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  1. HERE is another excellent presentation about the hockey stick controversy. In addition to the issue of complexity and obfuscation by the pro-AGW side noted by Carlos, there is another fundamental epistemological difference in the global warming debate. The side that believes in AGW (anthropogenic global warming) accepts the output of the GCM (global circulation models) climate models as primary and temperature observations from land stations, weather balloons (radiosondes) and satellites as secondary or derivitive. Thus, when the data -- actual temperature observations -- conflicts with the predictions of the models, the pro-AGW side assumes the data must be faulty and proceeds to seek reasons to "adjust" the data. And there is a scandalous amount of such "adjusting" going on even now. If you want to follow the debate, on terms that most laymen can understand, I highly recommend the site ClimateAudit. Browse the archives at that site (see the list of links on the left side) and you will discover just how badly the data is being doctored and just how flawed are the major studies that have been done purporting to prove AGW. The site is run by Steve McIntyre, who is not out to prove either side is correct, but is merely trying to "audit" the data and the methodologies used in various studies. He is the one who discovered that the methodology used by Mann in the hockey stick study "mines" the data for any series that has the hockey stick shape and then puts tremendous weight on that series while discounting all the others. McIntyre even demonstrated that Mann's method will produce a hockey stick when used with series that are just random numbers.
  2. Is the LPPa Platform Truly Objectivist?

    The Founding Fathers tried the same approach, declaring that, "We hold these truths to be self-evident...". Unfortunately, the truths stated in the Declaration of Independence are not self-evident -- they are not axioms. They presuppose a certain view of man, i.e. a certain view of morality, that the Founders were unable to articulate or defend. The creation of America was a fantastic political achievement. But the history of America since the Declaration demonstrates that a political system based on those truths will not survive without that moral foundation. What's more, the history of the Republican Party demonstrates that any attempt to defend that political system without reference to a proper moral base -- that is, any attempt to defend it while conceding the morality of altruism -- only hastens the destruction of that system. Fortunately, we have something the Founders did not: we have the philosophy of Objectivism. We have access to the genius of Ayn Rand. We have Miss Rand's brilliant derivation and validation of a morality of egoism and individualism. We have her explanation of the nature and source of man's rights. We have her derivation of the proper function of government. We have her ground-breaking validation of reason. We have her identification of the basic axioms, and her demonstration of their axiomatic nature by the fact that one must use them even in an attempt to deny them. With all of this, and with the lessons of history in hand, why on earth do you (and libertarians in general) seek to promote liberty while eschewing its absolutely indispensable moral base? Why are you so afraid to confront the morality of altruism and reject it for the vicious nonsense that it is?
  3. I don’t understand this comment. Passing moral judgment on a practice or belief is a separate issue from passing moral judgment on those who engage in the practice or hold the belief. The conclusions we reach about the former do not necessarily dictate that we reach the same conclusions about the latter. For instance, given the current level of knowledge available to virtually every conscious person in the civilized world, we can make the moral judgment that racism is irrational and thus immoral – and we can conclude that anyone today that makes moral judgments based on skin color is being irrational and thus immoral. However, if we evaluate Abraham Lincoln’s overt racism, we must temper our moral judgment of him based on the level of knowledge available to him at the time. We can fully condemn the act while acknowledging that some of the actors may be guilty of nothing worse than innocent errors of knowledge. Likewise, while I condemn involuntary taxation as evil, I am not going to reach the same conclusion about the American revolutionaries who imposed taxes; they remain heroes to me despite their errors. (And yes, I think they were wrong to impose a tax, but then again I have the benefit of having access to a lifetime of thought by the greatest genius of all time and I would be remiss indeed if I failed to use that knowledge.) I am going to condemn, as evil, modern intellectuals and politicians who gleefully promote progressive involuntary taxation as a means of expressing and implementing their hatred of the good for being the good.
  4. FC said: What I object to is the inference you make from those four words. I object to your inference that Ayn Rand's acknowledgment that we cannot eliminate taxes immediately constitutes support, on her part, for their continuation -- thereby constituting support for your position that we should not oppose taxes but, instead, should "strongly support" them. I see nothing in her article on government financing or in any of her other statements to support that claim. The fact that one acknowledges that one cannot get rid of an evil immediately, but instead must work for its elimination across time, does not mean that one supports the continuation of the evil in the meantime -- it does not mean that, in the interim one advocates the evil and advocates that it not be opposed; it simply means that one acknowledges that, in the nature of things, it will continue to exist until the work to eliminate it is successfully completed. And if someone finds a way to speed up that process, you support the new, faster way because the objective is to eliminate the evil as soon as possible. If you have a cancer that you acknowledge cannot be cured until years of treatment have been accomplished, that acknowledgment does not mean that you support the continuation of the cancer during the interim; it doesn’t mean you think the cancer “should stay for now” and not be fought. You want the cancer gone as soon as possible and the sooner the better -- and if someone develops a way to get the cancer cured sooner, you’ll use the new, faster treatment. I can see no reason to regard involuntary taxation as anything other than an evil that should be both eliminated as soon as possible and opposed in principle in the meantime -- even if we know that the "meantime" may consist of decades. I see nothing in Ayn Rand’s statements to justify any other attitude toward it.
