Gina Liggett

The Loss of Values Due to Contradiction

 Posted by on 17 November 2008 at 12:01 pm  Abortion, Finance, Politics
Nov 172008

Two current events I have selected have nothing in common, except for being in the news. Well, they also pertain to underlying rational values that are at risk of being destroyed by their own best advocates. Why? Because their champions are trying to operate under contradiction.

On the heels of the joyously-resounding defeat of Colorado’s “personhood” amendment comes another threat to abortion in Colorado. This time a private citizen, Mark Hotaling, is suing Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Boulder Valley Women’s Health center for violating the state’s constitution. He claims that federal dollars received by these clinics are illegally being used to perform abortions. Hotaling says he’s just standing up “for the will of the people and the constitution.” For this, he’s getting moral support from Ms. stand-up-for-the-people Kristi Burton, the evangelical who got Amendment 48 on the ballot “to empower the citizens to have a choice” about when life begins. And he’s getting financial and legal support from the influential Religious Right group, the Alliance Defense Fund.

In the other story, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the $700 billion bailout plan won’t include the purchase of troubled assets from banks after all, a turn-around from the original plan. And unlike the rescued financial sector, the American auto industry might not get the additional help it’s been asking for. Stock exchanges revolt in their roller-coaster tumble with daily bad news about the economy and over worries of how governments will fix it.

What values are at stake here?

In the first story, the value is the right to abortion. As writers on this blog and on Politics without God have argued, abortion is an absolute, inviolable right. Ayn Rand explains the right to abortion in her famously clear and pithy way: “An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being.”

In the second story, the value is free trade. Free trade is the unencumbered right for free individuals and companies to voluntarily exchange goods or services with each other to their own mutual benefit on terms they both agree on. Because humans must create what they need to survive and thrive, and because they can’t individually make everything they need, a market for such exchange is required. It reflects the sum of “all the economic choices and decisions made by all the participants,” thereby creating wealth.

In a society based on rational principles, it is possible to protect the right to abortion under any and all circumstances; and it is possible for free trade to proceed to any degree of wealth that can be created by human ingenuity. But not so in a society where contradiction is introduced and enforced.

In the first story, the women’s health and abortion clinics vociferously defend a woman’s legal right to abortion as granted by the Supreme Court in Roe v Wade. Yet they are willing to accept the expropriated earnings of wealth from others in society in the form of government grants in order to survive. While the clinics in the lawsuit deny directly using federal funds for abortion, they still must play by the arbitrary and ever-changing rules of those who hold the monopoly on force (i.e., the government). In the end, the right to abortion becomes conditional.

In the second story, the biggest intervention in the marketplace in American history has just happened. But decades of regulation, restrictions and biased preferences haven’t led businesses to rise up and crusade for their right to free trade. It’s led to just the opposite: the despairing cry for help using the expropriated earnings of others in society in the form of bailouts. Business are boldly proud and assertive when things are going well; but when things are not, they crumble under pressure and want a quick fix by any means from those who hold the monopoly on force (i.e., the government). In the end, the right of free trade becomes conditional.

It is a contradiction that we can uphold and pursue rational values that require freedom while accepting the conditions set by those who hold the monopoly on force. We have nobody to blame but ourselves: American citizens, with their endless special-interest appeals to their legislators, have allowed this untenable situation to unfold.

You can’t be free and sleep with the devil. Or, as Ayn Rand more eloquently puts it: “a contradiction cannot be achieved in reality and… the attempt to achieve it can lead only to disaster and destruction.”

Abortion rights are being chipped away every year. And we are in a worsening financial crisis of unprecedented proportions. The only way out is to eliminate the contradiction. The only way out is to hold government to its proper, non-contradictory function of protecting individual rights. And it is the citizens who must take this corrective action.

Oct 202008

Imagine this: Your yoga instructor will no longer be doing as many Chataranga Dandasanas in yoga class because the EPA has determined that allowable C02 emissions would be exceeded due to proper yoga breathing.

