“The safeguards provided by an objective legal system hinge on a proper understanding of what objective law is. This lecture by Tara Smith, professor of philosophy and holder of the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism at the University of Texas – Austin, clarifies objectivity itself — not in epistemological detail, but in application to everyday living — and then charts its requisites for a proper legal system. We see how the function of government sets the terms for the just exercise of state power and how confusions about objectivity result in its corruption.” — Ayn Rand Institute
[Dr. Smith:] …readers should care because the stakes are huge. We are talking about the law—about government power, about power to force you to do things you don’t want to do. Now that’s a legitimate power. But if we’re to have a just government that treats people as they deserve, that government must be constrained to do only what it needs to do, to do its job. The government’s authority is limited to that.
Courts, through judicial review, when people challenge certain applications of the law, play a crucial role in keeping the government limited to its authorized activities. Judicial review is designed to make sure it is the law that governs, and not anything else.
TU: Antonin Scalia is perhaps the most widely-known Supreme Court justice, and is seen by many as an authority in this field. What’s your estimation of Scalia’s approach to judging?
Dr. Smith: It’s fatally flawed. There are isolated lines to like in some of his opinions, but there are far more serious errors—damaging errors. […]
Read the rest of the interview to learn why.
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” This was Pope Francis’s summary of his Encyclical earlier this year on the alleged destruction of our planet. The leading culprit, in his view, is humanity’s use of fossil fuels, which he believes are immoral and should largely be illegal.
But if he wants to help humanity, especially the poorest human beings, Pope Francis needs to recognize that fossil fuels make Earth not a “pile of filth,” but a far better, healthier, cleaner, and more bountiful place to live.
Imagine a commoner from 300 years ago was magically transported from the Earth in its state back then to the Earth in its state now. What he would see is not “an immense pile of filth” but an environment that is beautifully clean and healthy compared to anything he—or even the Papal Royalty of 300 years ago—ever knew.
He would marvel at the cleanliness and drinkability of the water, in contrast to the inaccessible and disease-ridden water he had been used to; the eradication of or inoculation against once-ubiquitous disease-carrying insects; the pure air compared to the indoor wood fires he kept warm by (when he could afford wood); the ability to access the most beautiful parts of nature. And he would marvel at the bounty he was surrounded by: the farms surrounding him with fresh food, the comfortable buildings, the affordable, abundant clothing, labor-saving machines. The Earth that once seemed so hazardous and so barren of resources has become a wonderful place to live.
Thanks to energy from fossil fuels.
From Don Watkins at ARI:
Today’s opponents of economic inequality are fighting to dramatically expand government control over our lives, including through higher taxes, a larger regulatory-welfare state and an unprecedented hike in the minimum wage. And they are winning.
Despite reams of criticism from free-market-oriented economists, columnists and policy analysts, the inequality alarmists continue to hold the moral high ground in this debate. How can we change that?
In a new essay, Yaron Brook and I argue that the key to turning the tables on the inequality alarmists is to expose them as the enemies of the only kind of equality that matters: political equality.
You can download a PDF of the essay at:
This is a message that urgently needs to be spread. I hope you’ll help me out by sharing this as widely as you can.
According to socialist economic mythology, free-markets create harmful monopolies so “trust-busting” government agencies need to regulate them. The truth is the reverse according to New York’s Taxi Cartel Is Collapsing. Now They Want a Bailout. | Foundation for Economic Education:
Think of sectors like education, mail, courts, money, or municipal taxis, and you find a reality that is the opposite of the caricature: public policy creates monopolies while markets bust them.
In New York, we are seeing a collapse as inexorable as the fall of the Soviet Union itself. The app economy introduced competition in a surreptitious way. It invited people to sign up to drive people here and there and get paid for it. No more standing in lines on corners or being forced to split fares. You can stay in the coffee shop until you are notified that your car is there.
In less than one year, we’ve seen the astonishing effects. Not only has the price of taxi medallions fallen dramatically from a peak of $1 million, it’s not even clear that there is a market remaining at all for these permits. There hasn’t been a single medallion sale in four months. They are on the verge of becoming scrap metal or collector’s items destined for eBay.
What economists, politicians, lobbyists, writers, and agitators failed to accomplished for many decades, a clever innovation has achieved in just a few years of pushing. No one on the planet could have predicted this collapse just five years ago. Now it is a living fact.
