Corporations as Contract and Government Financing in a Free Society

The philosophy set forth in the fiction and nonfiction of
Ayn Rand establishes an underlying intellectual framework for a
free society. Rand was like a physicist who deals with broad
abstractions about the nature of reality. The engineer then takes
these ideas and builds, among other things, the automobile.
Also like the physicist, Rand the philosopher dealt with the
underlying ethical principles of a free society, but left many of
the details of how a government should be “constructed” to
future intellectuals in the field of law and jurisprudence.1 The
aim of this paper is to help fill in some of the details as to how a proper government should be constituted. Specifically, this
paper deals with the issue of governmental financing in a free
society.  (Read More: Corporations as Contract and Government Financing in a Free Society)

Why Act on Principle?

I recently said to a friend that any form of “gun control” is an initiation of physical force, and that allowing even a little initiation of physical force abrogates the entire principle of individual rights to life, liberty and property. When I thought about this some, I realized that the question might actually have been this: “Why act on principle at all? Why can’t you occasionally violate a principle without throwing it out altogether?” This is a good question, even if my friend wasn’t actually asking it, so I will endeavor to give an explanation to something he may or may not have actually been asking.

First, what is meant when we speak of a “principle”? I will start with an example and then move from there to a definition. Let’s consider the principle of respecting the property rights of others. I’ll reduce this to the following maxim: “Do not take the property of others without their consent.”

But, why shouldn’t I just occasionally steel when I can get away with it? For instance, when I go to the grocery store, I could take a few items and walk out without paying. If I stuck to stealing food, I might get away with this indefinitely. So why don’t I?

If I’m going to start stealing from the grocery store, I need to develop a methodology to maximize my chances of success. Lets take a look at my “game plan” for stealing from the grocery store:

When I go into the store, I have to check for security cameras.

I have to wait until employees aren’t watching. Once I’ve stolen the items, I’ve got to casually head outside, still checking to see if employees, store customers, or the manager have noticed me stealing from the store. These people are now all potential enemies to me –a threat to my existence- so I cannot trust any of them. I would constantly have to be “looking over my back”, checking to see if anyone noticed me stealing.

I have to develop a plan prior to going in, as this will reduce my chances of getting caught. So I will spend some time working it out. This is time I could have spent doing other things.

I probably want to go in beforehand, and scope out the store, but this could look suspicious -going in, looking around and then returning soon thereafter. So, maybe not?

What will be my “take” from stealing from the grocery store? I can only steal small items, so probably my “gain” will be less than $50.

There are also the penalties involved, if I’m caught. If I steal less than $50, then I am only looking at a fine in Texas, but the fine is up to $500, plus the store can sue me for treble damages and attorney’s fees. If I steal more than $50 of merchandise, I’m looking at anywhere from six months to a year in jail, plus big fines, plus the store suing me.

I think it’s legitimate to consider the government-imposed penalties like this in my analysis since I am not an anarchist -I actually think one of the major ways the government protects rights is by imposing sufficient “pain” or “cost” on the person committing the crime that they won’t want to do it. Criminal laws have a “deterrent effect”. (This isn’t the only reason for criminal penalties, however, they also serve as a “restraint”. For instance, locking up a murderer prevents him from committing more murders.)

Additionally, many jobs will be unavailable to me if I’ve been convicted of a crime involving “moral turpitude” like theft. Many employers won’t hire you with a criminal record for theft or fraud.

After any particular episode of theft from the grocery store, I might get $50 to $100 in merchandise, if I don’t get caught. I also stand to loose up to a year of my time in jail, plus all of the fines and civil penalties. That seems like a very “bad bet” to me. All of these “costs” associated with such a life of crime will also add up to feelings of anxiety about getting caught. Anxiety is not a pleasant emotion to feel on a chronic or long-term basis. (I also suppose I could eliminate the anxiety by refusing to think or consuming a lot of alcohol, but that means I’m really likely to get caught if I don’t think about how to get away with it.)

You should also consider the long-term risks of a policy of theft. You might get away with theft once or twice, but the more you do it, the more likely you are to get caught. It hardly seems worth all that pain for $50 of “free” stuff from the grocery store.

I’ve shown that stealing isn’t actually “free”, in terms of your effort and thought. There is actually a “cost” associated with every time you steal. There is the cost of all the mental energy and labor you expend executing your thefts successfully. There is the cost associated with the risk you’ll get caught. Furthermore, the greater the value of the things you are stealing, the greater the risk, because you will face more severe criminal and social penalties. More people will be watching, the more the valuable items, so the more effort you must expend. For instance, it’s a lot harder to steal from a jewelry store than a grocery store because everything is under glass. That means additional labor, time, and energy goes into a jewelry heist.

It seems easier to me to just work a legitimate job, and earn the money I need to buy things at the grocery store. Then, when I walk into the grocery store, I can just get the stuff I want, pay for it, and then walk out.

Additionally, as we saw, if you start stealing from the grocery store, you will wind up “juggling” in your mind, so many variables in trying to pull off a grocery store theft that it will overload your mind’s capacity to deal with all of them at once. This actually points to an important purpose that a “principle” serves. A “principle” is a sort of concept. A concept is a mental summation of relevant observed facts into a generalized “mental tag” -a word and/or a definition. (Although a “principle” is more of a “proposition” –a series of words.) It allows your limited mind to deal with many aspects of reality simultaneously, which would otherwise overwhelm it. You can deal with three or four concrete items as individuals in your mind at one time, but any more than that, and you cannot hold it all successfully. Your mind disintegrates into mental chaos without concepts, and when it comes to concepts of action, which is all I think a “principle” is, your behavior will become equally chaotic.

Given all of this discussion, I will define a “principle” as: “A consistent standard of action you use in the face of a particular set of factual circumstances.”

For instance, “Don’t take the property of others without their consent,” is a standard of action that I use whenever I face a particular set of facts. When I see a man-made thing that doesn’t occur in nature, and I didn’t produce it with my own effort, I do not physically appropriate it for my own purposes without the owner’s consent.

Can there be “exceptions” to this principle? For instance, if you break into a cabin when you are stranded in a snow blizzard in the mountains, have you taken the property of the owner without his consent? I believe this isn’t actually an “exception” to the principle, because “factual circumstances” are different from the grocery store example. You can articulate facts that make the situation different from going into the grocery store and taking groceries without the owner’s consent. The primary factual circumstance that is different is that you are willing to compensate the owner of the cabin at a later date for any loss, so it isn’t likely to be without his consent. (This also gets into the issue of what “consent” is, and whether the owner’s consent has to have a rational basis, but I leave that for another discussion.) Another “factual circumstance” that is different is that it is a “life and death emergency”, which means it is an extremely low-probability event that isn’t likely to occur very often –it is “life boat ethics”. (Remember, that part of the reason you don’t steal from the grocery store is you have to hide it, and the more times you do it, the more likely you are to get caught one of those times.)

By thinking of enough concrete scenarios like the grocery store theft example, I eventually decided that stealing just isn’t worth it. It’s better to adopt a general standard of action in my mind: “Don’t take the property of others without their consent.” I leave it to the reader to think through other examples of general standards of action such as “Don’t kill those who haven’t initiated physical force against you,” (i.e., don’t murder), “Don’t misrepresent facts to gain things from others,” (i.e., be honest), “Judge others according to a rational standard, and treat them accordingly,” (i.e., be just), etc.

How does my definition of “principle” compare to the “socially-accepted definition”? If you perform a “define: principle” search on google.com, you get some of the following definitions (as of 11-10-2016):

“…fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”

“…a rule or belief governing one’s personal behavior…”

“…morally correct behavior and attitudes…”

“…a general scientific theorem or law that has numerous special applications across a wide field…”

“…a natural law forming the basis for the construction or working of a machine…”

These definitions are all essentially, compatible with mine, I believe. For instance, regarding the principle “Don’t take the property of others without their consent,” it is a “fundamental truth” that human beings must produce the material values necessary for their survival, because most of what we need to survive or flourish does not exist in nature. It is also a “fundamental truth” that human beings must use their reasoning minds to produce those material values, and that if you want to live with others they must respect your desire to live and you must respect theirs. (It’s also a “fundamental truth” that human beings are not omniscient, so they need an impartial system of laws and an institution with the socially-recognized exclusive right to the retaliatory use of physical force to protect rights.)

“Don’t take the property of others without their consent,” is also “…morally correct behavior…” If one wants to live, and if one’s life is the standard of the good, then, in order to live peacefully with others, you must recognize the property rights of others.

“Don’t take the property of others without their consent,” is also a “natural law” in the sense that it recognizes that the human mind functions by persuasion, not coercion. It is a “natural law” in the same sense that the law of universal gravitation is a “natural law”. If you want to build a rocket, you must take the law of inertia into account, because “nature to be commanded must be obeyed”. Similarly, if you want to have a functioning society, it must respect property rights.

Tying all of this back in, why would any form of “gun control” be an abrogation of the principle of individual rights? What is meant by “gun control”? Does it merely mean: “Prohibiting the possession of a weapon with an intent to commit a crime”?  The intent to use a weapon to violate others rights is the start of an initiation of physical force, and, if it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, it can and should be prosecuted by the government. Taking any physical steps towards the eventual goal of force being used to destroy the values of others is an initiation of physical force, and therefore a violation of the principle of individual rights. Anyone who has ever seen a John Wayne movie recognizes that you don’t have to wait for someone to actually shoot you in the gut before you can defend yourself. When the bad guy “goes for his gun”, John Wayne shoots him, and that is self-defense, not an initiation of physical force.

