Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama's Election Heralds The End Of An Era

By the time most of you are reading this Barak Obama will be the first African-American President of the United States. Elected on a campaign of change, he appealed to American voters, tired of the divisive tactics and incompetent government of the Bush Republican White House.

Ironically, by abandoning international cooperation, waging preemptive war, and legalizing torture Bush and Cheney have seriously weakened American power. President Obama, who so clearly represents the positive aspects of the American Dream has the potential to reverse the decline in American prestige and power because the very fact of his election has resurrected that dream in the minds of people from around the world.

Over the month of October the world has witnessed the biggest financial catastrophe since the Great Depression. In the space of one month, hundreds of billions of dollars has been flushed away by panic and the loss of trust on a truly global scale.

Even Alan Greenspan, a devoted follower of ultra-free market philosopher Ayn Rand, who resisted calls to regulate sub-prime mortgages when he was chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, has finally admitted that his free market ideology was mistaken. Testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Greenspan said: “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief...”

For years the Republican party platform of “limited government” and privatization has led to the use of government institutions for the benefit of wealthy corporations like Haliburton, Exxon, and Blackwater. The American middle class has had it's income stagnate, while the top 1% has grown immensely richer. Meanwhile fraud and abuse of taxpayer's money has reached epidemic proportions. For the entire eight years of the Bush Administration the government has not served the public interest.

During the last months of the presidential campaign much was made by the Mcain Palin team of Obama's “redistributionist” philosophy. Supposedly, the fact that Obama wants to raise taxes for the hyper-rich, means that he is a socialist. The irony here is that it has been previous U.S. Administrations' abandoning government regulation that has led to the redistribution of wealth from ordinary Americans to Wall Street CEO's.

It should be apparent to anyone today that a country cannot prosper if its government abandons economic and environmental regulation. We've seen how people have no compunction about putting the entire financial system at risk if it means they can enrich themselves by doing so. And this year we've witnessed the spectre of thousands of infants in China being put on life-support because a few unscrupulous merchants increased their profit margins by spiking milk with melamine.

Now who wants to buy food from China? Chinese dairy farmers and milk producers are pouring millions of gallons of milk down the drain and suffering severe financial losses because of the Chinese government's failure to regulate it's own food industry. Americans: Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, Phil Gramm, and Milton Friedman all believed that capitalists pursuing their own self-interest would somehow magically lead to the best of all possible worlds. And they've been proven wrong by recent events.

Our rights to health care, public education, clean air and water, and old age security should be universally accessible to all. The unregulated market is incapable of providing universal access to these public goods. Nor is it capable of eliminating public “bads”, like pollution and global warming by itself.

A new era is dawning. With Barak Obama, The United States now has a President who is not encumbered by free-market ideology. President Obama can now work to implement universal health care, lead the way in fighting global warming, and, with the help of other world leaders, put the global financial system back in working order.


  1. This crisis was not a failure of laissez-faire capitalism, it was a failure of intensive regulation, in which Greenspan took part. In unbelievable, mass stupidity, the most commonly touted solution is more regulation! Canada's economics and perhaps politics too, will be strongly effected by the coming administration. It will not be good.

    From The American Competitive Enterprise Institute:
    While the Dow collapses, we have a bull market in government regulations. The 50-plus departments, agencies and commissions are now at work on 3,882 rules; 757 will affect small businesses. More than 51,000 final rules were issued from 1995 to 2007.

    That’s nearly 54,000 NEW regulations, added to what was there before, in only 12 years!

    That is hardly Rand's laissez-faire capitalism; that’s fascism/corporatism & socialism. At root, those are the very ideologies Rand spent her lifetime hoping to save Americans and America from. Now, when the effects of those destructive ideologies from Washington hit the fan, everyone is blaming laissez-faire capitalism instead. They are ridiculous, uninformed, or dishonest.

    Greenspan dropped any pretense of understanding Rand's arguments sometime before he became head of the Fed., and he then became a major part of the problem. His monetary policy and suppression of interest rates, when Rand would have said “let the market decide” were an appalling government intervention. Add in the HUD, CRA, CDS, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the recipe for a catastrophically distorted market, including the trading of derivatives, was complete.

    Edward Cline wrote, "Reason and rationality flee when force becomes a factor in men’s decisions, to be replaced with the pragmatism of punishment-avoidance or a risk-free shot at easy money."

    So imagine YOU are the CEO of a large financial organization. Your competitors are complying with the regulations and are making good for their shareholders, while things are getting tight for your firm. What do you do? You have to think shot-term, wondering what the next intervention will be, with all the ruin that implies.

    So, you do the pragmatic thing, join in, and hope for easy money. (This applies to Chinese businesses too.) If you are able to understand the fraud in the government’s game, you build yourself some protection for when the government's house of cards collapses; evidently most people are not that smart.

    You would not have dared to engage in the risky lending or buying that lead to the crisis, were it not for the handful of people in the US government who ( & people like you), believe they are more intelligent than the free market, installed legislation to distort it. Without those people, lending rates would have adjusted themselves years ago, paper money would not have been printed like it grew on trees (e.g. “helicopter Bernanke”) and the present crisis would never have materialized.

    Capitalism is the only *moral* system because it let's a man keep what he produces; it was the American system. A proper look at the historical and geopolitical achievements of citizens in the World's nations, shows that those which are more free have citizens who prosper more by their own effort, and live more peacefully. Free markets made America great, from 1776 to the late 1800's, and then serious regulations began. Even America's poor became wealthy compared with the middle class of other nations. Ayn Rand was right, and should not be blamed for a protegé's failures.

    Now, thanks to popularized ignorance of the great value of America's original design, the likely next President is a man who:
    * rejects the very idea of checks & balances,
    * opposes elements of free speech (his staff have attempted to block unfavorable media, & he hopes to resurrect the "Fairness Doctrine")
    * cheats on campaign donations by allowing multiple donations pseudonyms for one credt card.
    advocates a *domestic8 military
    * is explicitly socialist, (as are you)
    * add more regulations to setting up another recession
    * advocates what is actually involuntary, "volunteer community service"
    * will not defend the dead of 9/11 (etc.) paving the way for more American dead
    * ultimately hates America

    None of my above points mean I endorse McCain/Palin. They also oppose free speech (McCain-Feingold), will surely punch great holes in the wall between church and state, will add more regulations to setting up another recession, and will not defend America effectively.

