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Everything posted by cjsmall

  1. I just published a review of the book Old Nick's Guide to Happiness, written by Nicholas Dykes. This is a book that I believe any Objectivist, or person who enjoyed Atlas Shrugged, will find entertaining and informative. You can read the full review here.
  2. Important! I would like to direct everyone to my most recent article, because it discusses some recent news that everyone should be aware of. Barack Obama's outfit, "Organizing for America", is using the government schools as a recruiting center in an effort to put together an army of youths to be trained to go out and push Obama's agenda for health care, energy and education reform. Pam Geller broke this story Saturday, on her website Atlas Shrugs, and I have provided an overview of the most important information along with an analysis of the meaning and implications. Please read this and then take appropriate countermeasures, including spreading the story as widely as possible. It is important that we generate a loud public outcry against this abomination. Obama Continues to Organize his Youth Army!
  3. My call to action for all freedom-loving people. The Second American Revolution: It's Time To Make Your Stand
  4. I just added the following article: Why The Republicans Are No Ally In The Fight Against Health Care Legislation
  5. Listen to Robert Reich finally tell the truth about health care reform! You Can't Handle The Truth!
  6. Many new articles on my blog including Community Service's Split Personality
  7. Recent articles: Hey Kids, I've Got A Message For You ... Running the Numbers: Over One Billion Served Community Service: It's Not Just For Your Community Any Longer! Half of Public Schools Require Community Service Volunteerism ... For Credit and Money!
  8. To All Innocent Fifth Columnists I was recently introduced to an article written by Ayn Rand in 1941 which I had not read before. In it, she encourages intellectuals to organize in support of individualism as the only means of successfully fighting totalitarianism. This piece is fully applicable today, identifying the exact nature of our current battle for freedom. Read my piece which includes a link to the full article.
  9. Oh Where, Oh Where, Did All The Doctors Go? My latest blog entry discusses the brain-drain that has been occurring in South Africa. It is also another parable of mandatory community service in action.
  10. My latest piece titled It's Never Too Early To Indoctrinate, discusses how mandatory national service is being imposed, through the back door of our educational system. Soon, no child will be able to escape from the requirement.
  11. In a recent blog entry titled My Response to Frank Rich's Article in the New York Times, I respond to Mr Rich's observation that heated disagreement with Barack Obama's policies is prima facia evidence of a manifestation of racism -- but since the dissenters are idiots, there is no point in trying to set them straight.
  12. I just added a short article on my blog that discusses how your tax dollars have been going to ACORN to fund such activities as creating "Healthcare Activists" to rally support for Obamacare. And if that were not enough, these activities are promoted through the government's serve.gov website. Read more at Taxpayers Fund Activists for Obamacare at United We Serve
  13. I just added a blog entry discussing the recently announced Mozilla Service Week project. The Obama administration is off and running with its plans to move the country to mandatory national service of some kind, and this is just the first salvo in their battle plan. Read more about this at my article: The Battle for National Service is Underway! Regards, -- C. Jeffery Small go-galt.org/Galt_Pledge/
  14. I have now added a blog section to the original website. This contains additional material about the purpose of this initiative along with additional comments. This section will be updated frequently, so check back occasionally for new information. I'm also interested in receiving comments from readers of the site. Use one of the buttons there to send me email with your thoughts. I hope each of you will give the project some careful consideration, add you name to the list, and then let others know about it so that they can participate as well. Your support is crucial in turning this site into an important tool in the fight for liberty. Regards. -- C. Jeffery Small
  15. I have created a new web site that explores the ramifications to the country and its citizens resulting from the renewed calls for voluntary and mandatory National Service. I think the site is rather self-explanatory. Take a look and let me know (by email) your thoughts. -- C. Jeffery Small The John Galt Pledge Initiative
  16. It is now April, so I will make one final request that you all participate in the book campaign and record your books on the go-galt.org web site. I understand that some of you may think that this action is not the most effective type of protest, but even if you send only a single book, adding your entry to the site will help swell the ranks of those registering their protest against the current government policies and will provide a further benefit by helping to persuade others to also get involved. There are many people who will be convinced to contribute to the campaign once they see that it is gaining traction. If there are a couple hundred people participating, or a few hundred books committed to go to the politicians, then the action will have more credibility. These are the types of numbers I would like to achieve prior to the announcements at the April 15th Tea Parties, which I believe will result in a huge flood of participants. So I am asking for you to help in the most effective way, by being one of the early backers. Your involvement now can have a huge multiplying effect in the days to come. I appreciate your future participation, and a big thank you to those who have already signed up! -- C. Jeffery Small
