Quick Roundup 295

Friday, January 25, 2008

Changes for Two Objectivist Mississippians

When I started blogging over three years ago, I was very new to blogging and had recently finished a period of my life in which I had been fairly isolated from the Objectivist movement. For all I knew, I was the first or only Objectivist blogger, but I quickly learned otherwise. And then for awhile I thought I held the distinction of being the only Objectivist blogger with a Southern background -- until I encountered The Charlotte Capitalist.

As it would turn out, I wasn't even the only Objectivist blogger from Mississippi -- at least for awhile. Citing an increasingly busy schedule, Allen, who also hails from the Magnolia State and blogged at Allen's Image Adjustment, emailed me yesterday that he will be taking his blog down at least for the foreseeable future.

Having become busier myself lately, I can sympathize. I didn't get to stop by there often enough, but I enjoyed it when I did and I liked knowing that there was someone else from back home out there doing the same thing. I wish Allen luck and look forward to meeting him some time when I'm over there to see my family.

And this Objectivist Southerner's own very busy period goes on. I've been glad to keep up a near-daily posting schedule despite more work in the lab and my wife's heavy travel schedule. She's been interviewing for medical residencies as part of a process called "matching".

After her interviews, she will make a ranked list of programs she has visited and then we'll have to wait for a month until the results of a nationwide "match" are announced. All the lists generated by newly-minted M.D.s like herself will be compared with how the programs rank their interviewees and then we'll know where we will live for the next few years. So in March I will probably learn that I have to leave Houston, which has been my favorite place to live, and my home for the past thirteen years. The randomness of the process is inconvenient, to put it mildly.

In any event, odds are that Mrs. Van Horn's travel schedule will affect me enough next Monday that I will be unable to post. In case it does and I don't get to post this weekend, I'll see you Tuesday!

Objectivist Roundup

Rational Jenn has been doing a good job with the weekly Objectivist Blogging Carnival. See for yourself at its latest installment.

One thing I have noticed is that the carnival submission form leaves a space for comments, which most of those who submitted have used. I have noticed that it is useful to me as a writer to formulate a one-line summary of whatever I submit each week.

And this is on top of the fact that these summaries are a good way to hunt for interesting posts by other bloggers as the carnival gets larger each week.

Whose Money Will Make a Bigger Difference?

Kendall and Galileo both discuss Bill Gates' recent public confession of ignorance about capitalism that took the form of a call for "Creative Capitalism" at the recent World Economic Forum. Galileo sums up his analysis as follows:

What Bill Gates doesn't get is that wealth is only created through the productive efforts of businessmen. Businessmen and everyone who benefits from their products -- i.e., all of us -- need capitalism, the system based on the recognition of the right to property and its root, a man's right to his own life. Bill Gates just doesn't get it, and the world is poorer as a result. [bold added]
And Kendall's final remarks show the result of this misunderstanding:
No, Mr. Gates, instead of calling capitalism a partial solution, and calling for a new kind of capitalism based on altruistic sentiments, you should be calling for the establishment of capitalism in the first place, where none exists. [bold added]
So Gates' ignorance about what capitalism is results in his condemnation of the results of various degrees of tyranny and his calls to "fix" something that isn't just not broken, but hasn't really been tried!

This is disappointing, but there is one bright side to it. Not to discount the problem's Gates' credibility as a successful businessman will lend to his attack on capitalism, but .... Who hasn't already heard some variant of this nonsense at least fifty times already? More on that in a moment....

Fortunately, there is also some good news on top of that. Mike N reports that at least one businessman out there understands what capitalism is and is putting his money where his mouth is:
The Charleston Daily Mail reports that BB&T will donate $1 million to Marshall University.
In the war of ideas, altruists currently hold a near-monopoly on wealth and "mind-share". But egoists have a huge advantage over altruists in one key respect: Their money will always be far more effective at spreading their ideas. Altruists, to the extent that they match deed with word, will send their money down the rat-hole of what Stella recently called "misguided generosity". Their money will essentially evaporate while a far greater proportion of ours gets the word out that there is a viable alternative to self-sacrifice.

And to the extent that altruists do spend money on the work of spreading ideas, that market is pretty much saturated with altruism already. Who hasn't heard a million times already that they should immolate themselves? Whose ideas are going to stand out as unusual -- and therefore will provoke closer examination? And whose ideas will stand up to such closer scrutiny?