An example of an rights-respecting gun law is something like the statute found in the state of Vermont:

“A person who carries a dangerous or deadly weapon, openly or concealed, with the intent or avowed purpose of injuring a fellow man,…shall be imprisoned….” (See http://ago.vermont.gov/divisions/criminal-division/gun-laws.php, emphasis added, last accessed on 11-12-2016.)

This is a perfectly acceptable and appropriate law regarding the possession of a firearm. It only prohibits carrying a weapon if the person can be shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, to have the “intent” or “avowed purpose” of injuring a fellow man. (Presumably, “injuring a fellow man” here means injuries of one’s fellow men other than for purpose of self-defense.)

This, by the way, is why the government could investigate someone who built a weapon of mass destruction in their backyard. Such a device would not be necessary for self-defense. If you walked around with a nuclear bomb strapped to your back for self-defense, even a “low-yield” device, you’d blow yourself up as well as the mugger -and half the city. Your possession of such a device would create the suspicion that you planned to use it for violating the rights of others. There is no likely or probable need for such a device if you are an individual. Now, you might ultimately be able to show that you had an innocent reason for possessing a WMD, but you’d have to go before a court, and the government’s “prima facie case” of an illegal intent is probably satisfied just by showing that you have no business interest in building such a device. For instance, you aren’t engaged in the business of building nuclear bombs for the US military or some sort of mining or industrial concern. After the government makes its “prima facie showing”, the burden can rightly be shifted to you at court to show some reason that doesn’t involve violating the rights of others. (Additionally, you could face civil liability if you create a “nuisance” that invades or imminently threatens the property of others, which a nuclear bomb probably qualifies as.)

But this isn’t what the left means when they speak of “gun control”. What is generally meant by “gun control”, as that expression is used by most members of the Democratic party and the political left, is the following: The government will initiate, or start, the use of physical force against someone for mere possession of a device, in this case, a devise that uses a controlled explosion to release a metal projectile through a tube by means of an explosive material, such as cordite. The government will initiate physical force against such persons even though they have no intent to use the device to violate individual rights. The initiation of physical force by government takes the form of actual or threatened use of force, and, it will continue to escalate the use of physical force until you comply with its commands, or die -whichever comes first.

Here is how government works: If you break a law, you’ll be arrested (force). If you resist arrest, more cops will come to restrain you (more force). If you use a weapon to resist, the cops will use weapons to stop you (deadly force). Ultimately, all laws follow this pattern: “Do not do X, or you will ultimately be killed.” If the government says: “Do not murder, or you will be killed,” then this is fine because murder violates the rights of others. If the government prohibits things like guns and marijuana, then it says: “Do not own a gun or you will be killed,” or “Do not smoke a joint or you will be killed.” At that point you are being threatened with a violent death despite the fact that you are not violating the rights of others. (Like I said, possessing a gun with intent to commit a crime is different, just as smoking a joint and deliberately blowing the smoke in someone’s face is different.)

So what’s wrong with a little governmental initiation of physical force? You face the same sorts of problems that you face with the example of stealing from the grocery store, but this time it’s on a society-wide level. For instance, if the government says you cannot own a gun to defend yourself from a criminal, when there is no time to call the police to protect you, then the government is implicitly saying: “We’re willing to risk your life in order to satisfy a bunch of soccer moms who have an irrational aversion to guns.” How will this be distinguished from other people’s irrational desires that would involve violating your right to life?

Since no one wants to say: “Government officials can arbitrarily murder some people whenever they feel like it,” the legislature and courts will need to come up with some sort of principled distinction between the prohibition on the ownership of a gun for emergency self-defense and any other number of actions you might take to maintain your life. This is why our legal code has become so “Byzantine” with all sorts of “loopholes”, exceptions, and exceptions to the exceptions. Our legal code is mostly unhinged from any principles distinguishing what should be prohibited and what shouldn’t be because we no longer follow the principle of individual rights.

Additionally, once the principle of individual rights is discarded, the legislature will be constantly bombarded by individuals, and groups of individuals, all trying to appropriate the property of others. It becomes a system of constant “pressure group warfare”, a “cold civil war”, if you will, with a particular political faction gaining power and stealing from some to give to others. They will hold onto power, handing out political favors to their cronies, until some other faction takes over the levers of government and imposes their will on others for a bit.

As I said, a “principle” is a sort of concept, which is a mental summation of relevant observed facts into a generalized “mental tag” -a word and/or a definition. It allows your limited mind to deal with many aspects of reality simultaneously, which would otherwise overwhelm it. You can deal with three or four concrete items as individuals in your mind at one time, but any more than that, and you cannot hold it all successfully. Your mind disintegrates into a mental chaos without concepts, and when it comes to concepts of action, which is all I think a “principle” is, your behavior will become equally chaotic. When society-wide principles like individual rights to life, liberty, and property are disregarded, that society will become chaotic. Eventually the “cold civil war”, of political factions fighting in the legislature, will disintegrate into an actual, shooting, civil war, and people will form gangs fighting one another for the scraps of what is left of civilization, or a “strong man” will take over and the country becomes a dictatorship, with his gang appropriating the property of all. Either way, life will become nasty, brutish, and short without the principle of individual rights to guide us.

A Review of “Altruism as Appeasement” by Ayn Rand

In 1962, Ayn Rand asked a student at MIT why so many of “…today’s young intellectuals were becoming ‘liberals’…” (pg. 32) A few weeks later, the MIT student wrote Miss Rand a letter, outlining his thinking on the subject. Miss Rand wrote “Altruism as Appeasement”, which expands on the response she got from this MIT student. This essay can be found in The Voice of Reason. (My page citations below are to the 1989 Meridian version, ISBN number: 0-452-01046-2)

In his letter, the student told Miss Rand that “The majority of college students…do not choose to think; they accept the status quo, conform to the prescribed code of values, and evade the responsibility of independent thought…’In adopting this attitude, they are encouraged by teachers who inspire imitation, rather than creation.’” (Pg. 32)

However, there is another group who are “…not willing to renounce their rational faculty.” Miss Rand then quotes at length from the MIT student’s letter: “‘They are the intellectuals -and they are the outsiders….They are teased and rejected by their schoolmates. An immense amount of faith in oneself and a rational philosophical basis are required to set oneself against all that society has ever taught…The man who preaches individual integrity, pride, and self-esteem is today virtually nonexistent. Far more common is the man who, driven by the young adult’s driving need for acceptance, has compromised. And here is the key -[the result of] the compromise is the liberal.’”

What is the psychological result? Most “liberal intellectuals” are driven by a strong guilt complex, because a person who sets himself against society in favor of rationality will feel guilt due to his rejection by the mediocrities around him. The “liberal” “…’loudly proclaims the brotherhood of all men. He seeks to serve his escapist brothers by guaranteeing them their desire for social security…’” (Pg. 33) “Liberals” are driven to atone for their false guilt, and they do so by working for “…’their welfare…’” (Pg. 33)

Miss Rand agreed with the MIT student regarding the psychological process he had identified, however: “…the situation he [the MIT student] describes is not new; it is as old as altruism; nor is it confined to ‘liberals’.” She says that this is the “…story of men who spend their lives apologizing for their own intelligence.” (Pg. 33)

Miss Rand then describes how this psychological process works out in the mind of the average college student. In an effort to avoid a massive quantity of quotations, I will summarize Miss Rand’s description of this process as best I can, as well as discuss some of my own observations that have led me to believe that Miss Rand is describing a psychological process that occurs very often in the mind of persons that usually self-identify as “liberals” or, more often today, as “progressives”.

When I originally read this essay in the mid-nineties, I was 19 or 20 years old. I hadn’t had enough experience to know if Miss Rand was right, so I just mentally “shelved” the issue. 20 years later, I’ve dealt with and seen enough people, and I’ve spent enough time thinking about their behavior, that I consider Miss Rand’s theory in “Altruism as Appeasement” to be a highly probable explanation for many people that are college educated, and self-describe as “liberals”, “progressives” or “social democrats”.

Miss Rand observes that bright children have a sense of being trapped in a “nightmare universe” when they are growing up. Growing up mostly in the Bible Belt and going to public school, I can relate to this description of childhood. In the South, large numbers of people will tell you that you are going to hell for some inherent moral vice called “original sin”, unless you repent your non-existent guilt to god. This could certainly be a frightening prospect for a child. In my own case, I started questioning the existence of god around age 13, and my mother must have sensed that because I was made to go to church despite the fact that I wasn’t particularly interested. Fortunately, the church that I was sent to was fairly “liberal”, and didn’t take the bible literally, so it could have been worse, I suppose.

Public schools, especially high school, were filled with their share of bullies -by which I mean children that would engage in low-level initiations of physical force, especially against anyone who didn’t seem to fit in, or that their emotions told them deserved such treatment. (By low-level initiations of physical force, I mean things like handing out quadriceps contusions —a “deadleg”- or being spit on, or having your books knocked out of your hands in the hall, etc.) Although in my case, by the 11th grade, most of the kids that were initiating physical force against others had either been removed from the school to a special “alternative school”, or were already in jail. Additionally, Plano Independent Schools contain a large number of children with parents that actually care about academic achievement and personal success, so my overall public school experience wasn’t what I’d call a “nightmare”. I suspect that an inner-city public school would be four years of complete hell all the way through, and make my experience look like I was living in Galt’s Gulch (a utopia).

