Blogging in Pursuit of Values

 Posted by on 21 June 2011 at 7:50 am  Activism, Culture, Ethics, Personal, Politics
Jun 212011

[Note: I wrote this post in late April, and then I just plain forgot to post it. Although some of the news items are a bit dated, it's still relevant. I've already begun to change my focus in blogging, as outlined at the end. However, I have further changes to make over the next few months, and hopefully you'll enjoy the results!]

For some months now, I’ve been unenthused about blogging, and I’ve not been able to pin down quite why. Partly, that’s due to the demands of other projects. Partly, it’s due to the hypothyroidism-induced carpal tunnel pain I experience whenever I work at my computer. But I knew that it was something more was amiss too.

This week, I took a look at some of the items that I had in my “blog about this” queue. And then I realized the nature of my malaise… and what I should do to fix it. Here’s some of the items I saw in my queue. Can you spot the problem?

Exhibit A: Obama imperils free speech according to this report on a leaked draft of an executive order:

Pres. Obama wanted a campaign finance bill that would take the teeth out of the Citizens United ruling before the 2010 election. Congressional Democrats wrote such a bill, and then watched it slip into a coma. But that wasn’t the end of it. According to a leaked White House memo, Obama plans to create new campaign finance rules via fiat by signing an executive order.

As the Washington Examiner reported yesterday, the EO “would require all companies that sign contracts with the federal government to report on the personal political activities of their officers and directors.”

And by “political activities,” Obama means: “all contributions or expenditures to or on behalf of federal candidates, parties or party committees made by the bidding entity, its directors or officers, or any affiliates within its control; and any contributions made to third party entities with the intention or reasonable expectation that parties would use those contributions to make independent expenditures or electioneering communications.”

All of that information must be disclosed, according to the leaked executive order, so that the government can “ensure that its contracting decisions are merit-based in order to deliver the best value for the taxpayer.” While that may sound like the order is intended to expose sweetheart deals, it’ll also make it that much easier for federal agencies to deny contracts to firms that donated big bucks to Republican candidates.

Exhibit B: Archbishop of Canterbury wants to force the rich to volunteer their time serving the poor:

The rich and powerful should be required by law to spend some time every year helping the poor and needy, says the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Rowan Williams said today a return to the medieval tradition when monarchs ritually washed the feet of the poor would serve to remind politicians and bankers what should be the purpose of their wealth and power.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today programme’s Thought For The Day slot, he said the Bible made clear it was the duty of the powerful to ensure ordinary people were ‘treasured and looked after’ – especially those without the resources to look after themselves.

Exhibit C: A local news video shows a woman more concerned with her food stamps than with the death of her three-year-old nephew in a house fire, after she left him home alone.

Exhibit D: A UK grandmother is visited by a “community recycling officer” because her weeds were too dirty:

After giving her garden a good spring clean with the help of her grandson, Kay McIntyre dutifully tossed the uprooted weeds into the green waste bin. But the 74-year-old was amazed when binmen refused to collect it – because they claimed the plants had too much mud stuck to their roots. When she complained, Mrs McIntyre did not receive an apology but was instead visited by a ‘community recycling officer’, who was sent to sift through her wheelie-bin and examine just how dirty its contents were.

Exhibit E: Caroline Glick details the inane horrors of Obama’s altruistic foreign policy:

If only in the interest of intellectual hygiene, it would be refreshing if the Obama administration would stop ascribing moral impetuses to its foreign policy.

Today US forces are engaged in a slowly escalating war on behalf of al Qaida-penetrated anti-regime forces in Libya. It is difficult to know the significance of al Qaida’s role in the opposition forces because to date, the self-proclaimed rebel government has only disclosed ten of its 31 members. Indeed, according to the New York Times, the NATO-backed opposition to dictator Muammar Gaddafi is so disorganized that it cannot even agree about who the commander of its forces is.
And yet, despite the fact that the Obama administration has no clear notion of who is leading the fight against Gaddafi or what they stand for, this week the White House informed Congress that it will begin directly funding the al-Qaida-linked rebels, starting with $25 million in non-lethal materiel.

Exhibit F: An advertisement from the World Wildlife Fund urges us to “respect the earth” based on her greater-than-9/11 destructive power:

Such tidbits of news — and I could easily gather dozens each day — reveal the dangerously degraded state of our culture. Some people might be inspired by such news to marshall their forces and fight the good fight. Not me. I’m completely de-motivated by them. Sure, I see some occasional bright spots in the stream of news — like the growing sales of Atlas Shrugged. However, mostly, my view is that reality, reason, egoism, and rights are besieged — from all sides, left and right. Based on current trends, I’m not optimistic.

To focus that cultural onslaught against everything that I hold dear, particularly by writing about it, is simply too disheartening for me. If I were actively involved in the political and cultural battles, like Paul is, I might feel differently. The the latest travesty would be a fresh opportunity to advocate the proper approach, hopefully with some ingenius twist that would inspire some fresh thinking. However, that’s not for me. Personally, I cannot say much other than “GAH! Look at this horror! It’s horrific all the way down to its philosophic roots!” in response to these evils. That’s not useful for my readers, I don’t think, and it’s certainly not good for my own soul.

Of course, the solution is not to pretend that “Objectivism Is Winning!” or “Free Markets Are Winning!” by ignoring the torrent of evils in favor of the occasional glimmer of good. That’s not objective. It would probably be even less motivating too!

In my view, our cultural and political future hinges on much more than political arguments. It’s not enough to make the moral case for capitalism. We need to sell reality, reason, and egoism to ordinary people as the only way to live, day in and day out. We need to show that living by proper principles makes every area of life so much better. We need to show that departure from those principles courts disaster, in a personal way. Without that foundation, statism will always win in politics. That’s part of why I’ve chosen to focus on practical philosophy: I want to show people what it means, in concrete terms, to live by these ideals. Although I’ve only just started, I’m pleased with what I’ve been able to achieve so far.

To achieve what I want, I need to focus more doggedly on practical philosophy in all of my various projects, including blogging for NoodleFood. I can’t allow myself to be distracted and demotivated by the current state of the culture. Sure, I’ll continue to work on some small activist projects in Colorado, and I’ll blog about them periodically. I’ll continue to highlight the fabulous work of the people battling for individual rights in politics, particularly when victorious. However, I want my own work to be consumed with the relentlessly personal and positive — in the sense of “hey you, here’s something you can do to make your life great!” That’s what excites me, and that’s what serves my purposes — and that’s what you’ll see more of from me on NoodleFood.

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