Monday, June 29, 2009

Lies Against Reality

I had been anticipating such a piece for quite some time. Peter Wehner has written an article titled Decoding Obama that takes a sampling of Obama's assertions and shows that they are lies by exposing the actual facts of reality. Take this excerpt for instance:

Then there are the things that have almost been forgotten by now. Obama, during the campaign, said, "[Lobbyists] will not work in my White House" – even though he immediately allowed waivers for lobbyists. Having pledged to slash earmarks by more than half when he became president, Obama signed an omnibus spending bill containing 8,500 of them. Having made bi-partisanship a pillar of his campaign, Obama has so far governed in a more partisan fashion than any president in generations. Having claimed the capacity to “see all sides of an argument,” the president routinely constructs strawmen he can set ablaze. And having said “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past,” Obama spends an inordinate amount of time and energy doing just that (in one speech alone, he included more than two dozen critical comments, direct or implied, against the Bush Administration).

The consistency of his lying shows us that Obama is a "Peter Keating", Peter Keating being one of the main villains of the novel The Fountainhead. What is interesting about Keating's evilness is that he does not do evil deeds to others, but rather slowly destroys himself throughout his lifetime by following one single poisonous premise: placing others above oneself. Keating does not care about what is "good" or what is "true"; he cares about what other people think is good and what other people think of the truth. As a result he lives a life of dishonesty, for he says what other people what to hear while never living up to it in action.

Obama is the same way in that his words seemingly always oppose his actions. He states that he is not going to run the business of General Motors, but in action his administration is responsible for the firing of several employees, honoring warranties, and designing new products. He states that he is outraged at the actions of the government of Iran during its election protests, but in action it amounted to nothing since it has been stated that talks with Iran will still persist despite recent violence (which is more Dr. Dolittleism in foreign policy). He states that he is going to cut spending by $100 million dollars, thus saving the United States money, but in action he has increased the debt by trillions.

It is nonsensical now to take any of his future words seriously. Read the whole article.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Establishing the Context

I am not aware as to what the status is currently vote-wise of Barack Obama's medical care reform legislation, but I do know it is a threat and worthwhile focusing on. Paul Hsieh of We Stand FIRM has posted some interesting links and commentary as to why the free market is not to be blamed for the current problems of medical care. I also recommend reading, for a more thorough and exhaustive understanding, Moral Health Care vs. "Universal Health Care" if you have the time, for it explains how certain aspects of universal medical care have already been implemented in some states and have failed horribly.

To add an epistemological postscript to these articles, the blaming of the free market for the failures of universal medical care is a spectacular example of the epistemological poison known as "context-dropping". To drop the context, in this instance, means to improperly disassociate information or someone's stated words from the context that gives it its appropriate meaning, thereby forming a distortion. While one may be tempted to argue so, it is not always the case that when someone isolates a certain piece of data or a statement of someone's speech that it is automatically dropping the context (it is certainly "removing from the context"); "context-dropping" isolates instances when the meaning is *distorted* by the act of removing information from its context. An example for clarity: say politician X is speaking about the holocaust and in his speech he quotes Hitler on his contempt for the Jewish. Then politician Y comes along, politician X's opponent, and then publicly quotes only X's quote. This would be dishonest context-dropping, as this new quote distorts the meaning by making it seem as if politician X holds contempt for Jewish people when in reality he is merely quoting someone else who did.

To relate this back to universal medical care, the context-dropping that is taking place is in regard to the totality of the factors affecting medical care quality and prices. This is the fault of pragmatism. Pragmatism denies that there are such things as principles, or at least that principles are practical, and therefore, by corollary, denies the purity of principles. By "purity" I mean "absolute". Anything introduced to a guiding principle that is irrelevant or inapplicable to it means that that guiding principle is no longer being used. A laissez faire free market, for instance, entails that the government does not intervene in the economy is any way whatsoever. Even the most minuscule regulation, say a penny tax on cigarettes, is enough to change a laissez faire market into a mixed economy.

But our politicians think they can eat their cake and have it too.

Thus we see the practice of politicians continually adding taxes and regulations to the economy while at the same time calling it a "free market". This is as dishonest as saying chocolate milk is bone white plain milk. In reality, America has neither a controlled economy nor a free one: it has a mixed economy, an economy that employs a mixture of freedom and controls (the ratio of freedom to control is the measurement omitted).

