Binswanger: It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%

Writes Professor Harry Binswanger at  Forbes:

It is “the community” that should give back to the wealth-creators. It turns out that the 99% get far more benefit from the 1% than vice-versa. Ayn Rand developed the idea of “the pyramid of ability,” which John Galt sets forth in Atlas Shrugged:

When you live in a rational society, where men are free to trade, you receive an incalculable bonus: the material value of your work is determined not only by your effort, but by the effort of the best productive minds who exist in the world around you.

When you work in a modern factory, you are paid, not only for your labor, but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible: for the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on making . . .

In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains. Such is the nature of the ‘competition’ between the strong and the weak of the intellect. Such is the pattern of ‘exploitation’ for which you have damned the strong.

For their enormous contributions to our standard of living, the high-earners should be thanked and publicly honored. We are in their debt.

Read the rest of Give Back? Yes, It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%.

Fossil Fuels Make Us Safer From The Climate

Another one from Alex Epstein in Forbes:

I explicitly acknowledged the phenomenon of global warming. And if you read the work of the rest of the “deniers,” you’ll find that most if not all of them do, too.

The real point of contention is not whether there is some global warming and whether human beings have some climate impact, but a) whether warming is a problem and b) whether fossil fuel energy should be restricted. My answers are a) “No” and b) “No!” As I explained in the column Rolling Stone cited (but may not have read):

Our cultural discussion on “climate change” fixates on whether or not fossil fuels impact the climate. Of course they do—everything does—but the question that matters is whether it is becoming safer or more dangerous. Here, the data is unambiguous—in the last 80 years, as fossil fuels have increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere from .03% to all of .04%, we have become 50 times less likely to die because of climate-related causes. Give thanks to the proliferation of climate-protection technology (climate control, sturdy homes, weather satellites, drought-relief convoys, modern agriculture), which are made possible by fossil fuels.

And, as I also explained in the column, Rolling Stone cited, not only do fossil fuels make us safer from the climate, they dramatically improve human life across the board.

The average life expectancy of a human being without electricity–and there are 1.4 billion in this category–is 48 years old. In the last 30 years, thanks to a tripling or more of electricity production in countries throughout the developing world, mostly using coal, over 2.5 billion people have added 6 years to their life expectancy. Think about someone you love that you lost early, and think about what 6 more years would mean. Now multiply that by 2.5 billion people.

Around the world, hundreds of millions of individuals have gotten their first light-bulb, their first refrigerator, their first year with clean drinking water or a full stomach, their first decent-paying job thanks to coal-based electricity. Without coal, none of that would have been possible. In the US, 30 years ago the average household had 3 electronic devices—today it has 25, overwhelmingly thanks to fossil fuels.

If Rolling Stone has a counter-argument to the economic and environmental case for fossil fuels, let it make it. But to pretend that case doesn’t exist, to pretend that its advocates deny basic scientific facts, is dishonest.

Read the rest of Rolling Stone Attacks Global Warming ‘Deniers’ As Anti-Science, Then Commits Big Scientific Blunder.

Internationally Known Philosopher Leaves Legacy of Scholarship on Aristotle and Ayn Rand

IRVINE, Calif.—It is with great sorrow that the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship and the Ayn Rand Institute announce the death of American philosopher Allan Stanley Gotthelf, in Philadelphia, on August 30, 2013, after an extended battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. He is survived by the Love family—Ronald and Cassandra Love and their sons Zach and Ian Barber, whom Gotthelf regarded as his family—and by his many friends and students, and by his sister, Joan Gotthelf Price.

Gotthelf is best known for his scholarship on Aristotle and on Ayn Rand, with whom Gotthelf was friends. Born in 1942, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After completing bachelors and masters degrees in mathematics, he earned his PhD in philosophy at Columbia University in 1975.

At the time of his death, he was Anthem Foundation Distinguished Fellow for Research and Teaching in Philosophy at Rutgers University. He was also emeritus professor of philosophy at The College of New Jersey and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. Between 2003 and 2012, he was a visiting professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh, where he held an Anthem Fellowship for the Study of Objectivism.

David Charles (Oxford University) speaks of Gotthelf’s “decisive role in the renaissance of scholarly and philosophical interest in Aristotle’s biological writings,” and Alan Code (Stanford University) comments that “no scholar has had a deeper and more lasting impact on the scholarly understanding of Aristotle’s biological corpus than Allan Gotthelf.”

