Salsman on Conservatives Mixing of Religion and Politics

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“]

Jump Start Your Thinking Complimentary Teleclass February 16

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.

 

 

 

Blame Big Government, Not Big Banks

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.

Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand

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

Jane Orient on Quitting Medicare

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.

Ayn Rand’s Essay “To Whom It May Concern” Now Online

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

New Book: How to be Profitable and Moral: A Rational Egoist Approach to Business

A basic dilemma confronting today’s manager is how to be both profitable and moral. Making profits through immoral means—such as deceiving investors or customers—is unsustainable. Likewise, remaining moral while losing money will cause a business to fail. According to conventional morality, either a business manager maximizes profits and necessarily compromises on ethics, or necessarily sacrifices profits in order to be moral. Woiceshyn explains why this is a false dichotomy and offers rational egoism as an alternative moral code to businesspeople who want to maximize profits ethically.

Through logical argument and various examples, How to be Profitable and Moral: A Rational Egoist Approach to Business shows how to apply principles such as rationality, productiveness, honesty, justice, and pride for long-term self-interest.

Jaana Woiceshyn holds a Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught business ethics for over twenty years to undergraduate, MBA, and Executive MBA students and to various corporate audiences at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, and elsewhere. This is her first book.

BB&T grew from $4.5 billion to $152 billion in assets during my tenure as chairman and CEO and weathered the recent financial crisis as one of the strongest financial institutions in America.
The foundation for this success is unquestionably the principles outlined by Jaana Woiceshyn in How to be Profitable and Moral. —John Allison, retired chairman and CEO, BB&T and
Distinguished Professor of Practice, Wake Forest University

Jaana Woiceshyn’s book is much needed and timely. Filled with concrete examples, it provides practical guidance for making successful daily decisions—based on a moral code that works and will make us proud of what we do. —Doug Arends, chairman, Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd.

Professor Woiceshyn has provided a well-reasoned, clearly-written explanation showing . . . why business people need to live by rational moral principles as a necessary means to maximize profit. This cogent book deserves a careful reading by businesspeople, academics, and intelligent laymen alike. —Andrew Bernstein, Ph.D, author of The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic, and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire

Democracy and Self Determination of Peoples: Euphenisms for Mob Rule in the Middle East

Writes Raymond Ibrahim in Jihad — When Elections Fail over at Jihad Watch:

The Obama administration supports “democracy” and “self determination” in the Middle East—two euphemisms that, in the real world, refer to “mob-rule” and “Islamic radicalization,” respectively. Yet, as Jimmy Carter recently put it: “I don’t have any problem with that [an “Islamist victory” in Egypt], and the U.S. government doesn’t have any problem with that either. We want the will of the Egyptian people to be expressed.”

Sounds fair enough. The problem, however, is that Muslim clerics openly and unequivocally characterize democracy and elections as tools to be discarded once they empower Sharia law. Thus Dr. Talat Zahran holds that it is “obligatory to cheat at elections—a beautiful thing”; and Sheikh Abdel Shahat insists that democracy is not merely forbidden in Islam, but kufr—a great and terrible sin—this even as he competed in Egypt’s elections.

The Obama administration can overlook such election-exploitations because the majority of Muslims are either indifferent or willing to go along with the gag—with only a minority (secularists, Copts, etc.) in Egypt actually objecting to how elections are being used to empower Sharia-enforcing Muslims.

But what if Muslims do not win elections? What if there are equal amounts of non-Muslims voting—and an “infidel” wins? What then? Then we get situations like Nigeria.

While many are aware that Boko Haram and other Islamic elements are waging jihad against the government of Nigeria, specifically targeting Christians, often overlooked is that the jihad was provoked into full-blown activity because a Christian won fair elections (Nigeria is about evenly split between Christians and Muslims).

According to Peter Run, writing back in April 2011:

The current wave of riots was triggered by the Independent National Election Commission’s (INEC) announcement on Monday [April 18, 2011] that the incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, won in the initial round of ballot counts. That there were riots in the largely Muslim inhabited northern states where the defeat of the Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari was intolerable, [but] was unsurprising. Northerners [Muslims] felt they were entitled to the presidency for the declared winner, President Jonathan, [who] assumed leadership after the Muslim president, Umaru Yar’Adua died in office last year and radical groups in the north [Boko Haram] had seen his ascent [Christian president] as a temporary matter to be corrected at this year’s election. Now they are angry despite experts and observers concurring that this is the fairest and most independent election in recent Nigerian history.

Note some key words: Muslims felt “entitled” to the presidency and seek to “correct” the fact that a Christian won elections—which they assumed “a temporary matter.”

Of course, had elections empowered a like-minded Muslim, the same jihadis would still be there, would still have the same savage intent for Christians and Westerners—Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden.” But there would not be a fullblown jihad, and Obama would be singing praises to Nigerian democracy and elections, and the MSM would be boasting images of Nigerians with ink-stained fingers.

Yet the same jihadi intent would be there, only dormant. Like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood—whose ultimate goal is “mastership of the world”—they would not need to expose themselves via jihad, would be biding their time and consolidating their strength.

Now, back to the Egyptian clerics, specifically Sheikh Yassir al-Burhami—yet another leader in Egypt’s Salafi movement, who teaches that Muslims must preach peace when weak but wage war when strong. Discussing the chances of a fellow Salafi, Burhami asserts:

We say—regardless of the outcome of the elections—whether he [his colleague, the aforementioned al-Shahat] wins or loses, we will not permit an infidel [kafir] to be appointed to a post where he assumes authority over Muslims. This is forbidden. Allah said: “Never will Allah grant to infidels a way [to triumph] over the believers [Koran 4:141].” We are not worried about losing elections or al-Shahat losing votes. We will not flatter or fawn to the people.

What will you and your associates do, Sheikh Burhami—wage jihad? Of course, that will not be necessary: unlike Nigeria, most of Egypt is Muslim; one way or another, “elections” will realize the Islamist agenda.

Thus, whether by word (al-Burhami) or deed (Boko Haram) those who seek to make Islam supreme prove that democracy and elections are acceptable only insofar as they enable Sharia. Conversely, if they lead to something that contradicts Sharia—for instance, by bringing a Christian infidel to power—then the perennial jihad resumes.

The Islamists behave similar to the American “Progressives” who only support free elections as a vehicle to put their particular brand of collectivism — egalitarian socialism in place. As an example observe their praise of the Castro regime and communism, and their attacks on the profit motive, freedom and capitalism.

Private Schools for the Poor

James Tooley writes in Private Schools for the Poor:

The accepted wisdom is that private schools serve the privileged; everyone else, especially the poor, requires public school.
The poor, so this logic goes, need government assistance if they are to get a good education, which helps explain why, in the United States, many school choice enthusiasts believe that the only way the poor can get the education they deserve is through vouchers or charter schools, proxies for those better private or independent schools, paid for with public funds.

But if we reflect on these beliefs in a foreign context and observe low-income families in underprivileged and developing countries, we find these assumptions lacking: the poor have found remarkably innovative ways of helping themselves, educationally, and in some of the most destitute places on Earth have managed to nurture a large and growing industry of private schools for themselves. [“Private Schools for the Poor“, The Catholic Education Resource Center]

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