Tag Archives: Obama

War on Success – A Tale of Two Quotes

to fight inequality is to fight successI recently finished reading Equal is Unfair: America’s Misguided War Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook and a quote from chapter 5, The War on Opportunity, stood out to me and yesterday, while listening to the book on Audible, that same quote jumped out at me again. The quote is from remarks made by President Obama about economic mobility. As quoted in the book:

[W]e were convinced that America is a place where even if you’re born with nothing, with a little read more

Podcasts and More for January 26

Weekly podcastsThree weeks in a row being able to find time to listen to these podcasts. I find them very helpful in thinking about how the principles of Objectivism can be applied to everyday situations ranging, as seen this week, between sex and office parties.

Peikoff.com Episode 357 – This week Dr. Peikoff posted a 30 minute segment from a talk he gave about 30 years ago in which he answered questions dealing with sex and relationships. In this segment he answers questions about:

  • the difference between “faking it” and fantasy
  • friendship vs. love
  • being in love with multiple people
  • and more

You can get the read more

Frackers Deserve a Huge Thank You!

Frackers help bring down gasoline prices by 25% in a month.

Exactly a month ago, well a month and a day, a new convenience store opened here in town. It is on my route to and from work, so it is very convenient indeed. When the store opened the price on gasoline was $2.89 per gallon. In just 32 days the price has dropped $0.70 or almost 25%. Over the last year, it has fallen about an additional $1.00 per gallon, making the current price pretty close to just half of what it was last year.

Now I know that the hard work of frackers does not account for read more

How Times Have Changed – Republican Version

After posting the definition of the Democratic party from my 1914 dictionary, I realized that I should have also done so for the Republican party. I also failed to note that the Republican party mentioned in the definition of the Democratic party is not the same Republican party we have today, as will be seen in the definition below.

Republican party – One of the two great parties. It was organized in 1856 by a combination of of voters from other parties, notably the Free read more

Obama – A Man of Strong Whims

It will come as no great surprise that human beings are not omniscient. We have no automatic knowledge of what is good for our survival and what will lead to our destruction. Unlike animals, which survive on instinct, human beings must use their rational minds to produce all that we need to live. We must form abstract principles based on past observations of reality which we then apply to the new situations we encounter in order to survive as human beings. Without principles every situation would read more

President Obama, I Think This is Addressed to You – Quote of the Day

I am currently reading Objective Communication, which is based on a lecture series by Dr. Leonard Peikoff about learning to think and communicate clearly.  It is quite dense in many ways so I am breaking it up with other books.  Among those other books, I just started in on read more

A Perfect Example of Leftist Philosophy

I came across this little tidbit following a link from a Reason.com article about the absence of high profile Hollywood anti-war celebrities speaking out against President Obama’s proposed strikes against Syria.

I came across this quote and had to go back and reread it.  To me it perfectly sums up the leftist philosophy of altruism, or self-sacrifice.  Actor Ed Asner is quoted in the Hollywood Reporter as saying, in regards to President Obama:

