Quick Roundup 115

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lin Zinser on Minimum Wage Laws

Lin Zinser recently had an excellent editorial on the immorality of minimum wage laws published by the Independence Institute.

Providing income to someone willing to work to learn a skill or trade is a decent, moral act. A minimum wage can make that mutually-beneficial act illegal. Such wage controls override the free agreements between employer and employee with arbitrary political force.
It also appears in full at Diana Hsieh's Noodle Food, but she's been exceptionally busy posting on the election, so you might have missed it. If so, remember to give it a read.

Missing from the Book of Genesis...

... but not from the real world.

Some Japanese fishermen have reportedly captured a dolphin (with two rear fins) thought to be a throwback to an earlier stage in the evolution of this sea mammal from its four-legged ancestors.
"I believe the fins may be remains from the time when dolphins' ancient ancestors lived on land ... this is an unprecedented discovery," Seiji Osumi, an adviser at Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research, said at a news conference televised Sunday.

The second set of fins -- much smaller than the dolphin's front fins -- are about the size of human hands and protrude from near the tail on the dolphin's underside. The dolphin measures 8.92 feet and is about five years old, according to the museum.
Needless to say, this further evidence in favor of the hypothesis of evolution will do nothing to sway the fundies, who act as if they never evolved senses capable of discerning the real world or minds capable of making sense of it.

GOP caved on Akaka, too.

This weekend, Grant Jones, who hails from Hawaii, saw my post on the GOP's inexcusable partywide adoption of racial quotas and informed me that that the incumbent Governor of Hawaii, Republican Linda Lingle, had been in favor of the racist Akaka Bill when it was still kicking. Hmm. On second thought, maybe it is still kicking....

Evil, not Mere Error

Via Diana Hsieh is a blistering rebuke from the Ayn Rand Institute to the notion that our armed forces are to be prostituted for the defense of barbarians and the empowerment of their Islamofascist rulers -- rather than for American self-defense.
The failure in Afghanistan is a result of Washington's foreign policy. Despite lip-service to the goal of protecting America's safety, the "war on terror" has been waged in compliance with the prevailing moral premise that self-interest is evil and self-sacrifice a virtue. Instead of trouncing the enemy for the sake of protecting American lives, our leaders have sacrificed our self-defense for the sake of serving the whims of Afghans.
If this angers you, and it should, then I recommend reading the whole thing.

My Beef with Ted Haggard

What Ted Haggard does on his own time is between him, his imaginary friend, and his congregants, but there is one aspect of it I haven't seen anyone touch yet, so to speak. His shameful modus operandi, of pretending to abide by one set of moral values while actually holding another, pretty much essentializes what this man does 24-7. Although I have no moral problem with homosexuality per se, he professes to, and yet he also admittedly goes out to male prostitutes for massages.

Unlike Haggard, I love my country and the rational, Enlightenment values upon which it was founded. Haggard pretends to defend America and uphold these values while undermining them with arguments borrowed from skeptics and then pretending that fundamentalist Christianity is perfectly compatible with said values. Watch him do just that here.

Harry Binswanger, in discussing his reluctant decision to vote for Democrats at the national level, said that one thing that held him back was the "pure, naked evil of the Angry Left". Watch the video at Nick Provenzo's site for a competing image: pure viciousness wrapping itself in the mantle of reason.

I could care less about Haggard's dalliances. Those episodes are, sadly, that man at his very best, attempting in his own pathetic way to enjoy the only life he has. The rest of the time, he is actively promoting beliefs that will continue to make himself and his congregants less able to live (if they take them seriously) and more likely to help undermine America.

The Inspector Weighs In

The Inspector has written a very good post over at The Intellectual Watchman on the upcoming elections. He and Myrhaf are the bloggers closest to where I presently stand on the elections. He brings up three things worth noting.

First of all, he cites a very good post (which deserves its own reading) by Noumenal Self which argues persuasively that the essential issue in this election is not the war. Quoting from Noumenal Self:
The war should be the essential issue in this election. It should be, but it isn't, because the choice between Democrats and Republicans will make little difference for the outcome of the war. I will argue for this position presently.
The Inspector then he cites John Lewis:
Conservatives have created a fantasy world of appearance, designed to expropriate the programs of the left while wearing the clothing of American freedom. In the end, the idea of a true alternative to the welfare state and military defeat is hacked up and re-stitched into a chimera. The fact that the left has become a cesspool of nihilism does not change the nature of the conservative reaction, or make this package-deal any real alternative.