I discovered Ayn Rand’s philosophy when I was about 15, and I did note that most people were hostile to Miss Rand’s ideas, if they knew about them at all. I did have a couple of teachers that seemed sympathetic towards her ideas, but that was rare. So, I can relate when Miss Rand says that the intelligent teenager wants to “…understand things and issues, big issues, about which no one else seems to care.” (Pg. 33)

Miss Rand goes on to say that most intelligent teenagers start college with the hope that it will be better, but their first year is too often a “psychological killer”(Pg. 33). He went to college hoping to find answers and meaning, and some companions to share his interest in ideas. She notes that he may find a handful of teachers that live up to his hopes, but “…as to intellectual companionship, he finds the same gang he had met in kindergarten, in playgrounds, and in vacant lots: a leering, screeching, aggressively mindless gang playing the same games, with latinized jargon replacing the mud pies and the baseball bats.” (Pg. 34)

I found Rand’s description of college to be fairly accurate at the University of Texas at Austin, which is easily the most left-wing school in Texas. One English professor was particularly terrible. He interpreted everything we read through the lens of “multiculturalism” and “feminism”. He told the class that Thomas Jefferson was a racist and a hypocrite when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. I raised my hand and disagreed with him. I told him that the Declaration of Independence may not have been consistently applied at the founding, but it formed the intellectual basis on which the nation eventually moved towards abolishing slavery. His response was that the civil war was the reason the slaves were freed. I disagreed, and said that slavery would have been abolished eventually anyway. In that professor’s mind, ideas had nothing to do with it. The use of physical force was all that mattered. It makes me wonder why he bothered to be a professor at all, if he thought ideas were so futile.

Going back to Miss Rand’s essay, how do too many intelligent college students deal with the intellectual wasteland that is college? “There are many wrong directions he can make at this crossroads, but the deadliest -psychologically, intellectually, and morally- is the attempt to join the gang at the price of selling his soul to uninterested buyers. It is an attempt to apologize for his intellectual concerns…by professing that his thinking is dedicated to some social-altruistic goal.” (Pg. 34) She notes that this is rarely a conscious decision on his or her part. It is done gradually and subconsciously and by semiconscious rationalization. She also notes that altruism “…offers an arsenal of such rationalizations: if an unformed adolescent can tell himself that his…subservience is unselfishness…he is hooked. By the time he is old enough to know better, the erosion of his self-esteem is such that he dares not face or reexamine the issue.” (pg. 34)

What is the psychology of an intelligent person who goes to college and professes that he is using his mind to serve others? Such a man or woman has some “…degree of social metaphysics [secondhandedness]…” (Pg. 34) The concept of “social metaphysics” requires some explanation, which Rand does supply: “Basically, a social metaphysician is motivated by the desire to escape the responsibility of independent thought, and he surrenders the mind he is afraid to use, preferring to follow the judgments of others.” (Pg. 34)

If you’ve read Miss Rand’s book The Fountainhead, the character Peter Keating is the ultimate “second-hander” or “social metaphysician”. If you haven’t read that novel, it could be thought of as the “go along to get along” type of personality. (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/go_along_to_get_along) It does not mean never compromising on non-fundamental or trivial matters. So, for instance if you are going to dinner with a friend, and they prefer Italian food and you want Chinese, and you compromise by going to an Italian restaurant, with the understanding that next time you will pick the restaurant, that isn’t social metaphysics. That is simply recognizing that there are a range of food preferences that vary by person, you can only go to one place at a time, and that friendship is about shared values, which means showing an interest in what your friends are interested in.

The social metaphysician regards society -others- as the standard of reality. The social order as it happens to exist is accepted by him, or her, and then he or she operates within it. A social metaphysician can be quite successful at operating within that social order, but she never questions it. This is why Rand called them social metaphysicians.

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the most fundamental aspects of the nature of reality. Metaphysics are the principles that must be understood before one can study particular sciences like physics or biology. For instance, in Miss Rand’s philosophy, she accepts the existence of an external universe as the given. The entities that make up the universe have a particular nature and those entities act in accordance with that nature. According to Miss Rand’s system of metaphysics, an entity is what it is regardless of anyone’s desires or wishes to the contrary. If one is a social metaphysician, then the metaphysical, i.e., reality, is less important than the “man-made”. The man-made includes all of our social institutions and customs. Unlike reality, the man-made depends on human choice, and could be other than it is. For instance, America is a Republic and not a Monarchy because people chose to make it that way. It’s continued existence as a Republic depends on human choice. The social metaphysician simply accepts these man-made customs as the given, and rarely questions them. In fact, a social metaphysician has so internalized this way of thinking, that anyone who questions generally accepted social institutions will make her feel uneasy.

Social metaphysicians who are less intelligent, and didn’t go to college, are the “good old boys” and “rednecks” that one might see in a small, rural town. The social metaphysician is also quite common in inner cities, but I don’t know what the polite word to describe them would be. For lack of a polite term, I will call them “black rednecks”. A “black redneck” from a large inner city like Chicago or New York will be highly critical of anyone from his neighborhood who studies hard and tries to better his economic standing. He will accuse high-achievers in his race of “acting white”. This is a perfect example of the social metaphysician attitude. The “black redneck” believes there are certain social customs and institutions that are not to be questioned -unfortunately those social customs and institutions in minority communities include the belief that gaining knowledge and education is not in accordance with being of African descent. Anyone from his racial group who defies those customs is therefore a traitor in the social metaphysician’s eyes. There was once a great episode of a show that I didn’t typically watch that covered this topic, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” where the “nerdy” character “Carlton” is accused of being a race-traitor.

Another great essay by Rand describing basically the same mentality as this type of social metaphysician, the “anti-conceptual tribalist”, can be found in Philosophy: Who Needs It called: The Missing Link.

The intelligent teenager who goes to college and has the “social metaphysician” mindset will not become a redneck, though. He (or she) will become a “liberal” -which is the “educated” equivalent. To a social metaphysician college student, it seems like all of his professors and peers accept the idea that the individual must sacrifice himself to the “common good”. This means that in the social metaphysician’s eyes, the idea of self-sacrifice is one of the social institutions and custom of college. It is the social order that is not to be questioned.

The psychology of social metaphysics doesn’t entirely explain the “liberal mindset”, however. The college “liberal” is also engaged in “intellectual appeasement”: “…an intellectual appeaser surrenders morality, the realm of values, in order to be permitted to use his mind. The degree of self-abasement is greater [than the social metaphysician]; the implicit view of the mind -as functioning by permission of the mindless -is unspeakable. (Nor does the appeaser often care to speak of it.)” (Pg. 34)

“There are as many variants of the consequences [of being an intellectual appeaser] as there are men who commit this particular type of moral treason. But certain scars of psychological deformity can be observed in most of them as their common symptoms.” (Pg. 35) Rand then describes some common consequences of being an intellectual appeaser.

First, the intellectual appeaser tends to hate mankind in general, and to regard them as “…evil by nature, he complains about their congenital stupidity…” (pg. 35) I regard the “people are stupid” attitude as the hallmark of the “liberal” or “progressive”. “Liberal” politicians like Michael Bloomberg pass laws to restrict the size of sugary drinks because he thinks people are too stupid to regulate their own caloric intake. The “liberal”, intellectual appeaser view of “…the people at large is a nightmare image -the image of a mindless brute endowed with some inexplicably omnipotent power -and he lives in terror of that image…emotionally, he keeps feeling the brute’s presence behind every corner…The brute is the frozen embodiment of mankind as projected by the emotions of an adolescent appeaser.” (Pg. 35)

In my own experience, the belief that the majority of people are brutish is why most “liberals” are for gun control. They believe that most human beings are seething cauldrons of rage who will snap at the slightest provocation -that they are brutes. I saw this when Texas legalized concealed carry with a license in the mid-1990’s. “Liberals” claimed that it would lead to the “wild west” -with people shooting each other over trivial matters like parking spots. This is not to say that murder never happens, but the world today is arguably less violent than it has ever been. (“Steven Pinker: The surprising decline in violence” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk )

Second, a “…corollary symptom, in most intellectual appeasers, is the ‘elite’ premise -the dogmatic, unshakable belief that ‘the masses don’t think,’ that men are impervious to reason, that thinking is the exclusive prerogative of a small, ‘chosen’ minority.” (Pg. 36) In politics, this “elitism” manifests itself in the form of two types of “intellectual appeasers”. There are the more aggressive “liberals”, who believe in rule by physical force because “…people are unfit for freedom and should be ruled -‘for their own good’- by a dictatorship of the ‘elite’.”(Pg. 36) These are the Michael Bloomberg’s and Hillary Clinton’s of the world, who want to force people to buy smaller soft drinks or to buy health insurance because they are supposedly too stupid to take care of themselves.

Unfortunately, the other type of intellectual appeaser is predominately found in the Republican Party: “The more timorous type of appeasers, the ‘conservatives,’ take a different line: they share the notion of an intellectual ‘elite’ and, therefore, they discard intellectuality as numerically unimportant, and they concentrate on cajoling the brute (‘the masses’) with baby talk -with vapid slogans, flattering bromides, folksy speeches in two-syllable words, on the explicit premise that reason does not work, that the brute must be won through appeals to his emotions and must, somehow, be fooled or cheated into taking the right road.”(Pg. 36)

This analysis of conservatism provides a possible explanation for the popularity of Donald Trump in the Republican party. One thing I’ve noticed about Trump’s campaign is that it tends to be short on many specifics, but it contains a lot of emotional appeals, bromides, and verbal “put downs” of the other Republican candidates. This is not something new within the Republican party, though. Ronald Reagan was the master of “flattering bromides”, “folksy speeches”, and one-liners at debates. Trump is just a little bit more blunt in his delivery than Reagan was.