    America: heads you lose, tails you lose;
    and then we Canadians will lose too.

  2. Thanks for your comment Richard. It must be nice to be such a purist. If only the market were 100% free then it would work perfectly. Right. That's the same line that I used to get from a friend of mine who was a communist. The Soviet Union wasn't really communist, it was "state Capitalism". So that's why it didn't work well, it wasn't pure enough.

    Notice that people who use this argument conveniently insulate themselves from any evidence that threatens to contradict their cherished theories.

    And that's the problem with Ayn Rand. Her "Objectivism" is an illusion because no evidence to the contrary is ever accepted. It's patently obvious that Greenspan did nothing to stop the housing bubble and it's in the record that he effectively resisted regulations on sub-prime lending. But you and the Corporate sponsored American Enterprise Institute continue to repeat the same old lines about too much regulation. Tell me this: What evidence would convince you that free markets don't work? How about global warming? I bet you claim it doesn't exist, or that it isn't caused by human activity. That way you can avoid getting your head around the biggest market failure in history.

    You can save the purity of your objectivism by denying that any evidence exists to refute it but you end up with a hollow shell in the end.

    As for facism, I say you libertarians are a good part of the reason that facism has become a present danger in America. You bought the Republican supply side bullshit about lower taxes and less regulation being good for the economy when it's really all about making the rich richer and safer and exploiting the poor. The "War on Terror" the domestic spying, and the torture are all part of the same package. Read Orwell: 1984, "The Politics of the English Language" Read Karl Popper: Conjectures and Refutations, Read George Soros: The Age of Fallibility, and open your mind. Objectivism is a trap door that keeps you from seeing reality.

    You should talk about "heads I win, tails you lose" That's the way you deal with evidence when it contradicts your objectivism. I can't believe that you hold up the nineteenth century as an example of "moral Capitalism" There was so much corruption then that the big corporations basically owned the government.

    I ask you again: what evidence would convince you that laissez-faire Capitalism doesn't work? The fact that you'll never accept any shows you really aren't willing to reason about it. And that's why "Objectivism" is really just another ally of facism. Because if you're not willing to engage in a real argument then the only thing left is force.

  3. Re: your 1st two paragraphs: Don't put words in my mouth, and then argue against them as if you were somehow making a point.

    Did the following mean nothing to you, as an economist/philosopher?
    An honest "look at the historical and geopolitical achievements of citizens in the World's nations, shows that those which are more free have citizens who prosper more by their own effort, and live more peacefully. Free markets made America great, from 1776 to the late 1800's, and then serious regulations began. Even America's poor became wealthy compared with the middle class of other nations."

    Did 54,000 NEW regs, under Republicans(!) mean nothing to you?

    Every form of statism, whether religious, collectivist or plain old autocracy, has led to poorer conditions for the citizens they supposedly represent. The Big Lie has always been, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." I should add, that Big Lie in no way justifies complete anarchy, which paves the way for those same statist thugs. I am no Libertarian, which is equally offensive (another word you have put in my mouth and then sneered over).

    I did not say the 19th C. was uncorrupt, but it was freer. Even then, the corruption you speak of arose by collusion between politicians and some of the wealthy. The politicians' regulations routinely made it clear that if their backs were scratched they would scratch the backs of the wealthy-who-were-willing. To the extent that process was repeated is the extent to which freedoms were violated. I repeat, you blame the wrong side. I am not defending the wealthy who availed themselves of such practices, they too were wrong and not in the least bit Capitalist. They were mercantilists, at best, and plain crooks at worst; but they were enabled by the very kind of men who you would think can be trusted to run people's lives through regulation.

    More words in my mouth; what has any of this to do with global warming?

    You lecture me about reason and evidence, yet most of your response is disconnected from my comment. Instead you make presumptions as to my view, and then refute them, as if doing so was reasonable. The closest fallacy is probably the fallacy of the straw man. An egregious misuse of epistemology for a "philosopher".

    You wrote, "I ask you again: what evidence would convince you that laissez-faire Capitalism doesn't work?

    I would need to see a long term (50+ yrs) chart that demonstrates, using a good index of nations' relative economic freedom, to those nations' per-capita-GDP (or a fair standard-of-living index). Ideally it would also plot the standard-of-living of their middle and lower classes (not ratios against the most wealthy). If that chart demonstrates that increased freedom diminishes the standard-of-living for the lower classes, then I might take you seriously.

    Oh wait, it has been done here, and here, but without the class distinctions.

    Lo and behold, the freer the country the better off the people are.

    As for class differences, which poor are more likely to find a way out of poverty, those in free countries or those under statist control? As I mentioned the poor of freer countries are better off than the middle class of most non-free countries.

    Though I do not accept classes as a valid view, because in a free society the poor can become very wealthy if the wish. It's a no brainer that full separation of the economy from the state benefits the poor too.

    [I've read some Orwell and Popper. Orwell showed me why Rand was plausible and she showed me the ultimate value that freedom with a proper morality can be. Popper nearly wrecked my ability to pursue my MSc because his ideas were untenable. Haven't read Soros, but he is a mixed market believer: a little freedom and a lot of intervention... gee, the same crap that exacerbates market adjustments into booms and busts. It's nonsense.]

    Making more presumptions about my willingness to look at evidence, you wrote:
    The fact that you'll never accept any shows you really aren't willing to reason about it."

    Just a moment here, who is not using reason. You ignored the few facts I did give you (because this is only a comment space). You made unjustified assumptions about what I stand for, and about what I will or will not consider. You call Ayn Rand's ideas fascist, when she was very vocally against fascism.

    It seems to me you are more familiar with the techniques of which you accuse me, than am I. In psychology that (method) is called "Projection". Your response to me is an absolutely classic example. Check it out. Then put it in check.

  4. Thankyou again for your comments Richard. I can't begin to tell you how much I'm enjoying this exchange. I appreciate how seriously you take ideas. I take them seriously too.

    So let's get down to it. Interesting, I just assumed that anybody who followed Ayn Rand was a libertarian. I see Libertarians as people who believe in laissez faire but aren't necessarily social conservatives. Please tell me where you stand and why you are not a libertarian. I am fascinated to know more. I used to be a member of the libertarian party when I lived in Montreal. Every libertarian I met was an avid follower of Rand. "It usually begins with Ayn Rand" is the title of a book I read about the history of the modern Libertarian movement.

    I am certainly not a libertarian now but nor am I a socialist as you claim. And to call Obama a socialist distorts the meaning of the term.

