Jun 252015
 

My exclusive interview with Dr. Andrew Bernstein who holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. He is the author of The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic, and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire (University Press of America, 2005), Objectivism in One Lesson: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Ayn Rand (Hamilton Books, 2008), Capitalism Unbound: The Incontestable Moral Case for Individual Rights (University Press of America, 2010), and Capitalist Solutions: A Philosophy of American Moral Dilemmas (Transaction Publishers, 2011).

On June 25, 2015 he was in Toronto to speak on the case for ending drug prohibition, an event sponsored by The Toronto Objectivist Committee and The Freedom Party of Ontario.

Jun 112015
 

Andrew Bernstein

 
 
 
 

Bob Metz and I interview Dr. Andrew Bernstein on episode 404 of Just Right.
Dr. Bernstein holds a PhD in Philosophy from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. He has taught Philosophy at the State University of New York at Purchase, Marist College, Hunter College, and the State University of New York at New Paltz. He is an Author, speaker for the Ayn Rand Institute, and an advocate for Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

May 212013
 

On May 6th, 2013 I interviewed Yaron Brook, Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute on the campus of the University of Toronto. Dr. Brook was in Toronto to speak on the morality of capitalism which is the focus of his latest book Free Market Revolution – How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government. We discussed the success of the Ayn Rand Institute in Canada, the virtues of being selfish, and end with the disastrous, self-sacrificial foreign policies of Israel and how that country is not doing enough to ensure its security.

Oct 272011
 

Libertarian AnarcyIn 1986, Peter Schwartz, of The Intellectual Activist and Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Ayn Rand Institute, wrote an analysis of Libertarianism called Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty.  In it he takes apart the philosophy of Libertarianism and lays it bare. What is left is a failed movement of the left, not unlike the Occupy Wall Street protests in its chaotic makeup and distorted messages.

Just as the Occupy Wall Street movement has attracted people from all political persuasion, but primary from the left, so too the “big tent” of Libertarian movement has attracted a diverse group of people, often from competing philosophical camps.

The term Libertarian was first coined in 1857 by anarcho-communist, Joseph Déjacque.  Its intellectual leaders in more modern times were people like the libertarian-socialist or anarcho-syndicalist, Noam Chomsky, and the anarchist, Murray Rothbard.  Rothbard actually thought of himself as an anarcho-capitalist which is of course an oxymoronic term.

The writings of Ayn Rand, Frédéric Bastiat, and Ludwig von Mises have also influenced the modern development of the Libertarian movement but it has been the method of libertarians to pick and choose what they like in the writings of these people and reject anything that may suggest any moral instruction.

Ayn Rand was not a libertarian.  She was an advocate for capitalism.  Libertarians are anti-state while Rand was pro-freedom.  Rand saw authority, properly defined and constrained, to be a necessary and proper element in any free society while libertarians consider any authority to be a necessary evil, but evil just the same.

To quote Rand:

“…I disapprove of, disagree with, and have no connection with, the latest aberration of some conservatives, the so-called “hippies of the right,” who attempt to snare the younger or more careless ones of my readers by claiming simultaneously to be followers of my philosophy and advocates of anarchism.  Anyone offering such a combination confesses his inability to understand either.  Anarchism is the most irrational, anti-intellectual notion ever spun by the concrete-bound, context-dropping, whim-worshiping fringe of the collectivist movement where it belongs.” (The Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Harry Binswanger, the Objectivist philosopher and associate of Ayn Rand had this to say of Libertarians:

“In the philosophical battle for a free society, the one crucial connection to be upheld is that between capitalism and reason.  The religious conservatives are seeking to tie capitalism to mysticism; the “libertarians” are tying capitalism to the whim-worshiping subjectivism and chaos of anarchy.  To cooperate with either group is to betray capitalism, reason, and one’s own future.” (The Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Libertarians have accepted many tenets of Rand’s political philosophy but have rejected her metaphysics, epistemology, but most of all her ethics.  Anyone who would suggest a system of morality to a libertarian is thought of as being authoritarian and of imposing a subjective set of standards of behaviour on them.  They would ask ‘who are you to decide what is the right or wrong way for a person to act?’  Or, ‘How can you say for certain what is moral?’  The Libertarian would laud Rand for her advocacy of capitalism, her politics, but they accept it only as a concrete; a system of economics and politics devoid of the fundament from which it arose.