The result of this context-dropping is that we have national confusion as to what constitutes a free market, causing economic problems to be far too often misdiagnosed. To demonstrate, there were within the last few months two contradictory polls. One poll asked about how favorable certain economic models were and indicated that fewer Americans are supporting capitalism, but then another poll by the same organization indicated that Americans mostly favor the free market. Capitalism and free markets are synonymous, so it makes no sense as to distinguish between them except to show that Americans are confused as to what capitalism actually is.

To prevent this epistemological poison from seeping into our systems and establishing confusion and dishonesty, we must employ its antonym; we must "establish the context". Establishing the context means finding out what constitutes essential information in a particular context and then actively retaining it as one works with it. When we quote someone's words we must make sure to include in that quote all the essential sentences which give that portion meaning and when we isolate a piece of data we must also isolate all the factors that give it meaning.

In the medical care debate over cost, quality and service, establishing the context would mean to take into account the following factors which may or may not be relevant: cultural, environmental, things affecting other industries, governmental, and that which is left up entirely to the discretion of a provider. As of far, only the last factor on the list has been popularly focused on, and in a dishonest fashion too, for people far too often attribute to freedom choices made by medical industry workers that were actually coerced choices. To establish the context, I again echo my deepest recommendation in inquiring the links mentioned at the beginning of this piece.

It may be redundant to say this, but if we misdiagnose this problem, it could be fatal for millions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bulldozing the Economy?

This is probably one of the most strangest proposals I have ever read in my life, and cannot grasp the "logic" justifying it. Apparently it is being seriously considered that some U.S. cities should be bulldozed in order to improve the economy. What?

At this point it seems like it would be best to consult the article for clarification, but all the given justifications are useless since they provide no technical explanation whatsoever as to why this should work. All we are given are either analogies or unsupported statements as to what should be done:

"The real question is not whether these cities shrink – we're all shrinking – but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way," said Mr Kildee. "Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity."

[...]"Places like Flint have hit rock bottom. They're at the point where it's better to start knocking a lot of buildings down," [Karina Pallagst] said.

[...]If the city didn't downsize it will eventually go bankrupt, [Mr. Kildee] added.

[...]Mr Kildee acknowledged that some fellow Americans considered his solution "defeatist" but he insisted it was "no more defeatist than pruning an overgrown tree so it can bear fruit again".

These particular excerpts constitute the bulk of the most important quotes regarding the plan, but, as you can see, none of them explain in any way whatsoever just how shrinking the confines of some cities is supposedly going to help the economy.

In times when the government, local and national, faces a budget crisis, the best thing to do is incur massive expenses? In times of wealth destruction, the best thing to do is intentionally destroy wealth? (Remember, property, not just money, counts as wealth.) In times when the threat of bankruptcy is at its highest, the best thing to do is to support actions that will accelerate the decline?

As to why this proposal will fail if enacted, the most important thing to remember in this case is that the government is funded by taxpayer money. Anything it does that costs money is costing your money.

This proposal is not free of cost. In order to carry this out, the government is going to have to fund the companies that will provide the equipment, workers, and resources; it will have to pay for the use of the equipment and the cost of labor.

The end result? *Perhaps* some savings on fuel, for maybe at the end of this tearing-down people will be within walking distance of their place of employment. But the petty savings on fuel is not enough to justify the costs of such a big deconstruction project. Are there any other benefits? No.

With a straight face, the government officials are stating "We know that your personal wealth has been threatened during this economic crisis, so we propose to help you prosper by taking some of your wealth and using it to destroy potential wealth."

Ultimately, all this project will achieve is the destruction of potential wealth. People are leaving Flint for a reason: economic decline. Contrary to what Mr. Kildee asserts, the economic decline of Flint is not just a fact of reality in the same sense gravity is, it has human causes. Only by examining those causes can anyone properly construct a plan of action as to how to solve these problems. By refusing to acknowledge the actual problem Mr. Kildee is but preparing to only perpetuate it.