    I must say, it amazes me that you can look at the past twenty-five years of deregulation and claim that the opposite has happened that there has been too much regulation. As for the last eight years, there may have been lots of regulations but Bush put people in charge of the regulatory agencies that didn't believe in regulation. They abdicated their responsibility and did nothing. In other words the regulations were not enforced.

    Re:my first two paragraphs that you say misrepresent you. You keep saying that things are this bad because of too much government regulation but the evidence from everyone else but the American Enterprise Institute says quite the opposite. I'm saying that your argument, like my commie friend's was a dodge. There is no such thing as a free market because government has to intervene in order for markets to work properly. You can always say that things were a catastrophe because their was some government intervention, i.e., it wasn't a pure free market. That's a dodge because it's evading what I and most other economic commentators see as overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    OK, so you might change your mind about capitalism given certain long term statistical data. I think you're missing the point. I agree that the freer a country is the better off people are and the more people prosper from their own effort.

    But look at Germany and the Scandinavian countries. They've got plenty of regulations, labour unions etc. but people there are doing very well and their economies are robust.

    I look at the U.S. and Canada during the fifties and sixties and see increasing equality, growth in incomes, a growing middle class and a growing economy. From the time that Reagan was elected and deregulation was instituted until today we've had stagnation in middle class income and a tripling of income for the top 1%

    I see an ominous parallel between the ten years that preceded the Great Depression in the last century and the 25 years since Reagan. In both times, inequality grew and middle class incomes stagnated. In both times their was an explosion of credit. And both times led to financial collapse. And I was arguing this, along with others at least a year before the collapse.

    When the rich have more money than they know what to do with they invest it in the stock market and create bubbles. The middle class spend money on goods and that supports manufacturing. The problem for the last 25 years is that the financial sector has tripled in size while domestic manufacturing has tanked.

    But the main problem with increasing inequality is what I call the South American problem. When there's a huge gap between rich and poor. The rich basically take over the media and , the government. They reward themselves and they institutionalize opression of the poor in order to keep them in their place and keep public order.

    What you seem to take for granted is that a well functioning market system and legal system presupposes communal cooperation. People have to trust public institutions in order for them to work. And trust disappears when you have excessive inequality. Communities don't function well if people don't trust each other or their public institutions. People cooperate and help each other not because they expect to be rewarded but because they trust that if they help others and obey the laws they will eventually benefit from others doing the same. But that all starts to break down when people see that people with money are more "equal" than others.

    What has global warming go to do with any of this? I've noticed that the two main groups that deny global warming or claim that it's not caused by humans are the same two groups that make up the base of the Republican party: Christian Fundamentalists and Free Market Fundamentalists. There is some pretty convincing evidence that global warming is caused by our growing increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Christians are uncomfortable with this because they believe that we don't have the power to destroy God's creation and that God would not let this happen. Market Fundamentalists are uncomfortable with this because this is a problem that is being exacerbated by the market. Only government intervention on a global scale can deal with a problem of this magnitude. In both cases people are so wedded to their ideologies they refuse to see the evidence that is staring them in the face because if they did they would have to make major modifications. But they don't want to do that. They cleave to their Bibles and Atlas Shrugged and deny the evidence.

  5. {1}
    Canadian Libertarians are a little bit better than the American version. The problem remains that Libertarians in general disregard the necessary metaphysical and epistemological foundations on which Individual Rights (including Liberty) stand. They treat the rightness of Liberty as a given. It is, rather obviously, not a given.

    Worse, the Libertarian Party accepts anarchists, socialists and/or communists —that is, any who say their ideology offers men liberty. All three only offer men tyranny, but Libertarians either hope to convert these dishonest ideologues, or fail to grasp why such ideas destroy, rather than support, liberty.

    People who want a free society, free from coercive acts of other men, which also means free from government intervention, get duped by the Libertarians' method of thinking. This does more to harm progress towards Individual Rights than do the 'ideologies' of the Democrats (Liberals) or Republicans (Conservatives).

    Pick up a copy of "Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal", and read the last chapters: "Man's Rights". "The Nature of Government". Also "What is Capitalism" and "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business". When reading the last one, keep in mind that Big Business is operating by and among the ideas of our times. Their wrongdoing may not be so much criminal, as misguided. The harm they do may be permitted because they, the lawyers, the judges, the lawmakers, the business schools, journalists and editors, all fail to grasp what capitalism is, what individual rights really are. Nor do they grasp which court decisions and government regulations actually do more harm than good, let alone why they do harm.

  6. {2}

    Many of Obama's platform issues entail the government taking over the means of production. Health care, air waves (resurrecting the "Fairness Doctrine") etc. Bush has already done this with the major financial institutions, with an ease that would make communists gasp with envy. (The only real difference between socialism and communism is that under socialism vote power to the government until they have committed suicide, whereas under communism government leaders decide how the citizens will be killed.)

    As for your arguments for deregulation, I am equally shocked that you would look 54,000 new regulations in the financial industry alone and maintain a belief that government deregulation is the problem! Have you not heard of the extremely damaging Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, as one example. Though not exactly "legislation", what about Elliot Spitzer's widely supported manipulation of existing regulations to challenge any group seen as being too successful... the tall poppies?

    But those two items do not really address the point thoroughly enough. Please jump to this webpage, and steadily scroll down. In particular, please note that in 1925, all the regulations fit into one volume. Note also that the vast majority of the more recent regulations are updates with modifications, mostly in 2007 & 2008.

    You may also be interested in, and even amused by this John Stossel report on the abundance of American regulations. Although the report spends time on regulations within states, the principle I am pointing out remains the same. It is also worthwhile to note the mindset of those who support these kinds of regulations. Clearly they like the manipulative power the rules offer. That is precisely the mindset Jefferson et al sought to keep out of limited government of the people by the people (which means NOT instituting laws by popular vote, only representatives).

    What is your evidence to the contrary?

    While I believe that you may be able to point to some deregulation, I am certain they were NOT fundamental causes of the present financial crisis. The issues are more complex than a few deregulations.

    E.g. serious analysts recognize that the free market is dramatically distorted simply by the government's printing of un-backed paper notes (dollars), as if they were real money. Those fiat dollars flow where demand is highest. In this case it was to the housing market, as distorted by CRA-ratings pressuring lenders to take risks, by the quasi government bodies (they ARE a form of regulation) buying up these risky loans, by a preposterously low prime rate (1%) etc. (by the anything BUT free-market manipulations of Greenspan). All these things created a non-free market in which buyers and lenders thought they were free to act on rates and values those distortions caused.

