Category Archives: Politics

Joe the Plumber: Atlas Contemplates Shrugging

From a new article at American Thinker, written to “Joe the Plumber” from a fellow businessman:

I wish you well, guy. You might just have the genius and persistence to pull this off. I really do hope so. As for me, I have had enough. I have fought creeping liberalism and managed more wins than losses over 17 years. We have progressed to where our business, now a corporation, is big enough so that Obama and his ilk now have their own ideas about “what larger businesses can afford” and what “corporations can afford.”

Well I’ve got news for him. I cannot afford what they think I can afford, so I am breaking her up and giving her away to some key employees. I wish them well too. They are like you, tough and smart. Perhaps if they stay small enough and never can carry forward more than 250 thou to the next year, they will be allowed to keep their businesses through a downturn.

See the full article for more.

Economic crisis caused by social engineering

Excellent commentary by Michael Malone on the bailout mess:

From where I sit, the United States government has embarked on two pieces of social engineering in the last few years. One was to make oil as expensive as possible to drive people to greater use of alternative energy sources — because anything less would be irresponsible and destructive to the environment. The other was to enshrine home ownership (i.e., easy-to-obtain mortgages) as a new American right — because anything less would be unequal and racist.

None of us voted on these decisions — indeed, neither was even spoken about directly, much less debated. But nevertheless, both became national policy … and both have sparked national, now international, crises. Then, once they became crises, both were blamed on â??greedy capitalismâ??, instead of what they really were: legislative interference into market forces…. To my mind, what makes this economic crisis different from ones in even the recent past is that it has exposed the fact that there are, apparently, no real leaders left in Washington — that the intellectual capital in the National Capitol has fallen to a new low — if thatâ??s possible. Most of all, it shows that we can no longer look to D.C. for leadership into the rest of the 21st century.

See his full article for more. (via Instapundit)

Authors needed: The Cases for Obama and Barr

Much as we did for the 2004 election, this month the Atlasphere would like to publish a series of articles called “The Case for John McCain,” “The Case for Barack Obama,” and “The Case for Bob Barr” — laying out the pro-Rand arguments for each of the candidates in this year’s election cycle.

We have an excellent candidate for the McCain piece, and would like to receive submissions for the Obama and Barr pieces.

If you’d like to be considered for the slot, please review our writers guidelines and send your draft article to us (editors AT theatlasphere DOT com) in MS Word format.

Thank you!

Colorado’s Amendment 48: Fertilized Egg = Person

From Diana Hsieh:

Reproductive rights in Colorado are under attack by the religious right. Amendment 48 — the ballot measure that would define a fertilized egg as a person with full legal rights in the Colorado constitution — threatens not just legal abortion but also the birth control pill and in vitro fertilization.

The Coalition for Secular Government just published an issue paper on the threat posed by Amendment 48 by Ari Armstrong and myself (Diana Hsieh) entitled “Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters That a Fertilized Egg Is Not a Person.” It’s available for download at:

http://www.SecularGovernment.us/docs/a48.pdf

It shows that Amendment 48 is deeply hostile to human life:

* Given existing criminal statues, Amendment 48 would subject women and their doctors to life in prison or the death penalty for abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, and fetal deformity.

* It would prevent doctors from properly treating non-viable ectopic pregnancy until the woman’s life and health was in serious danger, thereby causing needless deaths.

* It would force thousands of women each year to bear unwanted children, whatever the cost to their own lives and happiness.

* It would ban popular and effective forms of birth control, including the birth-control pill, thereby increasing unwanted pregnancies.

* It would outlaw the fertility treatments responsible for the birth of hundreds of Colorado babies to eager parents each year.

Amendment 48 would do all that based solely on the faith-based fiction that a fertilized egg is the moral equal of a born infant. Our paper shows that the biological facts support the opposite conclusion: that only the pregnant woman, and then the born infant, are persons with rights. It shows that Amendment 48 is deeply hostile to the requirements of a rational, responsible, and moral life.

Presidential Candidate Barr Speaks at The Atlas Society

Libertarian presidential candidate and former Republican U.S. Representative, Bob Barr, spoke on Sunday at The Atlas Society’s Summer Seminar 2008 in Portland, Oregon. The Oregonian reported on Barr’s talk:

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, now running for president on the Libertarian ticket, told a Portland crowd today he got into the race to offer an option for those who want less government intrusion in their lives.

“There is absolutely no reason for them to feel bound to the artificial constraints of the two-party system,” Barr said. “Those are their only two choices: big government and really big government.”

Barr, who served four terms in Congress as a Republican, switched parties after becoming disenchanted with what he called the high-spending ways and increasingly Big Brother policies of the Bush administration.

He spoke to about 150 at an annual conference of The Atlas Society, a Washington, D.C.-based group that promotes Ayn Rand’s libertarian principles.

Rand, the author of “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged,” founded a philosophical movement called objectivism, which focuses on individual rights and achievements as the cornerstone of a great society. Barr said he agrees entirely with that outlook.

Read the rest of the article.

Atlas Shrugged statue proudly displayed at Francisco Marroquin University

From a new article in the business section of the LA Times about a school that “now ranks among the finest in Central America”:

Leftist ideology may be gaining ground in Latin America. But it will never set foot on the manicured lawns of Francisco Marroquin University.

For nearly 40 years, this private college has been a citadel of laissez-faire economics. Here, banners quoting “The Wealth of Nations” author Adam Smith — he of the powdered wig and invisible hand — flutter over the campus food court.

Every undergraduate, regardless of major, must study market economics and the philosophy of individual rights embraced by the U.S. founding fathers, including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

A sculpture commemorating Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” is affixed to the school of business. Students celebrated the novel’s 50th anniversary last year with an essay contest. The $200 cash prize reinforced the book’s message that society should reward capitalist go-getters who create wealth and jobs, not punish them with taxes and regulations.

“The poor are not poor just because others are rich,” said Manuel Francisco Ayau Cordon, a feisty octogenarian businessman, staunch anti-communist and founder of the school. “It’s not a zero-sum game.”

Welcome to Guatemala’s Libertarian U. Ayau opened the college in 1972, fed up with what he viewed as the “socialist” instruction being imparted at San Carlos University of Guatemala, the nation’s largest institution of higher learning. He named the new school for a colonial-era priest who worked to liberate native Guatemalans from exploitation by Spanish overlords.

From later in the article:

Born into a middle-class family in Guatemala, [school founder] Ayau spent much of his youth in the United States, where his mother moved for a time after his father’s death. He attended Catholic high school in Belmont, Calif., then headed to the University of Toronto, where he studied chemical engineering.

He dropped out after reading Rand’s “Fountainhead.” The novel’s protagonist, Howard Roark, is expelled from architecture school after refusing to conform to its tired standards.

“I realized when I read Rand … that I was starting out my life all wrong,” Ayau said. He said he concluded that “I have to study something that I like, otherwise I’ll never be any good.”

See the full article for much more about this school and its fascinating founder.

Private Proprietary Cities Gathering Momentum

A brand-new experimental “City of the Future” is being built from the ground up in Abu Dhabi, financed primarilyâ??over 80%â??by private investors:

“We want it to be profitable, not a sunk cost,” says Khaled Awad, who is directing the development of the city. “If it is not profitable as a real-estate development, it’s not sustainable. Then it will never be replicable anywhere else.”

“We will no longer have to guess what the city of the future looks like. In Abu Dhabi, we will be able to see it with our own eyes.”

This is a striking example of an accelerating social-evolutionary shift, first identified in the early twentieth century by inventor and philosopher Spencer Heath, from the traditional non-proprietary (political-coercive-bureaucratic) administration of communities and societies, towards the proprietary (economic-voluntary-entrepreneurial) administration of communities and societies.

Looks like Mulligan’s Valley is gradually becoming reality, and in some of the most unexpected places. On April 15, 2008 libertarian and PayPal founder Peter Thiel pledged $500,000 to the new Seasteading Institute co-founded by Patri Friedman, son of economist David D. Friedman and grandson of economist Milton Friedman.

Further examples include the explosion of private residential communities, private industrial parks, private entertainment worlds (such as Disney World and Las Vegas entertainment complexes), etc. which now number in the tens of thousands. What is more, these fledgling proprietary communities are increasing in scale and becoming fully generalized communities that provide the full spectrum of community infrastructures and services. The bottom line: traditional not-for-profit bureaucratic political administration is gradually being crowded out by for-profit entrepreneurial economic administration.

Suggested further reading: “The Quickening of Social Evolution” by Heath’s grandson Spencer Heath MacCallum.

Monster Cables’ patent lawyers take it in the nose

Many Objectivists and free market advocates have mixed feelings about patent law and how it is used. If you’re one of them, don’t miss this letter to the lawyers representing Monster Cable. It is hilarious. (Hat tip Instapundit)

Here’s one interesting excerpt, just to save you a click:

I have seen Monster Cable take untenable IP positions in various different scenarios in the past, and am generally familiar with what seems to be Monster Cable’s modus operandi in these matters. I therefore think that it is important that, before closing, I make you aware of a few points.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985, I spent nineteen years in litigation practice, with a focus upon federal litigation involving large damages and complex issues. My first seven years were spent primarily on the defense side, where I developed an intense frustration with insurance carriers who would settle meritless claims for nuisance value when the better long-term view would have been to fight against vexatious litigation as a matter of principle. In plaintiffs’ practice, likewise, I was always a strong advocate of standing upon principle and taking cases all the way to judgment, even when substantial offers of settlement were on the table. I am “uncompromising” in the most literal sense of the word. If Monster Cable proceeds with litigation against me I will pursue the same merits-driven approach; I do not compromise with bullies and I would rather spend fifty thousand dollars on defense than give you a dollar of unmerited settlement funds. As for signing a licensing agreement for intellectual property which I have not infringed: that will not happen, under any circumstances, whether it makes economic sense or not.

But read the whole thing.