Each week I present a round-up of the podcasts I listen to. These podcasts are all centered around the theme of looking at current events through the lens of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. The goal is not to provide all the information they talk about, but rather to highlight the things I found interesting in the hope that it will intrigue others to take a listen.
In this week’s edition:
- Yaron’s AM560 Rewind: Is Charity the Solution to Poverty?
- Don’t Let it Go Unheard: When Government Goes After Your Guns and Your Arguments
- Radical Capitalist Episode 51: Terrorism? Elections? It’s Philosophy Stupid!
This week’s episode of Yaron Brook’s weekly Chicago radio program was inspired by the documentary film Poverty Inc. (available on Netflix) This film looks at just how destructive charity can be when it goes from something that helps out in an emergency to a way of life.
Yaron discusses several of the concrete cases, mostly in Haiti, where increased foreign aid was destructive to the countries receiving it. For example, in the 80s and 90s when the United States started sending massive amounts of free rice to feed people in Haiti, it destroyed the livelihood of untold numbers of farmers who had made their living growing rice. It is likely that this also contributed to the death toll in the 2010 earthquake as many of these farmers migrated to the cities where they ended up living in substandard housing which largely collapsed in the earthquake.
Even more destructive is the effect long term charity has on the people. When you give people checks, they become dependent on the checks, and we are not doing people any favors by making them dependent on others, especially when those others may or may not be their tomorrow or next year. (There was a story in the film about a man who invested in raising chickens to sell eggs when a church decided to send eggs to this area. It wiped out his business, and he had to sell his chickens and equipment. The next year, the church decided to focus on another area, leaving the village without eggs and the means to produce them themselves.)
Yaron pointed out that poverty is the natural state of mankind, so the question is not what causes poverty but what causes prosperity. Business, and the government institutions that make business possible, e.g. the rule of law including the protection of property rights, is the only thing that has lifted anyone out of poverty. Charity never has.
The best charity is to fight for ideas. If you care about other people, the best thing you can do to change the world is to advocate for ideas. To support causes, that bring ideas to poor places in the world. Good ideas. Ideas about freedom. Ideas about capitalism. Ideas about liberty.
As always, Amy Peikoff posts show notes on her blog with links to all the items she talks about during the show.
In this week’s episode, Amy discusses the assault by the government on our right to self-defense in the context of the Orlando massacre and the Massachusets Attorney General going after Alex Epstein and his Center for Industrial Progress as part of their persecution of ExxonMobile. As she put it at the start of the episode:
We have a government right now that in effect wants to take away your right to self-defense, not only physical self-defense but intellectual self-defense.
Not surprisingly, the regressive left has seized on the massacre in Orlando to attack our right to physical self-defense with a push for additional gun control, none of which would do much to stop such attacks. [ed: I just saw on Twitter that the Senate has voted down four such measures.] President Obama went on television and said, “We can’t stop all of these sorts of attacks, but we can make an effort to limit how many people are the victims.” This is a reversal of the old saying, “One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic.”
In the case of the Massachusets AG subpoenaing ExxonMobile for all the email conversations they had with the Center for Industrial Progress, this is obviously an attack on intellectual self-defense. (If you haven’t seen Alex Epstein’s fantastic response, you can find it on Amy’s site.) Rather than address the substance of the arguments of those who do not agree with the government orthodoxy around climate change, the government has chosen to persecute them with onerous “fishing expeditions” and threats of fraud prosecution. This is an obvious attempt to squelch dissent by the use of government force.
While it might seem that the aftermath of Orlando is just about physical self-defense, it also highlights the fact that physical self-defense rests on intellectual self-defense. If we are to defense ourselves against such jihadists attacks, we need to be clear about who we are fighting. In other words, to win, you have to start by naming the enemy. Senator Ted Cruz understands this as evidenced in his recent speech where he stated, “We are at war with jihadists.”
Compare this to President Obama refusing to say Islamic terrorism or Islamic jihadists, though he did at least admit the Orlando attack was terrorism. This acts to make it more difficult for people to connect the tragedy to jihadists. [ed: Even further, AG Lynch was on Sunday news programs announcing that the Justice Department would release the transcript of Mateen’s 911 call from within the club, but with all references to Islam and ISIS redacted. There was such an uproar over this decision that they finally relented and Monday afternoon released the unredacted 911 call.]
The government’s reluctance to name the problem as Islamic jihadists has led to results that weaken our ability to defend ourselves. In what is being called “Muslim privilege,” people are reluctant to report suspicious behavior if it involves a Muslim for fear of being considered Islamaphobic. A former DHS official stated that there had been a program that could have stopped the attack in Orlando, but the government halted the program because it focused on Muslims. All of this weakens our ability to think clearly about the issues, making it impossible to defend ourselves.
Tons more in the program, including background on the Orlando shooter, a call from Bosch Fawstin, and more.
In this episode of Yaron Brook’s weekly podcast, he also took an in-depth look at the massacre in Orlando and its aftermath. He had a pretty substantial background of the shooter and all the red flags that were there but never acted upon. As Yaron pointed out if someone like Omar Mateen can obtain clearance to become a security guard, it is increasingly hard to feel safe.
Yaron discussed the responses to the attack, from the calls for more gun control from the left to calls for bans on immigration and build walls from the right. Neither of these actions would do much to prevent people who wanted to attack America from getting into the country or obtaining weapons with which to kill us.
He then presented what the actual solution is – the complete destruction of any type of Islamic totalitarian organization. We have to define who our enemy is and identify them. Then we have to kill them. As long as they hold territory they will inspire more attacks like Orlando and San Bernadino. Once we have destroyed the organizations, or while we are destroying them, we have to look at who is providing moral and physical support and destroy them as well. [ed: In previous talks Yaron has put it as destroy Iran, the greatest sponsor of terrorism, first and then tell Saudi Arabia that if they don’t stop funding terrorism they are next.]
An interesting point that came up during the episode is the fact that those groups which take Islam seriously don’t just serve to “radicalize” more true believers. They also provide justification for plain old nihilists. While not true believers, they will accept the ideology to cover their desire to kill and destroy.
In the middle of the show, there was some technical difficulty as well as a lengthy call with a discussion about Trump and guns. One interesting point Yaron made in regards to Trump is that if you took away his style, for lack of a better word, of presenting his ideas he would be just a run of the mill politician. None of his ideas are particularly different from any other politician. He just presents them more outrageously.