Gotthelf made this impact through a series of path-breaking essays now collected in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle’s Biology (Oxford University Press, 2012) and through the many conferences and workshops he organized. These events formed the basis for two books: Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology (Cambridge University Press, 1987), which Gotthelf co-edited with James G. Lennox (University of Pittsburgh), and Aristotle on Nature and Living Things (Mathesis, 1985). The latter book, which Gotthelf edited, was in honor of his friend and mentor David Balme (University of London), and after Balme’s death in 1989, Gotthelf shepherded several of his projects to publication.

Over the course of his 47-year career, Gotthelf was the recipient of many honors for his work on Aristotle. In 2004 his “contributions to the study of classical philosophy and science” were celebrated at a conference at the University of Pittsburgh, which led to the volume: Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle: Essays in Honor of Allan Gotthelf (Cambridge University Press, 2010), edited by Lennox and Robert Bolton (Rutgers University).

Gotthelf’s introduction to Ayn Rand’s ideas occurred in 1961 when he first read Atlas Shrugged. He would later remark on what he learned from this first reading: “Atlas Shrugged said that the mind I valued in myself was not only a private source of pleasure but was also the means to everything I wanted out of life. I felt about the heroes of the novel that this is the way they felt about themselves and the way they lived and loved their lives was the way I wanted to feel about myself and live and love my life. This was the happiness I was looking for.”

Gotthelf met Ayn Rand in 1962, in connection with lectures on her philosophy that he attended. Rand took a genuine interest in philosophy students, and over the next fifteen years, he had the opportunity for long philosophical discussions with her. He was an active participant in Rand’s famous 1969–71 workshops on Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.

From 1964 until his death, Gotthelf spoke on Objectivism countless times at colleges, universities, and for private groups throughout the United States, Canada, Bermuda, Europe, and Japan. As his own career progressed, Gotthelf often mentored young Objectivist intellectuals who were pursuing academic careers in philosophy.

Gotthelf was a founding member of the Ayn Rand Society, a group affiliated with the American Philosophical Association, and he held the Society’s highest office from 1990 until his death. From April of 2013, he shared that office with Gregory Salmieri (Boston University), his former student and frequent collaborator. Gotthelf co-edited (with Lennox) and contributed essays to the first two volumes of the Society’s ongoing Philosophical Studies series, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is the author of On Ayn Rand (Wadsworth, 2000) and is co-editor (with Salmieri) of Ayn Rand: A Companion to Her Works and Thought (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming).

Of Gotthelf’s work to bring Objectivism to the attention of the academic world, Yaron Brook, president of the Anthem Foundation and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, said, “In the natural course of pursuing, and achieving, his values, Allan became a great ambassador for Ayn Rand’s ideas. Because of his knowledge, reputation, and benevolent persistence over the years, Objectivist ideas have begun to see a long-deserved, serious consideration in the academic world. His death is a profound loss. His legacy will inspire Aristotelians and Objectivists alike for generations to come.”

Objectivist philosopher Harry Binswanger, a lifelong friend of Gotthelf, said: “Allan saw his love of Aristotle and of Ayn Rand as of a piece. He was right, because Aristotle and Rand do advocate the same fundamentals: the commitment to reason and to living life fully, realizing one’s highest potential as man.” This was an estimate shared by Rand, who said of Aristotle that “If there is a philosophical Atlas who carries the whole of Western civilization on his shoulders, it is Aristotle.”

Binswanger continued, “Allan was a thinker, a philosopher. He not only taught philosophy, wrote philosophy, and read philosophy, he lived and breathed philosophy. His two heroes were Ayn Rand and Aristotle, and he made important, lasting contributions to the scholarship on each.”

From all of us at the Anthem Foundation and the Ayn Rand Institute, some of whom had the honor of calling Allan a friend, thank you, Allan, for your wisdom, your knowledge, your devotion to a philosophy of reason and life, and your own shining example of a life well lived. You are deeply missed.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 7, 10 a.m., at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. Burial will be at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York, at 3 p.m.

Event: Free Speech and Artistic Expression

A Free Speech Dialogue to take place this fall at The University of Texas. It will be held on Thursday, September 26, from 7-9 pm. Location: The College of Liberal Arts Building (CLA), Room 0.128. As always, the dialogues are open to the public.

The topic is Free Speech and Artistic Expression. Panelists will consider questions such as: Should artistic expression be any less protected than political speech? What is* artistic expression? When is art obscene, or educational? Should artistic freedom depend on who’s paying: public subsidies or private patrons?

