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  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Charlie HebdoThat many Muslims oppose free speech—often violently—is again made obvious by this week's terrorist attacks in France. There, two groups of Muslim terrorists slaughtered sixteen people, twelve at or near the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical publication that ran “offensive” images of Muhammad.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: France
  • Author: Alex Epstein
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Who would argue that producing and using fossil fuels is not only not shameful, but also positively virtuous? Alex Epstein would. And he has done so eloquently and thoroughly in his book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Richard M. Salsman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Free Market Economics: An Introduction for the General Reader, by Steven Kates. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011. 352 pp. $50 (paperback). Not since 1924 has there been a comprehensive yet readable book on economics aimed at the ordinary but intelligent citizen that defends and incorporates the field's foundational principle, Say's Law (named after Jean-Baptiste Say, 1767–1832) and its main corollaries: the primacy of production, the entrepreneur as prime mover, and prices as the commercial language that coordinates economies and their subsectors. Now we have such a book: Free Market Economics: An Introduction for the General Reader by Australian business economist Steven Kates. His prior books examined the prevalence of Say's Law among top economists during the pro-capitalist 19th century and its abandonment by most economists in the anti-capitalist 20th century. The handful of texts on economic principles since the 1920s that recognize the superiority of a free economy have been too technical, narrowly devoted to refuting economic fallacies, or tainted by dubious philosophy. This book avoids such flaws. Kates accomplishes what was last achieved by Oxford professor Henry Clay (1883–1945) in Economics: An Introduction for the General Reader (1924). Better still, Kates's book offers a modern, more sophisticated, more pro-capitalist treatment than did Clay's book, and it provides the ideas people need to grasp and refute the disastrous dogmas and policies of Keynesianism. At the core of this book is Say's Law, the principle that supply constitutes demand, that one cannot demand (or purchase) anything in any market without first producing an economic value for offer (or, in a monetary economy, without first earning spendable income by producing value). This principle recognizes that markets are made by the producers and that the most economically important producer of all is the entrepreneur, who specializes in soliciting and coordinating the other main factors of production: land (including raw materials), labor, capital, and financing. Say's Law condenses the truth that material prosperity is attained not by consuming (using up) wealth, but by saving, investing, and producing wealth. Unlike most textbooks today, Kates's says economics should explain wealth creation, or “net added value,” not how we ration “scarce resources.” Keynesianism, Kates explains, explicitly rejects Say's Law and asserts that a free market is prone to “failures” and crises, to excessive production, deficient consumption, and depressions; it further insists that government deficit spending, money printing, and near-zero interest rates can fix said market failures. Keynesian policies assume, contra Say's Law, that there can be an aggregate, economy-wide excess of abundance, or deficiency of aggregate demand. Say's Law holds that aggregate supply and aggregate demand are the same thing viewed from different perspectives and thus cannot be unequal; recessions entail reduced production and typically (but not always) are caused by government policies that are antithetical to production and profits. In contrast to Keynesianism, Say's Law, properly understood, tells economists (and citizens) to reject the contradictory claim that a contracting economy reflects an overexpanding economy, that somehow poverty is caused by prosperity, and it recommends the rejection or removal of any policies that impede or depress the incentive or capacity of entrepreneurs to create wealth or employ other factors of production. According to Kates, Say's Law “is the essence of market-based economics”; and “without the clarity that [it] brings, economic theory has lost its moorings and the irreplaceable value of leaving things to the market in directing economic activity cannot be understood” (p. 6). Yet, the classical, Say-based theory of the business cycle and public policy “has the ability to penetrate the darkness left by Keynesian theory in understanding the causes of recessions and the steps that are needed to bring recovery about” (p. 7). . . .
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Law
  • Political Geography: Australia
  • Author: Slade Mendenhall
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty, by Timothy Sandefur. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2014. 200 pp. $24.95 (hardcover). While the principles of liberty on which America was founded are under attack from so-called liberals and conservatives alike, and while expanding abuses of government power are too vast and complex for most Americans to fully follow, books by rational, knowledgeable professionals clearly and concisely explaining the problems and offering solutions are of immense value. Timothy Sandefur's The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty fits this bill. Sandefur, a principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, bases his latest work on an underappreciated idea in American legal thinking. It is the idea that the Declaration of Independence—understood as a formal, legal, diplomatic document issued by the representatives of thirteen British colonies to the king of England—is part of the law of the land, just as are the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In fact, argues Sandefur, the Declaration used to be seen as the “conscience of the Constitution,” and reviving this understanding of its position in the framework of U.S. law will go a long way toward establishing the moral and political context within which lawyers, judges, and Supreme Court justices should argue and interpret constitutional law. Sandefur's thesis is controversial and is not likely to be well received in modern courts and law classrooms. Most law schools teach students to view the Declaration as a mere manifesto or letter of aspiration. But Sandefur wages a compelling intellectual defense of the Declaration-as-law on two fronts: against leftists, who have ridiculously claimed that the document was drafted as a wink-and-nod effort by elite white men to put down minorities and the lower classes; and against conservatives such as Russell Kirk and neoconservatives such as Irving Kristol who, afraid of its “natural rights” language, dismiss the ideas of the Declaration and characterize it as an underhanded “ploy to lure the French” into conflict with the English (p. 14). Sandefur, pointing out the baseless nature of such criticisms, puts forth a strong argument for holding the Declaration as law and highlights the Founding Fathers' own understanding of it as such. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Washington, England
  • Author: Alexander V. Marriott
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Was Abraham Lincoln, as most Americans believe, a defender of individual rights, a foe of slavery, and a savior of the American republic—one of history's great heroes of liberty? Or was he a tyrant who turned his back on essential founding principles of America, cynically instigated the bloody Civil War to expand federal power, and paved the way for the modern regulatory-entitlement state? In the face of widespread popular support for Lincoln (note, for example, the success of the 2012 Steven Spielberg film about him) and his perennially high reputation among academics, certain libertarians and conservatives have promoted the view that Lincoln was a totalitarian who paved the way for out-of-control government in the 20th century. Those critics are wrong. Contrary to their volumes of misinformation and smears—criticisms that are historically inaccurate and morally unjust—Lincoln, despite his flaws, was a heroic defender of liberty and of the essential principles of America's founding. Getting Lincoln right matters. It matters that we know what motivated Lincoln—and what motivated his Confederate enemies. It matters that we understand the core principles on which America was founded—and the ways in which Lincoln expanded the application of those principles. It matters that modern advocates of liberty properly understand and articulate Lincoln's legacy—rather than leave his legacy to be distorted by antigovernment libertarians (and their allies among conservatives), leviathan-supporting “progressives,” and racist neo-Confederates. My purpose here is not to present a full biographical sketch of Lincoln, nor to detail all types of criticisms made against him. Rather, my goal is to present sufficient information about Lincoln and his historical context to answer a certain brand of his critics, typified by Ron Paul, formerly a congressman from Texas and a contender for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012. Paul and his ilk characterize Lincoln's engagement of the Civil War as a “senseless” and cynical power grab designed to wipe out the “original intent of the republic.” Such claims are untrue and unjust, as we will see by weighing them in relation to historical facts. Toward that end, let us begin with a brief survey of claims by Lincoln's detractors. The revision of Lincoln and his legacy began in earnest soon after the Civil War, but, at the time, it was relegated to the intellectual swamp of Confederate memoirs and polemics. What was once the purview of a defeated and demoralized rump and of early anarchists such as Lysander Spooner has picked up steam within the modern libertarian movement. In the early 20th century, the acerbic newspaperman and social critic H. L. Mencken seriously suggested that the Confederates fought for “self-determination” and “the right of their people to govern themselves.” He claimed that a Confederate victory would have meant refuge from a northern enclave of “Babbitts,” the attainment of a place “to drink the sound red wine . . . and breathe the free air.” Mencken's musings were but a symptom of a broader change in how many Americans came to view the Civil War. The conflict was no longer “the War of the Rebellion,” but “the War between the States.” The Confederate cause was no longer an essentially vile attempt to preserve slavery, but an honorable attempt to preserve autonomous government. Not coincidentally, during this period, Confederate sympathizers built monuments to the Confederacy throughout the South, and D. W. Griffith's openly racist silent film The Birth of a Nation presented revisionist Civil War history and contributed to the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan. Sometimes Confederate sympathizers claimed that the Civil War was not really about slavery; other times they claimed that slavery was a glorious institution the South sought to preserve. More recently, Murray N. Rothbard—widely regarded as the godfather of the modern libertarian movement (and someone who saw Mencken as an early libertarian)5—characterized the Civil War as the fountainhead of the modern regulatory state: The Civil War, in addition to its unprecedented bloodshed and devastation, was used by the triumphal and virtually one-party Republican regime to drive through its statist, formerly Whig, program: national governmental power, protective tariff, subsidies to big business, inflationary paper money, resumed control of the federal government over banking, large-scale internal improvements, high excise taxes, and, during the war, conscription and an income tax. Furthermore, the states came to lose their previous right of secession and other states' powers as opposed to federal governmental powers. The Democratic party resumed its libertarian ways after the war, but it now had to face a far longer and more difficult road to arrive at liberty than it had before. Thomas DiLorenzo, a colleague of Rothbard's until Rothbard's death in 1995, penned two books responsible for much of today's libertarian and conservative antagonism toward Lincoln: The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War (2002) and Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe (2006). (Both DiLorenzo and Ron Paul are senior fellows of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an organization that, while bearing the name of the great Austrian economist von Mises, is more closely aligned with Rothbard's anarchist views.) Largely through his influence on popular economist Walter E. Williams, who wrote the foreword to DiLorenzo's 2002 book, DiLorenzo has reached a relatively wide audience of libertarians and conservatives. Williams is known to many as a genial guest host for The Rush Limbaugh Show, a fellow of the Hoover Institute, and a distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University. He gave his imprimatur to DiLorenzo's work, thereby elevating what might otherwise have been a peculiar book from the depths of Rothbard's libertarian, paleoconservative, neo-Confederate intellectual backwater to a nationally known and provocative piece of severe Lincoln revisionism. What are the essential criticisms leveled against Lincoln by such writers as Mencken and DiLorenzo? The most important of these criticisms can be grouped into four categories. First, these critics claim, Lincoln eviscerated the right of secession supposedly at the heart of the American Revolution. Second, say the critics, Lincoln did not truly care about slavery; he invoked it only to mask his real reasons for pursuing war—to expand the power of the federal government. Anyway, the critics add, slavery would have ended without a Civil War. Third, argue the critics, Lincoln subverted the free market with his mercantilist policies, thereby laying the groundwork for the big-government Progressives to follow. Fourth, Lincoln supposedly prosecuted the war tyrannically; in DiLorenzo's absurd hyperbole, Lincoln was a “totalitarian” who constructed an “omnipotent” state. Let us look at each of these criticisms in greater detail—and put them to rest—starting with the claim that Lincoln spurned the fundamental principles of the founding by opposing secession.