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  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Responsibility Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, by Diana Hsieh. Sedalia, CO: Philosophy in Action, 2013. 214 pp. $19.99 (paperback). Imagine people in three different scenarios: . Abe and Bill both get blinding drunk at a bar, leave at the same time, and drive home at the same rate of speed. Both run a (different) red light at the same time on the way home. By bad luck, a single mother with her two children is driving through the intersection along Abe's course, and Abe rams his car into hers, killing her and her two children. Bill, on the other hand, makes it home without injuring anyone. . Alan and Betty walk along different piers at the same lake. Both are equally brave, but Betty sees a drowning boy in the lake and dives in and saves him. Alan does not see anyone in distress. . Adriana and Benjamin are born in very different circumstances. Adriana's parents are wealthy, and she grows up with a good education and many opportunities to improve herself. She becomes a successful neurosurgeon. Benjamin's parents neglect and abuse him and teach him how to steal for them. He becomes an armed robber who winds up in prison. Why do we blame or praise one individual in each scenario more, given that so much of what they do and what they accomplish depends on luck? Why do we send Abe to prison and sing Betty's praises, but not do the same for their counterparts? Such issues are the subject of Diana Hsieh's book, Responsibility Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame. As Hsieh makes clear, one's answers to questions about moral responsibility radically affect one's approach to moral judgment, to criminal justice, and to political policy. Decisions made in the criminal justice system depend substantially on moral judgments. Hsieh opens her book with the example of a Colorado man who, in 2005, while driving drunk at speeds exceeding one hundred miles per hour, struck and killed another driver. The judge, noting that the man had previously injured someone else while driving drunk and that he had dropped out of an alcohol rehabilitation program, sentenced him “to the maximum penalty of twelve years in prison.” Hsieh points out, “According to ordinary moral and legal standards of culpability, [the man] deserved to be blamed and punished for his reckless driving” (p. 1). Yet, according to certain theories with which Hsieh contends in her book, the man was instead himself “a victim of bad luck” (p. 2). Moral judgments also play a key role in public policy. To draw on an earlier example, if a neurosurgeon is not fundamentally responsible for her success, then how can she deserve her large income? Why should she not be taxed in order to subsidize someone working in fast food? Indeed, if no one deserves his financial successes or failures—if such success or failure is fundamentally a matter of luck (in Barack Obama's terms, “you didn't build that”)—then it would seem that the best system is “an egalitarian political order” (p. 9). . . .
  • Topic: Education
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Welcome to the Fall 2014 issue of The Objective Standard.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: I want to thank C. Bradley Thompson for his excellent (and disturbing) article on government "education" ["The New Abolitionism: Why Education Emancipation is the Moral Imperative of our Time," TOS, Winter 2012-13]. Among the many disturbing facts Dr. Thompson reports, one that affected me personally concerns homeschooling in California. I have done (and continue to do) some homeschooling for local California families and was disturbed to learn that what I do was ruled illegal by some judge named Croskey. I was relieved to find by the end of the paragraph that Croskey (partially) reversed his ruling. What an abhorrent man and system! I, too, am an abolitionist.
  • Topic: Education, Government, Law
  • Political Geography: California
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Ifat Glassman discusses her artwork, her atelier education, and her plans for the future. The interview is accompanied by images of several of her artworks.
  • Topic: Education
  • Author: C. Bradley Thompson
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In “The New Abolitionism: Why Education Emancipation is the Moral Imperative of Our Time” (TOS, Winter 2012–13), I argued that America's government school system is immoral and antithetical to a free society, and that it must be abolished—not reformed. The present essay calls for the complete separation of school and state, indicates what a fully free market in education would look like, and explains why such a market would provide high-quality education for all children.