Imagine this: Your household will be restricted in their consumption of pinto beans due to the potential over-production of intestinal gases with a corresponding excessive release of colonic C02 into the atmosphere, exceeding EPA standards.

We haven’t even considered the potential impact of feeding cheese to your dog, or those statistically-higher ambulance runs made from nursing homes. We’re talking C02 excesses in the…in the….parts per something!

Front Range Objectivism hosted a fascinating supper talk on October 18 by John Lewis, PhD, visiting Associate Professor of Political Science at Duke University and research scholar and writer in history and classics. His talk was entitled, “A Call to Action: Understanding and Defeating the EPA’s Plan for Environmental Dictatorship.” From his talk I drew several disturbing conclusions concerning the sweeping powers delegated to the Enviromental Protection Agency as a result of a recent Supreme Court ruling.

As background, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007, in Massachusetts et al. v the EPA, ruled in favor of a consortium of environmentalist-friendly plaintiffs, delegating to the Environmental Protection Agency the responsibility of regulating C02 emissions under the Clean Air Act. The plaintiffs argued that man-made C02 emissions (and other greenhouse gases) are the primary cause of “global climate change,” and that to avoid worldwide disaster action must be taken. The EPA established an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” to allow public comment, advising the public of the widespread impacts this would cause to our society and economy. Dr. Lewis argued that, even as lay persons, we can judge and reject the claims of imminent worldwide catastrophe raised by the plaintiffs in this case. (I’m including the link to the comments to the EPA made by Dr. Lewis and scientist Paul Saunders.)

From the talk, three issues struck me as particularly important about this case: the scientific, the political and the constitutional.

First the scientific. The Supreme Court ruling used the widely-reported conclusions of the United Nations-based Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the scientific basis for regulating C02. The panel’s basic conclusion: “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

What’s concerning about this conclusion from a lay person’s observation is the fact that global climate over the eons has changed not just dramatically, but extremely: ice ages, deserts that used to be jungles, plains once covered by oceans, gigantic shifts in northern ice patterns but the opposite occurring in the southern hemisphere, etc.

As far as the validity of the science, the IPCC conclusions were based primarily on computer modeling involving many variables. And much of the data is bad, as in faulty measurements of ground temperature. Then then there’s Al Gore’s infamous inversion of the C02-temperature relationship: Ice core data actually indicates that over the millennia global temperature increase comes before C02 rise by several hundred years. Finally, as every lay person knows from experience, the best of climatologists can’t even predict the local weather very well, let alone weather change on a global scale projected decades into the future.

On to the political. The IPCC is essentially a governmental entity that works by political consensus, like most U.N. endeavors. In fact, as Dr. Lewis pointed out (and as I have learned elsewhere), the conclusions were haggled out first, line-by-line, by bureaucrats. This is not at all proper to the standard method of producing a scientific paper.

There are many respected scientists from such fields as oceanography, climatology and astronomy that study the impact of the oceans and the sun and other factors in global temperature change and C02. Many claim that their input was either dismissed, suppressed or ignored by the IPCC, even when they were initially involved as expert reviewers. And there are many other scientists who simply claim that nobody can get a handle on something as vastly complex as global climate change at our present state of knowledge. But this input is exed-out in the IPCC and the Supreme Court ruling because of politics, not good science.

Finally, Dr. Lewis responded to a question concerning the Constitution and the very disturbing and ever-growing power of the emerging “fourth” branch of government: those rule-making regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services. These are composed of unelected civil employees who have been delegated the power to write detailed rules and regulations impacting rights of property, contract, privacy, and more. Operating behind the scenes, they have enormous power to control our businesses and lives.

And with the new Supreme Court ruling, the EPA will have no choice but to somehow figure out–despite the fact that climate science is really in its infancy–how to regulate all of the C02 emissions we put out. Just imagine the onerous responsibility, tremendous power and grave consequences involved…

And remember, don’t sigh too deeply, just grunt.