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Timothy Sandefur is a principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation who focuses on economic liberty. Recently I had the opportunity to interview him about his new book on the Declaration of Independence, his work at the Foundation, and related matters. —Ari Armstrong Ari Armstrong: Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Timothy Sandefur: Thanks for having me. AA: Your book, The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty, was published early this year. How would you summarize its central arguments? TS: I argue that individual liberty is the central value, the conscience, of the Constitution. The Constitution says in its very first sentence that liberty is a “blessing.” But it doesn't say the same thing about democracy or about government in general. That is because the authors of the Constitution were building on a foundation of political philosophy, and that philosophy is articulated in the Declaration of Independence—that we are all properly equal before the law and have inalienable rights that no just government may infringe. This principle is the guidepost—the conscience—that helps us to guide our constitutional course. Or it would be the guidepost, if 20th-century thinkers had not abandoned the principles of the Declaration and replaced them with the ideas that government action is presumptively legitimate and that individual rights are just privileges the government gives to us when it chooses to. That shift is how our constitutional understanding has gone awry, and it's a leading reason why so much of the legal profession is unable to understand the document they're interpreting. The result is that our constitutional law has bizarre blind spots and contradictions. The “public use” clause was essentially erased in the infamous Kelo eminent domain case. The privileges or immunities clause was essentially erased in the 1870s in the Slaughterhouse Cases. The due process clause has been radically curtailed. These trends are a consequence of lawyers, judges, and law professors typically prioritizing democracy over liberty as a central constitutional value. So the “conscience” I refer to is a voice in our constitutional order telling us when we do something wrong. That voice is the Declaration of Independence. That's why I defend the idea of “substantive due process” [defined below]—something both conservatives and liberals have rejected nowadays. And it's why I don't buy arguments for “judicial restraint”—which usually seem to mean that when the legislature violates the Constitution, the courts should just look the other way—again, to prioritize democracy over liberty. AA: You argue that early American lawyers and political leaders understood the Declaration of Independence as an important interpretive guide to the Constitution. How was that understanding lost in American law?
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Craig Biddle, Max Borders
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: This debate between Craig Biddle and Max Borders was held at the “Liberty, Free Markets, and Moral Character” conference, cosponsored by the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism and the Foundation for Economic Education, at Clemson University on May 25, 2014. Download the pdf for free. Moderator C. Bradley Thompson: The gladiators are now in the cage. Let the friendly fight begin. [Laughter from the audience.] Photo: FEE Photo: FEE In many ways, the debate that's going to take place, I think, is representative of what both the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism and the Foundation for Economic Education stand for. We're trying to expose you to ideas, and the big ideas are not simply those of capitalism versus socialism, right versus left. Within the broader liberty movement, there is a diversity of views on a whole range of issues. Just within the libertarian movement, there are all kinds of public debates. Within the Objectivist movement, there are all kinds of debates. And between libertarians and Objectivists, there are some very important, fundamental differences. What we'd like to do today is flesh out one of the big differences between libertarians and Objectivists. I don't think I need to introduce our two combatants today: Max Borders, from FEE, and editor of The Freeman; and Craig Biddle, editor of The Objective Standard. So we have the editors of two major liberty-oriented publications. I know Max and Craig have a lot that they agree on, and we're going to find out what they disagree about. And we're going to conduct this, of course, not as a cage fight, but as a civil discourse among friends. Here's the format: Craig and Max will each be given fifteen minutes for opening remarks, then they will each get five minutes to either respond or make follow-up comments, and then they'll get another five minutes each to respond or make further comments. After that, we're going to open up the floor to you for questions. So we're going to have at least forty minutes for Q from the floor.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Richard M. Salsman
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Argues, via a mountain of evidence, that the ultimate purpose of central banking is not to "correct market failures" or "prevent financial crises" or the like, but to finance fiscally profligate governments and welfare states.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Eric Daniels
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Surveys various problems inherent in focusing on the non-essential characteristic of government\'s size rather than on the truly essential characteristic of whether and to what extent government protects or violates individual rights.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: If you want to learn the theories and history of economists who champion government controls of the economy-and of economists who criticize such intervention-Randy T. Simmons's Beyond Politics: The Roots of Government Failure is a fantastic resource.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Welcome to the Spring 2013 issue of The Objective Standard.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Should government further restrict the ability of rights-respecting Americans to buy, own, and carry guns, or should it recognize that ability as a basic right and protect it? David B. Kopel, among the most influential Second Amendment scholars working today, makes a terse but cogent argument for the right to keep and bear arms in his latest book, The Truth about Gun Control.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: I have just read Richard Salsman's "The End of Central Banking, Part I" [TOS, Spring 2013], and am amazed at how much it has explained. I have been disturbed and frustrated by many of the Federal Reserve's actions in recent years, but had not known where to turn to find explanations for what is going on and why the Fed has the authority for these actions. I had found nothing in my normal reading to help me understand these actions, but Dr. Salsman has explained their cause. My thanks to him for the superb history and commentary. Thanks also to The Objective Standard for publishing this article.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Steve Simpson
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The revelation in May of this year that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was systematically targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups for special scrutiny under the laws governing nonprofit organizations shocked the nation and triggered one of the Obama administration's biggest scandals to date. According to a Treasury inspector general's report, in May of 2010, agents in the IRS's Cincinnati office began singling out applications for nonprofit status from groups with terms such as "Tea Party" or "patriot" in their names. The agents conducted lengthy investigations of the groups to determine whether they intended to spend too much of their money on political activities that are prohibited to most nonprofits.1 The IRS required some groups to answer long lists of questions about their intentions, it demanded donor lists from others, and it even examined Facebook and Internet posts.2 Some groups simply gave up and withdrew their applications. Others spent two years waiting for a decision that never came.3 When Congress investigated the scandal, Lois Lerner, the former head of the office that oversees nonprofit organizations, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify. Later, hearings revealed that Douglas Shulman, the former head of the IRS, was cleared to visit the White House at least 157 times during his tenure and that IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, who was one of two Obama appointees at the IRS, helped develop the agency's guidelines for investigating the Tea Party groups.4 As a result, critics of the IRS have good reason to think that the scandal reaches the highest levels of our government. The public's outrage over this scandal is, of course, entirely appropriate. If the government can enforce laws based on nothing more than one's political views, then both freedom of speech and the rule of law are dead. But the outrage over the IRS's focus on conservative groups obscures a far more important question: Why was the IRS investigating the political activities of any group? The answer to that question is more troubling than the possibility of rogue IRS agents, biased law enforcement, or even abuses of power at the highest levels. As bad as all of those things are, the bigger threat to freedom is a legal regime that requires scrutiny of Americans' political activities and a political and intellectual culture that applauds such scrutiny and openly calls for more of it. This is the situation in America today. Our tax and campaign finance laws impose a host of regulations on Americans based on how much time, effort, and money they spend on political speech, and many opinion leaders agitate for even more laws and investigations every day. Against this backdrop, the IRS scandal should not surprise us. Our politicians and intellectuals demanded regulation of some of the loudest voices in our political debates, and the IRS delivered. Unfortunately, far too many critics of the IRS have accepted the premise that our laws should distinguish between groups that spend money on political activities and groups that do not. Expressing this view, Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein has argued that the real scandal was that the IRS did not treat all nonprofits as harshly as it treated the Tea Party groups.5 Using the same reasoning, congressional Democrats have attempted to blunt the scandal by claiming that the IRS also investigated some groups on the left.6 It appears that these claims are untrue, but the message is clear: As long as the government is scrutinizing everyone's speech equally, then there is no scandal. But this is the opposite lesson to learn from the IRS scandal. For anyone who cares about freedom of speech, the real scandal is that the government regulates Americans' campaign spending at all. So long as laws remain on the books that do so, scandals such as this one-and far worse-are inevitable. But to understand why that is so requires a deeper understanding of the premises on which the laws are based and how the laws operate in practice. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: Michael Dahlen (reviewer)
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: From 2006 to 2007, Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, was one of few people warning that the U.S. economy was fundamentally unsound and that real estate was grossly overpriced. In his first book, Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse (2007), he predicted that the economy, the housing market, and the stock market would fall apart. He also voiced these predictions on several cable news shows, yet few people heeded his warnings. Some hosts and other guests even mocked and ridiculed him. But Schiff was right. In his recent book, The Real Crash: America's Coming Bankruptcy-How to Save Yourself and Your Country, Schiff says that the worst is yet to come and that the 2008-2009 economic crisis was merely a "tremor before the earthquake." Schiff argues that the main culprit of our economic instability is America's central bank: the Federal Reserve. Through its control of the money supply and the effect this has on interest rates, the Fed artificially inflates the prices of various asset classes, creating so-called "bubbles," and when those prices inevitably collapse, the Fed then inflates the prices of other asset classes. "Throughout the 1990s," Schiff observes, "we had the stock bubble and the dot-com bubble. The Fed replaced that with the housing bubble and the credit bubble. Now, the Fed and the administration are replacing those bubbles with the government bubble" (p. 20). By "government bubble," Schiff is referring to the U.S. dollar and Treasury bonds. When asset prices collapse and recessions ensue, Schiff notes, the Fed-via bailouts and low interest rates-props up insolvent banks and other companies (while also helping to finance government debt). It has taken these actions allegedly to minimize the short-term pain of recessions, but in doing so, the Fed has prevented the economy from correcting itself, making it increasingly unsound. "If you keep replacing one bubble with another, you eventually run out of suds. The government bubble is the final bubble" (p. 23). If the Fed keeps interest rates artificially low and if the government keeps running massive budget deficits, the day will come, Schiff argues, "when the rest of the world stops trusting America's currency and our credit. Then we'll get the real crash" (p. 1). In his introduction to the book, Schiff explains that he is taking a different approach here than he took in his previous books: "[T]his time I have decided that rather than simply predicting doom, I would lay out a comprehensive set of solutions. That's why I wrote this book" (p. 2). After diagnosing our economic problems, Schiff explains how we can fix them. . . .
