If Only They Opened Them Up To Beginwith

Sen. Durbin to GOP: Put down Ayn Rand books | TheHill:

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked Republicans to stop reading Ayn Rand books and help Democrats pass legislation aimed to give struggling Americans a hand.

“I say to my conservative friends, put down those Ayn Rand books for a minute and take a look at the real world,” Durbin said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “If we can’t stand behind those who are struggling in life, who are we; what are we?” 

Binswanger Rips Apart Obamas’s Egalitarianism

Harry Binswanger utterly demolishes Obama’s Rawlsian inspired egalitarianism in his epic op-ed President Obama: Stop Damning The Achievers For Their Virtues. Some of the highlights:

Egalitarianism is not the (proper) advocacy of “equality” of rights. It is true that everyone has the same rights, whether a government recognizes them or not, because those rights are based on the nature of man. The same, one standard applies to every human being. What the egalitarians demand is not equality of rights but equality of condition. No one, they say, should be better off than another.

On “equality of opportunity”:

It is pointless to try to distinguish inequality of outcomes from inequality of opportunity. There is no more right to “equal opportunity” than to “equal outcomes.” An American child of wealthy parents has more opportunity than a Cambodian child of destitute parents. Does that mean the American parents must sacrifice their child’s future to increasing the opportunities open to Cambodian children? Yes, say the egalitarians. No, said the Founding Fathers, to the equivalent question in their time. And that “No” is why America is the wealthiest nation in the world. Only the protection of individual rights unleashes the productive energies of the wealth-creators, on every level of ability. That’s the lesson not only of American history, but of the more recent rise of the Pacific Rim countries, and the still more recent amazing growth of India and China, caused by their turn away from communism, socialism, and other forms of statism.

On the communist inspired collectivist “common pot” mentality:

The “gap” in the condition of the rich and the poor, says Obama, has widened. “The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income–it now takes half.” Note the language. He first describes income as being “taken in” and then slides into describing income as “taken.” The top 10 percent . . . now takes half.” “Half”–of what? The response would be: “Well, of the nation’s income, of course.” And thus what began as a simple statistical calculation comes out the other side as pure communism: collective ownership. The national income is regarded as a common pot. Then some groups “take” from that pot more than their share. In Obama’s world, if farmer Fred harvests 4 pumpkins and farmer John harvests 2, Fred has taken two-thirds of “the harvest” for himself. He should be ashamed. It’s unfair. It’s a crisis. Something must be done: “it challenges the very essence of who we are as a people,” says the President.

…and later he explains why those who are more productive should be admired. imitated and left free to produce:

Productive strength is a value to everyone. Weakness and self-defeat is not in anyone’s interest, neither the weakened one’s, nor that of anyone dealing with him. It is in your interest that other men be smart, healthy, productive, and free–not stupid, sick, lazy, and enslaved. To take a more realistic example, would you be better off if Thomas Edison had been stupid, sick, lazy, or enslaved? Would you be better off if the comer newsdealer were? It’s a man’s actual, non-comparative level of wealth that matters, not the existence of others with more than he. Except that he is better off to the extent those with whom he deals have money to burn.

…and the reason why the moral reason why the egalitarian hates the productive:

Other’s wealth can only benefit one in practical terms, which takes us to the reason why the campaign against inequality is vicious. The egalitarian hates inequality for a non-practical, non-venal reason: the sight of the successful and the happy stands as a reproach to him. It brings him face to face with his own failure and inner emptiness. Psychologically, emotionally, a man who is inferior can seethe with resentment at the sight of his betters.

Egalitarianism is a rationalization for the lowest of human emotions: envy. Not envy for what others have, but something much uglier: hatred of anyone for having achieved anything. Not “I’m upset because you have what I ought to have,” but “Punish those whose success makes me know I’m a loser.”

The Germans call it “Schadenfreude.” The French call it “ressentiment.” Ayn Rand called it: hatred of the good for being the good. The inequality that the egalitarians actually hate and fear is moral inequality. They rebel against the idea that they are responsible for their own acts and for their own moral character–or lack of it. “Inequality is unfair” is the coward’s cry against the brave, the slacker’s cry against the producer, the hypocrite’s cry against integrity, the conformist’s cry against the man of independence. The demand for the wealth they didn’t earn is only the outward symbol. The root is the demand for virtue they didn’t earn.

