Friday, October 26, 2007
Words of Encouragement
I would like to thank everyone who commented here or at their own blogs or wrote in about yesterday's post. I can't say it enough that my readers have helped make blogging very worthwhile to me.
And speaking of encouragement, I have to say again that I feel like a real ass for failing to mention my dear wife until later on yesterday. She knows how much I like to write and has been very accommodating about my writing schedule. Also, she has often given me some very good feedback on my work, including, from time to time, much-needed reminders (item 3 there) that there is more to life than just writing!
That's very important to me, but it is just a small part of why I love her.
Copyrights and Movies
Qwertz ponders a recent episode in which a school teacher came under fire for the wrong reason:
The complaint is that showing a PG-13 film to 3d-5th graders is inappropriate. Nothing is said about how showing a bootleg of such a film is inappropriate. In my not so humble opinion, the latter is the worse offense.A moral code that causes some people to be so concerned about prescribing the behavior of others through assorted arbitrary taboos that they completely miss the fact that a teacher is, by example, basically training students to commit theft is completely bankrupt and irrelevant to life on earth.
Qwertz also fields a question in his comments about the movie ratings system.
State Funding Equals State Control
About a decade ago, some liberal acquaintance of mine spammed me with one of those appeals to action that liberals are so notable for sending out. This one was in support of continued government funding of the arts, which I think was being looked at for funding cuts back then.
My reply was short and sweet. It was something like: "I cannot support government funding of the arts because government funding equals government control." Somehow, I don't think I changed her mind, but at least I stopped getting spam from that particular source afterwards.
The above episode came to mind this morning when I went through yesterday's HBL posting and saw a link to a superb piece by Jan Bowman at Spiked on "Why artists shouldn't accept state funding."
The result is a burgeoning fellowship of 'artists' and 'arts practitioners' who owe their careers entirely to the state and who survive by ticking the right boxes in return for accommodating to the government's propaganda requirements. For all Tessa Jowell's fine words about the unique, transcendent value of art, New Labour will accept an awful lot of rubbish from artists so long as the results send the right 'message' about smoking, drinking, child abuse, internet porn, recycling, or any other current government obsession - even better if the process involves sufficient members of the public, from nursery upwards.There is no way to do justice to this piece by excerpting it because it is a very thorough examination of this problem.
Because of this complicated and compromising arrangement, thoughtful art graduates should beware of applying for government funds to do their art. [bold added]
My only reservations about the piece are that it accepts the common misconception that art cannot be objectively evaluated and that it does not fundamentally challenge the propriety of government funding for certain industries.
The subjectivity canard is bad enough in and of itself, but combined with Bowman's own acceptance of state funding for things that can be objectively measured, it undercuts her whole argument by separating it from the wider problem of government funding of any enterprise not properly a function of government.
The fact is that government funding of the arts (or even most scientific research) represents a violation of the rights of those whose money was stolen from them in order to provide the funding as well as a diversion of government funds from their proper purpose, the protection of individual rights. The resulting distortions in the economy also deprive numerous people who might have a chance at success in a free market of opportunities -- while also inducing some whose talents would be better employed elsewhere to remain.
In addition, the control of huge sums of money by government officials (rather than customers from a free market who expect value for their purchases) hangs like a huge sword over the industry the state is supposedly in the business of promoting. This fact is a huge conflict of interest for the officials involved and threatens to easily compromise the integrity of anyone who wants such funds.
This is all true regardless of what enterprise the state funds or whether we have worked out an objective means of measuring the value of the goods produced.
Despite this serious shortcoming, I highly recommend the article.
The Latest Undercurrent ...
... is out, as announced on HBL, and they want your help getting it out onto college campuses. Here is the table of contents:
In Defense of Corporate America, by Noah StahlLots of very interesting stuff!
How Not to Lie with Statistics: The Good, the Bad, and the Average, by Gena Gorlin
The Business of Healthcare, by Laura Mazer
Operation Iraqi Freedom: An Altruistic War, by fellow blogger Dan Edge
Faith and Reason: Friends or Foes?, by Kelly Cadenas
Anti-Smoking Paternalism: A Cancer on American Liberty, by Don Watkins
An Objectivism Seminar
On the off chance you haven't seen it on Noodle Food, Greg Perkins is gearing up to hold weekly seminars on Objectivism using Skype and other such electronic technology.
Because it is an ongoing seminar, we will have incentive to keep up with the steady schedule of study and stay equipped to consider fresh angles, concretizations, challenges, and applications from other participants. And because life is so full for many of us, I am purposefully keeping the reading load light and the method of participation unobtrusive. The plan is that we will spend almost as much time discussing the ideas as reading about them. Study like this is productive for both experienced students of Objectivism and those new to Rand's ideas: I've read all of these books, some several times, and I would expect to get at least as much out of this as someone going through them for the first time.I have enough commitments myself that I won't be joining the first of these, but I might join the next one. It sounds really interesting and it looks like he's put quite a bit of thought into how to make this work smoothly.
15th Objectivist Roundup
Rational Jenn hosted it this week, and I finally remembered to submit something myself!