A third consequence of being an intellectual appeaser is moral cowardice, which is “…the necessary consequence of discarding morality as inconsequential.”(Pg. 36) For the “progressive” intellectual appeaser, the image of the brute is “…the symbol of an appeaser’s belief in the supremacy of evil…when his mind judges a thing to be evil, his emotions proclaim its power, and the more evil, the more powerful.” (Pg. 36)

This can be understood in terms of what the intellectual appeaser has accepted as “good” or “moral”. The intellectual appeaser is a proponent of self-sacrifice in the service of others, which is generally known as “altruism”. This means that “good” action for the altruist consists in destroying one’s own happiness and sacrificing one’s life in order to serve others. As a result, “good” and “right action” is self-weakening, and self-destructive. To the altruist, those who do not engage in self-sacrifice will be regarded as morally bad. However, the altruist can see that people who do not sacrifice themselves to others are more successful at living. For instance, someone who rejects altruism will have more wealth because they refuse to drain off their financial resources to help complete strangers. The person who rejects altruism has an easier life. In the altruist’s subconscious mind, the good has become associated with self-destruction, while the evil has become associated with the efficacious. The mistake lies in the intellectual appeaser’s belief that self-sacrifice is “the good”, when it is, in fact, the opposite of the good -if one wants to live.

The result of the intellectual appeaser’s inverted moral system is his belief that “…the self-assertive confidence of the good [the good by the standard of those who actually want to live] is a reproach, a threat to his precarious pseudo-self-esteem, a disturbing phenomenon from a universe whose existence he cannot permit himself to acknowledge -and his emotional response is a nameless resentment. The self-assertive confidence of the evil [those who violate individual rights] is a metaphysical confirmation, the sign of a universe in which he feels at home -and his emotional response is bitterness, but obedience. Some dictators -who boastfully stress their reign of terror, such as Hitler and Stalin -count on this kind of psychology. There are people on whom it works.” (Pg. 37)

The final result of this sort of moral cowardice of the “liberal” intellectual appeaser is to oppose those who want to live, the actual good, in order to appease those who want to violate individual rights, and eventually “…to pounce upon every possible or impossible chance to blacken the nature of the good and to whitewash the nature of the evil.” (Pg. 37) This is why so-called “liberals” were always quick to apologize for atrocities and human rights violations committed by the Soviet Union. It’s also why “liberals” engage in ad hominem criticisms of Ayn Rand because she collected social security -like we’re all supposed to be forced to pay into that system and then “fall on our own swords” and not try to collect out of it. (This is altruist thinking.)

A fourth consequence of being an intellectual appeaser can be seen in art. “Progressives” are always fascinated by movies and art that is a “…projection of cosmic terror, guilt, impotence, misery, doom…” (Pg. 37) “Liberals” and “progressives” are fascinated with movies that study “homicidal maniacs” (Pg. 37), like “Natural Born Killers” or “Dexter” because of their subconscious belief that such people are the norm. They believe destruction is the norm, while creation is an aberration, because they hate mankind.

A fifth consequence of being a “liberal” intellectual appeaser is “…the dry rot of cynicism…”(Pg. 38) that eventually sets in. As the “liberal” appeaser grows older, any “…pretense at any belief in altruism vanishes from his [or her] mind in a very few years, and there is nothing left to replace it: his independent capacity to value has been repressed -and his fear of the brute makes the pursuit of values seem hopelessly impractical.” (Pg. 38) I suspect that this is the point that has been reached by a politician like Hillary Clinton. At this stage in her life, she is probably running on fumes. Her denial of any responsibility in the attacks on the American embasy in Benghazi, and her attempt to shift blame onto a YouTube video shows this sort of cynicism. In response to Congressional criticism about Benghazi, Hillary Clinton said: “What difference at this point does it make?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka0_nz53CcM) It doesn’t make any difference in Clinton’s mind, because the truth doesn’t matter. All that matters to her is whether she can con the American people into making her President.

Sixth, the intellectual appeaser ultimately spends so much time pandering to her own image of the “the masses” as a stupid, irrational mob, that she eventually “…assumes the standards of those he [or she] professes to despise…Any man who is willing to speak or write ’down,’, i.e., to think down- who distorts his own ideas in order to accommodate the mindless, who subordinates truth to fear -becomes eventually indistinguishable from the hacks who cater to an alleged ‘public taste.’ He joins the hordes who believe that the mind is impotent, that reason is futile, that ideas are only means of fooling the masses (i.e., that ideas are important to the unthinking, but the thinkers know better…” (Pg. 38) In my own experience with self-described “liberals” and “progressives”, this has been true. They will imply to me that reason is just a means of tricking or fooling people, and that objective truth is not even possible.

Ayn Rand had a more realistic picture of the majority of mankind than the “liberal” appeaser: “No, men are not brutes; neither are they all independent thinkers. The majority of men are not intellectual initiators or orginiators; they accept what the culture offers them….their abstract range is limited…The truly deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser’s intellectual abdication that invites them to take over…When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes.” (Pg. 39)

Ayn Rand was not pessimistic about the future, so long as the more intelligent people refused to become altruistic intellectual appeasers: “No, the average man is not morally inocent. But the best proof of his non-brutality, of his helpless, confused, inarticulate longing for truth, for an intelligible, rational world -and of his response to it, when given a chance he cannot create on his own -is the fact that no dictatorship has ever lasted without establishing censorship.” (Pg. 39)

How does one avoid becoming an intellectual appeaser? By being “…proud of his intelligence -regardless of their [the average person’s] approval or disapproval. No matter how hard this might be in a corrupt age like ours, he has, in fact, no alternative. It is his only chance at a world where intelligence can function, which means: a world where he -and, incidentally, they -can survive.”  (Pg. 39)

Regrettably, I suspect that by the time most people are about 30, it would be very difficult for them to change. They have too many habituated behaviors and thought patterns. But, Ayn Rand remains popular with the young, so I think that there is still a chance.

Bernie Sanders: The Pied Piper of Self-Sacrifice

Bernie Sanders will likely loose the Democratic Party Primary. Despite this, I want to take a moment to discuss his ideology and his philosophy, which must be resisted -if you regard your own life and the pursuit of your own happiness as important. This is true whether you are “rich” or “poor”. I will discuss Mr. Sander’s philosophy in the context of an interview I found online. The interviewer’s name was Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB CEO Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation. Mr. Rosica is a Catholic Priest. The interview with Bernie Sanders was posted on the Washington Post web site, and can be found in its entirety at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/bernie-sanders-calls-pope-francis-a-socialist/2016/02/22/9fefd340-d9b4-11e5-8210-f0bd8de915f6_video.html

I transcribed the portions of the interview that I considered to be relevant to what I want to write about here:

Bernie Sanders: [1:00 minutes] “What the Pope has done in a very bold way is not only talk about the dispossessed…people who just don’t have enough income to survive…but what he has also done is raise the issue of the worship of money, the idolatry of money, and to say maybe that’s not what human life should be about…”

Fr. Rosica: [1:40 minutes]“They call you a socialist…do you think he’s a socialist [Pope Francis]?”

Bernie Sanders:[1:54 minutes] “….Well, what it means to be a socialist in the sense of what the Pope is talking about, and what I’m talking about, is to say that we have got to do our best and live our lives in a way that alleviates human suffering, uh, that does not accelerate the disparities of income and wealth. Uh, when he talks about wealth being used to serve people – not as an end in itself- I agree with that. In this country, and obviously the Pope is a worldwide figure, the church is worldwide, we are the wealthiest country in the history of the world, and if you go out in the street and you ask people, “Did you know that we’re the wealthiest country in the world?” They’d say “No, I’m working two or three jobs, I’m making 8 dollars an hour, I don’t know that we’re the wealthiest. I can’t afford childcare for my children.” So, what the Pope is saying is that human life, our existence, should be more than just the accumulation of more and more wealth, and everybody knows that right now we have the wealth, we have the technology, to provide at least a decent standard of living for all of our people, and so few should not have so much, and I think that’s what the Pope is talking about.”

Mr. Sanders isn’t exclusively talking about more welfare for poor people here. This is made clear when he says: “What the Pope has done in a very bold way is not only talk about the dispossessed…people who just don’t have enough income to survive…but what he has also done is raise the issue of the worship of money, the idolatry of money, and to say maybe that’s not what human life should be about…” (emphasis added) Mr. Sanders claims that people “worship” money.

What is money? It is a medium of exchange used instead of the barter system. Money involves trade. It is used when people want to voluntarily exchange goods and services with each other. It presupposes that (1) Each party to the transaction has something that the other regards as valuable, and (2) that each party has a right to use and transfer what he has produced as he sees fit. Why does each person have the right to dispose of what he has produced? It can only be the case if one regards his own life as important to him -if he wants to live. Money is a tool -it is a means of satisfying your material wants and needs by voluntary trade with other people who are also interested in satisfying their material needs. We all have these material needs -we all need a certain number of material goods in order to live. We all need food, clothing, and shelter, and it isn’t provided by nature. It must be produced by someone. If some produce while other appropriate by force what they have produced, then those producers are not free to live their lives. They are slaves to those who don’t produce.