    Markets, absolutely, work best when undistorted by government interference. Sure, government should step in against coercion, theft (including fraud, which includes contract violation). But those activities are NOT interfering in the economy / market, they are protecting the individual right to liberty and property.

    You wrote, "There is no such thing as a free market because government has to intervene in order for markets to work properly."

    Why? With proper protection of Individual Rights there is no need whatsoever. Furthermore, such intervention is usually enacted to service the poor, which means robbing Peter to pay Paul.... which, when done by the government is a form of tyranny (fascism, socialism. etc).

  7. {3}

    I have known several Scandinavians and Germans, as well as some individuals who live here who tried to do business there. They found it very very difficult to do perfectly sensible and benign trades, innovations etc. Reports on those economies are, I am told, limited to the shiny good stuff.

    However, I do not believe that such reports matter so much as the moral aspect of what those countries, plus Canada, have been doing. Citizens have very little economic mobility. Certain industries (such as Volvo, Sweden or Bombardier, Canada) get a 'pass' on many regulations, and get taxpayers' money to further promote their economic standing. Some of the resulting wealth makes its way to better services, but thousands of smaller businesses lose out. They cannot avail themselves of such treats unless they have the 'ear' of the politically well-placed. THAT is despicable.

    As I said in my first comment, the truly deregulated times were the 1800s. Whether 1929 or now, government manipulations to the markets cause harm, whether from new regulation or deregulation. Obviously, if the market has been distorted by something, removing it, without understanding what a free market is, will have deleterious consequences.

    Dang, you have asked for a lot of explanation! :-( (I just cannot refine all this; sorry)

  8. {4}

    I have been a research biologist since the 1970s, and a teacher of biology for the last ten. Long before I discovered Objectivism, I grasped for myself that something was wrong with the Environmentalist side of Biology.

    I was taught in the 60s that industry was going to cause a new ice age. By the mid-seventies I started hearing from population biologists that the world would be unable to sustain human life past 1980!!! By 1980 I was starting to realize that the same people scaremongers promulgating Global Cooling were now scaring us about Global Warming. (Stephen Schneider is a good example.)

    In 1972 DDT was banned and I learned all about why. The raptor populations the ban was supposed to be saving rebounded ten years before the DDT derivatives that were supposed to be the problem could have broken down. Studies showed they remained in abundance long after the raptors pops had recovered in five years, instead of 20. Now over 1.5 million humans a year die, mostly children, from malaria. Environmentalism has outdone Hitler. I have read the rationalist justifications for keeping DDT of the market, & I know of the claims for alternate solutions that are stupidly expensive and/or impractical

    I worked with computer models for a couple of years, and became very familiar with the GIGO principle (garbage in garbage out), and how the modeler's predilections biased the outcomes.

    I have watched the claims change, the data selection change, I have seen small factoids about permafrost, or bristlecone pine trees, be translated into shining proof of global warming caused by increases in CO2, increases that can only be caused by mankind.

    The real problem is that people a) no longer know how to interpret scientific fact, b) can no longer distinguish fundamentally important and influential facts from derivative meaningless facts, and c) people who do not know the science are always willing to bow down to those who claim they do.

    If there has been warming, there is ample evidence it is cosmologically caused. There is ample evidence that human CO2 production is so utterly trivial a component of atmospheric CO2 that only extraordinary hubris could attribute it to industry. There is ample evidence the CO2 trends follow temperature trends. There is ample evidence that MORE CO2 is needed, for improving plant growth, and therefore agriculture.

    Present levels are about 0.03%, an increase from 0.027%. In the dinosaur era, levels were 5% and the world did not collapse (and the dinosaur extinctions had nothing to do with it). Twerps like Suzuki and Gore tell us we are warmer than at any time in the last 25,000 yrs. This is a blatant lie, as most children and adults know that the Vikings of the year ~1,000 sailed to Greenland in open boats, while the Scottish tended vineyards in a climate matching that of today's Southern France.

    I can go on and on.

    Climate changes! That's it, that's all. If it gets a half a degree warmer world wide, we will not all die. But making us change our lifestyle, the cost of our food, our vehicles, our fuel, our energy etc etc. by the force of law, for the sake of "Chicken Littles" (quite accurately) is evil misanthropy.

    The rate of climate change will never be so rapid that generations won't have time to shift about, as they normally do under any and all conditions, to live where and how they wish.

    Frankly, there IS more certain evidence of the onset of an ice age, based on very clear knowledge of the temperature cycles of the last 800 million years. Ice Ages come about relatively abruptly, and may be the exception to my statement that climate "change will never be so rapid that generations won't have time to shift about, as they normally do". Nonetheless, people should not be forced to do so; their lives should not be compromised by frightened social engineers; let the people be responsible. Let them be free. Let them leave giant carbon footprints all over the Earth; they have the Right.

  9. Update:

    Two days ago, Edward Cline, author of the excellent "Sparrowhawk" series, wrote:
    _ _ _

    "So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other."

    That might have been the appeal uttered by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to support the subprime bailout, but it is actually an excerpt from president-elect Barack Obama's victory speech, reprinted in the Daily Telegraph (London) on November 5.

    Compare that excerpt with:
    "The first obligation of every citizen must be to work both spiritually and physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all."

    That was Point Ten of the program of the NSDAP, or the National Socialist German Workers Party, better known as the Nazi Party.
    _ _ _

    (my bolding)

    Full article is here.

    BTW, the communists' arguments that communism was never really practiced is not the same as the argument I have made. I wrote,
    A proper look at the historical and geopolitical achievements of citizens in the World's nations, shows that those which are more free have citizens who prosper more by their own effort, and live more peacefully.
    That argument shows a trend for the better under capitalism, whereas socialism/communism etc (statism) shows the opposite trend. Capitalism is morally proper, and secondarily enriches the poor. Statism of all kinds is a vicious immoral system that harms all but those in power.

  10. I may have read "Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal" a long time ago. I'll see if I can't borrow the book back and reread those essays.