Speakers:

  • Greg Lukianoff, President of (FIRE) Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
  • Daniel Jacobson, professor of Philosophy at The University of Michigan
  • Nora Gilbert , assistant professor of English at The University of North Texas

Event Format: The speakers will offer brief presentations (about 10 minutes each), followed by an hour or so of interview-style dialogue with the other panelists. The final half hour will be given to questions from the general audience. More information about the Free Speech Dialogues* can be found on our website: www.freespeechdialogues.org

Syria Situation: Obama Does Not Equal America

From The Right Scoop:

John Bolton spoke last night to Greta about the Syrian situation and was asked about the New York Times saying that we would be ‘advertising our impotence’ if we just lobbed a few missiles and didn’t go for regime change by taking out Assad. But Bolton disagrees with the premise…sorta:

Well we’re advertising the president’s impotence and I think this is important as well. People say the president has put the American credibility on the line, therefore he has to strike. He has damaged our credibility – I acknowledge that. But mostly he’s shredded his own. And it’s about time for the rest of the world to understand that Barack Obama and the United States are not the same thing. We’ve got 1200 days of this left and it’s going to be very costly. But the United States should not be put in a worse position just to help out Barack Obama’s credibility.”

When asked if we should do something militarily simply for humanitarian reasons, to end the conflict, Bolton says absolutely not:

My answer to that is ‘no’ and here’s the hard reality. It is entirely possible that there are humanitarian tragedies all around the world that tug at our hearts. But that doesn’t mean there’s an American interest, one way the other, in resolving the conflict. We’ve got huge interests at stake in the region as a whole, in Syria because of Iran in particular. But there are conflicts where there are no white hats and no American interests. People say we’re not the world’s policeman. That’s not the issue here. The issue here is that we should not use military force in pursuit of abstractions. We are not the world’s nanny.”

See a video of the full interview at Bolton: It’s time for the world to understand that Barack Obama and the United States are NOT the same thing.

I Have a Dream vs Affirmative Action

Trying to reconcile MLK’s “I have a dream speech” with racist affirmative action polices. Can’t be done.

Writes Edwin Locke:

What should we remember on Martin Luther King Day? In his “I Have a Dream” speech Dr. King said: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

This statement means that in judging other men, skin color should be ignored–that it should not be a factor in evaluating their competence or moral stature. It follows that skin color should not be a factor in taking actions toward other people, e.g., hiring and admitting to universities.

What has happened in the years following King’s murder is the opposite of the “I Have a Dream” quote above. Colorblindness now has been replaced with color preference in the form of affirmative action.

Make a contribution to ARI’s Digital Initiative

Writes Yaron Brook on The Ayn Rand Institute‘s Digital Initiative Campaign:

Make a contribution to ARI’s Digital Initiative.

I am pleased to announce that the Ayn Rand Institute is launching its first-ever Capital Campaign—with the goal of raising six million dollars in support of our new ARI Digital Initiative.

We are asking contributors to make a one-time contribution to support this Capital Campaign. ARI’s goal has always been to reach the broadest possible audience with Ayn Rand’s writings and ideas. But it is not enough to have the ideas that can change the culture. It is equally crucial that we be able to communicate them effectively.

There are many organizations seeking to effect major cultural and political change—both on the left and on the right. They invariably conflict directly with the goals we are pursuing. Many of these groups undertake multiyear, multimillion-dollar capital campaigns with the explicit objective of building physical infrastructure—real estate, buildings, and the like—for their people and programs. These campaigns seek to establish monuments to these institutions, yet carry with them the costs of overhead and other inherent obligations.

In contrast we at ARI believe that cultural and political change requires not the building of physical capital—but rather the promotion of intellectual capital. We are, in short, engaged in a capital campaign to build a new home for ARI on the web.

Our proposed Digital Initiative will consolidate all of our websites and social media properties into a streamlined, highly resourceful and engaging experience. This is far more than simply a newly organized website—we will be rolling out fresh design, cutting edge features and new content that bridges Ayn Rand’s fiction to the application of her philosophy.

The new web presence will feature single sign-on and logins across ARI and Campus; profile personalization for registered users, including the “My Library” feature which allows visitors to bookmark and save articles, videos, discussions, and so on. The site will facilitate unique user journeys and personalized study guides—allowing us to deliver content and experiences customized to unique visitors as opposed to a “one size fits all” model. It will vastly enhance ARI’s events management capabilities; establish a new content management system and database with CRM tools; and both upgrade our email communications resources as well as equip ARI with state-of-the-art social media tracking tools.