  • Topic: Education
  • Author: Kevin Douglas
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The Beautiful Tree is the inspiring story of James Tooley's quest to discover “how the world's poorest people are educating themselves.” Tooley begins his book by describing his serendipitous discovery of low-cost private schools for the poor in Hyderabad, India. While on an assignment for the World Bank to research the contribution of high-end private schools to the education of middle- and upper-income Indians, Tooley discovered that dozens of low-cost, for-profit private schools serve the poor in the slums of Hyderabad, and that parents choose to send their children to these private schools despite the fact that government schools are available for “free.” When Tooley returned to the World Bank and told his colleagues of his amazing find, their responses were typical of those he would receive during the rest of his investigation. Many refused to believe that low-budget private schools existed. The few who acknowledged their existence attempted to dissuade Tooley from giving them much attention, because, in their view, these schools were “ripping off the poor” and were “run by unscrupulous business people who didn't care a fig for anything other than profits” (p. 21). Tooley responded to such skepticism and cynicism by redoubling his efforts to learn about such schools. Inspired by what he found in Hyderabad, Tooley searched for similar schools in the slums of Nigeria, Ghana, and China. Tooley writes that many education officials he encountered were completely unaware of the low-cost private schools in their nations, and others went to great lengths to deny their existence. For example, in Nigeria, Tooley met Dennis Okoro, recently retired chief inspector of schools for the Nigerian federal government. Initially, Okoro professed ignorance that low-cost private schools existed; then he denied the possibility of their existence. When Tooley took Okoro into the slums of Makoko and showed him several schools, Okoro concluded that what he saw could not be private schools serving the poor, because “[t]he poor by definition cannot afford to pay fees for private schools. So if this was a fee-charging private school, it couldn't be for the poor” (p. 50). Similarly, Tooley describes officials at a regional education bureau in China who “argued” that, because the Chinese government's official position is that government provides basic education to all children, rich and poor, “what you propose to research does not only not exist, it is also a logical impossibility” (p. 97). This exchange came only moments after Tooley explained that he had already personally visited five such schools. The Beautiful Tree documents how Tooley ignored the advice of “development experts” (such as those at the World Bank) and pushed past the resistance and ignorance of education officials to build a team to help him investigate the phenomenon of low-cost private schools serving the poor. . . .
  • Topic: Education, World Bank
  • Political Geography: China, Nigeria
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Welcome to the Winter 2013–2014 issue of The Objective Standard. Here's an indication of the contents at hand. The increasing popularity of libertarianism is both a problem and an opportunity. It is a problem because, although nominally for liberty, the ideology rejects the need to undergird liberty with an objective, demonstrably true moral and philosophic foundation—which leaves liberty indefensible against the many philosophies that oppose it (e.g., utilitarianism, altruism, egalitarianism, and religion). The increasing popularity of libertarianism is an opportunity because, although the ideology denies the need for such a foundation, many young people who self-identify as libertarian are active-minded and thus open to the possibility that such a foundation is necessary. Toward reaching these active-minded youth, my essay, “Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism,” examines libertarianism in the spirit of Frédéric Bastiat, taking into account not only what is seen, but also what is not seen in common and seemingly unobjectionable descriptions of the ideology. The article exposes major problems with libertarianism, compares it to radical capitalism, shows why only the latter provides a viable defense of liberty, and emphasizes the need to keep these different ideologies conceptually distinct.
  • Topic: Education, Religion
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Curt Levey is the president of the Committee for Justice, an organization devoted to promoting judicial nominees who uphold the written constitution, as opposed to a “living constitution.” After graduating from Harvard Law School, Levey clerked on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, then worked for the Center for Individual Rights, where he participated in affirmative action cases involving the University of Michigan. Levey worked for the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education before joining the Committee for Justice. Recently I had the opportunity to interview Levey about the Supreme Court in the context of the upcoming presidential election. Although I disagree with various aspects of Levey's conservative perspective, I find his comments about the Supreme Court to be insightful.