  5. Well, I certainly don't buy your attempt to make Ayn Rand's position seem identical with your's. I don't agree that Miss Rand "strongly supported" involuntary taxation as you imply or that her attitude toward it was to "leave it in place". Her attitude toward it was to condemn it as immoral, logically derive and prove why it is immoral and work to persuade others of the truth of that position. That can hardly be equated to your refusal to oppose it. Involuntary taxation, especially through inflation, is the mechanism by which the most virtuous members of society are being destroyed. I cannot imagine why someone who claims to be an Objectivist would take the position that it is not proper to oppose this process until we can get in a position to implement voluntary financing. I don't know what on earth makes you think we can ever get rid of something without expressing opposition to it.
  6. I haven’t said I want to abolish it right away. I said I want to strongly condemn it and work for its elimination as soon as possible, as opposed to “strongly supporting” it as you advocate.
  7. In other words, the historical data is clear: greater and greater freedom produces greater and greater prosperity -- right up to the point at which we free people from compulsory taxation -- at which point this final increase in freedom results in the destruction of civilization and freedom?
  8. So your position then is that we cannot judge the morality and practicality of an idea without trying it out in reality? If that is the case, how can you be so sure that voluntary government financing is impractical?
  9. What is the inconsistency that you think you see? You don't think people will pay for necessary government services like police, a criminal justice and civil justice system and a national defense? I do. Businesses will certainly pay for all three -- and so will a large percentage of the population.
  10. Your claim is analogous to the claim that history has "made the case" for government regulation of business being much more practical than laissez-faire capitalism -- and that under these conditions, moral arguments about the relative merits of regulations and controls versus freedom are irrelevant.
  11. FC wrote: So what? You seem to be arguing that Ayn Rand’s condemnation of taxation as immoral doesn’t count because she didn’t advocate its immediate termination – you seem to be arguing that her statement that it would be the last reform to advocate, not the first, lends some sort of credence to the claim that perhaps involuntary taxation is not immoral and may, in fact, be proper. That argument, to say the least, is a non sequitur.
  12. I cannot see any justification for the notion that we must "support, with conviction", the violation of our rights merely because such violation is necessary to keep the welfare state functioning. To do so is to concede the statist premise that capitalism has failed and that we must now have statism because the alternative is anarchy. That is precisely the sort of concession by which the conservatives have aided and abetted the creation of the welfare state. I agree that we cannot oppose involuntary taxation "a-contextually", that is, I agree that we cannot oppose it in a vacuum without also opposing the welfare state and defending capitalism. We have to oppose all of it, on principle. We have to be "radicals for capitalism" -- I believe those were the words Miss Rand used.
  13. The patent issue is irrelevant to this discussion. The use of force to protect property rights does not justify the use of force to take my property. There is no context in which a contradiction is not proof of falsehood – and it is an utter contradiction to claim that the necessity of protecting individual rights justifies their violation. There is no context in which anything justifies an injustice. As to “what works”, it is a fact that the only way to make an unjust system like our regulatory/welfare state "work" is with an unjust form of financing, namely involuntary taxation. So yes, involuntary taxation works "spectacularly well" at financially enslaving the most productive members of society. That does not change the fact that it is unjust and a violation of individual rights. And since the present system is preferable to anarchy, the only alternative is to temporarily tolerate the lesser evil of violating our property rights through taxation to avoid the greater evil of violating our right to life through anarchy – tolerate it so that we may have time to work toward a just society that doesn’t violate our rights at all. However, nothing in this situation changes the fact that involuntary taxation is a violation of individual rights that must be opposed in principle even if it must be temporarily tolerated in practice.
  14. Carlos, there is no such thing. A government "whose only job is to protect individual rights" and a government that imposes involuntary taxation are two entirely different things. By definition, the former cannot do the latter and still be the former. The moment it imposes such taxes, it violates, not protects, individual rights. So what you are actually advocating is a government which violates individual rights to the extent required to protect them. Which means: man's rights are conditional, not inalienable -- and government inherently becomes a rights violator as well as a rights protector. However, there is no way to argue that the necessity of protecting individual rights justifies their violation. The necessity of justice cannot justify an injustice -- nothing can justify an injustice.
  15. "Countering the Terrorist Mentality"

    For the most part, this collection of documents is an attempt to whitewash Islam’s role in modern terrorism. The authors, with one exception, are determined to convince us that there is no connection between Islam and terrorism. Here are some examples: Yes, and “stressing the religiosity of the bombers” is fairly easy to do given what the Koran says and given the events of Muhammad’s life. I'm surprised the state department allowed this article to be included.