I voted for him, but I’m not proud. He read more

Egalitarianism Goes to the Cinema

Last week during his State of the Union address, President Obama spoke at length about his view of how America works and what the people have a right to expect from the government.  Lines about people who work hard and fulfill their obligations being able to live a decent life, increases in minimum wage and so forth brought standing ovations.  If you listened to any conservative commentary you likely heard much of what Obama said referred to as egalitarian, but just what does it mean to be egalitarian? Imagine you are the manager or owner of a small movie theater with several screens.  You have been in business for quite some time and have developed a good knowledge of your customers and what sort of movies they like.   You are notified that the state legislature has passed a new law requiring you to show all films offered to you.  The intention, so they claim, to help ensure that small film makers have the opportunity to have their films shown and make money.   You protest but are told that this is being “supporting the arts”, since it should not just be big films or films from well known directors that are shown in theaters.  You cringe to think what types of films you may be forced to accept since your own experience and judgment are no longer final and you will lose customers as they will no longer be able to trust your choice of films. Further, you learn as you actually read the law, you will also be required to equally share revenue between any films you show each week, regardless of how many people actually attend each one.  While this does not directly or immediately impact how much money you will make, you know that in the long term it will be devastating.  Film distributors of expensive “blockbuster” films will likely stop dealing with you as they are unlikely to see as much of a return from your theater as they would from theaters in other states.  You know that this will mean that eventually the quality of films available in your state will decline as there will be less incentive to make or distribute films in your state that require a large investment as they will not be able to recoup it as the income from ticket sales will be diluted by the share taken to give to poorly made and/or attended films. Later you hear rumblings that this type of legislation will become national, to “protect” the theaters in those states that are just trying to “support the arts”.  You know that if such a law passes it means the end of the film industry in the United States, but you have long since closed your theater as your customers have increasingly turned to DVD, streaming video and other means of obtaining films that are not available in theaters in your state.  If the law goes national, well, at least you will still have foreign films.  Until the government passes the Film and Video Protection Act slapping a large tariff on foreign entertainment available in the United States, the proceeds of which will, of course, be used to support the arts.  Well, at least those arts the government deems as needing support. While the events described above might seem unlikely, they do illustrate the most common types of egalitarianism: equality of opportunity and equality of results. In the first part of the story, I describe equality of opportunity, where everyone gets a chance, regardless of merit.  While this may sound good, a little thought will show that it cannot actually exist in reality without violating someone’s rights.  In my theater example, it should be obvious that the manager/owner’s rights are being violated pretty significantly.  He is no longer allowed to use his own judgment to select the films he will show, but rather he has to show whatever films someone wants to offer him, regardless of any sort of objective assessment of quality or appropriateness.  Other examples include, but are certainly not limited to: providing home loans to people who do not meet the standard requirements for borrowing simply because the “deserve” the opportunity to own a home; giving tax payer funds to a company to develop products regardless of whether there is, or will be, any demand for them; forcing hiring quotas based on criteria that are non-essential to job performance such as race, gender, and age regardless of the number of candidates from those categories actually applying for the job. In all these cases, the ability of some are being suppressed or devalued to give opportunity to others. I go on in the next paragraph to describe the second definition of egalitarianism: equality of outcome.  As with equality of opportunity it should be apparent that this is impossible to achieve without infringing on someone’s rights.  In the theater example, the makers of a successful films are penalized (actually they are stolen from) in order to provide equal outcome to the less popular film.  You can find further examples of this in the world today such as the Marxist theory of “from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs”;  social promotions in schools with no regard to the actual achievement of the student in their classwork; pay or employment based solely on seniority rather than performance; or, as in Obama’s speech, providing a “decent living” to someone who “works hard” and “fulfills their obligations” (with no real definition of what those terms mean) regardless of the actual value created.  In all of these cases, results earned by one group are either taken away or devalued in order to provide them to another. If infringing on the rights of some to provide benefits to others as egalitarianism requires is immoral, which it is, then what type of equality, if any, can we strive for?  The only moral type of equality is equality before the law.  If your rights are infringed on by someone, the courts should only recognize the facts of the case.  Non-essentials such as race, gender, age, wealth, social standing, political connections and so forth should play no part in the proceedings. Sadly, as Obama’s address illustrated,  we appear to be moving toward increasing collectivism and egalitarianism and away from true, achievable, equality.  Virtually every government program claims to be all about “equality” and “fairness”, again without defining what exactly this means, while trampling the rights of other groups to provide those benefits to another group that is claimed to be at a disadvantage.  At the same time these programs often reward with special privileges individuals or groups who are favored by those currently in power. Until we actually embrace the notion of equality before the law and reject any other supposed type, we will be increasingly at risk of finding ourselves in one of the groups whose rights need to be infringed in order to be “fair” to the politically important group of the moment.