January 13-29, 2011

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Wrongful Foreclosures and the Free Market:
G. Stolyarov II

January 13, 2011
Despite what many mainstream Republicans (and even Tea-Partiers) seem to assert, respect for freedom is not synonymous with support for each and every private or corporate entity. Indeed, as the recent behavior of the large, politically connected banks demonstrates, sometimes private actors can be the greatest infringers of liberty and perpetrators of unjustified suffering. As was amply publicized in December 2010, it turns out that the large banks have not merely been foreclosing without fulfilling all the technicalities of proper loan documentation. Some homeowners throughout the country have been foreclosed on without ever missing a mortgage payment, either due to banks' dishonesty and incompetence bringing about so-called “servicer-driven foreclosures” – or without even having a mortgage from the bank in question. Mr. Stolyarov reminds advocates of liberty that without secure property rights, the market ceases to be free. It becomes a battleground for groups of gangsters, however organized or named.

A Review of Edward W. Younkins's Flourishing and Happiness in a Free Society:
G. Stolyarov II

January 17, 2011
For much of the past decade, Dr. Edward Younkins has been busy synthesizing the ideas and approaches of some of history's most promising schools of thought, in an endeavor to, in his words, “present a broad brush outline of a potential philosophical foundation and edifice for a free society based on the natural law, natural rights, liberal tradition.” The culmination of this effort is his new book – Flourishing and Happiness in a Free Society: Toward a Synthesis of Aristotelianism, Austrian Economics, and Ayn Rand's Objectivism – forthcoming at the time of this review by Mr. Stolyarov. This book condenses immense knowledge, inspiration, and guidance into under 150 pages and can serve as both an introduction to natural-law, natural-rights ideas for beginners and as a reflection and consideration of further steps to take for those who already study and apply these ideas extensively.

On Franklin's Birthday, a Crucial Lesson from "the First American":
Marsha Enright and Gen LaGreca

January 29, 2011
Born in 1706, the fifteenth child of a Boston candle maker, Benjamin Franklin was our country’s first international celebrity, lauded throughout Europe as the quintessential American. Reportedly, everyone in his era “had an engraving of M. Franklin over the mantelpiece.” A bestseller in the nineteenth century, his Autobiography was as exciting to children then as an adventure movie is to today’s youth — and more enlightening. Why was Franklin an American icon? What can we learn from his character and achievements? Marsha Enright and Gen LaGreca examine his Autobiography for answers.

Illiberal Belief #32: Libertarians are Scrooges:
Bradley Doucet

January 13, 2011
During the holiday season, the free-market enthusiast has an even better than normal chance of being asked why he or she does not care about the wellbeing of others. Supporters of the welfare state imagine that they are the compassionate ones, and that we who favour economic liberty are heartless Scrooges. How else could we oppose state-run and taxpayer-funded healthcare, education, housing, pensions, or unemployment insurance? We all deserve coal in our stockings for daring to speak ill of government safety nets. Bradley Doucet responds to such claims.

On Real Respect for the Constitution:
Ron Paul

January 29, 2011
For America to once again become the standard for a free society, writes Rep. Ron Paul, our love of liberty and desire for peace must far surpass any public display of fidelity to the Constitution. We must first look to strong moral character, respect for the rule of law, and an understanding of the proper role of government in a free society.

On Gun Control and Violence:
Ron Paul

January 29, 2011
The terrible violence in Arizona this month prompted much national discussion on many issues.  All Americans are united in their sympathies for the victims and their families.  All wonder what could motivate such a horrible act.  However, some have attempted to use this tragedy to discredit philosophical adversaries or score political points. Rep. Ron Paul believes that this sort of opportunism is simply despicable.

Toward Sensible Monetary Policy:
Ron Paul

January 29, 2011
Rep. Ron Paul's new position chairing the Monetary Policy Subcommittee of the Financial Services Committee, which has oversight of the Federal Reserve, will facilitate his efforts to ensure the Fed provides the American people with more information about what it has been doing with and to our money.  Not surprisingly, since Rep. Paul's chairmanship was announced, apologists for the Fed have been recycling the old canard about how increased transparency threatens the Fed’s so-called political independence.

Advice to Most Recent High-School and College Graduates:
G. Stolyarov II

January 13, 2011
As a follow-up to his recent video, "Reasons Not to Pursue a PhD" , Mr. Stolyarov offers some general guidance to recent graduates of high schools and colleges who might not have had the best grades and would therefore not be subject to extensive pressure to pursue a PhD. In many ways, these individuals have the same opportunities as academic high-achievers, if they develop themselves in useful ways and avoid common pitfalls.

General advice, expanded upon in the video, includes the following:

(1) Departure from orthodox paths is necessary, but not sufficient.
(2) Strive to avoid incurring additional debt for the purposes of building a career or business.
(3) Try to find a field where skills and any credentials can be pursued via self-study.
(4) Know what you personally value and pursue that.

No Delight in Mystery:
G. Stolyarov II

January 29, 2011
Many people erroneously hold the mindset that mystery  the lack of knowledge of the workings of a particular process  is the source of awe and wonder, and that solving the mystery "takes the fun" or "takes the wonder" out of the world. Mr. Stolyarov emphatically disagrees. Using logic and reason to solve mysteries is truly a practice that can bring about an appreciation of beauty and awe -- not only for what is, but for what human beings can accomplish. Embracing mystery is a dangerous mindset, because what you do not know can literally hurt you. Where mystery and ignorance reign, there is fertile soil for superstition, and superstitions can kill.

A Critique of Amy Chua's Views on Parenting:
G. Stolyarov II

January 29, 2011
Mr. Stolyarov responds to Amy Chua's provocative Wall Street Journal article, "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior". Unlike Ms. Chua, Mr. Stolyarov argues that parents should cultivate internal discipline, rather than impose external discipline. He analyzes and critiques Chua's view from the standpoints of individual liberty and empathy. He also argues that humiliation does not build character and that the possible paths toward high accomplishment are far broader than Ms. Chua seems to presume.

 "It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one." 
~ Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire