As I was preparing to write this week’s roundup, I realized another benefit for me in doing them. In taking notes on the key issues being discussed in each of the podcasts, I am more able to make connections and integrate what the hosts are talking about into what I already know. This integration is something we all should try to do more of, and is at times difficult. (I found I can embed the Blogtalkradio shows, so I have done that as well as link to them in the headings.)
The scheduling of Leonard Peikoff‘s podcast has changed this year, so that it is only every other week. Yaron and Leonard still alternate episodes so we generally get one episode from each every month. This episode is from Dr. Peikoff, so the topics tend to the more philosophical in nature. He answered questions on:
- Is the ancient Greek doctrine of Sophism in ethics essentially the same as “whim-worshipping” or “nihilism”?
- Is anyone born evil?
- Please expand on a recent podcast where you said that Obama’s agenda has not yet come to fruition. – This contains an interesting discussion of Peikoff’s three classifications of corrupt people and where Obama fits into them.
- Why do you like Michelangelo’s The Dying Slave more than The David?
This is the podcast version of Yaron Brook‘s live Chicago (and now Miami) radio program on AM560 The Answer. This week’s episode covered a fair amount of ground in just an hour, and topics included:
- Equal is Unfair release and all the events surrounding it.
- The hysteria over income inequality today.
- Yaron talked about an article by two professors from Illinois universities who bemoan the fact that while state universities are having to cut back, private universities, notable the University of Chicago, are announcing $45 million in private gifts and are “hoarding” a $7.5 billion endowment. Their solution? The University of Chicago should share its wealth with less well off institutions or, better yet, we should nationalize all private universities so everyone can “benefit from their excellent resources.” As Yaron points out, how excellent will these resources be once we have spread them out equally?
- The minimum wage took up the majority of the air time this week, with Yaron noting that it isn’t just cities in the United States that are foolishly raising them, but Britain and Japan are doing so as well. Results from virtually all studies have shown that minimum wage laws harm the very people they supposedly help, the young, poor and unskilled. Paul Krugman, when he was still an economist, wrote that the only rational for raising the minimum wage is political, an idea that Governor Jerry Brown of California echoed in announcing his signing of an increase of the minimum wage to $15 over a period of years.
Economically, minimum wages may not make sense. But morally, socially, and politically they make every sense because it binds the community together to make sure parents can take care of their kids.
- Lots more on the minimum wage and why it is harmful.
- Callers had questions about the role of universities in the decline of state of society.
Amy Peikoff‘s weekly show takes a look at current topics in the news from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. With Amy’s very complete show notes on her website, I am going to just hit the highlights for me from this week’s show.
- The Republican primary – Trump is fading and Cruz seems is gaining ground. She touched on the claim that Cruz is “stealing” delegates from Trump, he isn’t. The most interesting thing in this segment was the one call for this week’s show which gave some insight into Cruz’s “ground game,” which is currently focused on New York.
- The Panama Papers – while the media has largely been spinning this as being about the 1% avoiding paying their, to use Bernie’s phrase, fair share of taxes, it is actually more about government corruption. There is a great discussion on how both these issues, tax avoidance and corruption, stem from government involvement in the economy.
- Climate Change Inquisition – various attorneys general are stating that they plan pursuing fraud investigations against companies who fund or otherwise support research disputing the climate change narrative. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has been subpoenaed on this topic for records going back 20 years or more. As Amy points out, if the government were investigating them for information about the products of these companies that only the company had access to, that would be one thing. Climate data is available to everyone and anyone can use it to refute whatever research these companies fund or publish. What these attorneys general are doing is saying, “agree with us or we’ll come after you.”
- Privacy issues – updates on the FBI and Apple and the proposed law that is moving in the Senate that would make securely encrypted devices (i.e. devices that only the owner can unlock) illegal.
- And more!
With Yaron Brook on a speaking tour in South America, this week’s episode of this show was ably hosted by Amanda Maxham and Aaron Smith, both of the Ayn Rand Institute. Don Watkins also called in to talked about his new book, Equal is Unfair, and to talk about how inequality fit in with the other topics.
Selfishness was definitely the central topic today with babies, the choice to have them or not, being used to concretize the idea. This discussion covers a lot of ground that I won’t even attempt to summarize, but one thing I found especially interesting. The discussion started out with a story about Holly Brockwell, a young woman in Britain who has decided she never wants to have children and so wants to be sterilized but is unable to find a doctor who will perform the procedure. Many are calling her selfish in this decision, implying that she has some duty or obligation to god or society to have a child.
On the other hand, if you decide to have too many children, or any children at all, that is also seen as being selfish and destructive to the planet. You are seen as selfishly putting the joy you receive from watching your child grow and learn ahead of the welfare of the planet. As we often said when I was growing up, “You can’t win for losing.” (Imagine being a child and being taught that your very existence is harmful to the planet, which is essentially what this viewpoint entails. More on this in a bit.)
When Don Watkins called in to talk about Equal is Unfair, the issue that stood out for me was the idea that we live in a society that isn’t really taught to appreciate or celebrate productive work. Indeed, there is a concerted effort to vilify those who want to work hard and become successful, especially if it is hard to see how a particular job (e.g. CEOs or bankers) is actually productive. When they do acknowledge that someone has been successful, it is attributed to luck or other forces beyond your control. (e.g. Obama’s infamous “You didn’t build that.”) Imagine the impact on a young poor person trying to be successful, respectable, that it is all a matter of luck. How hard would they work towards their success?
It is the people who are most active in vilifying success that are also among the loudest claiming that the system is rigged and the American Dream is dead and success is nothing but luck, but as Don points out:
You cannot revive the American Dream by vilifying those who embody it.
As always, the show ended on a positive note, with a short audio clip of Magdalena Segieda, a producer of the movie Fracknation, talking about what it was like growing up in Poland, where energy was expensive and intermittent. Seeing first hand what that does to people in developed countries led her to fight for a freer market in energy, one that can provide the least expensive, most reliable energy possible. Listening to it reminded me of what has been happening in Venezuela lately.
Closing out the show, Amanda pointed out that Earth Day is coming up and she suggested that rather than doing a random “green” act we should take time to celebrate mankind. Celebrate the achievements mankind has made that we have come to take for granted. Celebrate the hot shower! (As one example.)