the fact that their health care—and health—will deteriorate under Obamacare, what did you expect when you violated the rights of the very individuals who created and provide the health care you cherish?
The more that Obama tries to keep his promise that you can keep your doctor and your health plan—or a “better” plan, as he now promises—the more he will violate the rights of doctors and insurers, forcing them to work more hours for more patients and less money, forcing them to cut costs and curtail lives, and further driving the most independent-minded health professionals from the profession they once loved, until the only doctors and insurers remaining are those that only Obama ‘likes’.
November 4th, 2013 by Ron Pisaturo
In 2010, I responded as follows to Obama’s promise—now discredited even in the mainstream media—that “you can keep your doctor” under Obamacare:
But every other American, even if he “couldn’t afford it” before, will be able to have your doctor too. You will have to share your doctor with all these additional people.
In 2011, I summarized Obama’s promise this way:
If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, but your doctor will now have to treat these additional patients in order to make a living.
Any reasonable person did not have to wait until 2013 to know that Obama was making a promise that was better not kept, because keeping that promise would oppress doctors even further and reduce further their ability to do their work.
Note the brazenness of Obama’s promise, along with Obama’s disparaging of his critics, in this speech by Obama in 2009:
So we need to do a few things to provide affordable health insurance to every single American. The first thing we need to do is to protect what’s working in our health care system. So just in case you didn’t catch it the first time, let me repeat: If you like your health care system and your doctor, the only thing reform will mean to you is your health care will cost less. If anyone says otherwise, they are either trying to mislead you or don’t have their facts straight.
Applying Obama’s own standard, was Obama trying to mislead us, or did he simply not have his facts straight?
Now, if you don’t like your health care coverage or you don’t have any insurance at all, you’ll have a chance, under what we’ve proposed, to take part in what we’re calling a Health Insurance Exchange. … You will have your choice of a number of plans that offer a few different packages, but every plan would offer an affordable, basic package.
Again, this is for people who aren’t happy with their current plan. If you like what you’re getting, keep it. Nobody is forcing you to shift. But if you’re not, this gives you some new options. And I believe one of these options needs to be a public option that will give people a broader range of choices — (applause) — and inject competition into the health care market so that force — so that we can force waste out of the system and keep the insurance companies honest. (Applause.)
Two days after this speech by Obama in 2009, I replied,
To many people, who do not understand political freedom, Obama’s proposal sounds appealing. After all, Obama is offering more choice, more options, more competition, right?
Perhaps the evil of Obama’s plan is more apparent in this analogy:
So we need to do a few things to provide a desirable wife to every American man. Now, if you don’t like your wife or you don’t have any wife at all, you’ll have a chance, under what we’ve proposed, to take part in what we’re calling a Wife Exchange. You will have your choice of a number of different women, provided by the government.
Again, this is for men who aren’t happy with their current wife. If you like what you’re getting, keep it. Nobody is forcing you to shift. But if you’re not, this gives you some new options. And I believe one of these options needs to be a public option that will give men a broader range of choices.
Oh, and by the way, your current wife will also be made available for other men to choose, as part of their ‘public option’. After all, the government does not create new women out of thin air, any more than it creates new doctors. But don’t worry, we’ll pay her (with your tax money). And if other men choose her, you’ll still be able to share her.
Does that analogy make the meaning of Obama’s plan clearer?
Obama has a tyrant’s notion of ‘choice’. In a free society, individuals engage with each other when such engagement is by mutual consent. A man and woman marry when both the man and the woman choose each other. A purchase is made when the purchaser and the seller agree to the terms of the sale. An employee works for an employer when they both choose such an arrangement and agree to terms.
Obama, on the other hand, wants to give people the option to be served by doctors, in part paid for by taxpayers and in part not paid for at all, even when those doctors and those taxpayers choose not to do so of their own free will. Obama would abolish the principle of trade by mutual consent, and replace it with one party’s choice to coerce the other.
“If you’re not happy with your current cotton-pickers, whom you have to pay, we’ll provide you with the choice of free cotton-pickers.”
This notion is a tyrant’s notion of ‘choice’. This mentality is the mentality of America’s President.
I leave the reader with one more statement by Obama against his critics in 2010:
There were cynics that warned that Medicare would lead to a government takeover of our entire health care system …
For my response to this statement and other absurdities of Obama, see The Limitless Unreason of the Left.
Obama may still try to keep his original promise to let you keep your doctor and your health plan (unless you are “wealthy”), by further coercing doctors and insurance companies.
The promise of Obama is a promise of evil.
October 20th, 2013 by Ron Pisaturo
“The Republicans capitulated to the Democrats because they are just like the Democrats: they are sacrificers—sacrificing the producers to the nonproducers.”
I wrote the statement above on August 8, 2011, shortly after the Republicans capitulated to the Democrats, allowing the debt ceiling to be raised by more than $2 trillion in return for reducing—by a mere $25 billion—projected increases in spending.
This past Wednesday, Republicans capitulated to Democrats again, abandoning almost all provisions against Obamacare, and approving the ‘shutdown’-ending Continuing Resolution and the increase in the debt ceiling that were sought by Democrats.
But this time, many more House Republicans held out to the end.
In 2011, 174 Republicans voted Yes, and only 66 voted No. But this week, only 87 House Republicans voted Yes, and 144 voted No, against House Speaker John Boehner.
On the other hand, Republican performance in the Senate changed little. In 2011, 28 Republican Senators voted Yes, and 19 voted No. Last week, 27 Republican Senators voted Yes, and 18 voted No.
What caused the change in the House? Was it the campaign led by Senator Ted Cruz? Possibly so. Whatever the cause, I think the change is significant. More Republicans, though not enough of them, stood on principle.
That nearly two thirds of House Republicans stood against Republican Speaker Boehner suggests that there are enough Republicans now to leave the GOP and start a new, principled party that has a reasonable chance to become the leading political party in America.
I think it is better for the new majority of Republicans to leave the GOP rather than to try to take over the GOP. The current GOP is filled with anti-principled corruption, not merely in its elected officials, but in every level of the party’s infrastructure of operatives, business partners, lobbyists, contacts, and donors. The best way to purge the unprincipled individuals is to start completely fresh.
Similarly, whatever Obama’s own motives behind his America-destroying Presidency, the fact that a seminal event in Obama’s political career was hosted in the home of William Ayers—an avowed communist who bombed New York City Police Department headquarters, the United States Capitol building, and the Pentagon—is strong evidence that Obama’s political machine contains many individuals deliberately trying to destroy the United States of America.