I would hasten to add that it is possible to be irrational about the pursuit of money. It’s possible to pursue it over and above other things that would be more important to a rational human being. In the novel “A Christmas Carol”, Ebenezer Scrooge chooses to pursue more money over a marriage to the woman he loved (Belle):

[Belle:] “Our contract is an old one. It was made when we were both poor and content to be so, until, in good season, we could improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry. You are changed. When it was made, you were another man.”… [Scrooge:]“Have I ever sought release?” [Belle:] “In words. No. Never.” [Scrooge:]“In what, then?” [Belle:] “In a changed nature; in an altered spirit; in another atmosphere of life; another Hope as its great end. In everything that made my love of any worth or value in your sight. If this had never been between us,” said the girl, looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon him; [Belle:] “tell me, would you seek me out and try to win me now? Ah, no!” He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in spite of himself. But he said with a struggle, [Scrooge:] “You think not.” [Belle:] “I would gladly think otherwise if I could,” she answered, [Belle:] “Heaven knows! When I have learned a Truth like this, I know how strong and irresistible it must be. But if you were free to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I believe that you would choose a dowerless girl—you who, in your very confidence with her, weigh everything by Gain: or, choosing her, if for a moment you were false enough to your one guiding principle to do so, do I not know that your repentance and regret would surely follow? I do; and I release you. With a full heart, for the love of him you once were.” He was about to speak; but with her head turned from him, she resumed. [Belle:] “You may—the memory of what is past half makes me hope you will—have pain in this. A very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the recollection of it, gladly, as an unprofitable dream, from which it happened well that you awoke. May you be happy in the life you have chosen!” (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm)

Scrooge was not truly acting in a manner that promoted his own life. He chose a little more money over love of a “dowerless girl”. (A “dowry” was money or property that a wife or wife’s family gives to her husband when the wife and husband marry.) The problem here is Scrooge had already satisfied a certain level of material well-being, but he choose a few more dollars over the love of his life (Belle). Even in this case, who did Ebenezer Scrooge hurt -in the most fundamental sense? He hurt himself. (Belle went on to find a man that valued her in a more rational manner -as shown by a later scene in “A Christmas Carroll”.) Scrooge’s own life was (presumably) of utmost importance to him, but he damaged that life by pursuing more money over Belle.

Rational egoism means making your own life your ultimate value, and recognizing that reality demands that you must take certain actions in order to further it, such as working to produce the material values you need to survive. But, rational egoism means more than just acquiring material wealth. If you want to fall in love, you actually have to go out, and try to meet people, and you have to go out on dates. If you want friends, you have to find people that you have things in common with, and make an effort to make them a part of your life. If you want knowledge, you must read books, go to school, and study new ideas. If you want to be rational, you must study logic, and learn the method of objectivity. If you want happiness, you must discover what will make you happy, and then pursue it relentlessly. The level of wealth that each of us chooses to acquire in relation to other important values is a personal matter, and will often depend on your personal context and situation. One of the values of Capitalism is that it leaves each individual free to decide what level of wealth he will pursue. If he chooses to irrationally pursue additional wealth over love or friendship like Ebenezer Scrooge, that is his choice to make, and he will live with the consequences.

But, Bernie Sanders is not talking about the irrational pursuit of money like the case of Ebenezer Scrooge, because he does not accept the morality of rational egoism. He does not want you to live your life for your own sake. He reveals this when he discusses what it means to be a “socialist”. As a preliminary matter, it must be noted that the actual, accepted, definition of “socialism” is along the lines of: “…a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies…” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism Whether governmental ownership of the means of production is actually in anybody’s rational self interest is more of a question for Economics and History. (I refer you to the old Soviet Union for an example of how socialism just makes everyone poor.) Governmental ownership of the means of production is not what Bernie Sanders is primarily talking about:

Bernie Sanders:[1:54 minutes] “….Well, what it means to be a socialist in the sense of what the Pope is talking about, and what I’m talking about, is to say that we have got to do our best and live our lives in a way that alleviates human suffering, uh, that does not accelerate the disparities of income and wealth.”

Whose suffering is Mr. Sanders talking about here? Are we talking about you taking action to better your own life and maximize your own happiness? It’s doubtful, given the rest of what Mr. Sanders said, that this is what he means. Bernie Sanders is not advocating “socialism” per se here. He is advocating “altruism”. He does not believe that your own life is important for its own sake, or that you should pursue your own happiness -and leave others free to pursue their own as well. Mr. Sanders says we should all: “…do our best and live our lives in a way that alleviates human suffering…” Service to others and self-sacrifice, i.e., altruism, is what Bernie Sanders advocates. To Mr. Sanders, your own life is secondary to the purpose of alleviating the suffering of others.

Furthermore, for Bernie Sanders, the more successful you are -the more productive you are- the more you should sacrifice yourself to others: “…right now we have the wealth, we have the technology, to provide at least a decent standard of living for all of our people…” However, “wealth” is nothing but the material means by which you maintain your life and pursue your own happiness. Imagine that you want to spend more time furthering your writing career (or painting, or sculpture, or dance). If you want to buy a washing machine so that you don’t have to spend enormous amounts of time washing your clothes by hand, so that you can pursue your career in art, according to Bernie Sanders, you can’t -unless you first buy a washing machine for all the people in inner cities, Appalachia, and the Third World. Imagine that you want to get married to the love of your life. If you want to buy your girlfriend an engagement ring as a symbol of your love when you ask her to marry you, you cannot -unless you ensure that every unmarried bachelor in the world can afford to buy one for his fiance. Imagine that you want to have children. You can’t buy that toy for your child -until you buy a toy for every child, everywhere. Furthermore, would Mr. Sanders even limit this self-sacrifice to the material realm? Once this notion is accepted, shouldn’t you go out and marry a girl you don’t love out of charity? Hell, maybe you have to find a spouse for everyone else first? Shouldn’t you spend time with your worst enemy, who does nothing but denigrate you, rather than seeking out people who would value you and your friendship? What about the “suffering” of someone who chooses to be obnoxious and boorish in any social situation, such that no one wants to be his or her friend? Shouldn’t you put up with his or her undesirable behavior and be friends, even though you gain nothing from the relationship and feel totally “drained” by their toxic friendship?

What motivates support for Bernie Sanders? For some it may be genuine envy -a hatred of those who want to live and are successful at doing so. However, I have too much faith in the good will of my fellow man, so I refuse to believe that this is anything more than a small number of people. I think most people support Bernie Sanders out of fear. They fear loosing their job, they fear getting sick and having no way to pay for it, they fear their child will get sick or starve, and they won’t be able to pay for it. There are no guarantees in life, and that is a scary thought. I understand this fear, and I feel it, too, sometimes. But, the desire to use armed force to obtain from others the goods you need for survival must be resisted -and that is what we are talking about when we talk about the welfare state and socialism. If you refuse to pay taxes for the support of others, the police will come for you and arrest you. If you resist, they will use clubs and handcuffs. If you resist with a weapon, they will shoot you. If they put you in prison for not paying taxes, and you try to escape, you will be shot by the guards. Right now, you may regard someone else as “the wealthy”. You may think that you can “get away with” expropriating the goods produced by “the wealthy”, and make your own material circumstances better. Be aware that you’re playing a risky game. Someone, someday, may decide that you are “the wealthy”. They may also decide they have a big enough voting block and the necessary government force, i.e. a big enough gang, to take it from you. Then you will be the one to have his wealth expropriated.

Today I Will Vote For Marco Rubio In The Republican Party Primary

Today I am going to early vote. I’ve decided to vote in the Republican Party primary. (Texas is an open primary state.) I have decided to vote in that party’s primary because I do not want to see a continuation of the Obama Presidency, which is what I see with both of the major Democratic candidates. (I’ve outlined my critique of Obama here: http://deancook.net/2016/02/20/the-obama-presidency-a-postmortem/)

I have looked at the three most likely Republican candidates at this point, and tried to seriously weigh the pros and cons of each one. These three candidates are: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.

I have decided to vote for Marco Rubio because I think his views are the “least bad”. I don’t consider any of the Presidential candidates of either major party to be ideal, but if I am going to vote at all, I have to operate within the realm of these choices and not some other candidate who doesn’t exist at this time.

I generally consider my political views to be so far outside the mainstream of American thought that voting is always a “lesser of two evils” approach for me. I also think there could be good reasons to vote Democratic, depending on your particular personal context. I think this is particularly true for women. If I were a woman, I’d probably vote Democratic on the abortion issue alone. I am very “pro-choice”, but since I am not female, that issue is just not as “visceral” or “personal” for me. I think it could be a very important issue for a woman who thinks that she has a right to live her own life and make her own choices free from governmental interference.

I’ve also seen a lot of infighting between different Republicans over their particular preference for the Republican Party nominee, and I hope that this will not step on too many toes. Just like I could see good reasons for voting Democratic for certain people in certain contexts, I think it is possible that one could have a knowledge context or background that would make Trump or Cruz appealing for very personal, and not necessarily irrational, reasons. At the end of the day, I am not prepared to say that my voting choice is the best choice for everyone because I am not omniscient, and there may be facts that I am unaware of. I’ve just tried to make the best choice I could make given my knowledge and context. This is my best attempt to reason it all out.

Donald Trump:

Pros:

(1) A certain “emotional appeal” with statements like “Make America Great Again”.

(2) He is willing to discuss “uncomfortable issues” like race relations and Islamic Terrorism and refuses to be “politically correct” about it. (By “politically correct” I mean speaking in euphemistic terms on those issues, to pretend like the problem isn’t there, or to fear offending people when addressing the facts associated with the problem.)

Cons:

(1) He seems to lack any clear, express, guiding political principles. Trump seems to operate on an emotional level, and I worry that his emotions could change for the worse later down the road -without any rhyme or reason for why they have changed.

(2) Trump seems to support some of the same things that Bernie Sanders wants. For instance, Trump seems to support single-payer socialized medicine.

Ted Cruz:

Pros:

(1) Strong knowledge of the Constitution. Although I don’t agree with all aspects of his “originalist jurisprudence”, he would bring forth thought-provoking and challenging ideas when it comes to nominating judges for the Federal courts.

(2) His foreign policy seems to strike the right “balance”, in my mind, between being assertive in the use of military force to defend American interests while not becoming “the world’s policeman” or attempting to “right every wrong” out there. (This article seemed to set out the different Republican approaches on foreign policy in this election: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2015/05/rubio-vs-paul-vs-cruz-on-foreign-policy )

Cons:

(1) He is everything I hate about the Republican party -and I think he really believes it. He wants to erode the separation of church and state. In fact, I am fairly certain he thinks the very idea of “separation of church and state” is offensive. He is anti-abortion rights for women. Although they all claim to be “pro-life”, I suspect that of the three listed here, Cruz is the most opposed to respecting a woman’s right to make her own decisions when it comes to ending a pregnancy.

Marco Rubio:

Pros:

(1) He seems to be very thoughtful on many issues. I watched a Republican Party debate between Rubio and Cruz on foreign policy, and, although I tended to side with Cruz, I thought Rubio had well-thought-out positions on these issues.

(2) Immigration reform. Although I’ve heard compelling arguments from people that I respect on why immigration should be greatly restricted, at the end of the day, I think there probably is some sort of right to immigrate into the country consistent with the government ensuring that those coming in are not here to commit acts of war against the United States or its citizens. I too am concerned that people immigrating into the United States will want to make this nation less capitalistic and less free than it already is -and I don’t just mean property rights. Have any of you Democrats thought about what happens when mostly Catholic immigrants start voting to restrict abortion and birth control rights? Also, last time I checked, the Pope is opposed to gay marriage. However, I think there are ways to mitigate this “cultural dilution”. For instance we can allow automatic legal permanent residency, but not automatic citizenship. (This seems to be Rubio’s plan. https://marcorubio.com/issues-2/marco-rubio-immigration-plan-border-security-legal/) This will restrict the vote to native-born Americans, and hopefully, the children of immigrants will be more culturally assimilated than their parents. I also think that Hispanic immigrants can be reached and convinced that free markets and a government reduced to the protection of life, liberty, and property is best. All human beings have the capacity to think -so they can be reached. My, admittedly anecdotal, experience is that immigrants are very interested in working hard and making money -not on imposing international socialism on the United States.

(3) Rubio seems less strident on issues like abortion. He says he is “pro-life”, and I take him at his word, but I also don’t get the impression that it is going to be a major issue for him, whereas I think Ted Cruz would push that issue as President.

Cons:

(1) He seems like more of a conventional politician. I think he is more interested in getting elected than he is in pushing any particular ideology. However, given the fact that I think much of Ted Cruz’s ideology is wrong, I guess I’d rather have someone who is more “middle of the road” or “pragmatic” like Rubio.

The Obama Presidency: A Postmortem

I consider the two serious candidates in the 2016 Democratic Presidential primary to be unpalatable. I think that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would be a continuation of Barack Obama’s Presidency, and I have become disgusted by Mr. Obama. I voted for Obama in 2008 because I considered him to be the “lesser of two evils” at the time.

Obama’s claim that he would be a “post-racial” President also made me hopeful. At the time, I thought Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech struck just the right balance, and frankly discussed the complications associated with race. In the speech, Obama defended his decision to continue attendance at a church where the pastor had made racist and narrow-minded comments. The basic theme of Obama’s speech on that occasion was that there may be people we care about who hold racist views, but you don’t necessarily have to disown those people because a person’s views on race is not the end-all-be-all when it comes to judging a person’s character:

“ I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_More_Perfect_Union_%28speech%29

Despite Obama’s optimistic tone in 2008, by 2013, I think Obama had abandoned any pretense of being a “post-racial” President. The event that solidified this in my mind was the George Zimmerman criminal case. I’m not going to go over the specifics of that case, or try to “re-litigate” that issue. I think the jury reached the right verdict in that trial. I studied the facts, and it was clear to me that there was reasonable doubt as to George Zimmerman’s guilt. However, for most of 2012 and 2013, I had to listen to the news media do it’s best to convict Mr. Zimmerman in the court of public opinion.

Mr. Obama, the President of the United States, chose to inject himself into a purely local matter of criminal law. (http://whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/23/president-obama-statement-on-trayvon-martin-case/) He aided and abetted the news media in doing its best to ensure that George Zimmerman wouldn’t get a fair trial. The fact that Obama did that, regardless of his actual comments on the matter, spoke volumes to me. It said to me that far from wanting a “post-racial society”, where race doesn’t matter, he wanted to play the usual Democratic game of whipping up racial animosity within the black community to garner political support. This game consists of convincing black people that most white Americans are racist in order to get votes.

Race relations under Obama only got worse from the George Zimmerman trial. Next there was the unrest in Ferguson Missouri. In that case, the facts are also fairly clear to me: Officer Darren Wilson acted within the law and generally accepted notions of self-defense when he shot Michael Brown. Despite this, the Obama Justice Department conducted an investigation into the shooting, once again showing me that he was prepared to inject himself into a purely local matter. If a black police officer had shot a white man under similar circumstances, I have no doubt that Obama’s administration would not have concerned itself with it. The message from the Obama administration has been clear: he believes most cops, judges, juries and prosecutors are racist, and the Justice Department must step in to right that “wrong”. Since cops, judges, and juries are all drawn from the general population of America, it means Obama believes most white Americans are racist. Obama believes what his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, believes. He was lying when he talked about a “post racial America” where we can finally move beyond this issue.

There are a lot of other reasons that I have become disgusted with Obama. The Affordable Care Act involved another lie. I specifically remember a debate between Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary in which Obama said he was not in favor of an individual mandate for health insurance:

“OBAMA:…So we’ve got a lot of similarities in our plan. We’ve got a philosophical difference, which we’ve debated repeatedly, and that is that Senator Clinton believes the only way to achieve universal health care is to force everybody to purchase it.” http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/21/debate.transcript/index.html

What did we get? An individual mandate to buy health insurance.

Obama says the Bush Administration was mistaken to invade Iraq because it created a power vacuum in that area that gave rise to ISIS. Regardless of whether this is true, what has Obama done? He used military force to topple the Gaddafi regime in Lybia, which has now been infiltrated by ISIS. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/fighter-jets-target-libya-s-sabratha-40-killed-official-n521506

By virtue of the fact that Barack Obama was our nation’s first black President, his policies on race relations were probably always going to take center stage. His initial promise was that he would move us beyond racial animosity and strife, but instead he has fanned the flames of racial tension with his actions and words. Instead of saying: “I am the President, and I stand for the rights of all Americans regardless of color,” his actions have been otherwise. Obama has shown us that he is more in the “political camp” of Al Sharpton: someone who wants to use the animosities against white Americans that exist in minority communities to advance his own political power. Even on other major issues that don’t involve race, he has consistently said one thing, and then done another.

The Plano Ordinance Banning Discrimination Is An Attempt to Substitute Force for Reason

Even though I live in Plano, I apparently missed this ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals by businesses when it was originally approved earlier this month. I am opposed to the ordinance for the same reason I oppose the initiation of governmental force *even* when it is for a supposedly “good cause”.

In my personal life, I don’t discriminate against gays and racial minorities because I don’t think it is in my rational self-interest to do so. If a person has a value to offer me in trade, or has a new idea that is true, then it would not be beneficial to my life to avoid that person just because of his skin color or sexual preference. (Similarly, I don’t pretend to like someone  -as many white “liberals” seem anxious to do- when that person behaves like an obnoxious moron, and happens to be a member of a racial minority group.)  Even if certain sexual preferences are irrational, that would not prevent me from buying or selling goods or services from such a person, since their private sex life would have no bearing on the purchase or sale of goods and services. I don’t pick my grocer based on what he does in his bedroom, but based on whether he sells me the best groceries at the best price. Economically, speaking, such discrimination will also fail, because any business that refuses to sell to a particular customer group would invite competition from other profit-seeking businesses. (The mere fact that there is a sufficiently large enough political majority in Plano willing to enact such an anti-discrimination ordinance tells me that there are large numbers of people and businesses willing and able to sell to homosexuals, or the ordinance never would have passed in the first place.)

My opposition to the Plano ordinance also isn’t based in the silly “religious freedom” arguments that get advanced by some conservatives. By this reasoning, people can engage in human sacrifice or cannibalism and then claim that it is part of their “religious freedom” to do so. Government must protect individual rights, and this means that it can rightfully prohibit any action that violates rights. But, fundamentally speaking, government can *only* protect rights, not make people use their minds when they choose not to. This is the proper basis of religious freedom. Even if the majority of people were atheist, the religious minority, would need to be left free to have and speak their beliefs, because there is no way to force them to use their rational faculty if they choose not to. Only reason and persuasion can change them.