He then goes on to quote Ayn Rand’s identification of John Rawl’s motive and error:

If you wish to know the actual motive behind the egalitarians’ theories–behind all their maudlin slogans, mawkish pleas, and ponderous volumes of verbal rat-traps–if you wish to grasp the enormity of the smallness of spirit for the sake of which they seek to immolate mankind, it can be presented in a few lines:

“When a man thinks he’s good–that’s when he’s rotten. Pride is the worst of all sins, no matter what he’s done.”

“But if a man knows that what he’s done is good?”

“Then he ought to apologize for it.”

“To whom? ”

“To those who haven’t done it.” (Atlas Shrugged)

Read the rest of President Obama: Stop Damning The Achievers For Their Virtues.

Don’t Throw Education Out With the School Wastewater

Writes Lisa Van Damme over at her blog Pygmalion of the Soul:

I am appalled by the state of American education. I am appalled not primarily by the crowded classrooms, decrepit buildings, unmotivated, unionized teachers, severed arts programs, drugs, violence, or many-children-left-behind, but by that which should be the central, fundamental, defining element of any school – the education. Even those schools with richly appointed, sprawling campuses, dedicated faculty with PhD’s, and reputations for academic excellence backed by test scores to prove them still suffer from the same basic pedagogical problem. Education, the actual “learning” that goes on within the walls of our schools, has come to consist primarily, almost exclusively, of mindlessmemorization.

From the causes of WWI, to Newton’s laws of motion, to types of literary devices, to the formulas for area, etc., etc. etc., we are asked to memorize, and regurgitate, and study, and memorize, and regurgitate…and forget. Today’s schools are failing utterly to provide children with a real, functional, life-enhancing, lasting education. That is why I sympathize with the widely popular rallying cry well captured in this viral video, of people who “love education” but “hate school,” and the message, “We will not let exam results decide our fate.” They recognize that their education is bankrupt, and they refuse to define themselves by the schools’ standards of success.

But sadly, this rallying cry and most of those like it are not a rejection of education in its current, empty, memorization-driven state – they reject education as such. The idea that school must “change with the times,” that education is fundamentally for “getting a job” or “satisfying society’s needs,” that our “different genes” mean we must be educated by “different means,” that Google, Twitter, and Facebook are as legitimate means of personal development and self expression as any schooling, betray a basic hostility to the very concept of education. This should not be surprising, given that those sounding the call are victims of the very educational system they decry. How could they know any better?

What a real education actually looks like, what basic purpose it serves, what it does to enhance the life of an individual, why it is essential to life as a mature and thriving adult – these are enormously complex issues. But for my own peace of mind, I want at least to offer some food for thought, and a rallying cry of my own: Protest the “education” in today’s schools, but not education in and of itself.

What does a real education provide?

Read the rest of Schools May Be Cesspools – But Don’t Throw Education Out With the Wastewater.

Teaching Math Conceptually –

Ray Girn at LePort Schools reveals the secret to learning math:

The “secret” of our approach is teaching math conceptually, first starting with a sequential, targeted introduction to concrete manipulatives, then enabling mastery through deliberate, focused, motivated practice, and then allowing the experience of efficacy through the application of skills in increasingly complex, real-life problems.

This is accomplished via a three-step process:

  • We develop real understanding by using carefully structured manipulatives, and, more generally, by always progressing from concrete to abstract in a deliberate sequence.
  • We enable each child to attain mastery of math facts, at his or own pace,before we expect him or her to apply those skills to more complex problems.
  • Once a skill is learned, we explicitly teach mathematical problem solving, and advance, rapidly, to applying the skills learned to complex, real-life, meaningful math problems.

Read the full article Teaching Math Conceptually.

WSJ: Obama Repeals ObamaCare

From WSJ.com:

Under pressure from Senate Democrats, the President partly suspends the individual mandate.

