Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Hour Not Man's Hour

Saturday night from 8:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. the symbolic Earth Hour took place, the hour that is supposed to "demonstrate" that humans can go without burning fossil fuels and that it can be enjoyable as well. But it is a false message: going without light for an hour is not even close to mimicking the conditions of a fossil fuel-less world.

Ayn Rand Institute writer Keith Lockitch brings the point to full clarity:

Participants spend an enjoyable sixty minutes in the dark, safe in the knowledge that the life-saving benefits of industrial civilization are just a light switch away. This bears no relation whatsoever to what life would actually be like under the sort of draconian carbon-reduction policies that climate activists are demanding: punishing carbon taxes, severe emissions caps, outright bans on the construction of power plants.

He goes on to propose an “Earth Month”, where people would truly see what a world without fossil fuels would be like. Over the long-term, even in just a matter of weeks, people would die by the millions due to going without the benefits of mass production, fast transportation, and even something so simple as centrally-heated homes. The overwhelming majority of industry is fueled, in one form or another, by fossils, so it is literally keeping us alive.

Another point that is far too often overlooked is that an industrialized society is far more “environmentally-friendly” than a non-industrialized society will ever be. That is because an industrialized society has both the time and technology to help improve its standard of living and to enjoy the surrounding nature. A non-industrialized society, on the other hand, has not even the time to enjoy a sunrise, for it is working sunup to sundown to produce the barest subsistence by *any means necessary*, even if that means producing vast amounts of smog.

Make no mistake: Earth Hour is not man’s hour.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Government Can't Be Economic Engine

My local newspaper has published my letter to the editor. It can be read here.

"There is much debate as to what jobs the government is going to create and where it is going to place them, but is it ever asked if the government can even create jobs? It cannot.

Where will it get the funding for the incomes? Taxes. Where do tax payments come from? The taxpayers.

In order for the government to pay incomes, it will have to tax incomes first, meaning that every job created in the public sector is a job destroyed in the private sector.

Let us not focus on jobs, but rather on what fuels jobs: wealth.

Benjamin M. Skipper"

In the future I hope to increase my effort in activism to at least sending out one editorial per week, but at my current skill level I must concern myself more with my studies and improvement rather than writing. It shall be a goal then!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Environmentalist Colors

Chuck of The New Clarion has stated that the mask of environmentalism has finally came off. And so it has.

One need not look any further than this article to see that environmentalism is anti-man and anti-industry. Mr. Porritt *explicitly* calls for a plan to reduce population and economic growth; any way you spin this the man is advocating destruction.

To be clear, the reason why environmentalism is anti-man and anti-industry is because of two of its tenets: its definition of "natural" (to paraphrase: "that which is untouched by man") and its arbitrary belief in the notion that the environment holds innate value (meaning it is a value outside of all other considerations). Because of this, anything humans do to alter their environment, and literally *anything*, is damned as evil by environmentalism, whether one digs a hole or erects a building.

This is why any changes to the environmentalist fashions are never satisfactory to environmentalists: even the process of becoming "environmentally-friendly" is environmentally-unfriendly. To be truly environmentally-friendly, one need be dead.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Is Rand Relevant?" Editorial

Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute has published his first editorial for the Wall Street Journal.

It is a shame these days most people advocate reading Atlas Shrugged on purely political grounds, that the novel speaks only of what happens when the government intervenes in the economy. Politics is but part of the plot-theme of the novel; the real theme of the novel is ethical and epistemological: it is, as Rand states, "the role of man's mind in his existence."

Hopefully new readers will be able to walk away with more than a superficial understanding and become more integrated in principle. What the leading voices today advocate will lead to nothing but superficial understandings, making the reading of the novel almost entirely worthless.

To help stay consistent in principle or find out more information about Objectivism, I give great recommendation to the browsing of the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Socialize Not That, But This?

I am rather surprised. A good measure to require that wounded veterans pursue private insurance is being met with lots of criticism.

To be clear, the reason why this is a good measure* is because veterans, regardless of which conflict they served in or their soldier status, do not have a right to use the money of tax payers (money which is taken without the tax payer's voluntary consent) to pay their healthcare expenses. The majority of them have voluntarily chosen to serve and have thereby consented to all the risks and consequences imposed on them. As for the Vietnam veterans that did not serve voluntarily, the proper course of action would be to criminally charge the politicians that have gone so far as to violate their right to life, not guarantee compensation at the taxpayers' expense.

Whether or not the veterans can afford private insurance is an invalid consideration as well. It is all a matter of the fact that people are simply not entitled to other people's money unless on voluntary trading terms. If it is the case that many veterans cannot afford private insurance, we not need worry much; given the criticism we can see there is lots of support for those that have served, so if the government insurance is canceled then people may use their freed dollars to help run a charity to support them, which is the appropriate course of action. To force those dollars out of hands will not benefit us any; as I have said before, stealing is not healthy for anyone.

We can perceive here an inconsistency in principles. Given the state of our culture, if presented with a proposal to blatantly nationalize the entire economy, the overwhelming majority of people would oppose it and reject such a measure. Obama, or any politician for that matter, cannot go up to the podium and say "I am going to socialize healthcare" or "I am going to nationalize all businesses", instead they have to sneak it in little by little and under new terminology so that people do not see where they are heading or deny that they are heading in that direction at all. What we hear instead is that Obama is going to "give everyone healthcare" and that the businesses merely need government "supervision."

Americans would reject socialism outright if presented to them in total overnight, but they are willing to tolerate it here and there. Case in point: veteran government-funded health insurance. Americans would reject socialized medicine, but it is okay, they say, to have guaranteed insurance for veterans. And children. And the elderly. And so on.

The point is that whether it is in part or total, socialism is bad in all amounts, and even small amounts may later lead to the all-subsuming version. If socialized medicine is bad for everyone, then certainly it is bad for individuals. To explain in this context, veterans' health insurance funded by the government is bad because it destroys wealth and violates rights. The wealth is destroyed in two ways:

  1. Transfer: In the time that it takes for the government to take funds from one person and transfer them to another person is time in which wealth is destroyed because what could have been created has now not been allowed to come into existence. As the old saying goes, "time is money."
  2. Capital: The person that has been taxed now has less capital to invest. What wealth he can create is now limited because he has fewer resources to work with.
With the wealth destroyed, the result is a poorer living standard for everyone, and that means a poorer quality of health care for the veterans, along with higher prices. One may not actually see health care quality or the standard of living actually decrease, but remember that it is what could have been that is lost. What capital that could have been used to fund medical innovations, resources, and researches for cures has instead gone to the taxman, and what could have benefited the veterans has not been allowed to come into existence, or will at least be delayed into being realized at a later date.

We must choose our principles as absolutes and exercise them in total. Those that we would find to be harmful to practice in total will certainly be harmful in part as well and must be rejected in total.

*One, of course, may be quick to point out that Obama is not well-meaning with this measure, that he intends this as merely a way to reduce his own budget expenses, but that is beside the point.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another Money-Taking Scheme

Looks like a local government in Michigan is considering fining home security companies for every false alarm the police respond to. This is nothing but a dishonest and unjust money-taking scheme for the officials that desire to increase the budget.

It is dishonest and unjust because of two things:
  • It is dishonest because, contrary to what mayoral candidate Sheldon Neely asserts, the proposed fine is blatantly constructed so as to recoup an excess beyond what resources are wasted:
"The Fines? They start at $50 and increase by $25 for every subsequent false alarm call." [Emphasis added]
If it were true that they were merely trying to regain what they had lost, then the fine would either be equivalent to what it cost to respond to a certain alarm call or it would be at a static amount (adjusting as costs change), but that is not the case. Instead, the company would first have to pay $50, and after that $75, $100, $125, and so on ad infinitum. Twenty fines alone for a single company would total $5750. To imagine what it would have cost if the government officials had issued a fine for each of the 10,000+ false alarms last year is difficult.
  • It is unjust because they would be fining security companies for the purpose for which they are created and for an incident they are not at fault for. Who can always foresee if a branch is going to hit the side of the house at night, if a bird is going to fly into a window, or if a pet might bump into a door? All of these factors are sufficient to set off a home alarm, but are out of the control of the company to either prevent or acknowledge immediately. However, given a more appropriately formed fine, it would be just to fine the owner of the property for a false alarm because one should pay for a service one expects to use.
Do these officials think they can just fine the hell out of security companies without consequences? Given the dismal economy of Michigan as of now, this would make the situation even worse by either raising prices or by causing the company to withdraw from the state economy.

This reminds me of the politicians in the novel Atlas Shrugged who ended up destroying the economy of America by foolishly assuming that the producers would be able to bear any hardship that was placed on them. When the question arose as to how the producers would be able to survive a certain new economic regulation the answer would always be: "somehow." Well, how will the security companies cope with the fines placed on them, assuming a similar number of false alarms as last year? "Somehow."

Aesop begs to differ: "Thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find,- nothing."