    You strike me as too much of a purist. Any political party must by the nature of politics cooperate and make deals with other groups. With your various comments I'm seeing a pattern of ideological purism that is obnoxious. Believing that people generally do better when they are freer is not the same as believing in capitalism. And capitalism has to exist in a real world. That means the system that puts capitalism in place is going to have to be governments. Governments cannot just do one thing. Ie., guarantee public order, they also have many other roles. They are going to influence the way business is done one way or another: hopefully they will influence businesses to be run honestly and so as not to harm others. Things like pollution, industrial accidents, employee health and safety, the safety of the public have to be taken into account. Government is better at dealing with "public goods" like health, education, clean water, and air because everyone benefits from these things. Government also deals better with "public bads" such as pollution, crime, etc. because everyone is harmed by them.

    Gross income inequality leads to a host of ills; perversion of the political system, perversion of justice, where the rich benefit disproportionately from the legal system and the poor get shafted. The rich benefit from subsidies to education disproportionately. Polluting industries are disproportionately located in poor areas. Look at the Exxon Valdez story. Exxon kept appealing the verdict until they got to a Supreme Court that was stacked with Conservative Justices, and the decision came down on their side, considerably lightening the penalty.

    You can say that government shouldn't intervene in the economy, it shouldn't subsidize anyone. Let's start with the military industrial complex then, and while were at it the aerospace industry and Nasa. How many hundreds of billions goes to those? But I digress. All governments have to use certain instruments: taxes, regulations, subsidies, and publically funded institutions, etc, to pursue policy. To say that they should not intervene in the economy is to be under the spell of an illusion. More later

  11. There were a lot less regulations in 1925 in the U.S. and then in 1929 the financial system imploded. Regulations were watered down in the 1990s allowing another roaring twenties type of financial boom, with middle class incomes stagnating and a minority becoming increasingly wealthy, just like in the twenties. During the last eight years the Bush administration put in place regulators who didn't regulate, so the number of regulations had nothing to do with it.

    I notice you suggest the same odious comparison between Rachel Carson and Adolf Hitler that I saw another objectivist make on the internet. DDT's effectiveness in killing the anopheles mosquito was probably only temporary because insects are known to develop resistance. More importantly DDT killed many of the mosquitoes' natural enemies. Rachel Carson didn't say we should ban DDT, she said we should be more careful using it. In the fifties the government was indiscriminately spraying it everywhere, exposing children and pregnant mothers.

    You must realize their is a connection between pesticides and herbicides and cancer. Agricultural workers have higher cancer rates than the general population because they work with these substances.

    As for global warming. I find it more than interesting that followers of Ayn Rand all find ways of denying or minimizing human contributions. I suppose its somehow easier to believe that there is a vast conspiracy of scientists all over the world that are nefariously working overtime in government institutions hoodwinking everyone into believing that we are responsible for causing global warming when in fact we're really about to enter a new ice age.

    Objectivism is a religion. That's why the phrase "free-market fundamentalist" is so apt. No matter what evidence of capitalist misdeeds, and market failure comes up, you can always claim that it's because things aren't pure enough. Capitalism hasn't ever had a chance to be unfettered enough to be the moral system that it could be. Except for maybe the 19 century. A century that most, besides you, would agree was a cesspool of corruption and privilege. It wasn't called "the guilded age" for nothing.
    But maybe capitalism has never been pure enough because there is nothing intrinsically moral about it at all. Capitalists left to their own devices will happily destroy their own industry if they can make a profit, as have the Chinese milk producers who adulterated their milk with melamine.

    What about the famous "leaky condos" in BC. Contractors evaded lawsuits by dissolving and then reforming under numbered companies like some kind of shell game. Capitalism is all about evading responsibility. It's the exact opposite of Ayn Rand's picture of testosterone fueled captains of industry.

    Certainly, it is harder to understand complex dynamic systems like climate and a process like global warming that is difficult to visualize and experience in the immediate short term. That's where oil corporations and corporate think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute had an advantage in sowing their seeds of doubt. You can, of course select the evidence like you've already done, so that it keeps proving your point, and the many well-financed think tanks have excelled at this too.

    The real clincher is global warming. The fact that you Objectivists are so vociferous in denying it shows your blindness to evidence. It's just too inconvenient a truth for your beautiful theory to comprehend.

  12. Hi Charles,

    When one compromises between right and wrong, or good and evil, ask yourself which side gains. Yes, I try to be a 'purist', but not in the bible-thumper sense. All concepts, principles and decisions thereon have a context that must be considered. Once the context is grasped, especially in terms of underlying fundamentals, one can then find definite answers. That is not being purist, so much as getting at correct conclusions (or answers). Clarity and certainty are the more important way to describe the goal of objective thinking. To opt for the impure, is to deliberately opt for failure to understand.

    Your statements regarding capitalism, as a politico-economic system are characteristic of those whose understanding of it is distorted by popular, left-influenced descriptions and supported by examples that are anything but capitalist. They are bad examples because they usually involve some sort of criminal activity, activity that ought to result in failure, or activity only made possible as a result of state intervention.

    The moral essence of capitalism is freedom from the initiation of force by others; with consensual trade and discussion as the only means by which men interact. This requires clear thinking towards definite goals.

    A man's mind is his primary tool of survival. He must be able to think effectively toward his most rational goals. However, he cannot do this when he finds he is facing a serious coercive threat to his life, liberty, or property. He must turn his attention towards dealing with the threat, to avoid or mitigate it. Force negates the victim's judgment, it negates his mind, period.

    You would be outraged if such initiated force —or surreptitious actions that would otherwise require open coercion to achieve— as robbery, murder, rape, fraud, threat, or military draft (to name a few) were practiced by your government, in any degree. But those are obvious coercive threats.

    Less obvious threats that still involve the initiation of force are taxation, legislation requiring farmers not to use wetlands, the requirement of 'voluntary' community service hours in order to graduate, the banning of 'unproven' medical treatments or other compounds, the requirement that lenders lend in impoverished neighborhoods or lose central bank support, devaluing money by excessive printing of it, denial of your choice to abort a fetus or to give your gay lover the same rights as any heterosexual spouse, and so on. All of these are more subtle forms of coercion enacted by the American Gov't (Canadians have similar violations of Individual Rights). Just try to steadfastly violate such government interference, and that smiling "government man's" gun is brought out from behind his back.

    Returning to my opening principle: should one argue that a little rape, robbery (by a thug or the taxman), or devaluation-of-money ought to be permissible because failing to permit such things might be "purist"??