The reason I oppose this ordinance is because it is based in the assumption that reason and persuasion are not the proper means of dealing with other men. This ordinances is based in the assumption that one can instead simply rule over men with a gun as your only syllogism. But, when the initiation of force, not reason, becomes your method of dealing with men, watch out! Soon your society will stop being governed by law and reason, and will instead be ruled by those who are most effective at brutality, force, and violence. (Then your society will perish.) 

Greg Abbott Is Opposed To the Second Amendment

Greg Abbott: No friend of the Second amendment

“The state of Texas, arguing against the challenge, noted that three-quarters of the states have laws requiring a person to be at least 21 to get a license to carry a gun. The state’s attorney general, Greg Abbott, was in the uncomfortable position of defending the law…”
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/court-passes-challenges-restricting-handguns-young-adults-n37196

A Note on “Christianity: Good of Bad for Mankind” February 2013 Debate at The University of Texas

   I recently attended a debate titled “Christianity: Good or Bad for Mankind?”.  The participants were Andrew Bernstein and Dinesh D’Souza.  Bernstein argued on the side of “Christianity is bad for mankind.”  Dinesh D’Souza argued on the side of “Christianity is good for mankind.”  The debate was advertised with the following description: “Is Christianity the source of important truths, moral law, and man’s rights and thus profoundly good for mankind—or is it antithetical to all such values and thus profoundly bad?” https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/events/dsouza-bernstein.asp
   I was glad to see the debate, and hear the arguments, especially the arguments of Dinesh D’Souza, since he can be considered a “conservative intellectual”, so his arguments presumably represent the “conservative party line”, to the extent that there is a coherent line of thinking held by most conservatives.  However, I think that an important topic was not directly addressed in the debate, which tended to center around the issue of: “Does god exist?”  It’s possible that the debate devolved to this issue on the assumption that if god does not exist, then Christianity is bad for mankind, and if god does exist, then Christianity is good for mankind. I had mentioned this debate to some friends, and one of them saw the question of the debate not as “Does god exist?” but as: “Is Christianity good for mankind, regardless of god’s existence?”  This was also my major complaint about the direction of the debate right after I saw it.  After some thinking, I think this raises a more general question, which is: What is the relationship between “the true” and “the good”, if any?  Even if some of us atheists know there is no evidence for the existence of god (that it is not true), can it still be argued that belief in a supreme being is still good for mankind (that the belief is good), even if it is a sort of collective delusion?
The dictionary provides several definitions of “good”:
a. 1 a : something that is good  Merriam-Webster (2009-06-12). Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Kindle Locations 501629-501630). Merriam-Webster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
b. 1 b (1) : something conforming to the moral order of the universe (2) : praiseworthy character : goodness  Merriam-Webster (2009-06-12). Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Kindle Locations 501630-501633). Merriam-Webster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
c. 2 a : advancement of prosperity or well-being   Merriam-Webster (2009-06-12). Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Kindle Location 501634-501636). Merriam-Webster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
d. 2 b : something useful or beneficial  Merriam-Webster (2009-06-12). Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Kindle Locations 501636-501638). Merriam-Webster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
   Since the assumption here is that some sort of religion is “good for mankind” regardlessof its truth, then “the good” cannot mean anything mystical or supernatural.  For instance, the person arguing this position cannot claim that religion is “good for mankind” because god exists, and the only way for people to go to heaven is to live in accordance with the Bible.  Someone claiming that Christianity, or religion in general, is “good for humanity” in this context is implicitly claiming that regardlessof its truth, it is good for humanity.  In other words, they are claiming that even if Christianity is false, it still has purely secular benefits for mankind that make it useful.  For this reason, the last dictionary definition of “good” above makes the most sense.  “Good” means something that is “useful” or “beneficial” for mankind not in some other life, but in this life.
   What does it mean for something to be “useful” or “beneficial”?  Tangible items of technology are considered “useful” because they serve some person’s purpose.  For instance, an automobile is “useful” because under the right set of circumstances, people can use it to transport themselves quickly to a particular destination.  A particular scientific discovery can be useful for mankind because it allows for the creation of new technologies.  For instance, discovering the Law of Universal Gravitation allowed men to calculate the trajectories of planets and satellites, and eventually to fly to the moon.  The discovery of germ theory allowed men to develop methods of sanitation that improved human health.  If you consider enough examples of human technology and science, you quickly recognize that something is considered “useful” or “beneficial” because it serves some purpose that men have.  This applies to other areas of human knowledge as well.  We study history because “those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it”.  The subject of history is “useful” or “beneficial” because it enables us not to repeat the mistakes of the past.  (I also think it is useful to learn what past generations got right.)
   Some knowledge can be more immediately useful than other types of knowledge. Knowledge of abstract mathematics may not have any immediate benefit, but knowledge of Calculus is useful if we want to launch artificial satellites to predict when a hurricane is going to strike a major city.  But what is important to understand here is that knowledge is useful because it ultimately benefits human life.  This is true because men are beings of a certain type, with a specific identity, or nature.  We have mental faculties that allow us to gain knowledge by means of a certain method and this benefits our lives.  Our lives are not guaranteed to us, and if we want to live, then we must take certain actions.  We must gain knowledge through a specific process, and use that knowledge, if we want to live.  Objectivism says that “mans life” is the ultimate standard of the good, and that individual happiness is the purpose of holding man’s life as the ultimate standard of the good.  This all boils down to: if you want to live, you must take action that conforms to man’s nature and the nature of reality in general.  As Francis Bacon put it: nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.
     In order to achieve one’s ultimate goal of living, one must adopt certain principles that serve as general procedures of action.  For instance, if thinking is necessary in order for human beings to gain knowledge in order to enhance and maintain their lives, then that must be adopted as a habit.  Furthermore, one must act on one’s thinking, since thinking alone is not sufficient to actually produce the things necessary for survival.  It is not enough just to think about how you would build a shelter or find food.  You must actually implement the knowledge you gain to build a house and grow crops.  The facts of reality dictate what sorts of procedures are necessary.  For instance, the fact that human beings are born with a certain type of mental faculty, that has a specific nature, means that they must gain knowledge in accordance with a certain method.  This is called “rationality”.  The fact that the material values necessary for our survival (such as food, clothing, and shelter) do not exist in nature means that we must use our minds to determine how best to create those values given the pre-existing materials found in nature, and our knowledge of how to organize those materials in a manner that is most beneficial to our needs.  This is “productiveness”.  The fact that human beings can choose to use physical force to deprive others of the material values that they have created means that we must determine whether individual men that we encounter are men who produce the values they need to live, or if they will try to gain values from us by force.  Once this determination is made, one attempts to trade with men that produce, and one uses an appropriate amount of force to stop the men who insist on starting the use of physical force.  This is called “justice”.  These “habits” or “procedures of action”, such as “rationality”, “productiveness”, and “justice” are called “virtues”.  “Virtue” is the act by which one gains and/or keeps the things necessary for living.
           
