Writes Richard Salsman Over at Forbes:
The framers of the U.S. Constitution (1787) and Bill of Rights (1791) were correct to forbid Congress from enacting any laws establishing or promoting a religion or a church, or abridging free worship, just as they were right (in Article VI) to forbid religious tests of public officials. They endorsed both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Atheists and champions of reason had the same equal rights before the law as did faith-based believers in supernaturalism. Thus the Supreme Law of our land makes no mention of a deity, a prophet, or a religion; it’s The Godless Constitution, as in the name of the 1997 book by Kramnick and Moore.
Unlike today’s religious activists, America’s framers and secularists acknowledged the vicious trail of warfare, torture, abuse and inhumanity that coincided with direct alliances or unifications of church and state. Religion and statism have a common cause against liberty, pleasure, reason, science, money-making, and capitalism. Such partnerships brought the millennium of the Dark Ages, when life spans averaged fewer than 30 years. In the centuries since then, the human toll from religious wars and terrorism has been enormous, yet largely ignored. Even today, the main source of conflict, terrorism and war in the world is religion. Yet most people still declare an allegiance to religion and to belief in unproven realms and beings.
Unlike the framers, who were fairly consistent in their conception of the necessary legal separation, today’s religionists – whether Republicans or Democrats – tend to endorse freedom of religion but not freedom from religion. Neither really wants to keep religion or church power outside of the “public square.” They merely quibble over what role religion plays on the political stage. Whereas the religious right wants government to promote religion, the religious left wants to use religion to sanctify and push its case for wealth redistribution and the welfare state. Recall how last year’s budget debate was infested with claims by the left that Jesus would oppose proposed budget cuts, while the right scrambled to deny they had a point. Where were the secularists in that debate? Nowhere to be found, as I explained in “Holy Scripture and the Welfare State.” Religion today remains not a bulwark against bigger government but a key instigator of its rapid growth. [“Conservatives Eager to Unify Religion and Politics Have an Ally in Obama“]
Jean Moroney will be giving a complimentary teleclass:
Jump Start Your Thinking
Thursday, February 16, 2012
8:00 p.m. Eastern
(7:00 p.m. Central, 6:00 p.m. Mountain, 5:00 p.m. Pacific)
Dial in live (or listen afterwards on your computer)
In this class, you will learn:
- The #1 thinking tactic that helps you zero in on top issues immediately
- How to use small blocks of time for hard thinking tasks
- The best way to plant thinking seeds now to get insights later
- How expert advice you already know can jump start your thinking on your most important project
This is an interactive teleclass consisting of lecture, exercises, and discussion. You will have an opportunity to do some targeted thinking on your own project, so have paper and pencil ready.
Ms. Moroney teaches managers and other professionals how to use targeted thinking to solve problems faster, make better decisions, and get projects finished. Her approach to teaching thinking draws on her training in engineering (MIT ’85, ’86), psychology (CMU ’92) and epistemology (The Objectivist Graduate Center ’96).
For more information and to sign up, visit http://thinkingdirections.com/jumpstart.htm
This teleclass is a preview class for her all-day Thinking Tactics workshop, presently scheduled for
And for her recorded class, Tap Your Own Brilliance.
In addressing the ongoing debt and fiscal crises throughout the West, Nicole Gelinas writes in City Journal:
In the years leading up to 2007, the rules necessary to govern a flourishing market economy broke down, producing a financial and economic crisis. Rather than responding to the crisis by fixing those rules, the West aggressively repudiated market economics, and the repudiation continues to this day. Through their actions, which have lately involved everything from European debt to the American financial system to house prices in Britain, government officials around the world have revealed a disturbing assumption: that they can decide how to allocate resources better than markets can. No longer, it seems, do Western governments use investor signals as valuable feedback in devising effective policies; instead, they ignore those signals and plow ahead with their policymaking, leaving chaos in their wake. Often, in fact, public officials actively mute market signals in a vain but destructive attempt to impose their own will on struggling economies.
The piece covers a substantial amount of territory, but it effectively and concisely demonstrates how government intervention is to blame for the dire economic conditions across America and Europe. To read in its entirety, click here.
Don Watkins on Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand — Why Are You Still So Misunderstood?:
In the summer of 1921, a young Ayn Rand saw Moscow for the first time. “I remember standing on a square,” she would later recall. “And it suddenly struck me. . . . ‘How enormous it is, and how many people, and it’s just one city’ . . . . I suddenly had the concrete sense of how many large cities there were in the world—and I had to address all of them. All of those numbers had to hear of me, and of what I was going to say. And the feeling was marvelously solemn.”
Today, on the 107th anniversary of her birth, it’s hard to doubt that the world has indeed heard of Ayn Rand. Her books—including titles like “The Fountainhead” and “The Virtue of Selfishness”—have sold nearly 30 million copies, with sales of her 1,100-page opus, “Atlas Shrugged,” surpassing a million copies in the last three years alone.
Rand has clearly inspired millions. But a debate has emerged over the question of Rand’s political influence, with many commentators claiming her ideas have played a key role in shaping the political landscape. As former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said in 2011, “Ayn Rand has a large and growing influence on American politics.”
But to gauge Rand’s influence, we need to know more about her views than the sound bytes we’re typically offered.
Read the rest at Fox News
ORIENT: Uncle Sam exacts penalty for quitting Medicare – Washington Times:
Should people be allowed to leave Medicare? This is a real question, not a rhetorical one. Even though Medicare is said to be highly popular, indispensable and a great boon to American seniors, some people really want out.
Believe it or not, some do – for timeliness, personalized attention or privacy. Or, increasingly, because doctors just won’t offer care under Medicare conditions. There’s the annual American Medical Association (AMA) campaign to postpone the automatic Clinton-Gingrich sustained-growth-rate (SGR) fee cuts. There’s a scary new cartoon villain: Big Bad SGR Man attacking grandma.
The fact is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) apparently wants to trap Medicare beneficiaries on the sinking ship. It is acting as though American citizens, once they sign up for Medicare
Part B, are not allowed to buy a “covered” service from a physician who
does not file a claim for it. The government is having to borrow 40
cents out of every dollar it spends, but it still threatens physicians
with a fine of $2,000 for turning down government money – at least if
they accept any payment from the patient.
The site checkingpremises.org has posted Ayn Rand’s essay “To Whom It May Concern” — originally published in The Objectivist, September 15, 1968 — online. The essay begins:
This is to inform my readers and all those interested in Objectivism that Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden are no longer associated with this magazine, with me or with my philosophy.
I have permanently broken all personal, professional and business association with them, and have withdrawn from them the permission to use my name in connection with their commercial, professional, intellectual or other activities.
I hereby withdraw my endorsement of them and of their future works and activities. I repudiate both of them, totally and permanently, as spokesmen for me or for Objectivism.
The reasons are as follows.
Read the rest at checkingpremises.org