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Mikayla Callen (reveiwer)
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In her debut novel, Living Proof, Kira Peikoff addresses one of the hottest issues today-religious dogma versus individual rights-in the form of a conflict between the "rights" of embryos and the rights of people to engage in embryonic stem cell research. Living Proof is set in the not-too-distant future, the year 2027, in which the government has placed bans on any type of research on embryos and embryonic stem cells as part of an embryonic rights movement. The legal manifestation of this movement is the Department of Embryo Preservation, or DEP, whose sole purpose is to ensure that no embryos are used for research or destroyed in any way. The devoutly religious director of the DEP, Gideon Dopp, prides himself on his position at "the noblest of all government agencies" (p. 332), where he is responsible for "weeding out sinners to protect innocents" (p. 331). He makes it his personal goal to ensure that no embryos are harmed. [The DEP] mandated that all fertility clinics "preserve the soul of every embryo." In keeping with the law, the department required that clinics report, once a month, the number of embryos left over from every patient's attempt at in vitro fertilization-a number the inspectors verified with their visits. To ensure accurate reporting, the department periodically conducted random audits. . . . (p. 14) If an unfortunate doctor fails an audit, there are "serious consequences for the clinic: probation and heavy fines" (p. 15). The authorities mete out far more severe punishments for the "crime" of destroying an embryo, an act that is grounds for shutting down the clinic and charging the doctor responsible with first-degree murder. In this setting, the reader follows Arianna Drake and Trent Rowe in a conflict-ridden love story. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Boaz Arad, a founder of and spokesman for the Israeli Freedom Movement, discusses the inception, activities, allies, and successes of the Israeli equivalent of the Tea Party movement.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Advocates of a fully free, laissez-faire society are likely familiar with the following scenario. You provide a clear, well-concretized explanation of what capitalism is and why it is moral, only to be met with a question that seemingly wipes out everything you just said: “But if physical force were legally forbidden, taxation would be out; so how would a rights-protecting government be financed?” The implication being: A truly free society might sound great in theory, but it's impossible in practice.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have labeled themselves “America's Comeback Team”—a political tagline that would be great were it grounded in a philosophical base that gave it objective, moral meaning. What, politically speaking, does America need to “come back” to? And what, culturally speaking, is necessary for the country to support that goal? America was founded on the principle of individual rights—the idea that each individual is an end in himself and has a moral prerogative to live his own life (the right to life); to act on his own judgment, un-coerced by others, including government (liberty); to keep and use the product of his effort (property); and to pursue the values and goals of his choosing (pursuit of happiness). Today, however, legal, regulatory, or bureaucratic obstacles involved in any effort to start or operate a business, to purchase health insurance, to plan for one's retirement, to educate one's children, to criticize Islam for advocating violence, or so much as to choose a lightbulb indicate how far we've strayed from that founding ideal. If America is to make a comeback—and if what we are to come back to is recognition and protection of individual rights—then Americans must embrace more than a political tagline; we must embrace a philosophy that undergirds individual rights and that gives rise to a government that does one and only one thing: protects rights. Although the philosophy of the Founding Fathers was sufficient ground on which to establish the Land of Liberty, it was not sufficient to maintain liberty. The founders advocated the principle of individual rights, but they did not fully understand the moral and philosophical foundations of that principle; they did not understand how rights are grounded in observable fact. Nor did the thinkers who followed them. This is why respect for rights has been eroding for more than a century. If America is to “come back” to the recognition and protection of rights, Americans must discover and embrace the philosophical scaffolding that undergirds that ideal, the scaffolding that grounds the principle of rights in perceptual fact and gives rise to the principle that the only proper purpose of government is to protect rights by banning force from social relationships. The philosophy that provides this scaffolding is Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. To see why, let us look at Rand's philosophy in contrast to the predominant philosophies of the day: religion, the basic philosophy of conservatism; and subjectivism, the basic philosophy of modern “liberalism.” We'll consider the essential views of each of these philosophies with respect to the nature of reality, man's means of knowledge, the nature of morality, the nature of rights, and the proper purpose of government. At each stage, we'll highlight ways in which their respective positions support or undermine the ideal of liberty. As a brief essay, this is, of course, not a comprehensive treatment of these philosophies; rather, it is an indication of the essentials of each, showing how Objectivism stands in contrast to religion and subjectivism and why it alone supports a culture of freedom. Objectivism stands in sharp contrast to religion and subjectivism from the outset because, whereas religion holds that there are two realities (nature and supernature), and whereas subjectivism holds that there is no reality (only personal opinion and social convention), Objectivism holds that there is one reality (this one before our eyes). Let's flesh out these differences and their significance with respect to liberty. . . .
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Stop letting the enemies of capitalism claim the moral high ground. There is nothing noble about altruism, nothing inspiring about the initiation of force, nothing moral about Big Government, nothing compassionate about sacrificing the individual to the collective. Don't be afraid to dismiss those ideas as vicious, unjust attacks on the pursuit of happiness, and self-confidently assert that there is no value higher than the individual's pursuit of his own well-being.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Imagine how great it would be to have your own inside tour guide to the modern financial crisis, someone able to comment on the crisis not as an onlooker, but as the leader for two decades of one of America's strongest financial institutions.
  • Topic: Government, Law
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Ted Gray
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Did you know that the U.S. government subsidizes forced sterilization of women throughout the Third World, and that both Republican and Democratic administrations have supported this policy? This is just one evil among many that Robert Zubrin documents in Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Craig Biddle: Thank you for joining me today, Harmon. I'm very excited about the Atlas Shrugged movie, and I know that TOS readers want to hear all about it. Harmon Kaslow: It's my pleasure. CB: How and when did you get involved in making this movie? HK: I got involved in April 2010 after being contacted by John Aglialoro, my coproducer. At that point, a movie had to be made quickly or John would lose the rights to it. So he contacted me to see if I might be able to help him put together a lower-budget version in short order. CB: As coproducers, what have been John's and your respective roles in the movie? HK: John's role was to keep the movie faithful to the book. Mine was to get the movie into production before June 15. John has probably read Atlas more than a dozen times, and during the process of writing the screenplay and getting the film into production, he was constantly rereading chapters, mulling over the elements of the story, and working to ensure that the production remained true to Rand's ideas. My job was to work with John to make the movie happen, to get all the pieces together so that we could say “action” and make certain the film was completed. CB: Atlas Shrugged is a 54-year-old story. Why do you think it matters today? HK: For starters, many events from the story parallel real-life events today. For instance, whereas in the story the government passes business-thwarting laws such as the “Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule” and the “Equalization of Opportunity Bill,” in real life today the government is passing laws such as the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act” and the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” But more fundamentally, the story matters because it dramatizes timeless philosophic truths about human nature, the role of reason in human life, the morality of rational self-interest versus predation or “greed,” the role of the government and of the citizen, and man's need of political and economic freedom. These truths will always matter. . . .