  17. Michael: Thank you for your well wishes. To everyone: On another forum, some people have wonder about whether I expect the books sent to politicians to actually be read by them and change their minds. Of course I do not. They don't even read their own legislation so they certainly are not going to follow our suggestion regarding this book. The majority of politicians hold their office because they enjoy the power it affords them, and most are interested in expanding, not relinquishing that power. So the ultimate message of Atlas Shrugged is lost on them. In terms of direct impact on the politicians, the only thing that they respond to is the shifting tide of their voter base. If enough of their constituents write in regarding an issue, then they sit up and take notice - not because they actually care about the issue (and that appears to be especially so when the issue is centered around liberty or individual rights) - but because it just might affect their reelection. The physical presence of the book is concrete and caries an emotional impact to complement the abstract intellectual ideas contained in the accompanying messages and letters. Multiply the impact of one book by turning it into a pile, and you have something that I believe can penetrate those concrete-bound mentalities. As I say on my web site, "Let each politician take measure of the weight of our displeasure made manifest in the weight of the books received!" In this way, I hope to put the "fear of Galt" into them by letting them see that there are many like-minded people who seriously disapprove of their tactics, and more importantly, that they are becoming organized and united, as witnessed by the Tea Party protests and this book campaign. This is the language of the politician and if we are going to challenge them on their own turf, we need to learn how to speak it. Having said that, the real purpose of this book campaign is not directed at influencing the politicians, but in sending a message to the public that there are many people who oppose the current administration and its policies, and explain the reasons for that opposition. In order to get that message out, you need a channel to the media, and to get that, you need a newsworthy event. The Tea Parties, scheduled for April 15th are one great opportunity for generating coverage. I would hope that everyone reading this would attend a protest in their region and make an effort to seek out the media and express a cogent message that could be aired or published. You might even prepare, in advance, a short statement in case you are interviewed, and have a typewritten page you could hand out to press members at the rally with a few quotable statements that could be used in an article. As Objectivists, and advocates for liberty, you have the opportunity to expand the message at these rallies beyond one of simple tax protest to one of moral outrage at the erosion of our rights by the previous and current administrations. I see the book campaign as another opportunity to get press coverage. It will hopefully be announced at the Tea Party rallies, so the press might follow up on it from that lead. It would also be a good idea to send copies of the book to the editors of newspapers at both the national and local levels so that they are directly notified of this action and take an interest in covering it. As Atlas Shrugged book sales climb, there should be more and more coverage of that event in the press. But what I really hope to accomplish is to get the press to start asking all the politicians about the books they are receiving. I want them to ask how many copies arrived; what impact it is having upon them; whether they have read the book and learned anything in the process; what, if any, influence it is having on their approach towards current issues. Politicians hate to be scrutinized at this level. If we can entice the press to probe them a bit, I hope it will make them uncomfortable and get them to start considering what they will have to do to "spin" the issue. Regardless or their responses, this should result in more media coverage which will bring the issues to the attention of a wider audience. That's all I can expect from a single action like this, but it is a start. I have many more ideas to follow. This campaign was quickly put together to take advantage of the upcoming Tea Party protests. The effectiveness of all this rests upon getting enough people to participate to make the campaign meaningful. If you want to help, then make your own purchases and send them in, but even more importantly, do what you can to drive a wider audience to the go-galt.org web site so that we increase the pool of potential participants. It's easy to sit back and be cynical, but nothing gets accomplished through inaction. I hope this better explains my intentions, and I will be gratefully for any help you can contribute to the cause. Regards, -- C. Jeffery Small