  • Topic: Education, Law
  • Author: Michael A. LaFerrara
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: More and more Americans are coming to recognize the superiority of private schools over government-run or “public” schools. Accordingly, many Americans are looking for ways to transform our government-laden education system into a thriving free market. As the laws of economics dictate, and as the better economists have demonstrated, under a free market the quality of education would soar, the range of options would expand, competition would abound, and prices would plummet. The question is: How do we get there from here? Andrew Bernstein offered one possibility in “The Educational Bonanza in Privatizing Government Schools” (TOS, Winter 2010-11): Sell government schools to the highest bidders, who would take them over following a transitional period to “enable government-dependent families to adjust to the free market.” This approach has the virtues of simplicity and speed, but also the complication of requiring widespread recognition of the propriety of a fully private educational system—a recognition that may not exist in America for quite some time.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Paul J. Beard II
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Matt Sissel is a young entrepreneur who is pursuing the American dream. After returning from military service in Iraq and paying his way through art school, he opened a studio in Iowa City, where he sells his fine art and offers art lessons. Until recently, Matt's entire focus had been on furthering his education and art business. So he made the considered judgment to forgo some luxuries-such as health insurance. In his twenties, Matt is healthy and has no preexisting medical conditions. He is self-insured-paying out of pocket any medical expenses that might arise-and wants to continue to self-insure because he believes the cost of health insurance premiums is excessive and that his money is better devoted to his business. But the federal government couldn't care less about Matt's priorities and choices. Beginning in 2014, it will force Matt, along with almost every other American, to buy a comprehensive, government-approved health-insurance plan from a private insurance company, on pain of stiff civil penalties. This "Individual Mandate" is at the heart of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-also known as "ObamaCare"-which Congress enacted and the president signed into law in 2010. As a consequence of the Individual Mandate, Matt must act now to make financial plans: either purchase health insurance or pay a hefty annual penalty. Given the financial burden it will impose, he can no longer afford to hone his craft by furthering his education in art. Matt must focus exclusively on the creation and sale of his artwork in order to brace himself for the impending obligations the Individual Mandate imposes. Outraged that he is being forced to divert his hard-earned resources away from his education and career in order to buy a service he neither needs nor wants, Matt has decided to sue the federal government, asking the federal district court in Washington, D.C., to enjoin enforcement of the Individual Mandate on the grounds that it violates the United States Constitution. Other legal challenges to the Individual Mandate are pending in courts across the country, such as the well-known lawsuits brought by various state governments and officials whose purpose is to protect their sovereignty against federal encroachment. But few challenges take up the cause as championed by Matt, who is driven by the explicit desire to have the government recognize his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, exercised in accordance with his own values and goals.1 Let us consider the prospects for Matt's constitutional challenge to the Individual Mandate. ObamaCare's Individual Mandate In brief, here is how the Individual Mandate will work: Beginning in 2014, with few exceptions, all individuals with legal residence in the United States will be forced to purchase a health-insurance plan with "minimum essential coverage," as defined by the government. Exempt individuals include Native Americans, religious objectors, Americans living abroad, and the poor (whose health care will be subsidized). And what the law defines as "minimum essential coverage" is far more than is necessary for young and healthy individuals such as Matt. Thus, a catastrophic health-insurance plan covering only expenses related to medical emergencies-which would make sense for many Americans-would not satisfy the mandate's requirements. Moreover, individuals subject to the Individual Mandate cannot satisfy the "minimum essential coverage" requirement by self-insuring: Under the act, they are prohibited from paying for their medical expenses out of pocket.2 Thus, if Matt fails to buy "minimum essential coverage" by January 1, 2014, the government will assess a financial penalty against him for every month he remains without such coverage. The penalty for failing to purchase approved health insurance is the greater of 2.5 percent of the taxpayer's annual income, or $695 for each uninsured family member per year, up to a maximum of $2,085 per family per year-not an insignificant sum.3 Does the federal government-specifically, Congress-really have the legal power to force Matt and other Americans to buy a product or service, such as health insurance, from a private company? . . .
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Gideon Reich
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: New York: Threshold Editions, 2011. 223 pp. $25 (hardcover). Reviewed by Gideon Reich In This is Herman Cain, Herman Cain attempts to convince the reader to support him in his run for president of the United States by telling the story of his life, with emphasis on his amazing business accomplishments. Although the impressive story is somewhat undercut by Cain's mixed politics and religious (even superstitious) beliefs, this self-confident, ambitious, and capable business leader appears to be an admirable man. Cain recounts his early childhood, growing up in segregated Atlanta “po', which is even worse than being poor” (p. 1). His father “worked three jobs: as a barber, as a janitor at the Pillsbury Company, and as a chauffeur at the Coca-Cola Company”; and his mother worked as a maid (p. 15). Nevertheless, thanks to his father's influence, Cain had a positive attitude: My attitude then—as it is to this very day—was that you take a seemingly impossible goal and you make it happen. That was one of the many lessons I learned from Dad: He never allowed his lack of formal education to be a barrier to his success. And he never allowed his starting point in life or the racial conditions of his time to be excuses for failing to pursue his dreams. Dad taught me the value of having dreams, the motivation to pursue them, and the determination to achieve them. (p. 14) According to Cain, he was ambitious from a young age, pursuing a series of ever more-challenging goals. He studied mathematics in college, then went to work in the U.S. Navy as a mathematician. When he learned that he was being passed over for promotions because he had only a bachelor's degree, he studied computer science at Purdue University and earned his master's degree in “one intense, demanding year” (p. 42). He did get promoted, and, at twenty-seven, achieved his first goal—a job that earned more than $20,000 a year (p. 44). . . .
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: United States, New York
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2012. 180 pp. $34.95 (hardcover). Reviewed by Ari Armstrong How often does an author defend the right of citizens to own guns and the right of homosexuals to marry—in the same book chapter? In his new book Capitalist Solutions, Andrew Bernstein applies the principle of individual rights not only to “social” issues such as gun rights and gay marriage but also to economic matters such as health care and education and to the threat of Islamic totalitarianism. Bernstein augments his philosophical discussions with a wide range of facts from history, economics, and science. The release of Capitalist Solutions could not have been timed more perfectly: It coincides with the rise of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that focuses on “corporate greed” and the alleged evils of income inequality. Whereas many “Occupiers” call for more government involvement in various areas of the economy—including welfare support and subsidies for mortgages and student loans—Bernstein argues forcefully that government interference in the market caused today's economic problems and that capitalism is the solution. The introductory essay reviews Ayn Rand's basic philosophical theories, with an emphasis on her ethics of egoism and her politics of individual rights. Bernstein harkens back to this philosophical foundation throughout his book, applying it to the issues of the day. . . .
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Health
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Richard G. Parker
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Isaac Newton developed calculus, demonstrated the immense practicality of the scientific method, and discovered the laws of motion that govern the physical world. Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution, discovered the mechanism of natural selection, and established the fundamental principles of biology. Michelangelo perfected the art of sculpture, depicted man as a heroic being, and inspired viewers and artists across centuries. Such men advanced their respective fields by orders of magnitude. Who is their equivalent in the field of medicine? His name, which few people today recognize, is Herman Boerhaave (1668–1738). In his day, Boerhaave was a world-renowned physician and educator. He held three professorial chairs—in medicine, chemistry, and botany—at the University of Leiden and made the Dutch school the focal point of medical education in the Western world. During the Age of Reason, Boerhaave was the undisputed standard-bearer of Enlightenment medicine: When he began his work in medicine, the field was still mired in the mystical methodologies and superstitions of the Middle Ages; by the time he was through, the field was a science concerned with the natural causes and treatments of illnesses. And although his name has since faded into near obscurity, his influence remains. To acquaint you with this heroic man, let us briefly survey the highlights of his life, and then consider his seminal contributions to medicine.