We Are All Venezuelans

 Posted by on 6 October 2008 at 12:40 am  Economics, Finance, Politics
Oct 062008

There’s a Barney Frank before, and a Barney Frank after. No, the pork-belly king hasn’t gone on a diet. But Americans probably will have to go on one, now that the $700 billion bailout has been hastily rammed down the country’s throat.

All I can say is, “Bad, Bush!” “Bad, Barney!” for taking such a hard left turn to the land of socialism when they were warned about the crisis in the housing markets years ago.

Furthermore, “Bad, Democrats!” for blaming the whole thing on the Republicans, when the Clinton administration helped stage the inevitable fallout by legislating irrational lending to facilitate home ownership among people who otherwise wouldn’t qualify.

And “Bad, Bolivia!” “Bad, Brazil!” for blaming the whole financial crisis on capitalism.

Dr. Yaron Brook, director of the Ayn Rand Institute, provides a good explanation of the real underlying causes of the biggest financial threat to this country since the Great Depression. This whole greasy mess is a direct consequence of a conglomeration of governmental initiatives such as: artificially-low interest rates set by the central planners at the Federal Reserve; politically-motivated lending standards set by the social planners in Congress; and the artificial profit opportunities created by the financial planners at Freddie and Fannie and the SEC. It is a conspiracy of irrational market manipulations that preclude any corrective forces that would have kicked in long ago in a truely free-market.

At some point, the houses of cards had to fall down. And now we’re stuck with a botched emergency Financectomy performed on Wall Street’s bleeding wallet by a panic-stricken Treasury Secretary, President, and Congress.

And it doesn’t matter who takes over the care of this patient in November because both candidates were right there in the operating room agreeing with the chief surgeon’s basic care plan. And both blamed the crisis on some entrenched greediness of businessmen.

Hugo Chavez must feel vindicated. He even says that it’s so bad over here, America needs a new Constitution to free itself of the tyranny of big banks and corporations.

Thanks for the advice, Hugo, but I think the Constitution–even with its flaws–is pretty good already. It’s just that our leaders don’t like to follow it. It’s like they’ve missed the whole essence of it. Ayn Rand clarifies that the “Constitution is a limitation on the government…(it is) a charter of the citizens’ protection against the government.”

While Hugo confuses American political power with the economic power of our quasi-capitalist system, he hasn’t missed the chance to enhance his own economic power by exercising his monopoly on political power in Venezuela. And America has been inexorably following suit.

This bailout is just the latest in a long string of Venezuelanesque growth in government: from Medicare/Medicaid/FDA…to public schooling… to Social Security…to limitations on special programs special programs that…to subsidized industries in agriculture/autos/airlines/Savings and Loans….and now to the big kahuna bailout of October 3. The greed of capitalism? I don’t think so.

But if we did follow Hugo’s advice and make a new Constitution, maybe it should start with, “We The People of the United States, who don’t want our freedoms mucked up by a bunch of central planners in Washington, want a Constitution that really means it when we say limited government…”

Commemorate from Within

 Posted by on 10 September 2008 at 11:01 pm  Foreign Policy, Philosophy, Politics
Sep 102008

It’s another somber anniversary of the murders of approximately 2981 Americans and foreign nationals by Islamists on September 11, 2001.

The necrotizing pestilence that characterizes the ideology of Islamic totalitarianism is alive and well in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. And it infests places across the globe, from Indonesia to Europe.

The Islamists are unequivocal in their goal of jihad: world domination and rule according to Islamic ideology. And I doubt the radicals’ infamous leader, Osama bin Laden, has changed his mind about his virulent hatred for Americans and Jews.

Beginning with the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, our leaders have not succeeded in exterminating the threat that continues to thrive and fester like flesh-eating bacteria. So, in commemorating the anniversary of September 11, let’s also remember the other innocents who were attacked by jihadists in 2008,2007,2006,2005,2005,2003,2002,2000,1998, 1996, 1995, 1993, 1988, 1986, 1985, 1985, 1983, and 1979.

The outrageous failure of our foreign policy against this cancerous threat is perhaps a symptom of a broader illness in our society. If we look around at the erosion of freedom that’s occurring in America, maybe it won’t be such a shock to find ourselves stuck with the perpetual threat of terrorism: we’re still fighting to uphold our own Constitutionally-protected freedoms against attacks by interest groups who want to tear them down.

First Amendment separation-of-church-and-state issues continue to plague us. Preventing the religious right from ramming their biblical morality through our state and federal legislatures is a constant battle. Take the “personhood” amendment in Colorado which proposes to define the human being as beginning with fertilization. This monstrous religion-driven idea that a microscopic fertilized egg has the same inalienable rights as an actual person represents a level of irrationality right out of the Dark Ages.

Other societal mandates sought by the religious right are just as anti-life: faith-based initiatives, the teaching of creationism, anti-abortion laws, opposition to gay marriage, prayer in the schools, state-sponsorship of religious symbols, and opposition to stem-cell research and euthanasia.

Economic liberty, or property rights, as addressed in the Fifth Amendment is fundamentally important to a free society. But it has been trampled in countless ways, from the passage of the first antitrust laws in the 19th century to the sweepingly-regulatory Sarbanes-Oxley law of 2002. The bottom line: these laws have done nothing but restrict the ability of individuals and businesses to freely produce and trade with one another according to their mutually-agreed terms.

Another example of the disregard for the Fifth Amendment is the wanton abuse of Eminent Domain, best exemplified by the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case, Kelo v City of New London. In that case, the Court said that homes and businesses could be taken for uses that might generate more tax revenue. This affirmed that constitutional “public use” can be defined so that private property can be taken so that new private property can be taxed by the government—a double-dipping violation of property rights.

These examples–and so many others–aren’t jet planes crashing into the Bill of Rights; these are laws made and upheld by our Legislators and our Courts and our Presidents. Ultimately, its up to the People to say, “enough!” and establish grounding for our freedom using rational philosophical principles, as identified by Ayn Rand with her philosophy, Objectivism.

So on September 11, 2008, let’s commemorate not only the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States, but the concept of liberty–that distinctly American institution that we must courageously protect from our enemies—and from ourselves.


Lobbying is often scorned, and commonly considered an unethical practice of influencing lawmakers. Even though there are thousands of lobbyists working at all levels of government for every conceivable interest group, it is corporations that often receive the most wrath.

For example, Barack Obama brags: “I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists – and won.”John McCain has been criticized for being anti-lobby while at the same time courting the advice of several corporate lobbyists; but he’s quick to wash his hands of this hypocrisy, saying, “At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust.”

But petitioning the government either as an interest group, private citizen, or corporation, is a fundamental right explicitly enumerated in the petition clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law…. abridging…the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

And according to the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, lobbying is considered a form of petition (with no guarantee that the lobbyist will get what he wants):

“Lobbyists try to persuade government officials either to support or oppose various policy issues. Therefore, lobbying can be considered a form of petitioning the government for redress of grievances, subject to protection under the First Amendment’s petition clause. Although there has not been a great deal of judicial analysis on First Amendment protections afforded to lobbying, the courts have carved out several parameters. First, the petition clause does not grant a lobbyist the absolute right to speak to a government official nor does it grant a lobbyist the right to a hearing based on his or her grievances. In addition, the clause does not create an obligation for a government official to take action in response to a grievance. Finally, any statement made while a lobbyist petitions a government official does not receive greater protection than any other expression protected by the First Amendment.”

So, with the political bias against corporate lobbying, how are companies supposed to survive when politicians attempt to make laws and regulations that threaten their businesses? Are they just supposed to shut up and accept any capricious violation of their property rights?!

Because there is no separation of state and economics in America—resulting in the mixed capitalist-socialist economy we have today—it is imperative that the right to petition government be upheld. It may be the only way, albeit indirect, to fight for property rights.

While some interest groups and companies improperly lobby for government handouts and preferences, and play the infamous “pork-barrel” game, this is not because the right of petition is wrong, but because the entanglement of government and the economy is wrong.

The essential point is this: politicians’ flagrant disregard of the First Amendment right to petition is symptomatic of not only their power lust, but their arrogant disdain for the concept of individual rights, property rights and government’s proper role as servant to the people.

And the “people” includes the companies which create the wealth and the necessities of our daily life. If politicians legislate them out of existence directly by regulations or indirectly by limiting their right to petition, then government will truly have total power over the economy–and you and me.

Sep 012008

Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi wrote an editorial critical of the anti-capitalist Democrats at the DNC. I wrote the following letter-to-the-editor that was published in the Sunday Denver Post. (And the editors gave it such a lovely title, “Individual rights should be the cornerstone of change.”)

Bravo on David Harsanyi’s column, “In Denver, the end of capitalism.”

The Democrats evade the truth of how the wealth they expropriate is created. They hijack the word, “investment,” to justify the legalized stealing of earned income to pay for their “solutions.”

To the Democrats who want to lead America, we are nothing more than some group with needs: “underserved,” “women,” “employers,” “seniors,” “the corrupt,” “the bankrupt,” etc. There is no mention of the fact that we are individuals–and that the pursuit of one’s own life and happiness is the foundation of our rights in this country.

Freedom, individual rights, and property rights should be the cornerstone of what the U.S. needs to move forward. I have a new slogan for the Democrats: “Change for America: the immolation of the individual in service to others.”

Another reader, Sukumar Vijaraghavan, also wrote a letter. It is so rabidly anti-capitalist that it makes me wonder why the reader doesn’t move to Cuba and become Michael Moore’s roommate in one of Havana’s public housing projects.

But I got the last word between the two letters, so HA HA!

Aug 312008

What could be a scarier entity to a rational person than a religious leftist? But that’s what’s coming down the cultural pike.

The Religious Right has historically staked its moral claim on the Republican Party, focusing on what they call “pro-life” issues such as abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia, human cloning, and other issues that pertain to life and death.

But we have an emerging phenomenon among what has traditionally been the morally-vacuous Left: a religious basis for their agenda to tackle the Iraq war, so-called “social justice” and environmentalism.

To many, the Left has been always been perceived as coldly “scientific” and therefore anti-moral. But now that the Democrats are eagerly jumping into bed with religion, it must be very reassuring to some voters on the fence who “kind of like” the leftist ideology, but just can’t embrace its moral hollowness. Now they have a new leader: Barack Obama, who has been apologetically leading his Christian Democrat soldiers into battle.

This is a marriage that should be annulled. It is a Las Vegas wedding of two faiths: religious belief in the supernatural with the statist’s hatred of individualism.

Ayn Rand opened the lid on the leftist movement in her book, The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. Although published in 1970s, the essays are as relevant today as ever.

And now that the Left can claim moral sanction from God, that’s just one big heavenly green light for Obama’s Blueprint for Change.

His plan is explicitly clear: Obama will expropriate wealth from capitalist producers and fund a welfare state on a grand scale with the moral call-to-arms that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers (to paraphrase his exact quote).

What a rallying cry for a purposeful America! The Taliban couldn’t do any better!

Where is that third alternative to the bible-quoting statism of the Left and the
mystical-biblical politics of the Right? It is Ayn Rand’s rational egoism.

Rational egoism means that an objective reality exists as we perceive it by our senses and by a process of reason (not by prayer or mystical revelation). This includes the knowledge that humans are individuals, not globs of “society” that must follow the state’s or God’s commands. Morally we have the right to pursue happiness and our necessities of life without violating the rights of others to do the same. It means we can have a society where we interact benevolently with others on the basis of trade with one another, free from theft of our lives and property by the state or criminals.

The bleak reality is this: our politicians are ruining America. But they don’t have our minds yet. It is the ideas of rational egoism that will lead us to a better future–a future of freedom, wealth and happiness.

The Evasion Invasion

 Posted by on 26 August 2008 at 11:21 pm  Ethics, Politics
Aug 262008

They’ve arrived in Denver by the thousands, ready to take on America… and change it.