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Author: Dan Norton
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Eleven years ago, toward the end of my undergraduate years as a philosophy major at the University of Virginia, I was feeling dissatisfied with my knowledge of history. I had taken several history courses but wanted more. Because my immediate interest was ancient Greece, I decided to try a friend's recommendation, The Life of Greece by Will Durant. Finding the book at the library, I was surprised to see that it was but one volume in a massive series called The Story of Civilization—eleven substantial volumes spanning two feet of shelving.1 Although I wanted to learn more about history, I wasn't sure I wanted to learn that much. It turned out that I did. Reading those volumes—sometimes poring over large portions of them multiple times—would be one of the most enlightening and enjoyable experiences of my life. First published between 1935 and 1975, The Story of Civilization is a work of great and enduring value. Exceptional for its masterful prose as well as its size and scope, the Story is a powerful combination of style and substance. An author of rare literary talents, Durant (1885–1981) won a wide readership through his ability to make history intriguing, lively, and dramatic. His volumes, intended for the general reader and each designed to be readable apart from the others, have sold millions of copies. Some even became best sellers, and the tenth volume, Rousseau and Revolution, won a Pulitzer Prize. Individual volumes have been translated into more than twenty languages.2 Having earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1917 from Columbia University, Durant first won fame and phenomenal success with The Story of Philosophy (1926). This book sold two million copies in a few years and has sold three million copies to date; eighty-five years later, the book is still in print and has been translated into nineteen languages.3 Durant followed this book with another best seller, The Mansions of Philosophy (1929).4 His earnings from these and other books, as well as from articles and public lectures, helped free his time for writing The Story of Civilization, which would be his magnum opus. His wife, Ariel Durant (1898–1981), assisted him throughout his writing of the Story, her assistance increasing to the point that, beginning with the seventh volume, she received credit as coauthor.5 The Story of Civilization begins with Our Oriental Heritage, a volume on Egypt and Asiatic civilizations. The remaining ten volumes tell the story of Western civilization (with a substantial treatment of Islamic civilization in one of the volumes6). Durant's original intention was to tell the story of the West up to the present, but, despite working on the Story for more than four decades, he was unable to do so: “[A]s the story came closer to our own times and interests it presented an ever greater number of personalities and events still vitally influential today; and these demanded no mere lifeless chronicle, but a humanizing visualization which in turn demanded space” (vol. 7, p. vii). The increasing space he gave to each period of European history resulted in his having to end the Story with the downfall of Napoleon in 1815; moreover, he had to omit the history of the Americas entirely. He was ninety when the Story's last volume was published and had carried it as far as he could. In each volume Durant takes a comprehensive approach, covering, for each nation and in each period of its history, all the major aspects of civilization: politics, economics, philosophy, religion, literature, art, and science.7 He called his approach the “integral” or “synthetic” method, and regarded it as an original contribution to historiography.8 Elaborating on the origin of his method, he writes: I had expounded the idea in 1917 in a paper . . . “On the Writing of History.” . . . Its thesis: whereas economic life, politics, religion, morals and manners, science, philosophy, literature, and art had all moved contemporaneously, and in mutual influence, in each epoch of each civilization, historians had recorded each aspect in almost complete separation from the rest. . . . So I cried, “Hold, enough!” to what I later termed “shredded history,” and called for an “integral history” in which all the phases of human activity would be presented in one complex narrative, in one developing, moving, picture. I did not, of course, propose a cloture on lineal and vertical history (tracing the course of one element in civilization), nor on brochure history (reporting original research on some limited subject or event), but I thought that these had been overdone, and that the education of mankind required a new type of historian—not quite like Gibbon, or Macaulay, or Ranke, who had given nearly all their attention to politics, religion, and war, but rather like Voltaire, who, in his Siècle de Louis XIV and his Essai sur les moeurs, had occasionally left the court, the church, and the camp to consider and record morals, literature, philosophy, and art.9 Durant's integral history does not only occasionally consider these latter areas (which he calls “cultural history” or “the history of the mind,”)10 it emphasizes them. “While recognizing the importance of government and statesmanship, we have given the political history of each period and state as the oft-told background, rather than the substance or essence of the tale; our chief interest was in the history of the mind” (vol. 10, p. vii). (Nevertheless, the Story contains ample and excellent material on politics.) The Story is by far the most massive and thorough treatment of Western civilization by a single author (or team of two) that I have been able to find. Large teams of historians have collaborated to produce similarly large, or even larger, works. But such works, writes a respected historian, “while they gain substantially in authoritative character, are seriously lacking in correlation and are not written from a . . . harmonious point of view.”11 Harmony is indeed one of the cardinal virtues of Durant's work; readers find therein a beautifully integrated tale of man's past, a veritable symphony of history. For this reason and others—notably, Durant's grand, philosophical overviews and scintillating style—I believe that many, and perhaps most, readers will find no better place to turn for a large treatment of Western civilization than The Story of Civilization. . . .
  • Topic: Government, History
  • Political Geography: America, Europe
  • Author: Joshua Lipana
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: An insurgency led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is ravaging the nation's countryside.1 Children as young as twelve are forced to join the “New People's Army” (NPA) and to fight for the communist cause.2 Farmers are often killed for refusing to support or join the communist cause. Businessmen are threatened with death or the destruction of their property should they not pay taxes to the revolutionaries. Politicians in areas of strong communist influence either become puppets of the CPP-NPA or are murdered. This insurgency has killed more than 120,000 Filipinos to date, and the body count is rapidly rising.3 The communist insurgents' ultimate goal is to conquer the nation, and they are fighting toward this end via two means. The first of these is armed force. According to Jun Alcover, a former high-ranking Communist Party member turned anticommunist congressman, the CPP hopes “to win the revolutionary struggle and change the social, economic, and political landscape in the Philippines—[through] armed revolution, Mao Zedong style.”4 Yettan Verita Liwanag, a coauthor with Alcover of the book Atrocities Lies: The Untold Secrets of the Communist Party of the Philippines, details the communists' plan to carry out this bloody insurrection. The first step would be to draw a significant number of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) away from the island of Luzon (where the capital is) to the southern Island of Mindanao, where the NPA, allied with secessionist forces such as the Moro National Liberation Front and the Bangsa Moro Army, would be able to bog down the AFP. “Attacks from the combined forces would tie down a large part of the AFP in the south. By splitting the AFP, NPA forces in the Visayaz could then contribute to the uprising by simultaneously assaulting their areas of responsibility. Finally, after achieving strategic advantage over the elements of the AFP by dividing its attention,” the communists in Luzon could “then strike the National Capital Region by surrounding it with pockets of Red-controlled areas and enveloping it from the inside” with a massive uprising of armed and non-armed supporters, ranging from workers to leftist students.5 This is the communist dream of violent revolution as envisioned by the founder and leader of the New People's Army—however, it is a long shot.6 The communists know that the AFP, which is far more powerful than their own modest forces, would almost surely win an all-out military conflict. So the communists are also fighting for control of the Philippines on a second, more insidious front. The CPP-NPA is trying to increase its reputation as a legitimate political party within the international community; meanwhile, it is smearing the Philippine government and the AFP as human-rights violators and mass murderers. The communists hope ultimately to cause enough commotion to invite direct intervention in Filipino affairs from foreign entities (including the United Nations), leading to pressure from those entities to accommodate the communists and perhaps even create a coalition government with them.7 In this way the CPP-NPA could wield much power in the Philippines while reducing the damage to its insurgency force. Even more amazing than the fact that a remnant of the Cold War severely threatens the Philippines is the fact that the Philippine government is permitting it to do so. From its prime in the 1980 of tens of thousands of “comrades,” the NPA has been reduced to a few thousand—a number that the Philippine government could easily squash. Yet a continuous policy of accommodation and appeasement from the Philippine government has allowed the NPA to survive, threatening the prosperity and lives of all Filipinos. . . .
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: Philippines
  • Author: C.A. Wolski
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Although Ayn Rand published her epic novel Atlas Shrugged fifty-four years ago, and although it has consistently sold hundreds of thousands of copies annually, Rand's magnum opus has spent decades mired in Hollywood “development hell.” Numerous producers, stars, screenwriters, and film production companies have endeavored but failed to execute a film version (see: “Atlas Shrugged's Long Journey to the Silver Screen,” p. 35). All the while, fans of the novel have anxiously waited for the day when they could watch the story come to life on the silver screen. That day is finally here. Atlas Shrugged: Part I, the first in a planned trilogy, should, for the most part, please the novel's patient fans. Fortuitously following a blueprint similar to one outlined by Rand in the 1970s (see “Adapting Atlas: Ayn Rand's own Approach,” p. 38), the film covers the first third of the story. Like the novel, the movie focuses on Dagny Taggart as she endeavors to save her struggling railroad from both intrusive government regulations and the mysterious John Galt, who is hastening the nation's collapse by causing the great entrepreneurs and thinkers of the country to disappear. She is aided in her efforts by Henry “Hank” Rearden, a steel magnate who is also being squeezed by government regulations and is anxious to put an end to John Galt's activities. Those familiar with the novel know generally what to expect: the disappearance of more and more industrialists and other great producers, the banning of Rearden Metal, the “Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule,” the initial run of the John Galt Line, and finally Wyatt's Torch and the collapse of Colorado.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Colorado
  • Author: C.A. Wolski
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: It is 1939 and England is in crisis—war looms, the government is in chaos, the people are in despair. All eyes turn to the country's reluctant, recently crowned monarch, George VI, to offer stirring words that will brace them for the coming storm. But there's the rub. The king suffers from a paralyzing stammer, and there are grave doubts that he will be able to deliver the speech that will unite his nation. Tom Hooper's Academy-Award winning The King's Speech is much more than a simple, inspiring wartime tale of a historical figure overcoming a physical and psychological ailment. The story of how Albert, Duke of York, later King George VI, overcame his stammer to give a series of rousing wartime speeches that united and inspired his nation is indeed the framework of the film. But at its heart, the film is the story of the power of the human mind and how hard work and perseverance—not miracles and wishes—are the bulwarks of the human spirit. The film opens in 1925. Albert (played by Colin Firth) must deliver the closing speech of the Empire Exhibition. The king's second son is terrified. He is led to the podium where his speech will not only be heard by the assembled crowd but is being simultaneously broadcast across the Empire. The time comes, and in what can only be described as sheer agony, Albert chokes out the first few words. He is next seen several months later at a session with a so-called “speech therapist” who insists that smoking will “relax the throat” and that stuffing one's mouth full of marbles is the “classic” cure for stuttering. Both remedies, unsurprisingly, fail. Albert, with the help of his wife, Elizabeth (played by Helena Bonham Carter), eventually lands himself in the offices of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist, who promises that he can help Albert (whom he insists on calling “Bertie” to the prince's continuing disdain) overcome his stammer and speak clearly. The eccentric speech therapist delivers. Through hard work, setbacks, and triumphs, Logue, with sometimes unusual therapeutic techniques and a wry bit of psychoanalysis, treats the prince and helps him rediscover the confidence and self-esteem that had been robbed from him during his bleak childhood. The efforts culminate in the pivotal speech that Albert, as king, must give. Success is the only option—and the psychological tightrope the king must cross during this moment is more compelling than any explosive action sequence one might imagine. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Australia, England
  • Author: Roderick Fitts
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World, Dr. Laura Snyder contrasts the early 19th-century man of science (or “natural philosopher”) with the modern scientist. Yesteryear's men of science were usually wealthy (often from an inheritance), pursuing their scientific interests with no support from a government, university, or corporation. Their discoveries, though long used by kings and governments, were rarely regarded as something that could improve the lives of ordinary men and women. The men of science would hardly ever meet, and they would never debate the merits of their work or papers publicly. Unsurprisingly then, they had reached no consensus as to a proper “scientific method,” and no single process of reaching theories was upheld above any other. The modern scientist, by contrast, is a specialized, credentialed professional who usually works for a government or university while conducting research. This scientist routinely defends his work from contemporaries in the same field, is answerable to the public, and is even seen as a social reformer of sorts, capable of dramatically improving lives politically, economically, or socially. On top of it all, he adheres to a standard account of the scientific method, even as ongoing debates about the specifics of that method emerge and are assessed. Who or what accounts for the transformation of the field of science and of its practitioners? The dominant thesis of Snyder's Philosophical Breakfast Club is that the efforts and achievements of four Cambridge graduates, friends, and men of science—John Herschel, Charles Babbage, Richard Jones, and William Whewell (pronounced “Who-ell”)—are largely responsible for our modern conception of what it means to be a scientist. To support her claim, she presents a biographical account of their lives, discussing their scientific, family, and social lives as well as their goals, personal interests, and the social context surrounding them. Each chapter presents aspects of what the four accomplished (or attempted to accomplish), along with the contextual background necessary to understand the importance of their work. The result is a clear view of the social and scientific atmosphere in which these men lived, and an even clearer understanding of exactly what they wanted to change in the world of science, and why. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: New York, America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Private-sector colleges and universities, also known as career colleges or for-profit colleges, educate more than three million people annually in the United States. These colleges—which include the University of Phoenix, ITT Technical Institutes, Kaplan University, Strayer University, Capella University, and Monroe College—provide vital services to Americans seeking to improve their lives. Programs in career colleges range from information technology and business administration, to commercial art and interior design, to allied health care and nursing, to accounting and finance, to criminal justice and law. These highly focused, career-specific programs enable people to achieve their occupational goals and to become productive, self-supporting, prosperous, and happy. These colleges are, for many people, pathways to the American dream. Unfortunately, certain individuals and agencies in the U.S. government are seeking to cripple and destroy these schools via an assault that includes fraud, collusion, and defamation. Before turning to the details of this assault, however, let us take a closer look at the enormous life-serving value provided by career colleges.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
34. Iranium
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Many Americans are concerned about the Iranian regime's progress in its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon, yet few are demanding that the U.S. government do anything about it. Iranium, a new documentary by Alex Traiman, seeks to change that. Narrated by Shohreh Aghdashloo, and with commentary by (among others) John Bolton, Bernard Lewis, Michael Ledeen, and Reza Kahlili, the documentary begins by looking at both the founding ideology and the constitution of the Iranian regime. It shows the Ayatollah Khomeini following the overthrow of the shah, saying, “When we revolted, we revolted for the sake of Islam.” It shows footage of him calling for a global caliphate: “This movement cannot be limited to one country only. It cannot be limited to Islamic countries either.” And it shows how Iran's constitution codifies those views, establishing a nation “in accordance with Islamic law,” providing “the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution” toward “a universal and holy government” and “the downfall of others.” “From the very beginning, explains Kenneth Timmerman, executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, Iran's leaders “considered terrorism as a tool of policy. . . . Iran set up Hezbollah . . . to have a 'cut-out' [that] could 'independently' carry out terrorist attacks with 'no fingerprints' back to Tehran.” Iranium lines up the facts like a long series of dominoes, enabling viewers to see how the murderous ideology at the foundation of modern Iran led to a constitution demanding its implementation, which, in turn, led to the creation of terrorist proxies and the terrorizing and murdering of Americans and other “infidels” worldwide. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Examines the essential aspects of her philosophy that give rise to her theory of rights, as against the theories of God-given, government-granted, and "natural" rights.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Joshua Lipana
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Paul Ryan—U.S. Republican representative for Wisconsin's First District and current chairman of the House Budget Committee—rose to nationwide prominence in April 2011 when he proposed a long-term budget plan called “The Path to Prosperity.” With overwhelming Republican support, Ryan's plan passed the House on April 15, 2011.1 The Democrat-controlled Senate, however, voted down Ryan's plan on May 25, 2011. Despite its defeat in the Senate,2 Ryan's plan remains influential on and the ideal for many in the Republican party. For this reason, it is worth examining. What follows is a critique of key components of Ryan's Path to Prosperity plan, using the principle of individual rights as a standard of reference. Specific provisions, and the plan as a whole, will be graded from A+ to F according to how much they promote or corrode rights-respecting government. Repeal of ObamaCare Perhaps the best element of the Ryan plan is its commitment to repealing President Obama's “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” more popularly known as ObamaCare. In particular, the individual mandate in ObamaCare is an egregious violation of rights. The mandate forces people to buy a government-approved health-insurance plan from a private company or to face a fine.3 The president's health-care law is described in the Path to Prosperity as taking the United States “one step closer to [a] fully government-run system.”4 The country needs to move away from this centralized system, not towards it. This budget starts by repealing the costly new government-run health care law . . . making sure that not a penny goes toward implementing the new law.5 Ryan's plan often mentions the goal of repealing ObamaCare. On the subject of taxes, Ryan notes that ObamaCare contains “roughly $800 billion in new taxes and tax increases—the result of dozens of changes to tax law that added complexity and unfairness to the code.”6 These include a “0.9 percent surtax on wages and a 3.8 percent surtax on interest, dividends, and capital gains” that would “apply to filers in the top two income brackets” and a Cadillac tax that would, “starting in 2018, impose a new tax on high-cost, employer-provided health plans.”7 This aspect of Ryan's plan, which would reverse America's movement toward full-blown socialized medicine, gets a well-deserved A+. Security and the “Global War on Terror” In Ryan's plan, security spending sees no significant change over the course of ten years. During that time, this year's budget of $711 billion will only increase or decrease by $90 billion.8 . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: John R. Bolton is an outspoken advocate of a foreign policy of American self-interest and a domestic policy of free markets and fiscal responsibility. He has spent many years in public service, including a term as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and a term as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. He is the author of Surrender Is Not an Option (Threshold Editions/Simon Schuster, 2007) and How Barack Obama Is Endangering Our National Sovereignty (Encounter Books, 2010). Mr. Bolton is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on U.S. foreign and national security policy. I spoke with him on August 29, 2011, just before he announced (to my disappointment) that he would not be running in the 2012 presidential election. —Craig Biddle Craig Biddle: Thank you very much for joining me, Ambassador Bolton; it's an honor to speak with you. John Bolton: Thank you. Glad to do it. CB: As a teenager, you found inspiration in Barry Goldwater, whom you praised as “an individualist, not a collectivist.” I take individualism to mean that the individual is sovereign—that he has a right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness—and collectivism to mean that he is not—that he is beholden to the state or society and is not an end in himself. Is that what you mean by these terms? JB: Right, exactly. I think that, in terms of choice of government, what we should look for is a government that enhances the possibility of individual freedom and individual activity and reduces the potential for collective government action. That's just a broad philosophical statement, but I think that's what the political battle has been about for many years and particularly right now. CB: How do individual rights play into that? What is the relation between rights and freedom? JB: I think that the two are closely related. If you look at how mankind comes into civil society, the individuals bring the rights with them—they're inherent in their status as human beings and don't come from the government as a matter of sufferance. So, in a social contract, ideally what you're looking for is benefits that bring mankind together but also maximize individual liberty. That's admittedly easier said than done, but that ought to be the preference—to try and find that balance—rather than to assume that the government is going to take a larger and larger role because some people think, number one, that they're better at making decisions than individual citizens are; and, number two, that it's a politically convenient way to stay in power—to tax and regulate people in order to “spread wealth” and benefit others. CB: So you essentially take the same position as the Founders on rights and freedom: We have inalienable rights, and the purpose of government is to protect them. JB: Exactly, and that, I think, is why they created a government of enumerated powers. We've slipped a long way from that point, but that's not to say that that shouldn't be what we aspire to return to. CB: Why do you think we hear so little in politics today about the proper purpose of government and the principle of individual rights? JB: Well, I think it's been a long slide away from what the intent of the original framers of the Constitution was. And I think it's an important task of political leaders—or should be—to return to that. If the only issues are how much taxation is going to be and what the size of the government is, and as many Republicans learned over the years, so-called “me-too” policies are going to inevitably lead to defeat because the statists can always outbid you. I think that in a time of fiscal crisis, this is the opportune moment to have an adult conversation about what the purpose of government is—a conversation not about how big the size of government programs is going to be, but whether they should exist in the first place. CB: I want to ask some questions about both foreign and domestic policy. Since you turned to domestic policy there, let's begin with that. What do you regard as the fundamental cause of America's economic decline today—crashing markets, skyrocketing unemployment, sheepish investors, and so forth? . . .