  • Topic: Education
  • Author: Andrew Bernstein
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Surveys the ills of government-run schools, shows the general superiority of private schools, zeros in on the reason for the difference, and proposes a radical change from which everyone would benefit
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Scott Holleran
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Andrew Carnegie was the quintessential American, the archetypal self-made man. A poor immigrant boy, Carnegie rose to become a titan, advancing key theories of integration in business, producing more steel than all of England,1 creating the first billion-dollar corporation,2 and leaving an indelible legacy of colleges, arts, and libraries. His was an exceptional life and, in his time, he became the world's richest man.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: America, England
  • Author: Sean Saulsbury
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The documentary Waiting for “Superman” examines America's failing public education system and calls on Americans to do something about it. Writer/director Davis Guggenheim takes viewers through the entrails of our public schools, showing the horrifying experiences of students across the country (mostly fifth and eighth graders), exposing the policies that led to those experiences, and providing statistics that measure the extent to which our public school system has failed. As part of the exposé, the movie includes several compelling interviews with educators, addressing issues such as the failure of the No Child Left Behind program, the purpose and effects of teachers' unions, the incredibly high dropout rates among public school students, and the impact of failing schools on our economy and society.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Yaron Brook
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Following the economic disasters of the 1960s and 1970s, brought on by the statist policies of the political left, America seemed to change course. Commentators called the shift the "swing to the right"-that is, toward capitalism. From about 1980 to 2000, a new attitude took hold: the idea that government should be smaller, that recessions are best dealt with through tax cuts and deregulation, that markets work pretty effectively, and that many existing government interventions are doing more harm than good. President Bill Clinton found it necessary to declare, "The era of big government is over." Today that attitude has virtually vanished from the public stage. We are now witnessing a swing back to the left-toward statism. As a wave of recent articles have proclaimed: The era of big government is back. The evidence is hard to miss. Consider our current housing and credit crisis. From day one, it was blamed on the market and a lack of oversight by regulators who were said to be "asleep at the wheel." In response to the crisis, the government, the policy analysts, the media, and the American people demanded action, and everyone understood this to mean more government, more regulation, more controls. We got our wish. First came the Fed's panicked slashing of interest rates. Then the bailout of Bear Stearns. Then the bailout of Freddie Mac. Then a $300 billion mortgage bill, which passed by a substantial margin and was signed into law by President Bush. No doubt more is to come. All of this intervention, of course, is supported by our presidential candidates. Both blame Wall Street for the current problems and vow to increase the power of the Fed's and the SEC's financial regulators. John McCain has announced that there are "some greedy people on Wall Street that perhaps need to be punished." Both he and Barack Obama envision an ever-growing role for government in the marketplace, each promises to raise taxes in some form or another, and both support more regulations, particularly on Wall Street. Few doubt they will keep these promises. What do Americans think of all this? A recent poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News found that 53 percent of Americans want the government to "do more to solve problems." Twelve years earlier, Americans said they opposed government interference by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, our government has been "doing more" throughout this decade. While President Bush has paid lip service to freer markets, his administration has engineered a vast increase in the size and reach of government. He gave us Sarbanes-Oxley, the largest expansion of business regulation in decades. He gave us the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the largest new entitlement program in thirty years. He gave us the "No Child Left Behind Act," the largest expansion of the federal government in education since 1979. This is to say nothing of the orgy of spending over which he has presided: His 2009 budget stands at more than $3 trillion-an increase of more than a $1 trillion since he took office. All of this led one conservative columnist to label Bush "a big government conservative." It was not meant as a criticism. Americans entered the 21st century enjoying the greatest prosperity in mankind's history. And many agreed that this prosperity was mainly the result of freeing markets from government intervention, not only in America, but also around the world. Yet today, virtually everyone agrees that markets have failed. Why? What happened? To identify the cause of today's swing to the left, we need first to understand the cause and consequences of the swing to the right.
  • Topic: Education, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: John David Lewis
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Analyzes the resounding Republican defeat and shows that the party faces a fundamental decision that will determine whether it orchestrates a comeback or stumbles into further defeat.
  • Topic: Education, Government
  • Political Geography: Taliban