This strikes to the heart of the fault with libertarianism.  A libertarian is unable to properly defend capitalism, or even liberty for that matter, except in concrete and pragmatic terms.  Their arguments defending capitalism are economic, such as having ‘sound money based on gold would prevent run-away inflation’ or pragmatic, ‘more people benefit from capitalism than from communism.’

Freedom and capitalism to a libertarian exist outside of any other philosophic context or framework.  Yet it is this framework which precedes and supports the concepts of freedom and capitalism.  If you refuse to understand the necessary philosophic pre-conditions for capitalism then you cannot properly defend it.  Capitalism becomes just another system like any other ‘ism.’  It will be thought of as just as valid as any other political or economic system and will fall – as it is doing – due to ignorance of its moral, epistemological and metaphysical roots.

Rand spent much of her life defending the philosophic foundation of capitalism.  It is an integral part of a complete philosophy which extols man as a heroic being not some hippie living in a commune where ‘anything goes’ as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.  Liberty, to Rand, was a necessary condition if man was, not only to survive, but to rise to a limitless potential.

Liberty is something to be defended vigorously but it must be done properly.  Liberty without a philosophic context will fall to anyone with a pragmatic excuse for abolishing it.  Capitalism stands on a solid ethical foundation and to reject the foundation is to reject capitalism.   Libertarians reject the foundation and therefore reject capitalism and are therefore enemies of liberty not advocates for it.

The tragic result of modern libertarian political parties today is that they attract true advocates of capitalism.  These individuals are reaching out, often in desperation, to any political movement they think will promote freedom and capitalism.  Unfortunately, these kinds of libertarians, the pro-freedom and not simply anti-state libertarians are not actually libertarians at all and their passion for freedom is being swallowed up by a collective of irrational leftists.

Consider the inhabitants of the big tent which is libertarianism:

  • The anarchists promoting a stateless society.
  • The geo-libertarians who believe that land is an asset held in common and anyone claiming any land to be private must pay a rent to the commons for the benefit of restricting entry to others.
  • The left-libertarians or the libertarian-socialists who oppose capitalism and wage labour.
  • And the right-libertarians who claim to support capitalism but only as an economic system not as an integrated political ideal in a greater philosophy.
  • There is also a small faction of angst ridden nihilists, who claim that morality doesn’t exist.  The youth of today might call them ‘emos’.

Such a large group of competing ideologies are held together by one underlying common agreement, hatred of authority.

Such a collective is no place for an advocate of freedom or capitalism.  Those that stay don’t stay for long.  They soon find that while they may share a common belief that we are over-governed that is where the commonality ends.

To these people I would suggest channeling your energy into promoting freedom, not tearing down government for the sake of it.

(Originally aired on Just Right #223, October 27, 2011.)

Oct 202011
 

Wall SreetAlthough the occupiers of Wall Street are for the most part, incoherent in their message one phrase has been repeated often enough to be recognized as a particular grievance of the participants, “crony capitalism.”

Cronyism has generally been understood to mean the hiring or promotion of one’s friends into positions of authority or responsibility.   If it takes place in the private realm of a private company this may not seem to be of any concern to anyone, except perhaps the shareholders of the company.  If the person hired is incompetent then the decision may be a bad business move but there is certainly nothing illegal about it, nor should there be.

However, today crony capitalism is meant to refer to the cozy relationship the captains of industry, banking and finance have with those in government.

The TARP bailout of the Bank of America and Citigroup, the bailout of the auto industry, the revolving door between personnel in the US government and Goldman Sachs, these are just some of the examples of cronyism of a kind that that should be properly labeled government cronyism and not crony capitalism.