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Is Health Insurance of “Monumental Importance”? To the Editor: I agree with the spirit of Paul J. Beard's article “ObamaCare v. the Constitution” [TOS, Summer 2011], but Matt Sissel's refusal to buy a service (health-care insurance) that “he neither needs nor wants” involves a major flaw. No one, young, middle-aged, or old, can predict when a catastrophic illness will strike. Those in our society who develop cancer, a stroke, or a major heart attack could easily be burdened with a medical bill of $50,000, $100,000, or more. Thus, health-care insurance is of monumental importance. The #1 reason for people filing for bankruptcy in America is that they cannot afford to pay their medical bills. Rade M. Pejic, M.D. Michigan City, Indiana Paul J. Beard II Replies: Catastrophic health insurance can be an important purchase if one wishes to insure against financial insolvency. But individuals face countless alternatives in life and must make their own decisions with respect to their personal contexts, resources, and goals. The government has no right and no constitutional authority to force anyone to purchase health insurance of any kind—nor to force anyone to bail out those who go bankrupt due to medical expenses. Individuals morally are and legally should be responsible for themselves. Paul J. Beard II Sacramento, California Would the Federal Government Permit States to Implement a Tax Credits Program? To the Editor: Although I found Michael A. LaFerrara's proposal in “Toward a Free Market in Education: School Vouchers or Tax Credits?” to be enticing, the article did not explain how such a tax credit program could be implemented by particular states without first being permitted by the federal tax code. Is there already a provision in the code by which a state might provide its citizens a tax-credit plan such as LaFerrara's? If this plan does require new federal legislation, then activists need suggestions as to how to approach legislators to get something started toward enacting such legislation—a prospect, I suspect, that is as distant as initiating Dr. Bernstein's proposal (in “The Educational Bonanza in Privatizing Government Schools,” TOS, Winter 2010–2011) to auction off the public schools. A. James Smith, Jr. Naples, Florida Mike LaFerrara Replies: The federal Department of Education states, “The responsibility for K–12 education rests with the states under the [U.S.] Constitution.”1 Consequently, public K–12 education is primarily funded by local and state taxes—91 percent according to the NEA.2 So a well-funded state program would be possible even without federal funding or congressional action. But there are ways that federal funding could be included. Because education dollars flow from taxpayers through the federal government and then back to the states via myriad programs,3 one possible way would be for state tax agencies simply to ignore the federal income tax outflow from its citizens—and thus avoid any need for federal tax reform—and apportion the inflow of federal dollars according to each taxpayer's Education Tax Liability and Average Attendance Cost. That said, federal dollars often flow to the states with “strings” or conditions attached, and such strings might prohibit apportionment of the monies as called for in my plan. In that case, states could seek exemptions from the conditions. If the federal regulatory agencies involved refused to grant exemptions, then state representatives could fight for them through Congress. Meanwhile, states could simply exclude federal dollars from the mix and still implement viable programs. It is worth noting that a transitional tax-credit program such as mine faces far less-onerous legal obstacles than summary, across-the-board privatization would. For example, New Jersey's constitution mandates that “The Legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in the State between the ages of five and eighteen years” (Article VIII, Section 4). My plan would likely pass muster under such mandates, because the public schools would remain adequately funded for any child who would attend them. Dr. Bernstein's plan to auction off the government schools would ultimately require a constitutional amendment in New Jersey (and likely in other states), a daunting task in and of itself. Until our culture is philosophically advanced enough to support the summary abolition of government schools, a transitional plan structured to work within the existing legal context—and in conjunction with popular support for parental school choice—is our best bet. Such a program can get the ball rolling politically at the state level and, over time, with proven success, contribute to a cultural/political environment more conducive to complete privatization. It is also worth noting that tax credits or school auctions is not an either-or proposition. The ultimate goal of both proposals is the same. My plan could pave the way for Dr. Bernstein's: The more success Americans saw in transitioning to private education via the tax-credit program, the more open they would become to the idea of auctioning off government schools. Finally, I wish to emphasize that advocates of free markets in education should not balk at a plan just because it might encounter legal obstacles. To get from where we are to where we need to be, we will have to change some laws. The question is: Will we embrace a plan that can move us in the right direction? Michael A. LaFerrara Flemington, NJ Endnotes.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Now that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee is almost certain to be either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich (who, in terms of policy and lack of principle, are practically indistinguishable), many on the right are turning their attention to the 2012 Senate races. And they are wise to do so. In the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans gained control of the House but failed to secure a majority in the Senate, leaving Democrats with 53 of 100 seats. Of the 33 Senate seats up for election in 2012, 21 are held by Democrats, 2 by independents. Republicans are likely to retain control of the House, and if they manage to gain control of the Senate as well, they will have the opportunity to repeal Obama Care, Dodd-Frank, and other disastrous laws and regulations, and to begin cutting federal spending. These are crucial short-term goals. But if we want to return America to the free republic it is supposed to be, we must do more than campaign and vote for Republicans. We must embrace and advocate the only principle that can unify our political efforts and ground them in moral fact. That principle pertains to the purpose of government. Government is an institution with a legal monopoly on the use of physical force in a given geographic area. What is the proper purpose of such an institution? Why, morally speaking, do we need it? The proper purpose of government is, as the Founding Fathers recognized, to protect people's inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Government fulfills this vital function, as Ayn Rand put it, by banning the use of physical force from social relationships and by using force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. Insofar as an individual respects rights—that is, insofar as he refrains from assault, robbery, rape, fraud, extortion, and the like—a proper government leaves him fully free to act on his own judgment and to keep and use the product of his effort. Insofar as an individual violates rights—whether by direct force (e.g., assault) or indirect force (e.g., fraud)—a proper government employs the police and courts as necessary to stop him, to seek restitution for his victims, and/or to punish him. Likewise for international relations: So long as a foreign country refrains from using (or calling for) physical force against our citizens, our government properly leaves that country alone. But if a foreign country (or gang) attacks or calls for others to attack us, our government properly employs our military to eliminate that threat. As Thomas Jefferson summed up, a proper government “shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”In order to begin moving America toward good government, we must explicitly embrace this principle, and we must demand that politicians who want our support explicitly embrace it as well. To do so, however, we must understand what the principle means in practice, especially with respect to major political issues of the day, such as “entitlement” programs, corporate bailouts, “stimulus” packages, and the Islamist assault on America. . . .
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ari Armstrong, Diana Hsieh
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Surveys the expanding efforts to outlaw abortion in America, examines the facts that give rise to a woman's right to abortion, and shows why the assault on this right is an assault on all our rights
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Antonio Puglielli
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Responds to the prompt: In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand dramatizes the principle that "there are no conflicts of interest among rational men, men who do not desire the unearned . . . men who neither make sacrifices nor accept them." Elucidate and concretize this principle using examples from both Atlas and real life.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Joshua Lipana
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Nashville: WND Books, 2004. 240 pp. $17.99 (hardcover). Reviewed by Joshua Lipana For the purpose of “helping” the disabled, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990. In Disabling America, Greg Perry tells us that the “ADA infiltrates the lives of average Americans in ways far beyond what we usually think—wheelchair signs in parking lots and grab bars in public restrooms” (p. 2). And as the book shows, the ADA affects virtually everything in the private sector. Perry, a successful writer and businessman who was born with one leg and only three fingers, explains in chapter 1, “Compassion or Coercion,” why he believes the ADA is immoral. He compares a situation in which a person voluntarily helps an elderly lady cross a street with a situation in which the government forces you to help the lady to cross the street. In the guise of compassion, we get state coercion. With a legal gun to your head, the government now states that you will be compassionate to the disabled and you must implement that commission exactly [how] the government spells out that you are to do so. Such force is cruel to both the disabled and the non-disabled. (p. 3) Perry moves on to show the damage that government intervention in the name of the disabled has done to businesses, including forcing some to close down. He reports on how business owners have had to spend hundreds of thousands—in some cases millions—of dollars fighting baseless lawsuits and complying with ADA standards, and how their overall freedom has been diminished. . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Merry Christmas, readers! And welcome to the Winter 2011 issue of The Objective Standard. I'd like to begin by congratulating Antonio Puglielli, the winner of the second annual TOS essay contest. Mr. Puglielli's entry, “'Dog Benefits Dog': The Harmony of Rational Men's Interests,” won him $2,000 and publication of his essay in TOS (see p. 67). Second place went to Caleb Nelson (winning $700) and third place to Deborah B. Sloan (winning $300). Congratulations to Mr. Nelson and Ms. Sloan, as well! As Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich vie for the GOP presidential nomination, and as Republicans marshal efforts to secure as many Senate seats as possible, advocates of liberty need to keep an eye on the one principle that unifies our political goals and grounds them in moral fact. In “The American Right, the Purpose of Government, and the Future of Liberty,” I identify that principle and discuss its application to issues of the day, including “entitlement” spending, corporate bailouts, and the Islamist threat. If you wonder which side of the abortion debate has the facts straight—or why the issue should matter to anyone other than pregnant women—you will find answers in “The Assault on Abortion Rights Undermines All Our Liberties,” by Diana Hsieh and Ari Armstrong. And if you already know the answers, I think you'll agree that this is the article to circulate on this matter. You may think that Steve Jobs was an impatient man, and you may know of evidence to support that idea, but in Daniel Wahl's “The Patience of Jobs,” you'll discover that Jobs, once again, breaks the mold. He was not patient, yet he was. How can that be? (Hint: The answer has nothing to do with Buddhism.) Get ready to fall in love with Linda Mann's still lifes and her manner of discussing them. Why do they grab your attention? Why do they hold it? Why are they so fascinating and rich and beautiful? I press Ms. Mann for answers, and she delivers. The interview is accompanied by color images of the paintings discussed. What's so great about the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.? Sanctum sanctorum—it's the holy of holies—says Lee Sandstead, and he has facts and photos to prove it. Chris Wolski reviews the movie The Help, directed by Tate Taylor. And the books reviewed in this issue are: Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson (reviewed by Daniel Wahl); This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House, by Herman Cain (reviewed by Gideon Reich); American Individualism—How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party, by Margaret Hoover (reviewed by Michael A. LaFerrara); Disabling America: The Unintended Consequences of the Government's Protection of the Handicapped, by Greg Perry (reviewed by Joshua Lipana); The Right to Earn a Living: Economic Freedom and the Law, by Timothy Sandefur (reviewed by Loribeth Kowalski); Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics, by Nicholas Wapshott (reviewed by Richard M. Salsman); Capitalist Solutions: A Philosophy of American Moral Dilemmas, by Andrew Bernstein (reviewed by Ari Armstrong); Toyota Under Fire: Lessons for Turning Crisis into Opportunity, by Jeffrey K. Liker and Timothy N. Ogden (reviewed by Daniel Wahl); Dare to Stand Alone: The Story of Charles Bradlaugh, Atheist and Republican, by Bryan Niblett (reviewed by Roderick Fitts). This issue of TOS completes our sixth year of moving minds with the ideas on which a culture of reason and freedom depend. Our seventh year will be, as every year is, bigger and better than the last, and we thank you for your continued business and support. We couldn't do what we do without you. Have a joyful Christmas, a happy New Year, and a prosperous 2012. —Craig Biddle
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: New York, America, Washington
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: This issue of The Objective Standard begins our fifth year of publication, and 2010 is shaping up to be our most exciting year to date. A few items of note: TOS is now on more than four hundred newsstands, and this number is increasing steadily. Look for us in Barnes Noble, Bookstar, Hastings, and other bookstores and newsstands nationwide.