I can think of no better time to recommend the reading of Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor

I was planning on writing a piece on the Supreme Court candidate Sonia Sotomayor, but Thomas Sowell has beaten me to the punch and would top me in any excellence that might be achieved. I urge the reading of his series of articles titled "Out of Context", which can be found in three parts here, here, and here.

Though I do think I should clarify something that Mr. Sowell seems to have not explained to satisfaction. As has been said before by Ayn Rand, the most difficult thing to explain is the most blindingly obvious that nobody decided to see. The offending quote of Sotomayor's is this:
I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life. [Excerpt from The New York Times.]
Some people seem to be stating that this is no grounds to accuse her of being a racist and sexist, but it is plainly obvious. To translate the sentence without distorting its meaning, she is stating that she hopes a woman of Latina descent would reach better conclusions, by reason of her race and gender, than a white male, by reason of his race and gender, that has not lived the life of a Latina woman. Everything is so specific here that no debate is possible. Ms. Sotomayor uses gender specific pronouns ("woman" and "male") and race specific adjectives ("Latina" and "white").

But we have not only her statement as grounds to accuse her; we have also have note of some of her actions. Regarding firefighters that sued The City of New Haven due to the denial of a promotion on the basis that not enough minorities passed the given exam:
New Haven city officials knew they were headed for a catch 22 when the test results came back.

The city decided to throw out the test results, fearing a lawsuit by the black firefighters. They got one anyway -- from the white and Hispanic firefighters, who said New Haven's decision discriminated against them.

The firefighters lost in court. They appealed, and that's how this case got to Sotomayor, who is currently a federal appeals judge.

What has all of Washington talking is what happened next: Sotomayor and two fellow appellate judges dismissed the white firefighters' claims -- and 2,000 pages of court papers and filings -- in a one-paragraph ruling. [Excerpt from ABC News.]
Whether or not one agrees with the particular law, the law is clearly written out that it is legally prohibited for an employer to discriminate against his employees, current or potential, on the basis of race, gender, or religion. By denying the promotions promised to those that satisfied the specified conditions on the basis that a racial group did not perform as well as other racial groups, the City is thereby guilty of racial discrimination and is to be dealt with as detailed by law. Did Sonia Sotomayor make her decision based on the lettering of the law? No, for the law should have ruled against the City, but instead the case was dismissed altogether.

Prejudiced or not, when a judge makes a judicial decision that is not based on the lettering of the law, that should amount for the automatic disqualification of a Supreme Court candidate. I stated in my article Vagueness and the Road to Power that nonobjective laws are bad because they are literally impossible to follow. A nonobjective judge is far worse, for not only would he be willing to operate on and support nonobjective laws, but he would actively ignore objectively defined laws as well.

If you think it is like a bad dream to have in temporary office a terrible politician, think of how bad things will be to have a bad judge appointed for an entire lifetime. I must add emphasis to reading Sowell's above articles, and encourage sending a letter to your elected representatives.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Technological Retrogression

C. August has written an article titled The Government Killed My Jet Pack over at Titanic Deck Chairs, about how the government is to be blamed for the slowing, and sometimes elimination, of technological progress:
Still, he points to the fact that our highways are still jammed, and that people are becoming disillusioned with what technology can promise the future. He notes dystopian movies like Blade Runner where "technology creates more problems than it solves," and Battlestar Galactica where "human beings abandon their faith in technology's ability to improve the future. They destroy their fancy machines and start again as simple hunter-gatherers."

I don't think our culture's disillusionment is coming from a loss of "faith" in technology to "save us" but instead the ever-increasing draining of reason and the ever-increasing power of the state over our lives. The loss of reason and the increase of the state go hand in hand. We are losing our confidence in our individual ability to command our own lives, and instead are turning to government to "save us." Government, in turn, is crushing the productive output of what is left of capitalism.
In effect, the loss of reason precedes technological retrogression. It may seem absurd and impossible, but it is possible for humans to retrogress all the way to the barbaric life of jungle savages if they were to abandon the mind, and therefore its products, which is why it is important to grasp the issue of the relationship between technological progress and freedom, and therefore by implication reason itself. Stagnation is not possible; without the mind humans cannot even maintain the current level of technology.

If things keep going the way they are now we will have bigger things to worry about than a slower growing prosperity: we will be going backwards.

Read the article.