It seems Nancy Pelosi was wrong when she said “we have to pass” ObamaCare to “find out what’s in it.” No one may ever know because the White House keeps treating the Affordable Care Act’s text as a mere suggestion subject to day-to-day revision. Its latest political retrofit is the most brazen: President Obama is partly suspending the individual mandate.

The White House argued at the Supreme Court that the insurance-purchase mandate was not only constitutional but essential to the law’s success, while refusing Republican demands to delay or repeal it. But late on Thursday, with only four days to go before the December enrollment deadline, the Health and Human Services Department decreed that millions of Americans are suddenly exempt.

Individuals whose health plans were canceled will now automatically qualify for a “hardship exemption” from the mandate. If they can’t or don’t sign up for a new plan, they don’t have to pay the tax. They can also get a special category of ObamaCare insurance designed for people under age 30.

Read the rest: Obama Repeals ObamaCare

Binswanger on Monetary Freedom

Dr. Harry Binswanger makes a clear case for Monetary Freedom over at Forbes where he argues that “There is no justification for the Federal Reserve System or for any government intervention regarding money. The government should neither impose gold nor forbid it.”

In fact he goes on to say…

How far would I take this line of thought? All the way.

A case in point. I agree with Jean Baptiste Say, the great 19th century economist, that we should not use national currencies, or even introduce words to canonize them. There is no rational need for the terms “dollar”–or “franc” or “peso” or “shekel.

We call a bushel of wheat a bushel of wheat. We call a pound of butter a pound of butter. We can call an ounce of gold an ounce of gold. A car’s price could be 10.30 gold ounces. Or, because gold has such a high unit value, we could use the gold gram, and quote the price as 315 gold grams.

A gold gram is a gold gram whether it’s used in America, France, Mexico, or Israel. Nor does an ounce of silver vary with lines drawn on the map. And when people are free to choose their money, gold and silver win the market competition. (If, in the future, something else wins, so be it.)

So one reason why the government should not “define the dollar as a certain weight of gold” is that we should jettison the term “dollar.” It’s an obfuscatory term. “Dollar,” “franc” and the like inject into men’s thinking an intermediary between money and the money commodity. That paves the way for government debasement of money.

Let Washington try to declare that an ounce is now four-fifths of an ounce.

Monetary freedom is the only sure means of protecting the integrity of our medium of exchange and store of value. Freedom in general is the only sure means of protecting the integrity of our lives–our ability to act on our own best judgment.

Read the full article Free Money! Then Free The Rest Of The Economy – Forbes.

Capitalism or decline. You choose.

John Allison on the choice that faces us:

“The U.S. has a simple choice – return to the principles that made us great or face economic decay and social unrest. One of the reasons I wrote my book is because it seemed to make sense to have someone who had an inside and comprehensive understanding of the causes of our financial problems to comment on the issue. In the aftermath of the recent election, it’s even more important for the public and policy makers to understand what drove the financial crisis and what choices we must make to revitalize our economy. The media and other statists have created a myth that the financial crisis was caused by banking deregulation and greed on Wall Street. However, banks were not deregulated. In fact, three major new regulations were passes during the Bush Administration: The Privacy Act, The Patriot Act, and Sarbanes-Oxley. Banks were mis-regulated, not de-regulated. Also, there has always been plenty of greed (and fear) on Wall Street. However, there is not one shred of evidence there was a greed plague that swept the Street. The financial crisis and failed recovery were primarily caused by government policy. The two main culprits were errors made by the Federal Reserve and government housing policy, specifically as executed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the giant government-sponsored enterprises that would never have existed in a free market. My book covers this and other economic myths and misunderstanding such as the ‘shadow’ banking system, fair value accounting, Pick-a-Payment mortgages, and the like. However, as interesting as the economic discussion is, the real solution for our financial problems is philosophical and the cure was espoused by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ People on all sides of the political spectrum defend liberty, but few people understand why liberty is essential to human well-being. Government regulations put ‘balls and chains’ on innovators and entrepreneurs and thereby, slow and eventually stop progress. Given man’s nature, socialism and communism are doomed to failure. So, again, I say, the U.S. has a simple choice: The laws of mother nature and human nature are not subject to popularity or political whim. Capitalism or decline. You choose.”

Radicals for Capitalism

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