  • Topic: Government
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Thank you for publishing Paul Beard's excellent article regarding the California Coastal Commission. Perhaps it was intended to be implied, but nowhere in the article was it stated that Pacific Legal Foundation, whose Coastal Land Rights Project Mr. Beard now heads, has represented the property owners in all of the cases he described.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steve Simpson
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC is one of the most important First Amendment decisions in a generation and one of the most controversial. In it, the Supreme Court struck down a law that banned corporations from spending their own money on speech that advocated the election or defeat of candidates. In the process, the Court overturned portions of McConnell v. FEC, a case in which the Supreme Court, a mere six years ago, upheld McCain-Feingold, one of the most sweeping restrictions on campaign speech in history.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Paul Hsieh
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: When medical students graduate from medical school, they take an oath-the Hippocratic oath-in which they solemnly swear, above all, to use their best judgment in treating their patients. Doctors hold this oath as sacrosanct; they regard upholding it as morally mandatory, and violating it as out of the question. But in order to uphold this oath, in order to practice medicine in accordance with their best judgment, doctors must be free to practice in accordance with their best judgment. Unfortunately, U.S. politicians are working feverishly to prevent doctors from upholding the Hippocratic oath. How so? By implementing government-run health care. Politicians' efforts to impose government-run health care include their goal of "guaranteeing" health care to everyone. But whenever the government attempts to "guarantee" health care, it must also control the costs of that service-which means, it must dictate how doctors may and may not practice. Toward this end, as Harvard professor Martin Feldstein notes, advocates of government-run health care call for "comparative effectiveness" practice guidelines. Quoting the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Feldstein points out that these guidelines are designed to ration health care and reduce spending by "implementing a set of performance measures that all providers would adopt" and by "directly targeting individual providers . . . (and other) high-end outliers."1 ("High-end outliers" is government-speak for "physicians who order more tests or perform more procedures than the government deems appropriate.") An example of such "effectiveness" guidelines is the new federal recommendations for screening mammography. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently recommended restricting mammogram screening to women over age fifty, despite the fact that medical organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology-whose conclusions are based on years of peer-reviewed scientific research-have long recommended that women begin routine mammography at age forty.2 The USPSTF argues that eliminating mammograms for women between ages forty and forty-nine would result in only one additional cancer death per nineteen hundred women screened-an increase in death that they evidently consider acceptable.3 The announcement of these new guidelines caused so much public controversy that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius quickly backpedaled and stated that these particular USPSTF recommendations would be "nonbinding."4 But what does "nonbinding" mean when it refers to the guidelines of a government agency? The government is an agent of force. Any government "recommendations" come with at least the implicit threat that recalcitrant doctors may face negative consequences. Not surprisingly, government medical agencies have already adopted the new guidelines. The California state government has begun using the USPSTF guidelines to determine which services patients in the Medi-Cal program may and may not receive.5 (Medi-Cal is the California equivalent of Medicaid in other states.) Government-funded health programs in New York and Ohio have already begun turning away women under fifty seeking mammograms.6 And, Sibelius's reassurances notwithstanding, Congress is considering giving the USPSTF legal authority to determine which screening tests will or will not be covered for patients with private health insurance.7 How are American physicians responding to these developments? Fortunately, many have chosen to ignore the guidelines, to continue practicing according to their best medical judgment, and to order mammograms on their female patients between ages forty and fifty as they see fit.8 But bear in mind that the White House Council of Economic Advisers has already pejoratively labeled such physicians "high-end outliers." If the government decided to enforce its "comparative effectiveness" guidelines, such doctors could be punished at any moment. And bear in mind what the punishment would be for: upholding their Hippocratic oath, their promise to practice according to their best judgment for the best interests of their patients.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alan Germani, J. Brian Phillips
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: For centuries, few have questioned the idea that waterways-streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans-are or should be "public property." The doctrine of "public trust," with roots in both Roman and English common law, holds that these resources should not be privately owned but rather held in trust by government for use by all. The United States Supreme Court cited this doctrine in 1892, ruling that state governments properly hold title to waterways such as lakes and rivers, "a title held in trust for the people of the state that they may enjoy the navigation of the waters, carry on commerce over them, and have liberty of fishing therein freed from the obstruction or interference of private parties."1 This "public ownership," however, is increasingly thwarting the life-serving nature of waterways as sources of drinking water, fish, and recreation. Predictably, when a resource-whether a park, an alleyway, or a pond-is owned by "everyone," its users have less incentive to protect or improve its long-term value than they would if it were owned by an individual or a corporation. Users of "public property" tend to use the resource for short-term gain, often causing the deterioration of its long-term value-the well-known "tragedy of the commons." This phenomenon is perhaps nowhere clearer than in the case of waterways. "Public ownership" of waterways has led to, among other problems, harmful levels of pollution and depleted fish populations. Many waterways around the world have become so polluted that they are no longer fit for human use. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that one-third of America's lakes and nearly one-fourth of its rivers were under fish-consumption advisories due to polluted waters.2 In 2005, officials in China estimated that 75 percent of that nation's lakes were contaminated with potentially toxic algal blooms caused by sewage and industrial waste.3 And the World Commission on Water has found that half the world's rivers are either seriously polluted or running dry from irrigation and other human uses or both.4 By one estimate, the contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation that result from pollution and low water levels account for five to ten million deaths per year worldwide.5 In addition to containing harmful levels of pollution, many of the world's waterways are being fished in a manner that is depleting fish populations and threatening with extinction fish species such as red snapper, white sturgeon, and bluefin tuna-species highly valuable to human life.6 By 2003, primarily due to fishing practices associated with public waterways, 27 percent of the world's fisheries (zones where fish and other seafood is caught) had "collapsed"-the term used by scientists to denote fish populations that drop to 10 percent or less of their historical highs.7 In 2006, the journal Science published a study that offered a grim prediction: All of the world's fisheries will collapse by 2048.8 Whether or not all of the world's fisheries will collapse in a mere forty years, the data clearly show that current fishing practices are depleting supplies of many species of consumable fish. At best, at the current rate of fish depletion, many fishermen will lose their livelihoods and consumers will have fewer and fewer species from which to choose, species that will become more and more expensive. What solutions have been proposed? Federal and state governments have attempted to remedy these problems through regulation-violating rights and creating new problems in the process. For example, twenty-five states prohibit or severely restrict the use of laundry detergents containing phosphates, substances that harm aquatic life when present in water in high quantities.9 A growing number of state and local governments-including Westchester County, New York, and Annapolis, Maryland-are enacting similar regulations on phosphate-containing fertilizers.10 These laws violate the rights of detergent and fertilizer manufacturers by precluding them from creating the products they choose to create-and they violate the rights of consumers who want to buy such products rather than more-expensive, less-effective alternatives. Further, these rights-violating prohibitions have proven impractical in achieving their purpose: Despite many such regulations having been in effect for nearly forty years,11 an estimated two-thirds of America's bays and estuaries still contain harmful amounts of phosphates.12 Regulations regarding sewage treatment have proven similarly impractical: Since 1972, the federal government has forced water utilities to spend billions of dollars upgrading water treatment facilities, and yet, during the past four years, record numbers of beaches have closed due to pollution from sewage.13 And, for what it is worth, the EPA predicts that by 2016 American rivers will be as polluted by sewage as they were in the 1970s.14 Government efforts to address depleted fish populations have proven similarly impractical. The history of the halibut industry in Alaska is an illuminating case in point. In the 1970s, the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC)-a U.S.