    What is needed, as I have already said, is a police and court system (and military) that properly deals with violations of our individual rights. That means violations by citizens of all stripes, but it should also include occasions when such violations come in the form of legislation or regulation. Please note that "citizens" includes the richest of the rich, or the most popular of popular politicians who seek to "partner" with those rich on some program.

    I therefore view the comment below as a legitimate and honest observational judgment on your part, I find it morally & politically repugnant:
    Any political party must by the nature of politics cooperate and make deals with other groups.

    The rest of that comment takes the above view as a given. But such faults as you attribute to capitalism are actually a consequence of a Mixed Economy. Above, I emphasized proper use of the police & the courts to ensure Individual Rights are respected by all citizens. Whenever that is done correctly, the problems you reference fall aside, and cease to be problems. The problems arise because courts either fail to recognize the Rights that were at stake on an issue, or because government intervention actually caused them in the first place (e.g. the present financial crisis). Government should not set policy in anything, save the most efficient means to deal with and block genuine coercive risks to Individuals' Rights.

    If I am proud to be 'at fault' for such purism, considering the alternative.

  13. I disagree with your argument (of 12:46 am, ouch). In particular, the idea that regulations were ignored is patently untrue.

    One need only observe the turmoil caused by Sarbanes-Oxley, the fixing of prime at 1%, and the list of government agencies overseeing of the financial industry. You will find the same kind of meddling led to and then prolonged the 1929 crash. Present solutions to today's financial crisis will lead to an even bigger crash. The cards are all in place.

    You wrote, "DDT's effectiveness in killing the anopheles mosquito was probably only temporary because insects are known to develop resistance."

    Do you really know what you have said????

    By the same principle we should have banned anti-biotics! Why care if millions die of horrendous and painful infections, the bacteria and fungi will develop resistance to anti-biotics anyway. In anti-biotics researh, academic or in the pharmaceutical industry, new variations were developed for bacteria that did develop resistance, or that were not very responsive to the earlier antibiotics. That would have happened with DDT, because as its problems, if any, would result in a decline in profitability, while opening a new market demand for some substitute.

    I view such arguments as you express to be a fatalistic throwing-up-of-one's-hands, in the face of unconscionable human suffering and death. The banning of DDT has shown the consequences of such an approach to environmental challenges since men first chose to live in caves and build fires. Now we have skyscrapers and central heating, even nuclear central heating (via steam) in some communities. Those were the result of minds that sought better solutions than merely banning human advancements they feared.

    DDT is harmless to human beings... soldiers were powdered with it as if it was flour, with no side effects. In all likelihood your Argument from Emotion, regarding children and pregnant women being at risk, is uncertain,false or minor... yet you use it to justify the continuation of the obvious known fact that is the deaths of millions of children, lots of pregnant mothers and other adults, every year!!

    Your comment on anthropogenic global warming simply ignored my short list of facts that show there is no cause for state intervention in any aspect of human lives. Why? Because, as you later accuse the philosophy of Objectivism as being, Environmentalism is not a science. (It is more a quasi-religion to which men must acquiesce.) I am not arguing that the Environmental 'scientists' are "hoodwinking" people, but that they are not conducting proper science.

    [To continue in this topic alone would require that I direct you to a) the large number of sensible refutations of every major Environmentalist claim, as either false or as resulting in the advocacy of improper and immoral,usually statist, solutions.]

    Your last three paragraphs are reiterations of earlier comments, and my responses would be specific repetitions of the same principles I have outlined. Interestingly, I explained to you that, as a scientist, I saw through the global warming issue long before I learned of Objectivism, yet you still attack me as if Objectivism as a religion was my justification. Reason is not a religion. And, as I said before, you apparently gave no consideration to the information refuting global warming that I did list. In that respect, those three paragraphs serve more as a psychological projection, onto me, of your own approach to such matters, rather than my actual approach.

    This cogent & succinct blog post provides a better understanding of my motivation and that of many Objectivists. I hope you find it interesting, because it may show you that other people do not think as you may think they do. Indeed, thinking is a structured process that serious Objectivists struggle to automatize correctly. Often it takes several years of effort under unrelenting introspection. It is no small matter in a culture that cannot even settle on whether words refer to anything real at all (Noam Chomsky et al).

    You mentioned that you might pick up "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" but, to grasp the fullness of this radical new Enlightenment philosophy, you may also enjoy "The Virtue of Selfishness" and the textbook by Leonard Peikoff, "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand". They are not easy to get one's 'head around', because one has to really examine one's own casual use of language, as against the precision those works use.

    One also has to really struggle with one's own accepted (faulty) premises, which are often deeply ingrained (automatized) to such an extent that they "just ARE right!" Our reasons for holding them are long forgotten. Resurrecting such buried understandings, challenging them and tossing them out when wrong, is only the start. Being automatized, they keep returning, unrelentingly it seems, until one has really learned to recognize when they automatically crop up, replete with emotional baggage & and supporting rationalizations. Then they begin to fade out of existence, except as a sort of academic memory.

  14. I'm starting to feel like we are going around in circles here. I disregarded your examples "refuting" global warming because you are not a climate scientist, the vast majority of whom do see global warming as human caused.

    I see an almost 100% correlation between Obectivists and there denial that global warming is human caused. Your statement that "the amount of human caused CO2 is so utterly trivial that it can only be extraordinary hubris to attribute to humans" and your other statements about DDT being harmless and that "environmentalism has outdone Hitler" are all of a piece.

    I don't disagree that capitalism has been extraordinarily successful and producing goods and services. But that's the point. We've been too successful. Once we've gone global in a big way, we've ended up competing with nature, taking resources away and creating huge amounts of toxic waste. Natural habitat is seriously in decline, ecosystems are being stressed to the breaking point, thousands of living species are going extinct. It's not an academic point because if we keep up the competition against nature we will lose. It's nature that sustains us, and we can't survive without it.

    you claim that "once the context is grasped one can find definitive answers," belies the value judgements that you are throwing around: eg. "hubris", "harmless", "outdone Hitler" etc. I guess the majority of scientists and the general public are under a mass delusion that the environment is being damaged, obviously caused by evil people like Rachel Carson, Al Gore, and David Suzuki. By the way, even if environmentalists are mistaken, which I'm not conceding for a minute, there's a difference between deliberately killing people as Hitler did and people dying because not enough is allowed to be produced or whatever.