In “The Blueprint for Change,” Barack Obama outlines just what he’s going to do if elected President. In this way, he will “… put government back in your hands, where it belongs.”

Just what does he mean? Is this blueprint a principled declaration of the proper role of government? Is it an acknowledgment that somehow that relationship between government and its citizens has been breached and that he is going to set it right?

Careful not to fall out of your chair when reading this blueprint, because the dizzying list of government fix-its often contains a dollar sign followed by the word, “billions,” in the sentence.

And the man who boasts that he’s only worked in “public service” (as opposed to the private sector) doesn’t hesitate to usurp the capitalist term, “investment,” to hide the wealth-bleeding expropriation of earnings that will be required to pay for this fantastical plan.

This blueprint represents evasion on a grand scale, “…a wish to negate existence, an attempt to wipe out reality,” in the words of Ayn Rand.

The Democratic candidate for President is blanking out the fact that it is the individual who is the fundamental unit of a society. To Obama, we are globs of groups: the wealthy, working class families, lenders, borrowers, the bankrupt, the corrupt, seniors, veterans, women, volunteers, methamphetamine addicts, the underserved, students, employers, disadvantaged youth…”

So it is no surprise that his vision of government is to correct the ailments of the various groups… somehow. And to pay for it… somehow…

  • “President Bush’s policies of giving tax breaks for the wealthy will cost the nation over $2.3 trillion by the time they expire in 2009… Obama is committed to repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”

  • “Obama supports public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests.”
  • “Obama will also create an energy-focused Green Jobs Corps to connect disconnected and disadvantaged youth with job skills for a high-growth industry.”
  • “Obama will create a new American Opportunity Tax Credit that will make tuition at the nation’s community colleges completely free and will cover up to two-thirds the cost of tuition at the nation’s public colleges and universities.”
  • “Obama will create a Clean Technologies Venture Capital Fund to fill a critical gap in U.S. technology development. Obama will invest $10 billion per year into this fund for five years. The fund will partner with existing investment funds and our National Laboratories to ensure that promising technologies move beyond the lab and are commercialized in the U.S.”
  • “Obama will invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathway programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce.”
  • “Obama will set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year.”
  • “Obama will sign a universal health care plan into law by the end of his first term in office.”

In this blueprint, there is no reference to the individual. Therefore, there is no understanding of what is required for life. Therefore there is no mention of freedom… no mention of a moral basis for individual rights… no mention of property rights… no mention of how wealth is created… no mention of the right to live one’s life free from the violation of one’s rights… no mention of pursuing happiness… no mention of limitations on governmental power.

This is because, to Barack Obama and his evaders, there is only the collective.

Even when Obama properly opposes any attempt to overturn a woman’s right to abortion, it’s not because abortion is a moral right, but because it fits into the category of his policies that pertain to women.

In order to carry out his blueprint, Obama will take on America’s “enemies” — a floating, disembodied melange of “lobbyists,” “disparities,” “agribusiness,” “chronic disease,” “special interests,” and “workers falling behind.”

This is what he will do for America. This is what he means by giving America back to the people.

I fear there will not be enough duct tape in the world to patchwork this country back together if Obama’s blueprint becomes realized. And the tragedy is that the masters of evasion won’t even notice.

"Serving Others" is NOT the American Way

 Posted by on 24 August 2008 at 11:37 pm  Ethics, Politics
Aug 242008

Political wives Michelle Obama and Jeannie Ritter, the wife of Colorado’s Governor, wrote a Guest Commentary about “serving others” as being the American way. They echo Barack Obama’s directive, “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

Well, who is my big brother? Are we as Americans supposed to sit around while others “serve” us? Who pays the rent while we run around volunteering? What if I decide to define myself as “needy” and demand that others give me what I lack?

In fact, I think I’m going to quit my job and become needy so that rich liberals can serve me and feel good about themselves. (Drum roll and trumpets, please) I hereby heroically declare it my duty as a good and brave citizen to allow others the privilege of fulfilling their “American Way” by serving MOI! Gee, I feel really good about this….Now give me your money!!

