Thursday, November 26, 2009

Objectivist Round Up #124

Welcome to the Thanksgiving edition of The Objectivist Round Up!

Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday. In spite of its religious form (giving thanks to God for a good harvest), its essential, secular meaning is a celebration of successful production. It is a producers’ holiday. The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production. Abundance is (or was and ought to be) America’s pride—just as it is the pride of American parents that their children need never know starvation.

--Ayn Rand, “Cashing in on Hunger,” The Ayn Rand Letter, III, 23, 1.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with family, friends, a feast, and fun!

Let's start off with a couple of Thanksgiving-related posts:

Peter Cresswell presents Who are you giving thanks to this Thanksgiving? posted at Not PC, saying, "A little-known story about how collectivism nearly killed the Pilgrims, and private property saved them. And you." [RJ: This is a Thanksgiving story I have and will continue to share with my children.]

Adam Reed presents Reading Justice at the Thanksgiving Table posted at Born to Identify, saying, "It could be my Jewish heritage, but I think that it is better to start a celebration with a reading than with a mere saying. I plan to read the following:

'Let us read justice to the men and women whom we thank this evening. In the words of Ayn Rand: "Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light. ...' "

Stella presents A reminder at Thanksgiving posted at ReasonPharm, saying, "Just a reminder: Think of all those doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are working this weekend...and think of what healthcare "reform" will do to their incentive to keep us healthy through the holidays."

Rational Jenn presents Saying Justice posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "I have a happy life, and there have been many wonderful people who have contributed to that happiness. In this post, I pay special tribute to one person whose knowledge and skills directly affected my life positively: the surgeon who delivered my babies."

Kevin W. presents Pelosi Gives Americans Something to be Thankful For posted at Wisecracks and Wisdom, saying, "I doubt anyone will be asking Pelosi for "seconds" this Thanksgiving."

Roberto Sarrionandia presents "School phobia" is not irrational posted at Tito's Blog, saying, "The absurdity of calling a fear of government schools irrational."

John McVey presents Laying down a root of war posted at John J McVey.

Ari Armstrong presents Environmentalist Clowns Threatening Human Life posted at, saying, "Keith Lockitch explains why we need industrial energy and a free market to provide it."

Paul Hsieh presents Jane Orient's View From 35,000 Feet posted at We Stand FIRM, saying, "As the Senate prepares to debate health care in earnest, Dr. Jane Orient gives a superb "big picture" overview of the crucial issues at stake."

Francis Luong (Franco) presents On Motivations and Truth posted at Just Add Rationality, saying, "Does intense motivation and bias have to go hand in hand? More importantly, is there a means to validate whether a body of work is valid even when the creator of that body of work was deeply invested in a subject?"

Peter Cresswell presents Jon Voight is right: NZ’s die-while-you wait health system creates “many deaths” posted at Not PC, saying, "Jon Voight says countries like New Zealand suffer greatly from a die-while-you wait health system. Jon Voight is right -- here are some examples."

Daniel Casper presents Campus Media Response: Who Broke American Healthcare? posted at The Undercurrent, saying, "Daniel Casper reminds the University of Illinois' Daily Illini how our healthcare system got to its current state of disrepair."

Gus Van Horn presents Why They Trust posted at Gus Van Horn, saying, "State involvement in science is making it increasingly difficult on many levels for people to be their own 'consumer watchdogs.'"

Diana Hsieh presents Jesus to Sinners: Love Me or Burn in Hell posted at NoodleFood, saying, "A bit of spam raises the question of why people find the moral message of Christianity appealing."

Jason Stotts presents Can You Consent to Your Own Murder? posted at Erosophia, saying, "An analysis of whether a person can consent to his own murder."

Doug Reich presents Anti-Rand Backlash: Methinks Thou Doth Protest Too Much posted at The Rational Capitalist, saying, "Analysis of the hysterical backlash directed at Ayn Rand occuring in the wake of her uptrending popularity including possible explanations for her critics focus on her personal life"

Doug Reich presents Climategate: A Battle Won, Not the War posted at The Rational Capitalist, saying, "Since science is not the real force motivating environmentalists, climategate's exposure of rampant fraud will have limited impact. Winning the war for civilization will require a focus on the more fundamental problem."

That concludes this week's edition. The Objectivist Round Up is produced every Thursday (the deadline is each Wednesday night at 11pm Eastern time). Hosting is on a volunteer basis, and rotates among Objectivist bloggers. The Rule of Reason is our next host!

Submit your blog article to the next edition using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Anonymous said...

you should read Heller's bio. Rand said given the choice between saving herself from a fire and her own baby, she would let her baby die.

Perhaps she would have been happy to also see countless people die without health insurance each year, or not worry that the US ranks 37th in health care, that Americans die sooner, pay far more or that the US has the worst infant mortality rate in the modern world.

Rand was an ideologue, and for all her truths she was often irrational. health care reform is good economic sense and will do far more to prevent the kind of social unrest more likely to result in real "socialism" than to cause it. Her lopsided romantic vision didn't account for fraud within capitalism. The people who caused the housing collapse traded in nothingness, were not creative heros and did not have her heros integrity. Nor does a news station that distorts the facts each day.

Rand's relationship with her mother does much to explain her complete lack of empathy for the maternal spirit.

She had a public hissy fit one thanksgiving when her husband invited a priest in. One of the few times Frank grew angry with her.

Rand was remarkable but her logic was flawed. It took Greenspan her most most powerful devotee 40 years to see the fatal flaw in his core belief of 40 years. Perhaps at 83 he is also questioning his mortality. It is ironic so many of her followers gave up their sense of self but then again, they were very young.

Kelly Elmore said...

Perhaps I'm just one more crazy bitch (no, not really), but I would not choose my child's life over my own. I would take huge risks to save her, much bigger risks that I would for any other person, but if I knew running back in would save her and mean certain death for me, I wouldn't do it. Funny enough, Ayn Rand might not have agreed with me on this one. She said she might not have been able to live without her husband, and she might have felt the same way about a baby. I don't. And I don't think that makes me a bad mom. Just a selfish one.

Andrew Dalton said...

Anonymous -

Your type of comment would normally not warrant a response, but I'll just post a few questions to illustrate to others the proper standards of reasoning and argument.

"Rand said given the choice between saving herself from a fire and her own baby, she would let her baby die."


"Rand was an ideologue"

What does that mean? Seriously.

"Her lopsided romantic vision didn't account for fraud within capitalism"

You might want to re-read Rand's "romantic vision." Hint: there are two general things that she thought the government can properly outlaw.

"Rand's relationship with her mother does much to explain her complete lack of empathy for the maternal spirit."


"It took Greenspan her most most powerful devotee 40 years to see the fatal flaw in his core belief of 40 years."

What is your evidence that Greenspan was a follower of Ayn Rand's ideas at any time in recent memory? (And shouldn't Greenspan's taking of the job as central economic planner count as evidence against such a notion?)

Trey Givens said...

I know this is slightly off-topic, but that "ranked 37th" stat is from a WHO survey ( of health care systems from around the world based upon a standard which is skewed by political agenda (It presupposes a higher ranking along one of the five axes of measure for countries which have socialized health care) and non-health care related factors.


Also, that stat about infant mortality is the US is also bogus. Different countries report infant mortality in vastly different ways and the US uses one of the strictest standards applied across the entire world.

Reference: (among others)

I wanted to point these items out because when one is making factual claims and one intends to debate them, one provides citations. If, however, one wishes to provoke and rankle, I suppose one could just anonymously toss out blind, uninformed assertions on a number of topics whether they're really relevant or not.

Bill Brown said...

Moreover, the United States leads in life expectancy once one factors out the murders, accidents, and suicides--things that no health care system can reduce.

Mike Zemack said...

Anonymous wrote:

“you should read Heller's bio. Rand said given the choice between saving herself from a fire and her own baby, she would let her baby die.”

We can argue endlessly about whether Ayn Rand or whoever should or should not save a child from a burning building and under what circumstances, but it is irrelevant to any critique of the Objectivist ethics - if that is the point of Anonymous’ statement. An emergency is an unexpected occurrence that is impossible to plan for (aside from trained personnel or precautionary measures such as installing smoke detectors). No one can know in advance what the exact details or context might be. Indeed, no one can really even know how he himself would react in an extreme situation that most people will almost certainly never face. It’s quite possible that an altruist (or the self-righteous Anonymous himself) would “freeze” or “chicken out”, while an Objectivist (or even Ayn Rand herself) who cleaves to a rational ethics derived from the standard of the supreme value of the individual human life would spring into action even at great risk to himself.

But this is all academic and irrelevant, because the Objectivist ethics is based upon life in the normalized course of events. Ayn Rand defines morality as “a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life” – that is, his entire life planned long range. An emergency is an interruption of normalcy … the exception in a stable, benevolent universe. Life is not an unending stream of catastrophes, and thus Objectivism rejects the Malevolent Universe Premise. Objectivism does not rest upon disaster scenarios, and neither rules in nor rules out heroic action in such circumstances. Objectivist scholar Tara Smith’s systematic presentation of Ayn Rand’s ethical system is a book entitled Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics. Perhaps Anonymous might want to read that book, or Rand’s essay The Ethics of Emergencies (chapter 3), so he can at least criticize from an educated perspective.

Ethical principles do not tell you what to do in concrete situations. Each individual must use his own mind and value judgements to apply those principles to the details of his own life. Objectivism tells you it is morally proper to act in your own self-interest. It does not tell you what is in your own self-interest. That intellectual work is each person’s own responsibility to perform.

As to Anonymous’ bizarre claim that we need to smother our healthcare freedom under socialized medicine, so we don’t collapse into chaos that leads us to socialist despotism, let me just observe that he has been anticipated by some 60+ years. In a future Orwellian world, the totalitarian government of “1984” operates under the slogans “Ignorance is Strength” and “Slavery is Freedom”.