30 August 2009

Dennis Prager: If There Is No God, Part 9

(Note: This is Part 9 in the series started here. The previous installment is here. In each post, I comment on one of the fourteen points made by Dennis Prager in his article, “If There Is No God.”)

Dennis Prager’s Point #9:

If there is no God, humans and "other" animals are of equal value. Only if one posits that humans, not animals, are created in the image of God do humans have any greater intrinsic sanctity than baboons. This explains the movement among the secularized elite to equate humans and animals. [Note 1.]

I share Dennis Prager’s disdain for the “secularized elite,” which we have come to understand as being the left-leaning, subjectivist intellectual establishment. But I must point out that once again, he is conceding all ground to his enemies.

To claim, as Mr. Prager has, that men deserve special consideration only if they are created in God’s image is to imply that there is no natural reason - there are no facts - that justifies distinguishing men from other animals. This is exactly the position maintained by the subjectivists that he reviles. The only difference is that religionists, wishing to rescue mankind from being relegated to the status of lowly animals, proceed to invent a supernatural pretext; they regard men as divine beings, created and chosen by God as the stewards of the earth. Subjectivists refrain from fabricating this pretext, and thus regard men as mere animals, crass beings driven by their appetites and whims.

To see how both sides are mistaken - and to arrive at the correct perspective - it is instructive to recall the arguments of the “intrinsic/subjective/objective” trichotomy that I have written about elsewhere and is one of Ayn Rand’s important identifications.[Note 2.] Mr. Prager is precise in his term “intrinsic sanctity.” It is exactly the intrinsic value of man that he seeks to preserve - a value that is somehow an attribute of every man, apart from his relationship to the real world. It is a “sanctity” unsullied by the coarse considerations of the requirements of survival, and of living the life of a man qua man. In essence, the intrinsic value of man that Prager is attempting to secure is a divine one: eternal, other-worldly, inaccessible, akin to a Platonic Form.

A proper perspective is neither subjective nor intrinsic but objective. In this, we regard value as relating to all living organisms, and only to living organisms, for it is living entities that will exist or perish according to their natures and actions. For a living organism, its basic value is life, and each of its derivative values reflects this fundamental value in its capacity to contribute to or enhance the life of the organism. Crucially, it is from the perspective of each organism that value is determined.

In this last statement we see the sharp distinction between Prager’s “intrinsic sanctity” and objective value. In Prager’s view, the value of human beings exists as an intrinsic attribute - a value in itself, apart from any consideration of a valuer. It is a sort of reified universal imposed by a supernatural Creator, a stand-alone fact of the universe. As an implicit consequence, not only should a man recognize his superiority over animals, but a baboon (or lizard, worm, amoeba, tree) would necessarily defer to it; thus, built into each of God’s lower creatures would be a “sanctity” of its own life that was somehow less than that of a human.

Of course, that is nonsense. The value of human beings is not intrinsic; it is objective. For every living organism, from single-celled microbes to Homo Sapiens, its own life is the standard of value. A man’s regard of his own life as having sanctity is derived not from some divine proclamation - from the lucky chance of having been born among God’s chosen species - but from his nature as a living being. (To be more precise, a man’s value itself follows from his being a living organism; his regard of his own value follows from his being an organism with the ability to think and to be self-aware.)

Perhaps inadvertently, Mr. Prager left a clue that revealed how anti-scientific and anti-reason his perspective actually is. In the phrase “humans and ‘other’ animals,” Prager put quotes around the word “other,” as if humans are not animals at all. How deeply does he hold this idea? Can he really think that humans are not to be classified as part of the animal kingdom?

Humans are the rational animals. We have a perceptual apparatus that is similar to many of the higher mammals, but we also have a faculty that, as far as can be discerned, is utterly unique among all living things: a rational, reasoning mind that operates with free will.

The abilities to abstract and conceptualize, and to choose our actions, are far and away the most significant attributes of our species. Our conceptual faculty accounts not only for our survival, but for our ability to seek happiness. Human minds have created philosophy, science, mathematics; crop rotation, the printing press, the automobile, and the computer; Hamlet, The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Parthenon, Falling Water, and the Empire State Building. By any objective standard, the human species is amazing and remarkable, “the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!”[Note 3.]

If subjectivists - seeing humans as automatons determined by social conditions and slavishly compelled by emotions - evade men’s true nature and consider us to be equal (or even “less than equal”) to other animals, they should be defeated on rational grounds. There is absolutely no reason to reach into the supernatural realm, as Mr. Prager has done, to find an excuse to shout the merits of man. As I have indicated, doing so has quite the opposite effect: it implicitly concedes that men have no value in reality.

(Note: The next installment in the series is here.)


1. Dennis Prager, “If There Is No God,” http://townhall.com/columnists/DennisPrager/2008/08/19/if_there_is_no_god.

2. To capture the relevant idea, it is necessary to quote a relatively lengthy passage from Ayn Rand’s essay, “What is Capitalism?”

There are, in essence, three schools of thought on the nature of the good: the intrinsic, the subjective, and the objective. The intrinsic theory holds that the good is inherent in certain things or actions as such, regardless of their context and consequences, regardless of any benefit or injury they may cause to the actors and subjects involved. It is a theory that divorces the concept of “good” from beneficiaries, and the concept of “value” from valuer and purpose - claiming that the food is good in, by, and of itself.

The subjectivist theory holds that the good bears no relation to the facts of reality, that it is the product of a man’s consciousness, created by his feelings, desires, “intuitions,” or whims, and that it is merely an “arbitrary postulate” or an "emotional commitment.”

The intrinsic theory holds that the good resides in some sort of reality, independent of man’s consciousness; the subjectivist theory holds that the good resides in man’s consciousness, independent of reality.

The objectivist theory holds that the good is neither an attribute of “things in themselves” nor of man’s emotional states, but an evaluation of the facts of reality by man’s consciousness according to a rational standard of values. (Rational, in this context, means: derived from the facts of reality and validated by a process of reason.) The objective theory holds that the good is an aspect of reality in relation to man - and that it must be discovered, not invented, by man.

Ayn Rand, “What is Capitalism?” from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, pp. 21-22. [Italics are in the original.]

3. To be sure, it is the human mind that is behind the worst atrocities of history as well - slavery, the wars of conquest, inquisitions, persecutions, pogroms, and People’s States. But this consideration only emphasizes the importance of philosophy, and of getting our answers right.

23 August 2009

Cash for Clunkers

The three billion dollar Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, known affectionately as “Cash for Clunkers,” is coming to an end on Monday because it is running out of money.  After the program burned through $1 billion dollars in its first week, Congress approved an additional $2 billion that has now apparently followed the first billion down the drain.

The fact that this money has been scooped up so eagerly seems to have taken some by surprise, though when it is given a moment’s sober thought, the prospect that a lot of consumers would snatch the “free” $4500 giveaway is about as shocking as a pound of raw meat disappearing when dropped into a school of piranhas.  President Obama spun this unexpected evaporation of taxpayer dollars as an indication of the program’s success - a success “beyond anybody’s imagination,” as he put it.  “We’re slightly victims of success because the thing happened so quick, there was so much more demand than anybody expected, that dealers were overwhelmed with applications.”[Note 1.]

In the media, Cash for Clunkers is portrayed as being wildly successful; the implication is that the program is a magnificent example of the ability of the government to stimulate the economy.  When the additional $2 billion funding was approved, the president lauded Congress for using the Recovery Act funds to extend the CARS program, so that “the American economy will continue to get a much needed boost.”[Note 2.]  “This program has been a lifeline to the automobile industry, jump starting a major sector of the economy and putting people back to work,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  He characterizes the program as “the best economic news story in America.”[Note 3.]  “According to some estimates,” a CNN report stated, “the total of $3 billion in the Cash for Clunkers program could result in an $18 billion boost to the overall economy.”[Note 4, emphasis mine in all quotes.]

Well, that’s a pretty good deal.  If the federal government can put $3 billion into a hat, wave a wand, and pull out $18 billion, then who can blame Americans for being tempted to hand over the reins of their lives to their trusty politicians? 

Despite the general euphoria, though, it may occur to a few people that something doesn’t seem quite right about this account.[Note 5.]  And a handful of Americans might even be suspicious of the notion that a government is able to “stimulate” anything at all.  (In this set of critically-thinking individuals, of course, I exclude nearly all economists, the “expert analysts” who are so immersed in a Keynesian fantasy world and in the results churned out by their computer models that they believe in their own magic.)  Skeptics of the government’s story may not be able to put a finger on the problem; they may not be able to identify which rapid move in the shell game, which sleight of hand, which gesture to the pocket or the sleeve, is the one that explains the trick.  But they know something doesn’t add up.

For these honest people, I submit the following questions that might help give them the confidence to expose the “experts” and the government policy-makers for what they are: emperors with no clothes.

(1)  How can Cash for Clunkers “run out of money,” as is reported?

If CARS really does provide a net benefit to the economy, as is claimed  (or at least implied) by its supporters, why is the program being stopped for want of funding?  How can something that is profitable be running out of money?  

The fact that the program cannot be sustained without a continuous influx of tax dollars indicates that there is a cost associated with it.  And where there is a cost for something, there are producers who pay for it.

Characterizing the program as being beneficial for America is dishonest at best.  Cash for Clunkers does not make money; it costs money.  It is necessary for the president and lawmakers to hide this fact because the cost is borne by Americans.  Inevitably, for every $4500 that Cash for Clunkers puts into someone’s pocket, it takes more than $4500 away from the Americans to whom that money belongs.  The program is not a “stimulation” of anything; like all government “stimulation,” it is a carefully disguised welfare package.

(2)  How would Cash for Clunkers work on a smaller scale?

When dealing with complex abstractions, it is often helpful and instructive to adjust the scale of a concept to isolate certain characteristics.  For instance, when considering the workings of a free market, one can identify some of the same principles operating in a child’s lemonade stand as in a multinational corporation.  The trader principle remains constant both for the man agreeing to mow his neighbor’s lawn in exchange for babysitting services and for the bank lending a hundred million dollars to a pharmaceutical company.  

So, as an exercise, let us consider how the economic stimulation of Cash for Clunkers would work in a household.

Suppose Johnny and Mary Smith are a married couple with three kids.  To make ends meet, both Johnny and Mary work, and for this purpose they each own a car.  Unfortunately, Johnny gets laid off, so they suddenly depend entirely on Mary’s income and a little bit of savings while Johnny looks for another job.

According to the principles of the Cash for Clunkers program, the ideal thing for the Smith household to do at this point is to have Mary give Johnny $4500 out of their children’s college savings account in exchange for his car.  Next, Mary should drain the oil and pour a water-silica-sand solution into the engine so that it will seize when the car is next turned on.  (This is what the “clunker” dealers are instructed to do.)  This will make it necessary for Johnny to buy another car so that he can drive to his job interviews.  To keep our example a closed system so that we can trace every step, let us say that he must now buy Mary's car.  He returns to Mary the $4500 in exchange for her car, which she will now have to share with her husband, making it difficult for her to get to work on time.  

The net result of this series of transactions is that nothing has changed for the Smith’s except that one of their two vitally important automobiles has been destroyed.

The important thing to notice in this scenario is that without an injection of money from an outside source - a source that gets nothing in return - the Cash for Clunkers program fails utterly.  It can only destroy wealth; it cannot create it.  

This is another demonstration of why it is necessary for the president and Congress to dissemble when advancing “economic stimulus” as providing a net gain for Americans, as opposed to being a simple welfare program.  In order to prop up the facade of “stimulus,” it is necessary to conceal the source of real wealth that pays for it.

(3)  Injustice aside, are participants in the program better off now?

There is no justification whatsoever for ignoring the monstrous injustice incurred by the millions of hard-working Americans who were compelled to pay for Cash for Clunkers in exchange for absolutely nothing.  However, as a mental exercise, let us momentarily set aside that injustice to consider a question.  Did the consumers who took advantage of the program benefit?  That is, did the federal government’s moral atrocity at least provide an economic benefit to the consumers that they claimed to be helping?

Since “clunkers” are cars that had to meet certain criteria for consideration - not the least of which is to be worth no more than $4500 in an open market - we can make a guess that many of the participants in the program were ordinary Americans, most of whom were not likely to replace their soon-to-be-demolished car by paying cash for a new Mercedes Benz or Maserati.  It is likely that the typical beneficiary of Cash for Clunkers used about half of the $4500 windfall to pay off some of their credit card debt and the other half to buy a new vehicle.  Significantly, it is also likely that any loans that had been used to buy the beneficiary’s “clunker” had been paid off for some time, while the purchase of the new vehicle required the beneficiary to take out a four- or five-year loan (since he had only a couple thousand dollars for a down-payment).  Considering all this, it should be clear that it is a stretch to call the typical participant a “beneficiary” of the program when he is probably worse off now than he was before.  Sure, he may feel a surge of excitement when he starts the engine of his brand new F150, but this fleeting benefit is more than offset by the troubles he faces burdened with the $300 or $400 per month car payment that he did not have before. 

Now, politicians will undoubtedly point to all these new vehicle purchases as being good for automobile manufacturers, which in turn is good for the American economy.  But we have already identified this as a diversionary tactic intended to draw attention away from the fact that other people are compelled to pay for it.

So, even if we set aside the injustice, the sheer economic ignorance of the plan is stunning and can be comprehended only by recognizing the persistence of politicians and “expert” economic analysts to misunderstand the nature of their meddling.  Consider: It is obvious, or at least it should be, that a significant cause of the current financial crisis was the direct and indirect force applied by the federal government upon banks to issue mortgages to Americans so they would buy homes they could not afford.  In the wake of this self-made disaster, for the government to try to fix the problem by enticing Americans to now buy cars they cannot afford is simply beyond the pale of reason.

(4)  If destroying a few hundred thousand cars can stimulate the economy, then why stop there?  

In “A Kerquillionty Dollars,” Doug Reich, referring to the topic of government “stimulus” programs in general, asked a similar question:

The logic behind the stimulus program is that the government needs to steal money from some taxpayers (or borrow from bond investors under the presumption that it will be stolen from future taxpayers) and give it to other people...  If their logic is correct, and expropriating the wealth and capital of some and redistributing it to others will somehow generate economic growth... it appears to be a huge mistake that they only spent $787 Billion.  Why did they stop there?  Under their reasoning, wouldn’t $788 Billion have been more stimulative?  Wouldn’t $1 trillion have been really, really stimulative?[Note 6.]

One might ask the same question about the Cash for Clunkers program.  The question exposes its nature - that it is a disguised welfare program that cannot create wealth but can only destroy or redistribute it.

Recall that enthusiasts claim that Cash for Clunkers gave the American economy a much needed boost, a desperately wanted stimulus, a shot in the arm.  If such a “lifeline” to the economy, constituting the “best economic news in America,” can be invoked by simply using tax dollars to pay people to destroy cars, why could this principle not be extended?  Why not introduce a government program to pay Americans to throw out their cell phones and computers, thus using the “power of the market” to generate new cell phones and computers?  Why not entice citizens to burn down their houses, thus generating new houses?  Why not provide an incentive to tear down every garage, gasoline station, pizza place, bagel shop, bodega, grocery store, department store, warehouse, and factory?

Why not create infinite prosperity by wrecking everything?  According to the principles of "economic stimulus," all this taxpayer-backed destruction should put Americans back to work, boosting the economy beyond our wildest dreams and creating an unprecedented era of good times.

Naturally, most Americans (with the possible exception of latent jihadists, eco-terrorists, and some university professors) would be aghast at the suggestion of such wholesale destruction.  Yet the principle holds at every scale.  The same irrationality at the heart of Cash for Clunkers fuels many of the absurdities of the economic thought of the last century (for example, the idea that war is beneficial to a free economy, or that paying farmers to destroy their crops enhances prosperity).

The error of this idea is described by Henry Hazlitt as the “broken window” fallacy.  In his scenario, a hoodlum throws a brick through a baker’s shop window.  A little crowd gathers in front of the shop, discussing the implications.  From a certain perspective, note some in the crowd (i.e. consistent with that of the Obama administration), “the misfortune has its bright side.”

It will make business for some glazier... The glazier will have $250 more to spend with other merchants, and these in turn will have $250 more to spend with still other merchants, and so ad infinitum.  The smashed window will go on providing money and employment in ever-widening circles.  The logical conclusion from all this would be, if the crowd drew it, that the little hoodlum who threw the brick, far from being a public menace, was a public benefactor.[Note 7.]

If Hazlitt’s scenario seems artificially exaggerated or preposterous, I remind the reader of the report I quoted earlier, which CNN delivered without a trace of irony, as if it were an incontrovertible fact: “According to some estimates, the total of $3 billion in the Cash for Clunkers program could result in an $18 billion boost to the overall economy.”

Unlike today’s economists, Hazlitt goes on to trace the remainder of the effects introduced by the hoodlum.  The glazier would indeed have $250 worth of new business:

But the shopkeeper will be out the $250 that he was planning to spend for a new suit...  Instead of having a window and $250, he now has merely a window... The glazier’s gain of business, in short, is merely the tailor’s loss of business.  No new “employment” has been added.  The people in the crowd were thinking only of two parties to the transaction, the baker and the glazier.  They had forgotten the potential third party involved, the tailor.  They forgot him precisely because he will not now enter the scene.  They will see the new window in the next day or two.  They will never see the extra suit, precisely because it will never be made.  They see only what is immediately visible to the eye. [Again, note 7, emphasis mine.] 

(5)  Why is force needed?

Even if a politician or economist produced a ready answer for all of the above questions, citing this or that statistic, interest rate, wise saw, or modern instance, with the exasperated air of one unaccustomed to having his authority questioned and with an irritation reserved for those stubborn few among us who do not surrender their lives and livelihoods to him without first asking a few questions - even if such a one could manufacture this many excuses, there is one question that he will find to be devastatingly unanswerable.  Or rather, it is answerable only by giving the game away.

The question is: If the program benefits everyone, why must the government compel some people to comply?

Of course, the answer is that protestations to the contrary, the program does not benefit everybody.  Force is required because that is the means to get someone to act against their interests.

The simple fact is that nothing that President Obama or Congress can do will stimulate the economy in any real sense - that is, no government can create real wealth.  It can only make itself appear to have done so, by focusing public attention on only part of the picture.  

The only power a government has in the economy - and it is a formidable power indeed - is to make some people pay for things that are consumed by others.

The power that philosophers have in the economy - equally formidable - is to convince people that they are morally justified in making some people pay for things that are consumed by others.

We have seen that politicians have an inestimable advantage in staging the legerdemain required to prop up farces like “economic stimulus plans” and the Cash for Clunkers program.  As in Hazlitt’s scenario, when the earnings of individuals are taken and redistributed to others, it is quite impossible to count how the money would have been used otherwise, precisely because those free actions never came about.  It is easy to add up the numbers for press releases - for instance, to boast that Cash for Clunkers put $1.9 billion in participants’ pockets through 457,000 transactions - but we will never know what the people who paid for the program would have done with the money if it hadn’t been seized from them.  

What we do know for sure is that the fact that it was seized is an unpardonable injustice. 

As a final comment, I’ll mention that I think a lot of ordinary Americans feel helpless to contradict the “experts” on CNN, Nobel Laureates such as may be found on the editorial page of The New York Times, and the brain trusts of the federal government.  I for one am not an economist; I fully concede that they know far more than I will ever know about academic economics.

But it is a mistake to surrender one’s mind and morals to “experts” in any field.  I cannot even begin to fathom the economic complexities, for instance, of Bernard Madoff’s fraudulent schemes, but I do not need to be an expert to identify those schemes as fraudulent, i.e. as violations of individual rights.  The same principle applies to the lawful violations of rights perpetrated daily by the Obama administration and Congress.  The complexity of federal programs - a complexity that makes it difficult or impossible for even the lawmakers themselves to understand (even when they bother to read the bills they sign) - does not change their nature.  Abrogations of rights are in essence the same whether they are delivered in one hundred pages of the Federal Register or with one squeeze of a trigger. 


1.  “Government Will End Clunker Program Early,” The New York Times, 20 Aug 2009.

2.  “Statement by President Barack Obama on Senate Passage of Cash for Clunkers Extension,” Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, 6 Aug 2009.

3.  “Secretary LaHood Announces Wind Down to Hugely Popular CARS Program,” Department of Transportation Press Release, DOT 126-09, 20 Aug 2009.

4.  “Analysts predict billions in benefits from ‘Cash for Clunkers,” CNN, 7 Aug 2009.

5.  The general euphoria was not shared by some of the dealerships who are experiencing delays or hassles with application forms.  It is not surprising that such problems would be encountered when dealing with the federal government, but I am ignoring this detail in my post because it is a non-fundamental side issue.

6.  Doug Reich, “A Kerquillionty Dollars,” The Rational Capitalist, 2 Aug 2009.

7.  Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson, Arlington House, NY, 1979, (orig. Harper & Brothers, 1946), p. 23 - 24.

22 August 2009

Elan Journo on D’Souza’s Agenda

Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights has just published the sixth (and I believe final) installment of his excellent article, “D’Souza’s Trojan Horse.”  In the series, Journo exposes Dinesh D’Souza’s ominous agenda and the broader significance that it signals of religion in America.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

19 August 2009

Death Panels

Like most of the media, a recent NY Times article [Note 1.] condemns crazy right-wingers for concocting the “stubborn yet false rumor” that the Obama administration is planning to adopt “death panels” to decide who gets medical care and who doesn’t.  The Times characterizes the very notion of “death panels” as baseless rumor - a false “assertion” that has somehow spread despite an “avalanche of reports laying out why it was false.”  The term evokes a “specter of government-sponsored forced euthanasia.” 

To be sure, there are some people who think literal Nazi-style forced euthanasia and abortion are on the White House agenda.  However, reports of such opinions are straw men used by the White House and media to discredit with one sweep all opposition to the president’s plan.  

The term “death panel” should not be limited to such concrete exaggerations as forced euthanasia committees; the use of the term does not indicate irrational fears.  On the contrary, there are very rational reasons to fear and condemn the president’s agenda.  It is obviously not correct to assign intentions of forced euthanasia and abortion to the Obama administration, but it is certainly appropriate to extrapolate the consequences of the centralized planning it is pushing for.  Such projections are perfectly valid, and indeed, vitally important.  By embracing socialism, Barack Obama has opened himself up to this.  It is fair play to project the ominous trends of his administration and to compare it to the tyrannies of the twentieth century, which were all based on the same socialist principles.

The fact is that opponents of Obama’s health care reform need not exaggerate or embellish the administration’s policies to show that it is a disaster in the making.  “Death panels” properly refer not to a hidden, sinister agenda but to the policies of which the president openly boasts.

The Times article itself provides a perfect example of the stunning inability (or unwillingness) of modern “liberals” to connect ideas.  As an alleged demonstration of how ridiculous and unfounded are the claim’s of Obama’s opponents, the piece quoted Betsy McCaughey as saying that the economic stimulus bill “would create a bureaucracy to ‘monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost-effective.”  The Times gleefully this as a refutation:

The legislation did not direct the coordinator to dictate doctors’ treatments.  A separate part of the law- regarding a council set up to coordinate research comparing the effectiveness of treatments - states that the council’s recommendations cannot “be construed as mandates of clinical guidelines for payent, coverage or treatment.”[Again, Note 1, emphasis mine.]

So, the fact that a federal bureaucracy, which holds mammoth regulatory power over the medical industry, calls its commands “recommendations” is supposed to show that McCaughey exaggerated?  Far from refuting her point, the example proves it.


It is not a misrepresentation to call an all-powerful government board that controls access to health services a “death panel.”  It is a perfectly apt label.  What else shall we call a central committee of bureaucrats who make “recommendations” that must be obeyed, meting out from a dwindling pile of loot (dwindling, because the American health industry will be choked to death; loot, because it is paid for by the seized earnings of citizens and the virtual enslavement of medical professionals) every treatment, therapy, medicine, test, doctor visit, and hospital stay?  What better than “death panel” could capture the meaning of a council of wise government officials who sit around a table deciding who gets what health care, like the Three Fates, spinning, weaving, and - yes - cutting?

The essence of Obama’s plan is to pool the earnings of all citizens into one pile from which this solemn panel will dole out portions.  Of course, the actual details of this are much more complicated than that - necessarily so, for complexity provides the obscurity that lets the president and Congress get away with it.  The Obama administration cannot summarily take over private insurance (such as it is) in the manner of a South American dictator.  Instead, the White House explains that all they really wish to do is tell the insurance companies what they can charge for products, and what they must pay out to the customers that they are forced to have.  Nor can the Obama administration seize citizen’s paychecks directly; it is less upsetting to the public to tax, inflate, and regulate away their earnings in innumerable indirect ways.  

The ideology that drives Barack Obama’s health care “reform” is: to each according to his need, from each according to his ability.   As such, it is manifestly unjust.  It severs the earner from the earned, enshrines need as the standard of value, and holds citizens at the mercy of politician’s whims.

Let us now consider the opposite of the president’s plan: the health care that would exist in a free country (and did exist when America was more free than it is now).  When a private individual has to make a decision about his health (or that of a dependent family member), it is indeed life and death that is at stake.  It is a fact of reality: people must sometimes make hard choices and painful decisions.  But the consequences of those decisions directly affect only themselves.  They can neither force others to pay for them nor be forced to pay for others.  

In a free market, private insurance companies would exist to offer a range of plans that people could purchase - or not - as they see fit.  Individuals would visit their doctors, seek treatments, and consume medicines according to their own standards and means.  If they want health care (or anything else, for that matter) they must purchase it with their own earnings; they cannot force others to pay for it.

The reigning principle of free-market health care - as opposed to the Obama administration’s socialist system - is justice.

The president is counting on his ability to cancel the true meaning of his policies by using words that obscure their nature, or denying labels that are apt.  Don’t let him get away with it.


1.  “False ‘Death Panel’ Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots,” New York Times, 13 Aug 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/14/health/policy/14panel.html?scp=1&sq=False%20Death%20Panel%20Rumor&st=cse

18 August 2009

How to Convince A Reporter You’re Not Violent

Does anyone else see how grimly preposterous this is?  

The caption for this photograph on the main page of the New York Times web site was, “An Afghan police officer pointed a gun at journalists.  Unnerved by another wave of attacks, the government banned the reporting of violence during Thursday’s vote.”[Note 1, emphasis mine.]

image credit, Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

What did the police officer say?  Don’t call me violent or I’ll shoot you?


1.  “Election Day Censorship in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, 18 Aug 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/19/world/asia/19afghan.html?_r=1&hp.

08 August 2009

Submission to the White House Snitch Line

“Facts are stubborn things.”

So said John Adams, and so is titled an astonishingly brazen post on the official White House blog.  In a most Orwellian manner, the post claims to hold the “inconveniently” true position, and warns of “scary” emails and videos spreading “disinformation.”

Some excellent responses to this outrageous exertion of power have already been made this week on 3 Ring Binder, NoodleFood, Titanic Deck Chairs, Gus Van Horn here and here, John Lewis, and many others - and of course, Texas senator John Cornyn wrote directly to the president on this matter on Wednesday.[Note 2.]

Here is the note I myself submitted to the White House Informant Line, flag@whitehouse.gov:

Dear Ministry of State Security:

I wish to report “something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy.”  The White House blog is shocked to see opposition to its socialist health care plan, and insists that its critics are liars making “breathless claims.”  The post highlights one example that “couldn’t be further from the truth”: the claim that “the President intends to eliminate private coverage.”  

As supposed evidence of this “falsehood,” the White House post links to an official list of “Health Insurance Consumer Protections.”  However, these “protections” consist of eight directives that completely constrain what insurance companies can and cannot do.  Any ONE of these directives is sufficient to eliminate the notion of private insurance; all eight together constitute a complete federal takeover of the industry.

Thus, to see the facts that show the Obama administration’s intention to take over the health insurance industry (and the financial industry, the automobile industry, etc.), one need go no further than the White House web site.

Facts are indeed stubborn things.  Empty claims to the contrary will not change them, nor will even ominous threats from the White House directed toward American citizens. 

Stephen Bourque

United States of America


1.  “Facts are Stubborn Things,” Macon Phillips, White House blog, 4 Aug 2009, http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/Facts-Are-Stubborn-Things/ .

2.  Senator John Cornyn (R. - Texas), Letter to President Barack Obama, http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/cornynletter20090805.pdf .