I don't know how to go about answering this question, but it is pleasant to contemplate: "How much more does each dollar spent to further egoism do than each spent to further altruism?"

Monica on Animal "Rights"

Monica has been sparring with animal "rights" activists over at her blog and has some interesting thoughts after and about having done so.
Animal rights activists don’t actually care about animal welfare or even the existence of domestic animals.

This was a bit of a shocker for me, I admit. Doubt it? Check out the following quotes, which are sourced here and here.

I'm warning you, this section is looong!

Oh, and some of these quotes are from authors (Peter Singer and Gary Francione) that Anonymous thinks are great role models (indicated as part of his moral lecture, which I didn’t publish). [bold added]
She also discusses at length on something we've batted around a little here: The value of answering even some irrational comments.

Two further notes of my own: As Monica demonstrates, there is value in the form of bettering one's own understanding in engaging opponents in intellectual debate. Notice that she has learned the sordid truth about the "concern" animal "rights" activists actually hold for animal welfare. I likewise made the following connection explicit as a result of comments here:
Animal rights activists ... [also] do not have the interests of a certain kind of animals -- human beings -- in mind at all, and most certainly don't act in this rational animal's interests.
This integration certainly won't change the mind of the most irrational advocates of this position, but it will help to win the minds of those who are confused about the matter, but are receptive to argument. All you have to do at least call the animal "rights" position into question is to point out some conflict between the animal "rights" position and man's welfare, and help someone recall that man is also an animal.

Oh, there's one more thing. I congratulate Monica on her recent dog food score at Wal-Mart!

-- CAV


Galileo Blogs said...

I totally agree, Gus. One dollar in the hands of Bill Gates dissipates in the desert sands of the African wasteland, whereas one dollar in the hands of the Ayn Rand Institute, for example, will blossom and bear fruit many times over.

An idea that is both radical and true will spread even if only nourished by a few dollars. On the other hand, the billions thrown at tired Leftism will hardly gain a new convert.

As for Bill Gates' scattering billions, it will buy him nothing but the temporary obsequience of sundry aid-o-crats who glom onto the suffering of Africans like feasting flies stuck to the carcasses of dead animals.

Gates may genuinely want to help the poor, but his billions will be utterly wasted. Even worse, it will create even greater misery by helping African dictatorships stay in power by escaping the worst consequences of the misery they cause. Moreover, to the extent Bill's billions provide him a podium, his public comments undermining capitalism will delay the benefits of capitalism from one day arriving in Africa and other parts of the world.

Bill Gates deserves to be admired for being instrumental in giving us the personal computer, but he also deserves to be condemned for undercutting the capitalist system that made his wealth and the personal computer possible.

Gus Van Horn said...

The chief danger from altruism lies in the fact that governments use it to justify trampling individual rights. So long as freedom of speech is untouched, there is hope.

Anonymous said...

"So in March I will probably learn that I have to leave Houston, which has been my favorite place to live, and my home for the past thirteen years."

I hear you there, Gus. I'm pretty much in the same boat, only one year farther off. There simply aren't any surgical residencies in the state of Arizona - thank you Uncle Sam, who decided to control the number of residencies - and so we will have to leave our home and uproot for a number of years.



The Whited Sepulchre said...

Where in the Magnolia State are you and Allen The Other Objectivist Blogger from?

Just curious....

Allen in Fort Worth, who grew up in The Delta.
And who can't quite call himself Objectivist, but can only make it to Libertarian.

coreyo said...

I completely agree that Gates is wasting his money away. He's trading powerful amounts of money for short term relief. The money would be much better suited paying to create cultural and political foundations that recognize and protect individuals and their contributions to society in countries that are in desperate conditions.

Gates needs to let the world know how the United State's makes it possible to have a Microsoft. The task apparently is not to be.

Gus Van Horn said...

I'm from Jackson. I either am having trouble remembering or haven't gotten around to asking where Allen is from.

Gus Van Horn said...


Also, such "charity" functions a lot like oil wealth stolen by dictatorial regimes in helping bad governments stay in power and discouraging self-sufficiency.

Allen said...

I grew up in Pascagoula, MS; I've just recently moved from Florida to Hattiesburg, MS