  18. I am sponsoring an Atlas Shrugged Book Campaign event during the month of April to coordinate with the Tea Party tax protests scheduled across the country for April 15th, 2009. The idea is to extend the message of that protest beyond one focused exclusively on excessive taxation into the broader realms of freedom, the restoration of individual rights, the need to take personal responsibility for one's own life, and limiting the scope of government to its original constitutional mandates. The ides is to have people purchase one or more copies of Atlas Shrugged during the month of April and send it to various politicians with a letter expressing their personal concerns over current government policies and proposals and the direction in which the country is being steered. My expectation is that the huge spike in the sales of the book will lead to news coverage that will get our message of protest into the main stream media, and that the volume of books received by the politicians will send a clear message to them that they better wake up and pay attention to the growing body of dissidents who are rapidly coalescing into a an organized force. The long range goal of this and future campaigns is to redirect our culture back towards one of personal autonomy and individual responsibility. But the more immediate, short range goal of this action is to throw a wrench into the machinery of the Obama administration and halt the implementation of some of the draconian proposals being pushed through such as the further socialization of the medical, financial and automotive industries, among others. Click on the image above or go to http://go-galt.org/ for more details on this campaign, and information on how you can participate and be heard. Thanks for your support. Regards, -- Jeffery Small P.S.: I am not regularly monitoring this forum, so if you would like to communicate further regarding this action, please write to me at: jeff@go-galt.org
  19. Michael: You said earlier in this discussion that you had been wrestling with this problem for over three years now. And after all that time, you are apparently still struggling with these issues and cannot make a cogent summary statement of the problem, let alone provide a rational defense of a particular position. Lacking that, it is really unfair to accuse people of not understanding you. I don't think there is a person here who has any desire to undermine, belittle or verbally spar with you. The simple truth is that we really don't understand what you are saying and don't see what the purpose of your inquiry is in search of. It is clear that you take offense when we head off on tangents that you don't believe are relevant to your purpose, but each of us has done our best to address what we saw as issues or implications raised by the things you have said. We raised these points because we actually thought they were important and directly connected to your comments. If you are frustrated that we are not trying to make an "effort ... to find out what [you] mean", you should realize that it is equally frustrating on our part because you also "go in and out" of what we are saying as well, often simply dismissing all of our comments as irrelevant. Well, maybe they are. I have no idea, because I don't have any framework against which to evaluate the relevancy. I once thought that I did, but no longer. If you want to construct a new theory of human rights upon what you consider to be a better foundation than has been done up to this point by Rand, other Objectivists or Libertarians, fine. What is stopping you? Why don't you do your thinking and then either present your observations for critique or simply publish them for others to digest. But I don't see anything useful emerging out of discussions like this. Are you expecting that the other list participants are going to do the thinking, all or in part, required to develop this new theory? Are you looking for others to provide the necessary insights to guide you towards enlightenment? I'm not saying that you are, but if not, then what is the purpose of these discussions? We are not moving towards any points of understanding that I can recognize, but I do see many people becoming frustrated and angry as things progress. I know with certainty that this is not what you wish to cultivate. So what do you think should be done about that? Regards, -- Jeff
  20. Michael: Adding a smiley doesn't transform this statement into a joke; it is clear in conveying its true meaning. It is really impossible to have a productive discussion with you because there is always an undercurrent, clearly addressed above, that those of us who disagree with you are not honestly addressing the cognitive content of the debate, but are either willfully, or with belligerent ignorance, misrepresenting you for ulterior purposes. Don't you think it curious that so many people don't seem "to get" your point? Ellen has been pretty flexible in addressing you on this thread and I think she deserves better than this. Regards, -- Jeff
  21. Since the government is supposed to be the sole instrument of retaliatory force, then by the above logic, is it even possible for the government to violate your rights? If so, where then is the source of force that will defend you from the government's actions? If there is such a source of force, does it then not stand without the necessity of postulating a government of laws and retaliatory force? If so, then rights must come from some other source than a sanctioning government. Possibly the concept of human rights is independent of the presence or absence of retaliatory force. Maybe the idea that it is just to use retaliatory force against others who initiate force in order to violate one's rights flows as a practical necessity from the concept of rights and not the other way around. And if the concept of rights exists independent of the need or justification to take action to defend them, then maybe the fact that at various stages of our development and life as human beings we find ourselves unable to properly act in service of all of our needs for survival is simply an inconvenient truth that we must accept. Regards, -- Jeff
