Issue CLXXXVI

February 4-20, 2009

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Culture
The Victory of Truth is Never Assured!:
G. Stolyarov II

February 4, 2009
Many advocates of free markets, reason, and liberty are content to just sit back and let things take their course, thinking that the right ideas will win out, by virtue of being true and therefore in accord with the objective reality. Sooner or later, these people think, the contradictions entailed in false ideas – contradictions obvious to the free-market advocates – will become obvious to everybody. Moreover, false ideas will result in bad consequences that people will rebel against and begin to apply true ideas. While this view is tempting – and I wish it reflected reality – I am afraid that it misrepresents the course that policies and intellectual trends take, as well as the motivations of most human beings.
Why does the truth not always – indeed, virtually never, up until the very recent past – win out in human societies among the majority of people? Indeed, why can one confidently say that most people are wrong about most intellectual matters and matters of policy most of the time? A few reasons will be explored here.

Ethics
Ayn Rand, Human Flourishing, and Virtue Ethics:
Edward W. Younkins

February 19, 2009
During the last forty years or so, there has been a revival of scholarly interest in the virtues in general and in virtue ethics in particular. Many thinkers have turned their attention to a neo-­Aristotelian version of virtue ethics, but none has made a better or more consistent case for a virtuous life than has Ayn Rand. She explains that attaining moral perfection means achieving the highest level of human flourishing which one is capable of reaching. Rand details how and why the consistent practice of seven virtues is essential for a person to attain his objective well-being (i.e., his flourishing). Dr. Edward Younkins discusses Rand's ethical views and their implications.

Politics
Learning the Free-Market Lessons About Bailouts:
Tom DeWeese

February 19, 2009
Tom DeWeese's first reaction, when he saw the article, was of utter horror. It was entitled, “Obama Imposes Pay Cap on Executives.” Obama intends to dictate salary caps to American executives of private companies. But Mr. DeWeese explains the reason why he actually agrees with Barack Obama’s actions in this particular case – to a very specific point. CEOs can’t have it both ways. They can’t expect to take money from taxpayers, thereby accepting government’s security over market risk, and still expect to be free to put their unearned money in their pockets and call it profit. Such practice is not free enterprise. It’s theft.

Abraham Lincoln's America:
Chuck Baldwin

February 19, 2009
Chuck Baldwin writes that more than any other single person, Abraham Lincoln shaped and formed modern America. It was Abraham Lincoln who was the first President to flagrantly and deliberately violate his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. His disregard and contempt for the Constitution cannot be overstated.In order to “preserve the Union,” Lincoln destroyed the very principles upon which the Union was created.

Put Your Bet on Stupidity:
Alan Caruba

February 20, 2009
We are well into a major Recession, and Alan Caruba thinks most people are betting on the stupidity and cupidity of our nation’s leaders, elected and appointed, to ensure that it happens. One need only look at previous efforts to effect some control over the economy while, at the same time, running it into the ground.

The Artificial Reality of the Matrix Media:
Selwyn Duke

February 20, 2009
Selwyn Duke writes that  there is a reason why a celebrity gossip piece might get ten times the readership of incisive social commentary.  If people want sweet lies and stories about Paris Hilton, bread and circuses, there will always be “journalists” willing to provide them.  It’s just as with politicians, only here people vote for demagogues by clicking a mouse, pressing the remote or buying a paper. So journalism isn’t dead – not any more than the readership, anyway.  It’s just that those practicing the authentic variety are seldom elected to high office.

Videos

The Victory of Truth is Never Assured! - Video:
G. Stolyarov II

February 9, 2009
Mr. Stolyarov offers a video version of his essay, "The Victory of Truth is Never Assured!" See this video to find out why the best ideas do not necessarily always win out and require active promotion to get them implemented.

Humanity's Biggest Problems Aren't What You Think They Are - Video:
Nick Bostrom

February 10, 2009
Philosopher Nick Bostrom presents his account of the three greatest problems facing the world today -- problems that are unfortunately ignored or rationalized away by most humans. These problems are death, existential risk, and insufficient fulfillment of human potential.

Somalia Under Statelessness - Video:
Stefan Molyneux

February 12, 2009
Stefan Molyneux compares Somalia under the socialist dictatorship of Barre and its situation under statelessness between 1991 and 2006. Indicators show that, without a state, Somalia experienced numerous improvements compared to its prior condition as well as improvements relative to its neighbors in Africa.

The Beckoning Promise of Personal Fabrication - Video:
Neil Gershenfeld

February 17, 2009
In this video, Dr. Neil Gershenfeld of MIT gives an account of how inexpensive personal fabrication methods are already available for use in areas of the world as diverse as Ghana, India, and Norway. These techniques enable individuals from all walks of life to create their own customized goods for a market of one -- unleashing previously unwitnessed human creativity. 

"I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous - if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men." 
~ Robert Ingersoll