-backed intergovernmental regulatory agency-established a five-month fishing season in public waters off the Alaskan coast with the hope of maintaining halibut populations, which had become severely depleted. But forcibly limiting the time during which fishermen could operate did little to improve the fishery's viability: Fishermen simply worked more vigorously during the season, and the halibut population remained at historically low levels. So, in the 1980s, the IPHC attempted to remedy the problem by reducing the five-month fishing season dramatically-to as few as two days.15 During these shortened windows of opportunity, fishermen took extreme risks to maximize their catches, only to be "rewarded" onshore with the plummeting prices of a glutted market. And, in the end, the huge catches brought in by fishermen on these days were still large enough to jeopardize the halibut population.16 So, in 1995, the IPHC dropped the idea of a short fishing season and instead introduced a "catch share program," through which it limits each fisherman's yearly catch to a percentage of what it deems to be a "safe" overall halibut harvest. But neither has this policy helped the situation; today, after more than two decades of shifting regulations, the usable halibut population in Alaskan waters is less than in 1985.17 Although some claim that still more government regulations are required to combat the ongoing problems of pollution and depleted fish populations, any such coercive measures are in principle doomed to failure because they attempt to treat problems in the waterways while ignoring their actual cause: "public ownership." Government force may provide a disincentive for certain behaviors, but this disincentive does not motivate the users of waterways to maintain or enhance the life-serving value of these resources. As a result, America's waterways remain largely and significantly polluted, and fish populations, even where they are stabilizing, remain at levels insufficient to meet the growing demand for seafood. . . . Endnotes The authors would like to thank Craig Biddle, Dwyane Hicks, and Thomas A. Bowden for discussions that aided the authors' understanding of the issues discussed in this article, and Matthew Gerber, Ben Bayer, and Steve Simpson for helpful comments made to earlier drafts. 1 Illinois Central R.R. Co. v Illinois (1892) 146 U.S. 387, 452. 2 Jaime Holguin, "Pollution Overtaking Lakes, Rivers,," CBSNews.com, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/08/24/tech/main638130.shtml. 3 Antoaneta Bezlova, "China's Toxic Spillover," Asia Times, December 2, 2005, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China_Business/GL02Cb06.html. When consumed by fish, shellfish, and livestock, such hazardous algae can enter the human food chain. 4 Mary Dejevsky, "Half of World's Rivers Polluted or Running Dry," The Independent, November 30, 1999; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/half-of-worlds-rivers-polluted-or-running-dry-1129811.html. 5 http://www.grinningplanet.com/2005/07-26/water-pollution-facts-article.htm. 6 http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/species/red_snapper.htm , Species l ist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/SpeciesReport.do?groups=E=L=1; http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/07/060724-bluefin-tuna.html. 7 "Catch Shares Key to Reviving Fisheries," Environmental Defense Fund, http://www.edf.org/article.cfm?contentID=8446. 8 Cornelia Dean, "Study Sees 'Global Collapse' of Fish Species," New York Times, November 3, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/03/science/03fish. 9 http://enviro.blr.com/enviro_docs/88147_9.pdf. 10 Juli S. Charkes, "Board Votes to Ban Phosphate Fertilizers," New York Times, May 1, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/nyregion/westchester/03lawnwe.html; Karl Blankenship, "Annapolis to Ban Use of Fertilizer with Phosphorus in Most Cases," Bay Journal, http://www.bayjournal.com/article.cfm?article=3511. 11 Michael Hawthorne, "From the Archives: Banned in Chicago but Available in Stores," Chicago Tribune, April 4, 2007, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-daley-phosphates,0,2871187.story. 12 http://www.grinningplanet.com/2005/07-26/water-pollution-facts-article.htm. 13 http://www.nrdc.org/water/oceans/ttw/titinx.asp and http://epa.gov/beaches/learn/pollution.html#primary. 14 Martha L. Noble, "The Clean Water Act at 30-Time to Renew a Commitment to National Stewardship," Catholic Rural Life Magazine, vol. 45, no. 2, Spring 2003, http://www.ncrlc.com/crl-magazine-articles/vol45no2/Noble.pdf. 15 http://www.fishex.com/seafood/halibut/halibut.html. 16 Halibut populations continued to decline, and the IPHC decreased the allowed catch more than 26 percent between 1986 and 1995. http://www.iphc.washington.edu/halcom/commerc/limits80299.htm. 17 The total catch share for halibut-which is based on "exploitable biomass"-declined between 1985 and 2009. For 1985 limits, see http://www.iphc.washington.edu/halcom/commerc/limits80299.htm. For 2009 limits, see http://www.iphc.washington.edu/halcom/newsrel/2009/nr20090120.htm.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Audra Hilse
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In 1970, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a man named Norman Borlaug. His achievement? Saving hundreds of millions of people from death by starvation. Yet today, few people in America and the West even know his name. This is unfortunate, for his story is heroic. Borlaug was a geneticist and plant pathologist who discovered ways to produce heartier and faster-growing varieties of wheat and other grains, brought these methods to various parts of the world, and taught people how to implement them. Thanks to his work, farmers and agriculturalists were-and are-able to produce orders of magnitude more food than they could prior to his discoveries. Borlaug was born in Iowa on March 25, 1914. His parents were farmers, and he was educated in a one-room schoolhouse through the eighth grade. He did well in high school, and wanted to pursue a college degree. In 1933, on the recommendation of a friend, and despite the onset of the Depression, he hitched a ride north to enroll at the University of Minnesota. He started in the General College, and later chose forestry as his major. He earned his degree in 1937, and was planning to enter the Forest Service until he attended a lecture presented by Dr. E. C. Stakman, a plant pathologist. That talk, Borlaug later said, "changed my life, my whole career."1 Stakman\'s lecture, "These Shifty Little Enemies that Destroy our Food Crops," discussed the spread of plant "rust" that was killing off grains across the United States.2 Borlaug was so fascinated by the subject that, instead of joining the Forest Service, he enrolled in the university\'s graduate program for plant pathology, where he proceeded to earn both a master\'s degree (1937) and a doctorate (1942). After receiving his doctorate, Borlaug took a job as a microbiologist with the DuPont de Nemours Foundation, but he did not stay there long.3 In September 1943, the Rockefeller Foundation offered him a position running a joint program with the Mexican government, helping Mexican farmers to improve agricultural technology and increase their wheat production. Borlaug accepted the job, moved to Mexico with his wife and children, and launched the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program. . . . End Notes 1 Vicki Stavig, "Bread and Peace," Minnesota, January-February 2004,http://www.alumni.umn.edu/Bread_and_Peace (accessed December 29, 2009). 2 Mark Stuertz, "Green Giant," Dallas Observer, December 5, 2002, http://www.dallasobserver.com/2002-12-05/news/green-giant/ (accessed December 29, 2009). 3 Stavig, "Bread and Peace" (accessed January 6, 2010).
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Heike Larson
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Infidel is a heroic, inspiring story of a courageous woman who escapes the hell of a woman's life in the Muslim world and becomes an outspoken and blunt defender of the West. Ms. Hirsi Ali takes the reader on her own journey of discovery, and enables him to see, through concretes and by sharing her thought processes, how she arrived at the conclusion that Islam is a stagnant, tyrannical belief system and that the Enlightenment philosophy of the West is the proper system for human beings. In Part I, Ms. Hirsi Ali describes her childhood in Muslim Africa and the Middle East. With her father imprisoned for opposing Somalia's communist dictator Siad Barré and her mother often preoccupied with finding food for her family, young Ayaan and her siblings grew up listening to the ancient legends their grandmother told them-legends glorifying the Islamic values of honor, family clans, physical strength, and aggression. Born in 1969 in Somalia, Ms. Hirsi Ali moved frequently with her family to escape persecution and civil war, living in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. At a colonially influenced Kenyan school, she discovered Western ideas, in the form of novels, "tales of freedom, adventure, of equality between girls and boys, trust and friendship. These were not like my grandmother's stark tales of the clan, with their messages of danger and suspicion. These stories were fun, they seemed real, and they spoke to me as the old legends never had" (p. 64). Forced into an arranged marriage, she was shipped to Germany to stay with distant family while awaiting a visa for Canada to join the husband she didn't know. At age twenty-two, alone and with nothing but a duffle bag of clothes and papers, she took a train to Holland to escape the dreary life of a Muslim wife-slave. "It was Friday, July 24, 1992, when I stepped on the train. Every year I think of it. I see it as my real birthday: the birth of me as a person, making decisions about my life on my own" (p. 188). In Part II, Ms. Hirsi Ali shares her wonder of arriving in modernity, and her relentless effort to create a productive, independent life for herself. After being granted asylum, she worked menial jobs, learned Dutch, became a Swahili translator, earned a vocational degree, and finally graduated with a degree in political science from one of Holland's most prestigious universities. An outspoken advocate of the rights of Muslim women, she was elected to the Dutch parliament in 2003, as a "one-issue politician"-she "wanted Holland to wake up and stop tolerating the oppression of Muslim women in its midst" and to "spark a debate among Muslims about reforming aspects of Islam so people could begin to question" (p. 295). She became a notorious critic of Islam, at one point daring to call the Prophet Muhammad a pervert for consummating marriage with one of his many wives when she was only nine years old. In 2004, she made a short film called Submission: Part 1 in which she depicted women mistreated under Islamic law raising their heads and refusing to submit any longer. Tragically, the film's producer, Theo van Gogh, was brutally murdered by an offended Muslim, who left on van Gogh's body a letter threatening Ms. Hirsi Ali with the same fate. Since 2004, Ms. Hirsi Ali has had to live under the constant watch of bodyguards, often going into hiding for months at a time. Although the straight facts of her life are in and of themselves admirable, Ms. Hirsi Ali's intellectual journey as presented in Infidel is truly awe inspiring. This journey begins in Africa in the disturbingly dark world of Islam-with its disdain for thought and reason, its self-sacrificial ethics, and its corrupt, tyrannical politics-and ends in the West with her having become an outspoken champion of reason and freedom.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa, Canada, Germany