The result will be an integrated digital solution that will increase awareness and further the understanding of Ayn Rand and her ideas. By fully integrating all our digital assets with the existing and planned expansion of our current e-learning platform—the Ayn Rand Institute Campus—we will create a unique and powerful educational tool for anyone interested in learning about Objectivism and its application.

Read the rest.

“We Don’t Talk About College”

Writes Lisa Von Damme at Pygmalion of the Soul:

Years ago, I accompanied an 8th-grade student I had homeschooled as she visited prospective high schools. At one school, the director of admissions welcomed us and then proceeded to assault my student with the information that entry to college had become highly competitive, and she must therefore chart the right course through the right high school to stand even a chance of admission to the better colleges. She then proceeded to sell the school with the following: my student would need to take multiple AP courses—this school offered a wide variety; she would need to complete the IB program—they were honored to be a member school; she would need to be competitive in a sport and ambitious in an extra-curricular activity—they had many from which to choose. As the director mapped out all that my student must do (with the unquestioned assumption that admission to Harvard was her foremost educational goal), I looked over—and saw her wilt.

This was a child of whom I had endless vivid, touching stories from the classroom—stories of her gasping out loud when she was irrepressibly moved by a passage from Victor Hugo’s Ninety-Three; stories of her eagerly recreating science lessons at home with her parents as students; stories of her writing with ferocious confidence (though she had previously loathed writing), because, she said, I taught her how. Now, before both our eyes, education was becoming nothing about the development of invaluable, life-long skills, nothing about the discovery of joy and utility in the acquisition of knowledge, nothing about the deepening of a capacity for emotional experience. Admission to high school was about… admission to college, which was about…

The answer to that was nothing more than a vague, unstated apprehension of doom.

Many years later, I am the owner and director of a private K-8 school of 140 children in Aliso Viejo, CA. And eternally conscious of that visit to the high school and all the educational principles it implied, I am proud to say that I have a refrain here at VanDamme Academy: “We don’t talk about college.” We talk about how…

Read the rest of “We Don’t Talk About College.

“We Don’t Talk About College”

Writes Lisa Von Damme at Pygmalion of the Soul:

Years ago, I accompanied an 8th-grade student I had homeschooled as she visited prospective high schools. At one school, the director of admissions welcomed us and then proceeded to assault my student with the information that entry to college had become highly competitive, and she must therefore chart the right course through the right high school to stand even a chance of admission to the better colleges. She then proceeded to sell the school with the following: my student would need to take multiple AP courses—this school offered a wide variety; she would need to complete the IB program—they were honored to be a member school; she would need to be competitive in a sport and ambitious in an extra-curricular activity—they had many from which to choose. As the director mapped out all that my student must do (with the unquestioned assumption that admission to Harvard was her foremost educational goal), I looked over—and saw her wilt.

This was a child of whom I had endless vivid, touching stories from the classroom—stories of her gasping out loud when she was irrepressibly moved by a passage from Victor Hugo’s Ninety-Three; stories of her eagerly recreating science lessons at home with her parents as students; stories of her writing with ferocious confidence (though she had previously loathed writing), because, she said, I taught her how. Now, before both our eyes, education was becoming nothing about the development of invaluable, life-long skills, nothing about the discovery of joy and utility in the acquisition of knowledge, nothing about the deepening of a capacity for emotional experience. Admission to high school was about… admission to college, which was about…

The answer to that was nothing more than a vague, unstated apprehension of doom.

Many years later, I am the owner and director of a private K-8 school of 140 children in Aliso Viejo, CA. And eternally conscious of that visit to the high school and all the educational principles it implied, I am proud to say that I have a refrain here at VanDamme Academy: “We don’t talk about college.” We talk about how…

Read the rest of “We Don’t Talk About College.

More Guns, Less Crime?

More Guns, Less Crime? – Capitalism Magazine

One highly visible scholar in the media debate is economist and social scientist, John Lott, Jr., the John M. Olin Visiting Law and Economics Fellow at the University of Chicago. The title of his 1998 book, MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME, may at first strike the reader as provocatively counterintuitive. Lott argues that states’ issuance of permits allowing private citizens to carry concealed handguns has NOT caused crime to rise, but has in fact dramatically REDUCED violent crimes. That’s one fact you won’t here on Rosie O’Donell.

Radicals for Capitalism

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