Crony capitalism of the kind the Occupiers complain about could not exist without a government which has squandered trillions of dollars in bailouts and favoritism.  Without the assistance of successive US governments from Nixon’s bailout of Penn Central Railroad to Obama’s bailout of General Motors crony capitalism, as it is called, could not exist.  So rather than protesting on Wall Street the Occupiers should be camped out in Washington.  Of course this will not occur since in any equation involving government and business it is always business which will be the target of left-wing protest.

This use of hyphenated capitalism is not new.  We’ve had libertarians promote something called anarcho-capitalism.  Then there is “free market capitalism,” “mercantile capitalism,” “industrial capitalism,” “financial capitalism,” and “welfare capitalism.”

All of these variant forms of what is supposed to be capitalism are just examples of government involvement in the economy, in a word, fascism.

These hyphenated types of capitalism can be broken down into two groups.  One group requires the intrusion of the state into the economy; the other requires that there be no government at all.  Both are abominations of the noble ideal of capitalism.

As an aside there is one other hyphenated form of capitalism, “laissez faire” capitalism, which when understood properly simply means capitalism.  This is why you rarely hear me speak of capitalism as laissez faire since use of the term is redundant.

When the state favours one company over another as in cronyism or bailouts, or when the state creates marketing boards, anti-trust laws, or competition bureaus we are not seeing capitalism at work we are witnessing the misuse of government power to rig the economy.  We are witnessing a properly hyphenated form of socialism called fascist-socialism: the existence of private property yet controlled by government.

When libertarians speak of anarcho-capitalism, unfettered capitalism or naked capitalism they are speaking of anarchy, plain and simple.  And capitalism cannot exist in anarchy.

In order for capitalism, real unhyphenated capitalism, to exist the individual capitalists must live in a country where their individual rights to their lives, their liberty and the property are protected by a government which is founded on reason and administers laws which are objective and play no favourites.

In a truly capitalist society the government is the referee, not a player.   In a capitalist economy there are no bailouts, no subsidies, no preferential treatment, or marketing boards.  A truly capitalist society is one where the government and the economy are truly separate.  The government does not own the banks, does not issue charters for banks, and does not issue a fiat currency or print money.  A capitalist society would not see tariffs on trade, corporate taxes, restrictions on CEO salaries, or government departments deciding whether or not one company can buy-out another.  The government in a capitalist society would not restrict trade nor promote it.  It would not invest in job-creation schemes nor set minimum wages.  In fact a capitalist society would see the government restricted to protecting people’s individual rights.  That is it.  It would do this through the enforcement of laws objectively derived at.

Such a society would not be utopian but its government would be acting morally.  The ills which plaque us, violence, theft, indolence, poverty would still exist but they would not be as a result of deliberate government programs and interference in our lives.  The government would play an important role in our lives, however.  It would enforce our contracts, it would catch and incarcerate criminals, it would defend our borders, it would make sure that our rights are protected and not restricted.

It must be obvious that we do not live in a truly capitalist society.  In this respect, anyone protesting crony capitalism, as it is misnamed, are justified in their desire to see the separation of the government and the economy.

Some of the protesters at the occupation of Wall Street have been properly speaking out against such intrusions into the economy.  You will hear them complain of the fractional reserve system of banking, government bailouts, stimulus spending, fiat currency, and inflation policies.  These protestors are few and are often shouted down by the more numerous left-wing protestors who are there to malign business, capitalism, consumerism and wealth.

My advice to such honest protesters is to go home.  Occupy Wall Street is a protest created by the left.  By people who hate business, capitalism, and freedom.  To use their venue to promote a proper restraining of government is only going to weaken your argument.  Let’s leave these kooks alone to blow off their steam and when the dust settles the more rational among us can promote a proper government by writing, lecturing and taking our legislators to task whenever they do wrong and by congratulating them when they get it right.  Let the left alone to do what they do well, scream and yell.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #222, October 20, 2011.)