    But personally, I think your arguments are delusional. How can you not see that we are seriously harming the environment? And you're a biologist for godsakes, you must be blind. ,

    The fatal flaw in Ayn Rand's philosophy is her epistemology. Any model of reality will be fallible because we have to oversimplify reality in order to fit things into concepts. Since knowledge is fallible it is always open to improvement. Declaring one's own ideas infallible leads to the automatic exclusion of any competing ideas or evidence, some of which may be valid. Then, the question is, how is it possible for you to learn from experience? Your denial of human-caused global warming and that environmentalism is saying something valid, proves my point.

    Suppose environmentalism is wrong and humans are not causing global warming as you say. Then enacting environmental policies would mean at most that people would be inconvenienced unneccessarily. But if environmentalism is correct then that's a far cry from the destruction of our civilization that would come about if we do nothing to reverse course.

    The evidence is overwhelming that we are destroying our environment. That you can't see this shows an incredible ideological bias.

    The “free market” is an abstraction, a conceptual model that exists because of certain assumptions, such as perfect knowledge and perfect mobility. These assumptions are violated by the real world. Hence, basing moral philosophy on them leads to critical errors.

    No matter what happened to the American economy: The Great Depression, the saving and loans fiasco, the subprime mortgage melt-down – all three of which followed the crucial relaxation of financial regulations – you refuse to see the evidence that unregulated markets lead to financial disaster.

    Followers of Ayn Rand's “Objectivism” waste a lot of time denying the existence of global warming and denying that there is a problem with anything but environmentalism itself. The evidence says otherwise. By closing your “objective” system from contrary evidence and ruling out most forms of government intervention you drastically reduce the tools available to build capitalist solutions to financial and environmental problems.

    Of course you find it "morally and politically repugnant" that a political party must cooperate with and make deals with other groups. That's reality. The only political party's in power that didn't were the Nazis and the Russian Bolsheviks. They simply murdered the opposition. No compromise.

    You say that "criminal activity of corporations is only made possible by government intervention." That's preposterous. The problem is there are no examples of pure capitalism. Every economy in existence is mixed. So by your logic it's all tainted already and of course every fault can be explained by government intervention because there are no counter examples. Talk about going in circles. Everything makes logical sense in your theory because there is no connection to reality. All evidence that appears to contradict your theory can be rejected out of hand because your theory is "objective". You remind me of the communists and Jehova's witnesses.

  15. Hi Charles,

    (This is kind of a pain because the topic is so huge.)

    It used to be widely understood that Truth has nothing to do with majority opinion, or 'consensus'! The majority of doctors used to believe the venous and arterial systems were independent; they were wrong. It usually only takes one profoundly fundamental piece of evidence to reject a faulty theory. There is a host of such fundamentals that overwhelm the claims of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) cabal.

    Nor is the truth within a subject only available to specialists in that subject. Science is not conducted that way.

    Nor is it wrong for someone who understands the science & facts behind an assertion to judge its veracity. I am certainly better qualified to do so than most journalists. Furthermore, if that were the rule, no one would be entitled to speak or write on any subject but that of their profession, such that each profession dictates its truths to the others. That notion is the logical fallacy known as the the Argument from Reverence/Authority (Argumentum ad vericundiam).

    It astounds me how poorly people are educated with science, (scientific) thought and the benefits of what used to be called a liberal education —which expects considerable expertise on a wide range of subjects. It is particularly disgusting when scientists (Suzuki, climate scientist Schneider et al.), and science journalists, stoop to or even encourage the errors identified in the first two paragraphs.

    Therefore, I respectfully reject, as epistemically invalid, the underlying premises in your remark:
    "I disregarded your examples "refuting" global warming because you are not a climate scientist, the vast majority of whom do see global warming as human caused."

    I recommend that you have a good look at some of the points I provided, and consider their implications w.r.t. the AGW claims.

    It may be true that "the vast majority of climate scientists" accept those claims, but when one of the scientists who started it all, the president of the IPCC, steps down and publicly scorns the IPCC for its methods and the absurdity of its claims, we have darn good reason to pause and reconsider, don't you think?

    I should also point you, with a wry amusement, to the consensus by professionals and scientists that reject the consensus of IPCC scientists. Indeed,because the media only reports bad news, it is a little known fact that the consensus of IPCC scientists was never legitimate. Those climate scientists were only attendees, and were not necessarily supporters of the AGW hypothesis! In fact, several climate scientists in attendance were horrified that their names were listed as supporters of the AGW hypothesis.

    Realizing that, the "Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine" began its own petition among scientists and other well educated professionals, to take their 'pulse' on the AGW issue. There are now some 31,000 (!!) signees who distrust or outright reject the AGW hypothesis. That is a 'consensus' that is almost 15x as many as those who support the hypothesis. Again, it is not widely known because of the media principle that "no news is good news". You may also be interested in, and I highly recommend, examining the accompanying brief.

    Sadly, environmentalists tend to think like born-again Christians, grasping at every straw that appears to support their view, while pretending other facts and principles, such as those in the aforementioned brief, are irrelevant. It is as if witchcraft was back in vogue, terrorizing children and adults alike: tie them in a chair, throw the witch in water. If she floats she IS a witch, kill her. If she sinks (and drowns) she isn't a witch, "phew, we are safe!". This, btw, is precisely the new slant environmentalists have taken on AGW: if climate warms, it is man's fault, if climate cools, it is man's fault. Their entire motivation is misanthropy.

    Ultimately, Environmentalism is more religion than science. The reason ALL Objectivists come to the same conclusion about the Environment, is because the objective conclusion is both scientifically and morally correct. Few if any Environmental threats are of concern to men, and men have a moral right to strip mine this planet if it advances human life.


  16. {2}
    You wrote, "We've been too successful."

    Too successfule by what standard? The more people on the planet the better it is for all. Assuming they are freed from collectivist political notions which environmentalists tend to promote; then men become inventive and solve divers problems. The common thread among environmnetalists is the Malthusian cry that the planet cannot sustain us and that the number of humans must be reduced. The genocidal implications of that view are not lost on a lot of people.

    Notably, Julian Simon discovered that, as a population of humans grows, resources become more abundant. As a simple example, over most of past history mankind scraped into the earth, on average, only about six feet deep in his search for iron, and even then on only a very few areas of the Earth's surface. Today, we can mine down a kilometer or more, but are still only mining a very few areas of the Earth's surface. We even have the technical capability, though not the economic ability, to penetrate the Earth's mantle to extract iron as water is drawn from a well. The Malthusian view that "It's nature that sustains us, and we can't survive without it." is, simply, false.