Writes Alex Epstein on The Energy Liberation Plan – Forbes:
The energy industry is the industry that powers every other to improve human life. The more affordable, plentiful, and reliable energy we can produce, the more (and better) food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, sanitation, clean water, technology, and everything else we can have.
Unfortunately, because of backwards energy and environmental policies that are anti-development, not anti-pollution, we are squandering the opportunity of a generation, through blind opposition to our three most potent sources of power: hydrocarbon energy (coal, oil, and gas), nuclear energy, and hydroelectric energy.
It’s time to replace today’s energy deprivation policies with energy liberation policies.
Many liberals, but not conservatives, believe there is an important asymmetry in American politics. These liberals believe that people on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum are fundamentally different. Specifically, they believe that liberals are much more open to change than conservatives, more tolerant of differences, more motivated by the public good and, maybe most of all, smarter and better informed.
The evidence for these beliefs is not good. Liberals turn out to be just as prone to their own forms of intolerance, ignorance and bias. But the beliefs are comforting to many. They give their bearers a sense of intellectual and even moral superiority. And they affect behavior. They inform the condescension and self-righteousness with which liberals often treat conservatives. They explain why many liberals have greeted Tea Partiers and other grass-roots conservatives with outsize alarm. They explain why liberals fixate on figures such as Sarah Palin and Todd Akin, who represent the worst that many liberals are prepared to see in conservatives. These liberals often end up sounding like Jon Lovitz, on “Saturday Night Live,” impersonating Michael Dukakis in 1988, gesturing toward the Republican and saying “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!” This sense of superiority is hardly the only cause of our polarized public discourse, but it sure doesn’t help.
And Mr. Stewart, who signed off from “The Daily Show” on Thursday, was more qualified than anybody to puncture this particular pretension. He trained his liberal-leaning audience to mock hypocrisy, incoherence and stupidity, and could have nudged them to see the planks in their own eyes, too. Instead, he cultivated their intellectual smugness by personifying it.
His claims to be objective fell flat. For instance, Mr. Stewart denied being in President Obama’s corner by re-airing a clip in which he had made fun of the Obamacare website’s rollout, as if that was the same as questioning Obamacare itself. That was par for Mr. Stewart’s course, mocking liberals’ tactics and implementation but not their underlying assumptions or ideas.
The term to describe an advocate of statism has been around for years but has soared in popularity in recent decades, according to Google’s Ngram Viewer. One explanation is the enduring fondness among limited-government adherents for philosopher and author Ayn Rand, whom her associate Harry Binswanger described as having “tirelessly promoted” the word’s use. She viewed statism as the notion that “man’s life and work belong to the state – to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation – and that the state may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own, tribal, collective good.”
Opponents of Hillary Clinton have used seemingly every word in the book to criticize her, and “statist” appears to be gaining in popularity.
The diplomatic talks over Iran’s nuclear program have culminated in a deal. The particular terms—at least those that have been disclosed—are predictably ominous. Despite stringent-sounding limitations and inspections, the deal effectively clears the path for the Islamic Republic of Iran to cheat and game its way toward nuclear capability. For more than a decade, deception has been the hallmark of Iran’s quest for nuclear technology; why expect that to change now? Clearly, this is a bad deal, but the debate over what a “better” deal should look like ignores the underlying problem: to engage Iran in diplomacy is to disregard and downplay that regime’s vicious character and goals.
Cartoon by cox&forkum.
Most dramatically, the committee is considering a recommendation to do away with single-family zoning — which for a hundred-plus years has been the defining feature of Seattle’s strong neighborhood feel.
“We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a draft letter from the committee co-chairs reads.
The draft report notes that “Seattle (single-family) zoning has roots in racial and class exclusion and remains among the largest obstacles to realizing the city’s goals for equity and affordability.”
The committee of citizen volunteers voted 19-3 to recommend replacing single-family zoning with a “lower density residential zone” that would allow duplexes, triplexes, rooming houses and more backyard cottages and mother-in-law units in areas now dominated by single houses on lots with a yards. It’s unclear how much of the city this would include.
Later, the committee co-chairs issued a statement saying the group “has no intention of recommending the elimination of all single family zones in the city.” But the draft report suggests the committee was considering exactly that.
“In fact, (the committee) recommends we abandon the term ‘single family zone,’ ” the draft reads.