Category Archives: Current Events

Thoughts upon the death of Steve Jobs

To put my view of Steve Jobs in Objectivist terms, I see him as a real-life Howard Roark. Even if he had never been successful, his strength of vision, his uncompromising principles, and his confidence in the power of his ideas make him a hero in my book. But of course it is precisely because of those principles that he became the most successful CEO ever. He is truly my personal hero and an inspiration for the life choices I have and will make.

I am writing these words on my first computer designed under Steve Job’s watch, and unfortunately, my last. Even though computers are my career and passion, I have never been attached to them as individual objects, only as an idea. I feel like using this computer for the last three years has been kind of like living in a building designed by Howard Roark, and knowing that I can never have another products created by him (even if Apple continues to be inspired by his vision), I feel far more reluctant to sell it when it is time for the inevitable upgrade.

Steve Jobs was an intensely personal man – his means of expressing his values was almost purely through the products of his work. Unlike most other tech companies, prototypes and discarded ideas rarely leaked out of his laboratories. He only announced new products when he was sure that they could be made. I think he wanted to be known and judged solely by the things he could mass produce, as the “Apple product” included everything for him – the supply chain, production process, company campus, storefront, even the carefully orchestrated box opening ceremony. Still, I think he was able to communicate his basic sense of life in his one public speech. I strongly recommend that everyone watch it and take its ideas to heart.

My introduction to the “Apple experience” came from folklore.org – a collection of stories about the creation of the Macintosh computer. Because he was so private, I eagerly anticipate his upcoming authorized biography. But ultimately, I think his products speak for themselves. They are the concrete (or rather aluminum and glass) embodiment of the values that made Apple successful – and changed the world for the better.

Steve Jobs, you were insanely great.

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Yaron Brook: Why Unregulated Capitalism Is Moral

Watch more great videos at the Ayn Rand Institute channel on YouTube

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Why not just put everyone in padded rooms?

After banning kitchen knives, the next logical step for the U.K. is to add padding to lampposts to prevent “walking and texting” accidents.

Before you start laughing at the British Nanny State, check out this ruling of the 2nd Appellate Court in Los Angeles, which forces home schooled kids to attend public school on the grounds that:

“. . . the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.”

In other words, the State of California will not tolerate any non-conformist, individual thought. If the parents do not comply, the state will certainly seize the children and place them in a state-approved parental program, since the State of California does not intent to accommodate any personal ideas in the field of parenthood either.

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American military giving Iraqi soldiers 165,000 M-16's.

In a move that could be the most enduring imprint of U.S. influence in the Arab world, American military officials in Baghdad have begun a crash program to outfit the entire Iraqi army with M-16 rifles.

Imagine if, after defeating Japan in WWII, the U.S. military trained every Japanese soldier in our military tactics, and handed them our latest rifle.  That would be insane, right?  Right?

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Ron Paul on open immigration: what's the worst that could happen?

One of the more disturbing things about Ron Paul’s popularity is his staunch opposition to legal and illegal immigration. I pick on him not because his views on immigrants are especially harsh, but because they stand in stark contrast to his reputation as an advocate of free markets and Austrian economics. On his campaign issues page, he warns that “current reform proposals would allow up to 60 million more immigrants into our country” and that “this is insanity.” I am surprised to see Ron Paul buying into this tired bit of socialist rhetoric. The idea that simply allowing 60 million would actually result in 60 million people rushing into the U.S. is absurd, but suppose it were true. What’s the worst that could happen?

According to the Malthusian theory subscribed to by socialists and environmentalists, the amount of resources and capital in a particular region is fixed, so the average income of individuals can be calculated by dividing the total resource/capital base by the number of people. A fixed resource base means a fixed number of jobs, so a large influx of immigrants means rising unemployment and falling standards of living.

Fortunately, it is socialism, not open immigration that is “insanity.” The premise that the resources available to meet human needs are fixed – that each new human being requires a fixed amount of land, metal, and fossil fuels to live – is absurd. Each additional individual creates not only new demand for the products of civilization, but also provides new resources and insight for meeting those needs. Every self-supporting worker produces more than he consumes, adding to total productive output and raising the real wage rate for everyone. Historically, the American standard of living rose fastest during peak immigration periods and continues to rise today. Our greatest source of wealth is not natural resources or the capital base, but the ingenuity and creativity of our entrepreneurs and workers.

By increasing the division of labor, immigrants free up workers previously employed in maintaining the capital base to invest their time in growing capital and efficiency. So for example, by lowering labor costs, new immigrant factory workers free up engineers to invest in expanding production and improving the efficiency of labor. This improves everyone’s living standards. A free society allows a growing capital and knowledge base to be multiplied by entrepreneurs who find new methods to improve human life, proving an exponential growth in prosperity.

A further complaint of Dr Paul is that “taxpayers should not pay for illegal immigrants who use hospitals, clinics, schools, roads, and social services.” I completely agree. However, this is besides the point. No one has a right to live of other people, regardless of where he was born. American welfare bums do not have any more right to my property than Mexican bums. It is the welfare state that is immoral, not immigration. Furthermore, the argument is misleading because illegal immigrants and permanent residents are generally not eligible for welfare, and already pay the property, fuel, and sales taxes that pay for schools and roads. Illegal immigrants don’t pay income taxes, which Dr. Paul believes we should eliminate anyway, but they often pay social security taxes via bogus social security cards – effectively subsidizing legal workers. Do people who oppose granting illegal immigrants driver’s licenses realize that they are for forcing citizens to pay for the illegal immigrants’ share of road-maintenance costs?

For more on the issue, read my case for open immigration.

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The moral atrocity of Israel's "moderation"

U.N. diplomats are upset that Israel has begun to briefly cut off power to the Gaza strip in response to continuing indiscriminate rocket attacks. They do not believe in “collective punishment” they say. Israel has defended the policy by pointing out that the power cuts are moderate and do not affect critical services.

The morality of Israel’s policy can be judged under one of two scenarios. If Gaza under Hamas rule is an enemy state which is waging war on Israel, then Israel has no obligation to provide any services to the Gaza strip, and may in fact take whatever moves are necessary to destroy or discourage the enemy, including the destruction of military and civilian infrastructure. If, on the other hand, Gaza is under Israel’s sovereignty, and not subject to martial law (that is, it is not a war zone), then the standards of civilian rule apply, and cutting off badly-needed services could indeed be considered a moral atrocity. So which scenario applies to the current situation?

According to Israel’s policy, it is both.  Hamas does operate a de-facto independent state inside the Gaza strip, and is actively engaged in a war with Israel. (It is not merely “terrorism” because the Hamas combatants are not fugitives within Palestinian territory, but members of the ruling regime, and enjoy the support of the population.) On the other hand, Israel has not recognized Hamas as a foreign regime, much less an enemy state, and acts diplomatically as if the Palestinian territories are part of its territory, and therefore the welfare of Palestinian civilians is its responsibility. (Hence the current “moderation” of the power cuts and the military response.)

Israel’s attempt to make a “practical” compromise by treating the Palestinian territories as a quasi-state puts it in the worst possible situation. It can neither take the proper military action to win the war, nor establish civilian rule under Israeli law in the territories and bring the criminals to justice. If Israel wants to find a moral way to end the bloody war of attrition that afflicts both Israelis and Palestinians, it must do one of two things:

One: Israel can recognize Hamas/Fatah as an enemy regime and wage a proper war against them. This means immediately cutting off all ties and trade with the enemy, the destruction of the current regime and its war-making infrastructure and breaking the will of the population to continue waging aggression. Victory may constitute occupation and the installation of a friendly regime, or simply isolation and a military blockade until the will of the population to fight is broken.

Two: Israel can recognize the Palestinian territories as a part of its territory, and establish martial law with the goal of making civilian rule possible. This means complete occupation of the territories and the destruction of all organizations which practice or advocate violence against Israel, or Israeli authority. This option requires a commitment to eventually giving Palestinians full rights as citizens of Israel, which makes it unlikely.

Every delay to the enactment of one of the two policies means more needless Israeli and Palestinian deaths and suffering.

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The Drug Czar is required by law to lie

Does anyone else find it disturbing that certain public officials are required by law to (a) advocate against certain legislation and (b) do so regardless of the facts?

By law, the drug czar must oppose any attempt to legalize the use [of drugs] (in any form). Therefore, despite the fact that there is extensive evidence of medical marijuana’s safety and effectiveness (including the fact that even the federal government supplies it to patients), and clearly the drug czar would know about all this information, he is required by law to lie about it.

The job description also means that since he must oppose any attempt to legalize, he has no choice but declare that the drug war is working, that legalization would fail, etc., regardless of any… facts.

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Censorship by any other name

Net neutrality” is the new fairness doctrine for the Internet.

Edit: The crazy thing is that Verizon caved to customer pressure within 24 hours – proving the power of the market – yet its brief initial refusal has been taken up as proof of the need for government censorship.

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Anatoly Chubais, chief executive of Russia’s national power monopoly Unified Energy System, called the [NYC] blackout “the biggest accident in the history of world energy systems.”
From personal experience, I can assure you that he’s wrong. (Thanks, Jaboobie )

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Mural Of Nude Eve Covered With Mock Crime Scene Tape

Mural Of Nude Eve Covered With Mock Crime Scene Tape

Free speech is not the issue, Mayor Pro Tem A.H. “Buddy” Wighaman said during a break at a Monday council meeting.
It’s nu-dity!” he blustered.
Asked if he thinks the mural lacks social value, he replied, “Did you not hear me? It’s nu-dity!

If these hicks object this much to a biblical scene, I wonder what the penalty for secular art is…

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