Oct 202011
 

Yue Yue and MotherLast Thursday a little girl was run over on a street in Foshan City in Communist China.  A dozen passersby ignored her writhing moaning body as it lay in a pool of blood.  Another truck came by, slowed down, and then ran over her legs.  Yet more passersby ignored her until a garbage collector came and moved her to the side of the street and looked for her mother.

The images were gruesome and horrifying.  The fact that so many ignored her as just some piece of road-kill has become the topic of controversy around the world.  Why would someone ignore a small child in obvious need of help?  If but one of them stopped to help she wouldn’t have been run over for the second time.  What goes through the minds of people who choose not to get involved when such little effort could have prevented so much suffering?

An article in the National Post on Tuesday enumerated several possible reasons.  The driver of the truck which initially struck the toddler said that,

“If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan.  But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands (of) yuan.”

Some said that would-be Good Samaritans are usually held liable for damages or wrongly accused of being a perpetrator and do not assist out of fear of being arrested, imprisoned or sued.

Some blamed a lack of morals brought on by the destruction of the family unit, a lack of religion in officially atheist Communist China, a population crisis of too many people in such a small area.

Unmentioned in the article is neither the official one-child policy of the Chinese government nor the extremely high incidences of female child abortion or infanticide in that country.

What is highlighted in the National Post article is a belief that capitalism is to blame for the lack of compassion in Chinese society.

Professor James Miller of Queen’s University in Kingston was quoted as saying that,

“There is a gold-rush mentality – people are clambering over other people to try to make ends meet, to try to get ahead.  With the adoption of capitalism, it is seen as being all about self-interest.”

There is so much wrong in Professor Miller’s statement it is hard to know where to begin.

People are trying to make ends meet all over the world including in this country and yet a child run over by a truck would receive immediate aid here as it would in many parts of the world.

To say that Communist China has adopted capitalism is laughable.  It would be laughable for anyone who knows what capitalism means.  For this I will need to distinguish between a person being a capitalist and the overriding economic term of capitalism.

Throughout history there have been capitalists, in every country, in almost every period of history.  A capitalist is simply an individual who uses his property or capital as a means to create a profit.  A land owner who rents out his land, a money lender who gives a loan to someone and charges interest, a wage earner who has saved enough to invest in somebody else’s venture, a Bed and Breakfast owner who rents out their bedroom for the night, an industrialist who owns a factory employing thousands to produce widgets.  All are capitalists.  They use their property or capital to earn income or profit.

Such people can be distinguished from others who, rather than having or using capital for gain, sell their skills or brawn for a wage: a line-worker at an auto plant, a farm hand, a government bureaucrat, a clerk in an office.

Prior to the mid19th century capitalists were referred to as individualists.  But whether it was in 20th century America or 17th century England the individualists relied on government to protect their individual rights to use their capital to earn money.  For many it was just a livable wage but for the fortunate and adept the rewards amounted to fortunes.

For the workers, this disparagement in wealth was inexplicable.  They did not realize what efforts the capitalists took to gain their initial capital nor could they appreciate the risk the capitalists took when they invested their capital in ventures.  This ignorance, led to envy which has led, in some corners of the world to civil wars.  In the West it may not have led to such bloodthirsty revolutions as in Soviet Russia or Communist China but it has led to envy and hatred.  Emotions fueled by a complete ignorance.

Capitalism is a political system which protects the individual rights of its citizens.  When a person’s right to their life, liberty and property (amongst others) are protected then they can pursue economic activities beyond menial labour.  They can invest, enter into long-term contracts, develop their property and employ people to create wealth.  Without the assurances that their rights are being protected their risks are multiplied.  They may find themselves victims of government bureaucratic whims, police corruption, graft, and bribes.

That is why it comes as no surprise when I hear a well-healed Canadian university professor blame China’s capitalism on the indifference shown to the little toddler run over in the street.