In my view, if our choice is between two forms of welfare redistribution and military timidity, we would be best off with a president who openly espouses these ideas, and makes no claims to support the opposite. This would not lead to better policies, but it would result in clarity, a point of focus for an opposition, and a better chance for a true alternative to take hold.

Suppose that Al Gore had been elected in the fall of 2000. The 9/11 attacks would have occurred, but there would have been no confusion about what caused them: democratic weakness, not Republican "offense." Gore would have been forced to look strong, in the face of Republican opposition. Welfare-state spending could be blamed on Democratic welfare-statism, not the Republican "free market." Persecution of businessmen could be blamed on Elliot Spitzer, not the "pro-business" philosophy of Alberto Gonzales.
I agree with most of this, although I think Lewis underestimates the ability of the Left to Blame America First. Any Chomskyite -- and this is the essence of the Angry Left -- could "inform" you that even whatever Al Gore might have done was still somehow imperialistic or just "not enough" in the realm of penance for our country's past (alleged) outrages. But he is correct that ordinary people would not mistake Gore's response, whatever it would have been, for an actual war of self-defense.

The Inspector also alludes to Frederic Bastiat's admonition to account for the "unseen", although he does so in a way different (although worthwhile) from the way I have been thinking of it lately. The Inspector urges us to consider what our bad policies might be costing us that are not as easily considered as a reel of the twin towers collapsing.

These are completely valid considerations. But one of the things keeping me from voting for the Democrats is what we haven't seen simply because they are not in power. Some of the "pro" Democrat Objectivists think that the Democrats would not get away with their undiluted agenda either because it would evoke a 1992 Hillary Care style backlash from the Republicans or at least be too far out there to enjoy enough support. Maybe so, but the fact the the Republicans are attempting to coopt much of this agenda (except, so far, the censorship the Democrats are far more keen about than the Republicans) makes me less than comfortable about these possibilities.

We could see the much of the worst of the Democrat agenda enacted anyway. (And actually, with racial quotas as a model, it seems that we will no matter how we vote!)

The chief merit in the argument for voting for the Democrats seems to be that voters will have the smoke cleared when their policies are enacted in undiluted form. The "smoke" would be Republicans dressing this very agenda up as its exact opposite. Unfortunately, even in this light, I am not sure how useful having the Democrats win would be in the long run. If the Republicans do successfully oppose their agenda as we would hope (or they do not and it fails, Carter style), what would that do but allow the Republicans to say, Limbaugh-style, "See! We told you so! We'll forgive you if you vote us back in next time. Come to Jesus!" It would almost be preferable to allow them to remain in power.

Doing so would allow either Tracinski's optimistic scenario (which I think has ample precedent in American politics) of the Democratic Party expiring and the Republican Party splitting to occur or it would not. In any case, I think that it is important in our nation's political debate to speak plainly about whatever policies are enacted by whoever is in power as direct products of the ideas held by those in power. Whatever the outcome of this election, it seems clear to Objectivists across the board that the Republicans have essentially adopted the Democratic agenda and that they will not lead us to victory.

In a Republican victory, the two extreme scenarios seem to be: Tracinski's Republican split and Peikoff's Republican-Fundamentalist entrenchment. In a Democrat victory, we will have an easier time debating policies because the Democrats will at least not sell them as strength. But for how long? Until they fail and the Republicans come back stronger than ever? The third scenario, which most seem to be advocating or hoping for, is the gridlock of mixed government. That idea has some attraction to me as a delaying tactic in the larger cultural war.

This election is a hideous mess to say the very least.

Myrhaf: Hillary over McCain in '08

One thing I have little trouble with is this choice, seeing how McCain was coauthor of McCain-Feingold.
And you know what? If John McCain is the Republican candidate for President in '08, I will vote for the Democrat nightmare. Remember, John McCain has exhorted Americans to "sacrifice for a cause greater than self-interest." He wrote, "Public service is a virtue, and national service should one day be a rite of passage for young Americans." John McCain wants every young person to do service to the nation (also known as "slavery")
Oh yeah. That, too.

The only choices that are clear to me electorally at this point are to vote against whoever seems more likely to limit freedom of speech. The Republicans in this congressional election and (gulp!) Hillary in the next, if she runs against McCain.

-- CAV


Nicholas Provenzo said...

The whole Ted Haggard phenomenon is fascinating in that it underscores that the Christians, by their own admission, are hypocrites to their creed. After all, they are each born sinners and only God’s caprice can save them. Of course Ted Haggard has sex with gay prostitutes and then lies about it; that’s what all sinners do. It’s in our depraved imperfect natures—how can we help it?

In fact, like all the other fallen evangelical leaders, I see nothing that would prevent Haggard from returning to the pulpit one day, less influential perhaps, but still making more money than what fills the Gus Van Horn or CAC tip jars.

Inspector said...

If the Republicans don't oppose Democrat policies as an opposition party; if they continue to try to co-opt them, even when out of majority... well, that's an ugly scenario. If it happens, then that basically means it's already too late.

But as Myrhaf said, "This country is headed for some deep shit."

Gus Van Horn said...

It is indeed the creed of petty criminals on that level just as Islam is the creed of murderers.

Gus Van Horn said...


You're right on that count and I saw late in the day that you decided to vote for the Democrats. No cross words from me. But for some nagging reservations, I would do the same.

I suspect that for some who are/were in the "Red" camp that the anger we are seeing some of them display on the forums is denial, with its direction at Leonard Peikoff a species of shooting the messenger.

I loathe the Democrats. At the very top of a long offhand list, they (1) made my mother take a job to put food on the table during the Carter years (Dad was a cop and had been doing fine before that.), (2) destroyed New Orleans before it was destroyed, (3) essentially made my future in science hopeless by overproducing PhDs for decades on end while propagandizing that we "need" more scientists, ....

And yet in many ways, the GOP is even worse than these bastards! And they are being self-righteous about it and wrapping themselves in the flag at the same time! I am livid, and it is only my fear that the Democrats are even worse than Peikoff thinks that is keeping me from voting for them.

Yeah. We're in deep fucking shit. This is what Peikoff really means, and it upsets me to no end, but it will be a cold day in Hell before I direct my anger at him.


Grant Jones said...

The Republican governor of Hawaii has also marched for racial segregation in the Bishop Estate's private schools. While a private school may have a moral right to do so, to publicly support such a policy is contemptable.


Thanks for the link Gus.

Gus Van Horn said...


Bloody hell!

Back when I was in the Navy, I specifically asked not to be stationed in Hawaii because I heard they were racist there. I'm sorry to see how right I was....

You're welcome, Grant, and thank you for taking the time to comment on this post and the last.


Inspector said...


I hear you loud and clear, on every point.

What finally tipped it for me was the realization was that it's not about replacing the Republican monopoly with a Democrat one; it's about causing gridlock.

It is not an easy decision to come to and I'm still so disgusted by the whole thing that it hurts me when I think about it.

For some perspective, this is coming from a guy who once said he would vote for HITLER before Hillary "We will take things away from you for the common good" Clinton. And it just might come to that. Excuse me while I go vomit.

I hear you on the nagging reservations. I think they're still in there somewhere for me, too. But right now they're drowned by the aforementioned disgust (including the outrage at the knife in my back courtesy of the Republicans).

Gus Van Horn said...

I would not be so sure it is all about gridlock. It may be more like Republicans being "the new Libertarians". I have long berated fiscal conservatives here for being the "battered wives" of the social conservatives. In this respect Tracinski and Peikoff agree that such a dysfunctional alliance must end, but differ wildly on how. Peikoff is saying that no alliance with religious conservatives is possible, even temporarily.

To that extent, his advice is not be about gridlock, although it would result in it this election.

Inspector said...


Oh, again, I agree. It's not so much that I'm sure it's all about gridlock... it's more that, either way, that is what it means for now.

Check out my update... I address this specifically.

Gus Van Horn said...

I think he'd even go so far as to say that if we must have one party rule, better the Democrats since they're like drugged out hippies and so made less harmful by lack of focus.

But I think he'd prefer gridlock to that anyway.