  22. After reading Ellen's excellent example of the behavior of the people in the grocery store, it reminded me of an article by Christine Silk which appeared in the old Navigator magazine. I just reread it and I think it has some important insights that pertain to this discussion. Here is a link to the article which I located on the TAS website. Why Did Kitty Genovese Die? Regards, -- Jeff
  23. Brant: I'm not running away from the discussion or Michael, nor am I upset with him or anyone else. This subject was thrashed upon for a long while over on the RoR site a little over a year ago. I thought that there might be some new insights here a year later, but it is just the same discussion with the same points being raised on both sides with no one apparently any closer to an understanding of the other's position. For me, it's simply a waste of time to cover the same ground. If anyone wants to dig deeper into the issues, they can peruse the topic there. The RoR site is down right now, but I believe the discussion took place under the heading of "Ethics of Emergencies" or something like that. I don't mind passion, but when communicated through written words, it is often impossible to distinguish passion from anger or insult. I'm sure Michael has no intention of insulting me or anyone else, just as I do not, but that doesn't stop people from taking offense at expressions that are benign to someone else. But, in general you are correct, I personally prefer carefully thought out, rational discussion to impassioned stump speeches, rambling searches for meaning in the intellectual desert or cruel insults masquerading as clever ripostes. I do tend to be more thoughtful than emotional, although I have my moments! :-) Regards, -- Jeff
  24. Thanks Laurie and Ethan. Regards, -- Jeff
  25. Michael: This will be my last post on this topic as I am not interested in getting dragged down this rabbit hole again. It appears that you and I think and analyze in radically different modes and I do not believe that I can formulate any argument that will be understood as I intend it. Your responses to my previous arguments torture my meaning into something unrecognizable. Let me conclude with the following: In your quote above you show that you do not really understand what is meant by positive rights and negative rights. No one, whether an adult or a baby, has any guarantee that they will live. To live, whether you are and adult or a child requires considerable effort and any attempt to guarantee something like a "right to live" places an obligation on someone to provide for all of those requirements. On the other hand, a right to life of the negative kind is a prohibition against others from taking your life. It says absolutely nothing about how you will go about your responsibility of sustaining yourself. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, this is precisely what Rand meant whenever she talked about human rights, which she clearly stated were all of the negative kind and was clear on this distinction between the act of living and the right to life. The reason that you don't find much discussion in her writings about special cases for children is because she didn't see any special cases that required philosophical examination. Issues about what to do with abandon children are a practical matter that certainly needs to be considered, but they are technical in nature and do not require any new philosophical foundation in order to be addressed. This is why I'm through with this discussion. On this topic you fail to comprehend what others and I have repeatedly articulated with great clarity, explaining exactly how rights pertain to children, and then turn around and insult us by saying that we are blanking out. I'm sure you think you are simply making your point in a forceful way with statements like this, but it really is very insulting to expend great effort to bring clarity to this issue, only to have it all dismissed as being the product of willfully irrationality. I completely disagree with your analysis that Rand's ethical formulations are lacking in this area and need further philosophical development by you or others in order to address the issue of human rights in a comprehensive way. The concept of rights is a principal that does rest on a foundation of a proper understanding of human nature and it can and has been rationally developed by Rand on that basis. I acknowledge that you are uncomfortable with the consequences of Rand's formulation in so far as it deals with children that are unable to fully meet their own needs for survival. Sobeit. There are also a lot of adults that are truly incapable of providing for their own survival. There are handicapped people who find themselves seriously limited from birth or later in life due to accidents or illnesses. There are people with mental disabilities that make it impossible for them to function on their own at even a minimal level. Often the elderly find themselves in need of assistance in order to perform even the most routine of daily tasks. On occasion, even a healthy adult can find themselves in a position where their