Professor Miller, like so many, has very little understanding of what capitalism means.  Although a scholar of religion and Chinese culture he is ignorant of his own society’s history and culture.  He is not alone.  The thousands who are occupying Wall Street have proven themselves to be utter morons when it comes to understanding the society which has given them so much in terms of wealth and opportunity.

But capitalism is more than just a political or economic system.  An ideal capitalist, or to use the arcane term, an individualist is a person who has come to an understanding about nature and knowledge.  He knows that nature to be commanded must be obeyed.  How else could an auto manufacturer mold the metal from the earth into cars and buses?  He respects knowledge and years to learn as much as possible about his business.  How else it to succeed in a world where there are many others to compete with?

But there is a virtue, held not only by capitalists but by many workers as well, that drives them to perform above and beyond their competitors and their co-workers.  It is a positive sense of life.  A understanding that life is good, whether you make $20,000 a year as a busboy or $20 million a year investing in other people’s companies.  It is this love of life, your own life that drives many of us.  It makes us be the best we can be at whatever we do.

It is this love of one’s own life which is the fountainhead for our ability to feel compassion for others.  Only those who despise their own lives can walk casually by a dying child on a road side.  And only those who love their own life and their own existence, to whatever degree, will stop to help the child because compassion comes out of love of life.

The fact that so many Chinese walked by the little girl is a symptom, not of capitalism but of 62 years of being told by a Communist government that your life is not your own, but belongs to the state.

The 1949 victory of the Communists in China marked the beginning of the end of any love individuals could have for life, their own or anybody else’s.  The fact that only within the last few years that some have been allowed to start and grow businesses under the iron fist of a one-party state has not overturned two entire generations of death at the hands of communist rule.

Capitalism and the necessary government protection of an individual’s right to their life, their liberty and their property are integral in the cultivation of a love of life.  Communist China is years away from achieving such a condition.

We should not only pity the little girl, dying on the street we should also pity those who walked by her as they are also dying.  But their death is just taking a little longer.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #222, October 20, 2011.)

Update: It was reported on Friday, October 21, 2011 by Guangzhou Military District General Hospital that Yue Yue died of her injuries.

Jul 012010
 

1 – The Violence

We can learn a lot from the recent G8 and the G20 meetings in Muskoka and Toronto.  Not only did we see the violence we come to expect from the Left but we saw an exceptional amount of violence, deceit, incompetence, and rights violations from the police and the McGuinty government.

To begin with the protesters it was interesting to see the make-up of the rabble and we had a good eyewitness account from John Thompson of the McKenzie Institute.  In an e-mail he sent to us he describes the following…

OPSEU and CUPE passed a lot of their flags out, mostly to students who don’t seem to be union members; Greenpeace hauled in a number of children, but there were aging Hippies a-plenty strewn through the march. Iranian Communists, some honest-to-god Maoists and plenty of other political fossils were shuffling along under banners of Marx and Engels.

He also described a rather disgusting disruption of the ceremonial repatriation of a fallen Afghan soldier in Toronto by OCAP – the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

Amongst the thousands of mal-contents were a few hundred “black-bloc”.  The black-bloc are not necessarily a single organization but a mix of like-minded fools who have taken lessons from the violence of past world meetings and employed the tactics of the most effectively violent demonstrations.  A black-bloc is a tactic for protests and marches, whereby individuals wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding or other face-concealing items and often carry some sort of shields and truncheons. The clothing is used to avoid being identified, and to, theoretically, appear as one large mass, promoting solidarity or creating the illusion of a larger group.

Make no mistake, the type of people employing black-bloc tactics are dangerous people and responsible for great property damage and person injury.  They are the reason there is a need for the massive security measures taken during these world meetings.  Such people should be dealt with very severely by the law and the courts.  If caught and convicted they should do considerable jail time.  Unfortunately that is almost never the case.

On the other side we have Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair.  On a request from Chief Blair McGuinty extended, in secret, the provincial Public Works Protection Act to take in part of the area inside the G-20 security barrier.  In this area police would be given the power to ask for anyone’s identity papers and to search anyone without cause or warrant.  Chief Blair either mistakenly or intentionally announced that the act applied to 5 meters outside the perimeter fence as well.  When it was discovered on Friday before the G-20 meeting that the Act only applied to inside the fence Blair told his officers but nobody else and his officers continued to violate the rights of people outside the fence.  What did McGuinty do?  Nothing. In fact he praised Chief Blair for his actions.  So it would appear that both McGuinty and Chief Blair were complicit in clear violations of people’s rights to a gross degree.

Over 1,000 people were arrested and detained at the G20, and while certainly some of those deserved to be the majority did not.  People who lived in the area were arrested while out walking their dogs, or returning home from work.  One journalist from the Guardian newspaper was beaten up by police even though he identified himself and apparently offered no resistance.  Many personal items, which were in no way a threat to peace, were confiscated by police.

Just as the black-bloc should be held to account for their actions those few over-zealous police should as well.

Currently when a police officer violates your rights it mitigates any charges against you.  I think this is not enough. When an officer of the law knowingly violates your rights, unlawfully detains you, steals your property, and beats you up they should be arrested and brought before a judge and if found guilty they should face appropriate sentencing up to and including time in prison and dismissal from the force.

As for Mr. McGuinty we can only hope the electorate holds him to account for his callous disregard for our rights.

2 – The Anarchists

One of the glaring over-sights by the media in the G20 protests was the incorrect labeling of the demonstrators as “anarchists”.  While it is true that a few like the “Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance” think themselves as anarchists, descriptions I have found for them clearly indicate that they are not, nor are any of the other protesters. Some call themselves anarcho-communists which means Communist  and while it was the ideological intention of the Communists to have a stateless and classless society they tried to achieve this bizarre goal by creating the biggest, most brutal, and deadly state of all, the Soviet Union.

Anarchy comes from the Greek and means “without ruler”.  Taken to its conclusion it means no state, no authority, lawless.  None of the groups that were identified as taking part in the G20 protests could be described as that.

We have the various unions including OPSEU and CUPE.  The unions advocate a socialist state.  They are anti-capitalist.  Many prefer the mixed-economy of constrained capitalism which in actuality is socialism and in particular, fascism.  They advocate the confiscation of property and the redistribution of wealth by, guess what… the state.  They are not anarchists.  They use the courts and the state’s institutions daily in their efforts to control their employers and to take more from those who earn it and give it to those who don’t.

Members or supporters of Greenpeace and other environmental movements were demonstrating.  Their goal is not anarchy but the use of power of the state over business, capitalism and the regulation of individual behavior.  You cannot achieve these goals without authority, power, police and a state.

The various other brands of Maoists, Communists and Socialists demonstrating are far from anarchists; in fact a powerful, authoritative state is essential for their causes.  They need jack-booted thugs to impose their will on us and while they may be against the police and the courts today they are for the police and the courts when it comes time to enforce their laws and regulations on us.

The anti-poverty groups and anti-homeless groups are advocating robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Once again… socialists.

So why would QMI, The Globe and Mail and even the National Post incorrectly label the protesters as anarchists?  It is because to correctly label them would mean that they would have to try and explain how the goals of the protesters are the same goals of Dalton McGuinty, Jack Layton, Sid Ryan, Stephen Harper, Barack Obama, David Suzuki and a host of millions like them.   It is pure irony that the protesters are protesting the same leaders who are actually implementing their anti-capitalist agenda.

I scanned and read hundreds of news articles on the G20 protests and could not come up with a single one which correctly identified the protesters as left-wing, socialist, or even radical left.  This is by design.  If the skin-head neo-Nazis protest they are labeled as right wing, when in fact Nazi’s are socialists too.  Do we so soon forget what makes up the word NAZI?  National Socialism!

It is always the Left which is protesting.  It is always the Socialists who are violent.  It is always the Anti-Capitalists who break the store-front windows and loot and burn.

How often do we see the thousands of suit and tie business men and women team out of their office towers on Bay street take to the street with balaclavas on their faces and beat people up with bats and smash their favorite Starbucks windows?   Never.  How often do we see shop owners and small businessmen who employ more people in this country than any other sector take to the street in violence to denounce the banks and oil companies?  Never.  Because these people know that the institutions of this country are essential to creating wealth and prosperity and employment.

It is only the Left, the Socialists, and the Anti-Capitalists who are causing the grief we see at these meetings.  And the sooner we identify the root cause of the trouble the quicker we can deal with it.

3 – The Cost

I mentioned before that it was ironic that the left wing protestors are protesting the very leaders and institutions responsible for implementing their anti-capitalist agendas.  Let’s look at some of the conclusions of the G8 and G20 to see this in action.

Regarding wealth redistribution and foreign aid; At the conclusion of the G8 Summit Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that, the total Canadian contribution for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health foreign aid will be $2.85 billion over five years.

For the environmentalists….Harper said

Among environmental issues, climate change remains top of mind.  We recognize the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.  Achieving this goal requires deep cuts in global emissions.

We strongly support the negotiations underway within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  We reiterate our support for Copenhagen.

With regards to the economy the socialists should be thrilled that Keynesian economics is alive and well and impoverishing us all.

An article in the Globe and Mail of yesterday by Report on Business Columnists and one-time Libertarian Party of Canada Leader Neil Reynolds correctly points out that not one of the G20 leaders is a free-marketer.  They all subscribe to the Keynesian delusion that governments can invest money more efficiently and more productively than people can.

None of the G20 countries has pledged to end deficits.  None has pledged to reduce its national debt.  All will rely mostly on economic growth and tax increases to do the lifting, however limited, that the Toronto Consensus proposes.

Even though Keynes himself, only weeks before his death, refuted his theories and longed for the invisible hand of Adam Smith to save Britain we still see the world’s nations clinging to the socialist ideal of government involvement in the economy.  A true Capitalist would advocate the complete separation of the economy and the State and would see the G20 summit as a yet another attempt by the socialist elite to redistribute wealth and thereby impoverish the world.

Rather than protesting the G20 every single one of those left wing, socialist, anti-capitalist protesters should have gone to the summit and cheered on their beloved leaders and encourage them to continue their march to the left.

(Originally aired on Just Right show #158 July 1st, 2010.  To download the show visit http://www.justrightmedia.org)
Nov 192009
 

Star TrekMy first recollection of Star Trek wasn’t its philosophy or its depiction of a positive future of heroes and adventure.  It was being frightened at the image of Balok in “The Corbomite Maneuver”.  I was only six or seven years old after all.

Despite that I was an avid fan of the show since it first aired I have seen every episode of the original series too many times to count.  But as I grew up I began to be just as much a critic of the show as a fan.  Sure it was great entertainment, projecting a positive sense of life into our homes on an almost daily basis (once it was syndicated) but it was also full of contradictions.  It is, after all a TV show and the writers are just that, writers, not philosophers or great intellectuals, but writers for television with the goal to entertain and sell a script.  There are bound to be inconsistencies and contradictions.

Some of more glaring contradictions involved the show’s treatment of deities in such an advanced society.

God and religion featured prominently in many episodes of the Star Trek canon.  The second pilot to the series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” had crewman Gary Mitchell develop the powers of a God only to be killed by Captain Kirk.   In “The Paradise Syndrome”, Kirk himself fancied himself a God (Kirok) when he lost his memory among a tribe of North American Indians.  In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the Bajoran’s have their Prophets with Captain Sysko as their Emissary.  The Jem’Hadar and the Vorta regard the Founders as Gods. In Star Trek: The Next Generation the Edo of Rubicun III worshipped an orbiting lifeform as their god.  The Klingons killed their Gods as they were “more trouble than they were worth.”  The Starship Voyager was considered a god called the “ground shaker” to Kelemane who offered it fruit in the hope that the “God” would stop shaking the ground.

In the original series episode “Bread and Circuses”, the crew find themselves on a world identical to earth where Rome never fell.  Some of the inhabitants describe themselves as Sun worshipers and we are led to believe that they are actually deifying the sun in the sky.  As the show ends, though, Uhura lets the Captain know that it wasn’t the sun up in the sky that they worshipped but the son of God.  “A philosophy of total love and total brotherhood” says Dr. McCoy.  Well I don’t know where he got that notion but if you ask me which one I would I rather worship, the sun in the sky or the Abrahamic God in whose names millions have been killed and tortured to this day, I’ll take the sun in the sky please.

The crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation would more objectively and correctly consider primitive alien cultures who worshipped deities as just that, primitive.  This was a refreshing treatment of the supernatural which most likely arose with the easing of sponsor censorship and a liberalization of our society’s approach to religion.

If anything, these little morality plays certainly would make a person reconsider their notion of the God concept and I believe that Star Trek is probably responsible for a great percentage of atheists in the world; if not atheists then certainly a great number of skeptics and free thinkers.  This is a remarkable accomplishment.

If only the writers had a better grasp of Capitalism.  Their first attempt to portray what they regarded as a race of pure capitalists was the Ferengi, an ugly goblin-like, squat race of deceiving, conniving, untrustworthy con-artists who brandished whips and kept their woman naked and at home.  Around the same time we had Captain Picard declare that

“People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of ‘things’. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. “

From what I saw, Picard possessed a lot of ‘things’ from the clothes on his back to a saddle, to a star ship.  Apparently, everyone in the 24th century is on the dole.

Once again Star Trek contradicts itself in DS9 when we see that the Federation actually used a system of ‘credits’ or gold-pressed latinum to trade with.

I may be nit-picking, but sometimes when a great show like Star Trek comes along you expect perfection and forget that thousands of different people from all kinds of philosophies and backgrounds came together over the last 40 odd years to create this epic.  It could never be perfectly consistent.

Some of the things you might think we would all agree on I have my doubts about.  What about the Borg?  Nasty, right?  Who would want to be a Borg?  Well really if you think about it the only thing about the Borg which was frightening was the lack of choice when it came to being assimilated (no trifling item to be sure).  But I was thinking the other day (when I went and bought a bluetooth earpiece for my cell phone so as not to run afoul of the new law banning hand held devices while driving) that we, as a culture, appear to be getting closer and closer to the technology of the Borg.  We were glasses to improve our vision; we have headphones to talk to almost anyone in the world at any time; we have prosthetic limbs, cochlear implants, artificial hearts, and the Kindle and iPad which allow us to carry a good chunk of the total knowledge of our species in our pockets.  In many cases, at least with the bluetooth earpiece while driving, resistance is futile.

Here is another little contradiction in Star Trek.  In the episode called “The Savage Curtain” Abraham Lincoln calls Uhura a charming Negress but is ashamed when he realizes that he might have offended her.  She replies that people in her time have learned not to fear words, and yet Captain Picard gets a dagger through his heart in the episode “Tapestry” when he takes on a Nausican for calling him a coward.  Didn’t he watch the original series before he joined Star Fleet?

I could go on.  I haven’t even mentioned “Spock’s Brain”.

All in all there have been 726 episodes of Star Trek (if you include the animated series) over 30 seasons.  There have been 11 feature films (If you include Star Trek V which I would really rather forget).  If you sat down and watched everything Star Trek from “The Cage” to the latest film, 24/7, and didn’t take a bathroom break (remember there are no toilets on the Enterprise) you would spend over 30 days glued to the tube.  Anybody who has seen all the episodes at least once is going to be altered by what they have seen; some for the better, those who are comforted by the show’s acceptance of atheism, and some of for the worse, those who believe the show’s definition of capitalism.  It is no doubt great entertainment but we should view it critically and in the immortal words of William Shatner we should “Get a life.”

(Originally aired on Just Right #129, November 19, 2009)