    Thus, the value judgments you say I am "throwing around" are not without foundation. I would prefer that you asked questions that you may elucidate what it is about them that you do not understand, rather than simply dismiss them.

    With respect to environmental issues and captalism: YES, the public is, ABSOLUTELY, under a mass delusion! The academics, journalists, pundits and media widely mischaracterize both, favorably and unfavorably, respectively, with no idea of what either one actually is!

    I even disagree with you, on a certain level, about the idea that there is a "difference between deliberately killing people as Hitler did and people dying because not enough is allowed to be produced":
    Hitler had a certain view of humanity, and acted on his view. Environmentalists also have a certain view of humanity but, where Hitler actively murdered those not worthy, environmentalists want humanity to accept suicidal principles instead. This is the same as the synonymy between communism and socialism. In the long run there is no difference between murder and philosophically induced suicide, respectively.

  17. I figured you'd defend that equation of Hitler and environmentalism. The fact that Hitler had a deliberate policy of murdering people is not debatable. But whether environmental laws harm people certainly is debatable. I think on the whole a lot of lives have been saved because of reduced air pollution, also agriculture and forests are in better shape because of reduced acid rain.

    Your arguments, a la Julian
    Simon, that the more people there are the more resources there are, and that we don't need to depend on nature are sheer fantasy. The earth is finite, not infinite. If you look at why previous civilizations have declined you will find that they ran out of resources. We could keep digging deeper for minerals, etc. but it takes energy and more energy the deeper you dig.

    Our capitalist civilization is running on cheap fossil fuels. As we begin to use them up they become harder to find and more expensive to extract. Eventually it will take as much or more energy to extract and refine them as they produce. When fossil fuels become expensive, which is only a matter of time, then our civilization will have to change radically. It's best to start that change now while we still have the means to adapt. Otherwise our civilization will collapse like all the others did.

  18. "With respect to the environment and capitalism the public is under a mass delusion" ; The reason we had a financial crisis is because of too many regulations, not too few; the earth can support lots more people than there are now... your statements are breathtaking in their absurdity.
    By the way, the fact that you doubted global warming before you became an Objectivist only shows that you were already blind to capitalism's problems. That's probably what attracted you to Ayn Rand.

  19. Last night I prepared a draft of about 400 words responding to some key points. I wanted to pare it down a bit this morning, but saw that you had added two more comments.

    Scrolling down the comment page, my eyes fell on this point, of yours:
    "You say that "criminal activity of corporations is only made possible by government intervention." That's preposterous."

    I promptly thought, "Of course that's preposterous." Then, "I can't have said that! I must find where I said it."

    Thanks to computing, it is easy to search through past comments, so I quickly found my relevant sentence.

    Here it is, referring to the examples of corporate misconduct brought up by anti-capitalists as if the misconduct was a consequence of the free market:
    "They are bad examples because they usually involve some sort of criminal activity, activity that ought to result in failure, or activity only made possible as a result of state intervention."

    I initially responded to your Ayn Rand comment to correct the record. You seemed a thoughtful & good writer, as blogger's go, and it entertained me that you were blogging from Prince Rupert (I am in Mississauga, Ont) so I opted to return thinking it might be rewarding.

    You see, one thing I try to avoid is debating with dishonest minds. Such minds have discarded, or never learned, reason. They prefer to rationalize in order to to continue holding some faulty view or attitude to which they are emotionally attached. Their thinking is the same as that of a child that's afraid of dogs. No matter how calm and friendly the dog is, "it's too big", or "it's got sharp teeth", "it's looking at me", and so on.

    So, you extracted the two bolded portions from my sentence (now 3 paragraphs up), and inserted "of corporations is" to create:
    ""criminal activity of corporations is only made possible by government intervention."

    You then presented that manufactured statement as being a direct quotation from my comments. Of course, it is no quotation at all, and has a completely different implication from my sentence. The bolding emphasizes wording that indicates the point being made:

    "They are bad examples because they usually involve some sort of criminal activity, activity that ought to result in failure, *or* activity only made possible as a result of state intervention."

    My sentence properly covers the two main issues: actual individual criminal behavior by corporate leaders, and behavior the leaders pursue due to market distortion by regulations. There are some lesser issues, which I'm skipping for the following reason.

    The sentence you attributed to me was manufactured by you. It was dramatically at odds to what I was actually saying, it flagrantly misrepresented my argument and you knew so.

    You clearly committed a *deliberate* intellectual fraud.

    Incredibly, you talked down to me about Rand, Objectivism and its anti-AGW position, even suggesting I was delusional. You claim the moral and intellectual high ground, but in fact have no qualms being immoral and anti-reason.

    I'm disappointed, as I thought you were a better man, but I am not surprised. Such behavior is nearly universal among leftists and environmentalists. Both groups accept the same types of dishonesty (like Baptists with Presbyterians), and get along very well. As with the child afraid of the dog, no amount of reality and logic can reach them. They act as if lying enough will a truth they dislike go away. The irony of psychological projection in Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was not lost on me.

    You claim knowledge and interest in economics and philosophy, but betray both. One cannot reason with those who explicitly reject reason.

  20. Richard, Your point is well taken. Sorry, I was sloppy about pasting together that quote. It wasn't deliberate though. I was in too much of a hurry in replying. Still, I object just as strenuously to your Phrase "activity only made possible by state intervention" referring to one category (not all) corporate crime. It seems to me that without state intervention there would be a huge increase in corporate crime, hardly the opposite.

    I'm amazed we talked for as long as we did. I figured you were from the Toronto area. Thanks for your complements. I did read the "concise" post on Objectivism you recommended. I disagree with the point of it. I would say it is exactly about Ayn Rand. She hated Communism so much, having lived through it that it coloured her perception of everything else. That's why she basically turned moral principles upside down by praising selfishness and condemning altruism. Yes I have read The Virtue of Selfishness, it was about 20 years ago. It's amazing to me that she could create something called "Objectivism" out of what clearly is an incredibly biased and emotional picture of reality. I too have noted a lot of unconscious irony in the things you say. After a while I stopped enjoying our "flame war" and started to get irritated, so I did say things deliberately to bug you. This quote of yours describing me appears to me to describe you: "They prefer to rationalize in order to continue holding some faulty view or attitude to which they are emotionally attached." Re: your position on Global warming, etc. Personally I think you are self-delusional but you obviously think the same of me, so that makes us even. Nice talking to you.