All sarcasm aside, Obama’s and Ritter’s pernicious underlying message is this: that altruism should be one’s primary purpose and responsibility in life, and that it is immoral to be left free to live one’s life as an end in itself.

I’ve got news for the followers of this mandate: serving others out of altruism is not what made this country great. Our country is distinguished by the concept of freedom: freedom to pursue one’s own life, goals, rational self-interest, relationships, and happiness. (Why the hell would millions leave everything behind in their dictatorial or poverty-infested countries to come to America?!)

Giving to a cause should be a secondary choice based on one’s own values. It should not be a duty imposed by cultural pressure or law. The fact that Americans do volunteer and donate billions to various non-profits or community groups speaks of the generosity of Americans. It is a result of a natural benevolence that emerges when people are left free to choose their life path and relationships with others.

The alternative of “good equaling sacrifice” versus “bad equaling self-interest” is utterly fallacious. It disavows our nature as human beings. It ignores the historical fact that people pursuing their values without preventing others from doing the same leads to wealth, a higher standard of living and a healthier society.

The liberals are evading the natural consequence of their credo. Just look at the past horrors of regimes demanding sacrifice for the “people” or for the “state” (Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany) or sacrifice for God (Afghanistan under the Taliban).

We must reject the evil idea of altruism. A government that tells us we are responsible for the happiness and health of others is a government that will control us.

Whoever is my keeper is my master.

The Preciousness of a Finite Existence

 Posted by on 20 August 2008 at 12:17 am  Ethics, Politics, Religion
Aug 202008

[Originally posted to Politics without God, the blog of the Coalition for Secular Government.]

Most religious or “spiritual” values include the belief in eternal life, such as an afterlife in heaven or reincarnation into another life after death. The common theme is the idea that each person has an eternal soul that lives beyond the physical body after death.

Meanwhile, in the here and now, a key goal of modern religious activism is advocacy for what many faithful call the “sanctity of life”. Believers are taught that life is given by and belongs to God, and therefore we must not meddle in the godly matters of life and death.

This is the biblical basis for prohibitions against abortion, euthanasia, and stem cell research, even though these practices are for the purpose of relieving suffering and improving the lives of living individuals. (And it is also the moral basis for the Colorado ballot proposal to grant rights to fertilized eggs.)

But when the religious interpretation of the “sanctity of life” is the law of the land, people are forced to endure suffering. For example, a woman who is impregnated by a vicious rapist must forever live with the psychological and social burden of raising a child she doesn’t want. A terminal cancer patient with agonizing pain only has the option of withering away using ever-increasing mega-doses of pain drugs rather than being allowed the choice of ending his life with dignity. These examples demonstrate the opposite of respect for the sanctity of life.

How do the faithful psychologically tolerate these indignities? By believing in an eternal life: that when it’s all over, one’s soul will live on. It may go to heaven to be with God in a state of eternal bliss, or it may reincarnate and advance to a “higher plane” of existence with “lessons learned” from the previous life.

But this belief comes at a high price: believing in an eternal soul essentially renders one’s life in the here and now expendable. If you live forever, it doesn’t ultimately matter if you suffer in this life. All that matters is that humans must not “play God” by taking ownership over their own their lives.

One of the most difficult truths we face as humans is that our existence is finite. This is something we have to learn to accept and cope with. The religious belief in an afterlife is a total evasion of this blunt truth.

The fundamental fact that we all die means that it is this life that is sacred. Therefore, we must have a society that protects the unique, finite and precious life of each living individual. Such a society based on rational egoism has a moral code founded on the realities of our finite existence and the requirements of human life.

But a faith-based society that unquestioningly accepts the idea of an eternal soul can rationalize doing anything it wants to individuals in the name of God, because people get eternal life anyway.

A proper sanctity of life is for the living. It is not for potential life, a dreamy “eternal” life, or for God.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha