Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quote of the Day - Where the Blame Lies

I had taken a bit of a break from reading philosophy to give my mind a bit of a rest.  I re-read for the umpteenth time, "Beguilement" by Lois McMaster Bujold.  This is one of my favorite books, series actually.

It was something of a different experience reading it after having read of lot of Ayn Rand's philosophy as I could see similar themes, especially in the main characters who, over the course of the series, go against what is expected of them and instead work for what gives them the most fulfilling lives and in the process improve the lives of everyone around them.

At any rate, I am back reading "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" by Ayn Rand and soon came across another great quote.

Remember that private citizens-whether rich or poor, whether businessmen or workers-have no power to start a war.  That power is the exclusive prerogative of a government.  Which type of government is more likely to plunge a country into war: a government of limited powers, bound by constitutional  restrictions-or an unlimited government, open to the pressure of any group with warlike interests or ideologies, a government able to command armies to march at the whim of a single chief executive?
Yet it is not a limited government that today's peace-lovers are advocating.  [emphasis mine]
Corporations receive a lot of blame for the supposed ills of the world (while at the same time not receiving any credit for the good that has come from them) especially for their "influence" on government.  It seems that few people stop to ask themselves how much corporations would lobby and try to manipulate government if government was limited and restricted from interfering in the economy?  As Yaron Brook points out in a number of his talks, before the Department of Justice went after Microsoft, the tech giant spent virtually nothing on political lobbying.  Corporations, like individuals, respond to incentives.  When government interference and regulation make it more profitable for a company to spend their money lobbying than developing innovative new products, is it any wonder that is what they do?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Quote of the Day - History Repeats Itself

Today's quote comes from a talk by Ayn Rand, I believe from the 1960's, about the so-called Robber Barons of the 19th century, and how they were actually the greatest benefactors of the United States, contrary to what popular history tells us.  About 5 minutes into the recording, which you can find here, she made a statement that jumped out at me enough to go over it repeatedly to write it down.  The groups she is referring to are the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads.

In both cases, the main motive of the men involved in building these railroads, though not the exclusive but the main motive, was to acquire the subsidies, not to build a railroad.  More than that, there was as yet no economic need for a transcontinental railroad.  There was not enough freight to justify private investment, but the government, under propaganda similar to today's and such excuses as the prestige of the country, decided to build a railroad and it did so by means of giving subsidies to private groups.

You could very easily substitute "green energy" for "transcontinental railroad" and the quote would be applicable to current government policy.  How often do we hear "We are falling behind in green energy technology!" or similar slogans when the government touts its subsidies for such projects?

I guess the old saying is true: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Another Quote of the Day - Freedom is Fundamental

For those that may be curious, the quotes I have started posting are from my current reading, pretty much posted as I come to them.  They are passages that jump out at me as I go along.  

This particular quote is from Ayn Rand's book "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" and is in the section discussing reason as man's means of survivial.  As she says a bit earlier: "The action required to sustain human life is primarily intellectual: everything man needs has to be discovered by his mind and produced by his effort."  You have only to look around and see all things that are needed to allow man to survive in the world (food, shelter, clothing, defense, and etc) and enjoy life (books, movies, music, travel, and etc) to see that this is true.
"Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man's survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don't.  Since men are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgement.  Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man's mind."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Quote of the day

While waiting for MAN OF STEEL to start, I was reading "Basic Economics" by Thomas Sowell.  I found this quote interesting in regards to supposed scarce resources.
"In some ultimate sense, the total quantity of resources must of course be declining.  However, a resource that would run out centuries after it becomes obsolete, or a thousand years after the sun grows cold, is not a serious practical problem.  If it is going to run out within some period that is a matter of practical relevance, then the rising present value of the resource whose exhaustion looms ahead will automatically force conservation, without either public hysteria or political exhortation."
This came after a discussion virtually all natural resources have decreased in real cost over time and increased in known reserves.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quote of the Day

Came across this quote today in Ayn Rand's essay titled "The Nature of Government", found in the book "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal."  It seems appropriate given all that is coming out of Washington these days:

"...instead of serving as the instrument of objectivity in human relationships, the government is creating a deadly, subterranean reign of uncertainty and fear, by means of non-objective laws whose interpretation is left to the arbitrary decisions of random bureaucrats..."

This seems to me to be a spot on description of how large portions of the government operates today.   From the EPA to the IRS to Obamacare, the actual decisions on how to implement a rule and when are left to the whim of the bureaucrats involved.  We have seen this in the targetting of certain groups for extra scrutiny based on factors unrelated to the issue at hand and in the large number of instances of the phrase "as the Secretary shall decide" in the Obamacare legislation.