   Now that “the good” is firmly established, we can turn to the question of “the true”.  The dictionary defines “true” as:
Dictionary definition: 2 a (1) : being in accordance with the actual state of affairs < description> (2) : conformable to an essential reality (Merriam-Webster (2009-06-12). Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Kindle Locations 1230332-1230335). Merriam-Webster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.)
   In other words, “the true” is: a proposition or statement that corresponds to reality.  Here are two examples of true statements: “The moon is 238,857 miles away, give or take a few thousand miles.” and “Washington DC is the capitol of the United States of America.”
   What is less apparent to most people is that “the good” can also be considered a form of “the true”.  For instance, the virtue of justice can be defined as something like: “Judging men and treating them accordingly.”  A person who uses force to gain the material values created by others is judged to be a criminal, and force is used against him to stop him.  The virtue of justice embodies a number of truths about human nature and the nature of the universe.  For instance, it embodies the truth that man’s survival is not guaranteed to him.  It also embodies the truth that human beings have the ability to choose whether they want to live by means of reason or by means of force.  All of these truths can be stated in the form of propositions, such as: “Man’s survival is not guaranteed to him.” and “Human beings have the power of choice when it comes to their actions.”  The virtues of rationality and productiveness similarly embody certain truths, and I leave it to the reader to think these through. [1]
   In addition to “the good” being a form of “the true”, it also appears to me now that if we want to live, then our knowledge of truth must affect our actions, vis-à-vis the aspects of reality that the truth recognizes. Several instances of true propositions should make this clear:
“If it is true that Washington DC is the capitol of the United States, then if I want to visit Congress, I must travel to Washington DC.”[2]
“If it is true that all men are mortal, then I cannot waste my life on things that aren’t important to me.”
“If it is true that someone is a financial genius, then I want him to manage my stock portfolio.”
“If it is true that human beings must take certain actions to live, and if it is true that the use of physical force will prevent them from taking those actions, then we must create means of stopping the use of physical force in that manner.”
   It does appear that there can be true statements for individual human beings that do not affect their actions, but it is only because given their particular purposes and situation, they never deal with the aspects of reality that the true proposition recognizes.  For instance, the statement: “The moon is 238,857 miles away (give or take a few thousand miles)” is a statement that is true, but knowledge of that fact for some people might not be used for anything because they don’t deal with those facts in their own lives.  However, if it is a true statement, and I want to build a rocket to the moon, then I will take it into consideration when doing my math calculations.  Saying ” vis-à-vis the aspects of reality that the truth recognizes” means I may know that it is true that the moon is approximately 238,857 miles away, but for my purposes, that knowledge never affects my actions because I am not in the space program and I am not an astronomer.
   The fact that if we want to live, then our knowledge of truth must affect our actions, vis-à-vis the aspects of reality that the truth recognizes, can also be understood by considering what would happen if one were to act on what one knew to be a false proposition.  The proposition: “I can fly merely by flapping my naked arms.” is false.  If I were to act on that proposition, despite my knowledge of its falsity, I would fail to gain the values necessary for survival.  If I tried to commute to work every day by such a method, my goal would be frustrated, and my life would be endangered.[3]
   An implication of the fact that our knowledge of truth must affect our actions is that the expressed propositions of others, where those others have provided no evidence of their truth, should be disregarded, and should not affect one’s actions.  The “onus of proof” says that the person making the assertion has the burden of proof.  This makes sense because the assertion of a proposition by another person, if accepted as true by the listener, would affect that listener’s actions vis-à-vis the facts that it allegedly corresponds to.  So before the listener changes his actions, he needs to have evidence presented that the assertion is true -that it does in fact correspond to reality.  Otherwise, acting on such an assertion could be disastrous for the listener if it does not correspond to reality.[4]
   Some might argue at this point that even if religion has no actual connection to reality, some of the moral principles it endorses are true because they can be tied to some purely naturalistic, and secular facts of reality.  For instance, Christianity says that stealing is against the Ten Commandments.  I agree that taking the property of others without their consent is generally wrong, absent some extraordinary emergency and assuming you can recompense them later.  The problem is that these “commandments” do not give you any reasons for why you should follow them, other than a non-existent being who said that you should.  (Additionally, some of the commandments are just plain wrong in almost any conceivable situation –such as “remembering the Sabbath day”.) 
For this reason, there is no way to connect these principles to the facts of reality.  Without such a connection to the facts of reality, you cannot know if a particular scenario might make the principle inapplicable because the factual situation is so unusual.  For instance, if you are stranded outdoors during a freak blizzard, and you break into an abandoned cabin and eat the owners food, with the intent to recompense the owner later, then you have not actually committed an immoral act.  This is because the purpose of morality is to provide you with a guide to how to live successfully here on Earth.  A moral principle that would counsel your own destruction has no connection to the purpose of morality, to man’s nature as a living organism, or to the laws of nature.  Morality is not a suicide pact.
   A Christian might respond to my hypothetical blizzard scenario by saying that the commandment only says you cannot “steal” and this is not “stealing”.  But, at that point, he is looking at the facts and attempting to tie the moral principle to man’s nature and the nature of reality, so this just proves my point.  Respect for the private property of others is a principle that you follow -if you want to live. It has a basis in reality and man’s nature.  You cannot even develop concepts like “theft” and “private property” without having some rudimentary understanding of human nature and the fact that human beings must produce the goods necessary for their survival, and be able to benefit from those goods. So, the Christian commandment “though shall not steal” cannot even be understood without some understanding of man’s nature and of the natural world.  Some people think that morality is not possible without religion.  Somewhat the opposite is actually true.  Religious morality is unintelligible without some reference to reality, man’s nature, and the fact that people must choose to live by choosing to act in accordance with reality.
   I suspect that Christian apologists like Dinesh D’Souza will claim that most people are too irrational or stupid to understand a reasoned argument for why they should follow naturalistic moral principles if they want to live.  Others have made similar arguments before.  For instance, Alexis de Tocqueville said:
None but minds singularly free from the ordinary anxieties of life—minds at once penetrating, subtle, and trained by thinking—can even with the assistance of much time and care, sound the depth of these most necessary truths. And, indeed, we see that these philosophers are themselves almost always enshrouded in uncertainties; that at every step the natural light which illuminates their path grows dimmer and less secure; and that, in spite of all their efforts, they have as yet only discovered a small number of conflicting notions, on which the mind of man has been tossed about for thousands of years, without either laying a firmer grasp on truth, or finding novelty even in its errors. Studies of this nature are far above the average capacity of men; and even if the majority of mankind were capable of such pursuits, it is evident that leisure to cultivate them would still be wanting. Fixed ideas of God and human nature are indispensable to the daily practice of men’s lives; but the practice of their lives prevents them from acquiring such ideas…General ideas respecting God and human nature are therefore the ideas above all others which it is most suitable to withdraw from the habitual action of private judgment, and in which there is most to gain and least to lose by recognizing a principle of authority.”( Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume II, Chapter V: Of The Manner In Which Religion In The United States Avails Itself Of Democratic Tendencies, emphasis added, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/816/816-h/816-h.htm#link2HCH0005, last accessed on 2-22-2013.)
   In other words, de Tocqueville thought that the majority of the human race was incapable of understanding morality on anything but religious grounds.  In fact, de Tocqueville thought that human beings were inherently “dogmatic”. (Id.)[5] For religionists like de Tocqueville to make this (likely erroneous) condemnation of mankind exhibits stunning shamelessness.  In the history of ideas religion has been the single greatest contributor to genuine dogmatism and irrationality.  Anyone who claims that people are too stupid or irrational to understand morality without an appeal to superstition is responsible for helping to perpetuate that irrationality by supporting religion.  Grasping the truth –by conforming your ideas to reality- is necessary for life.  Evading it only leads to destruction.


[1] This same notion is expressed in “Fact and Value” by Leonard Peikoff: “Cognition apart from evaluation is purposeless; it becomes the arbitrary desire for ‘pure knowledge’ as an end in itself. Evaluation apart from cognition is non-objective; it becomes the whim of pursuing an ‘I wish’ not based on any ‘It is.’” 
[2] Note that even “man-made facts”, such as the fact that Washington DC is the capitol of the United States, necessitate certain actions.  Although DC might not always be the capital of the United States, it currently is, so you wouldn’t go to New York if you wanted to visit Congress.  Man-made facts could be otherwise because they depend on human choices.  If we want to deal with other men, which is useful for living, we have to recognize their capacity to make such choices, and act accordingly.  However, it is even possible that the moon could someday be further away from or closer to the Earth than it currently is due to naturalistic forces or due to human technology, so this is really no different in terms of it being true that the moon is currently a certain distance away -allowing for slight variations due to its current orbital location.
[3] The only example I could think of where believing something to be true even though it is false might gain you something of value was a complicated scenario involving believing that a girl likes you, even though the facts seem to indicate otherwise.  Then you keep trying to court her, and eventually she comes around to liking you.  But, I don’t even think this is an example of this.  I don’t think it is actually productive to pretend that she likes you in this situation.  You would be better served by recognizing that she doesn’t currently like you, but you also must have some evidence that she doesn’t really know you, and if she got to know the “real you”, then she would like you.  So, you are being persistent because you think that she will change her opinion of you once she comes to understand your true character.  (It’s also possible that you think the girl is just a weak-willed fool that you can eventually cajole into liking you, but why would you want to be with such a woman long-term?  Assuming you just want to sleep with her, then it would make more sense to just recognize that she is a fool and target your flattery to appeal to her neuroses.  So it would still be better to recognize the truth in achieving your goal of seduction.)
[4]A note on “Agnosticism” is appropriate here:  “Agnosticism” is not taking a position on the issue of the existence of god.  This is the same as saying: Those who make claims without proof are the same as those who only make claims they can prove.  Which is the same as saying: Truth doesn’t matter.  Which is the same as saying: Living doesn’t require action in conformity with reality.
[5] He basically blurred the distinction between concepts like “dogmatism”, “trust”, and “credibility”.  I also think he failed to see a distinction between accepting the word of a scientist who can give us proof of why atoms exist, despite the fact that we cannot perceive them, and a priest who claims god exists and that no such proof is necessary or even possible.  The difference here is clear.  The scientist can provide proof for any that want to understand, while the priest demands acceptance without proof.  The scientist fears that he will not be understood, while the priest fears that he will be understood. (See Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume II, Chapter II: Of The Principal Source Of Belief Among Democratic Nations,http://www.gutenberg.org/files/816/816-h/816-h.htm#link2HCH0002)

The “Assault Weapon” Ban

“…no reason civilians need to own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines…”  http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/us-judge-bring-back-federal-assault-weapons-ban-18040037#.UNc95onjk1c
1) The “assault weapons” ban basically banned certain cosmetic features on some semi-automatic firearms (guns that fire one bullet for every pull of the trigger), that had nothing to do with the function of the weapon.
2) The only major change in the functionality of semi-automatic weapons that the assault weapons ban affected was the limitation of the magazine to 10 rounds. Does anyone really think that limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds will stop someone from going on a shooting spree?
3) The only way such a magazine capacity limitation might affect a shooting spree is to require the shooter to carry multiple guns or multiple magazines. Is Diane Feinstein seriously saying that her “solution” is for civilians at the scene of a shooting spree to tackle a gunman while he is reloading his 10-round magazine?  If civilians are going to be asked by Diane Feinstein to take personal responsibility for their own self-defense (a worthy goal), then why does she want to make it more difficult for civilians to own guns?
4) High capacity magazines do have a civilian use: In the Los Angeles riots in the early 1990’s, civilian business owners used AK-47’s and other semi-automatic firearms to defend themselves and their property from large numbers of rioters who wanted to harm them and destroy their life’s work. These civilian business owners were abandoned by the police and the local authorities, and they took personal responsibility for their own lives and the security of their community.