survival may depend on the actions and benevolence of others. And so it goes. That's life. If you are going to posit a redefinition of rights that formulates that a child has a right to live, then this right must apply to all of us as well, and you will need to include these cases in your theory. I look forward to seeing the results of your efforts. In the meantime, some of us find Rand's formulation comprehensive and useful and do not think that there is an unaddressed philosophical problem with the treatment of children, so long as you apply the Objectivist formulation of ethics properly. So, are you stating that the comments that Ellen, Ethan, Wolf and I have made in this thread constitute "shouting you down"? If not, then I suggest staying on topic and stop bringing up bad behavior of others from long ago. You are using this as a red herring to simply avoid addressing the points we raise here. OK, but so what. I believe that most of us challenging you do agree that children are humans; that all humans have the same set of rights; that a proper derivation of rights rests on an accurate examination of human nature; that human development includes phases where individuals are not competent to provide for their own means of survival and must rely upon the assistance of others. But where I would guess that many of us disagree with your approach is in the attempt to equate a need with a right. Yes, children must rely upon adults to provide for their physical, psychological and emotional needs during their maturation, but these needs no more magically translate for them into a right than does any need of an adult. A is A. Needs are needs. Rights are rights. When you wave your hand and dismiss the distinction between positive and negative "rights", what you are specifically doing is dismissing the distinction between needs and rights. No one here, other than yourself, is suggesting that the derivation of human rights somehow rests upon a more fundamental concept related to the distinction between positive and negative rights. What I am doing is simply using the distinction between positive and negative rights to point out where a properly derived theory of rights starts and stops. This is what Rand did. There is no fundamental error in this argument and the distinction I am making is a proper application of Objectivist ethics. It is you who is muddying the waters by conflating the concepts of "needs" and "rights" similar to the confusion introduced with the concepts of a "right to live" versus a "right to life". You are concerned with how to justify the protection of the life of an infant or child during their formative years. That's great. It is easily addressed by observing that the nature of a child is to be helpless in fending for itself. Therefore, anyone who chooses to give birth to a child or anyone who voluntarily agrees to adopt a child, assumes responsibility for the care and development of that child. Call it an implied contract if you like. If you don't like the terms of the contract, no one is forced to accept it, so long as birth control, abortions and the ability to give up a child for adoption remain available to all. If you do accept the terms, then it is your obligation to provide the level of care appropriate for normal human development. Of course this level of care rest atop a clear respect for the same human rights that we all share. The terms of the contract require that you feed, cloth, shelter and educate the child until they are prepared to accept these responsibilities for themselves. These are the minimal actions required to support the life of the child. However, should the guardian fail in these responsibilities, this does not automatically transfer a duty to do so to any other individual. Is the result of that failure bad. It surly is, but then again, there are all sorts of human failures occurring daily with disastrous results, and none of these automatically transfer a duty to another disinterested party - at least according to Objectivist ethics and politics. When guardians abuse or fail to care for their children, it is the proper function of the government to step in and protect the child, just as they should step in and protect an adult from similar abuse or from breach of contract. As individuals, we may not like some of the bad results we see in the world and decide to do something about this, either individually, or by joining together to create institutions that can better address the problems. Great. That's why most of us would assist in making sure an abandoned baby was taken care of, and that's why some of us donate time or money to charities, donate blood, contribute to aid and relief organizations, etc. All of this activity falls within the proper framework of the Objectivist ethics and it's formulation of rights. But if you are unsatisfied with a world of that type and wish to enforce, by law, a duty on all of us to be responsible for the wellbeing of all children in what - our vicinity?, line of sight?, neighborhood?, community?, city?, world?, or maybe the Hillery Clinton definition of village? - well, you have been warned that you are heading over a precipice and it is a slippery slope on that ride down into hell. I'm not going with you. And if you think that you are going to reformulate Objectivist ethics so that you can justify making that step, don't try. Rand is not going there either. And now, if you will excuse me, I would rather go out into the woods and actively look for a baby in distress than continue banging my head against this wall. Regards, -- Jeff