Reply to Ed Powell re: ARI and the Political Spectrum

On my last post “Lessons from the Aristotle Adventure Applied to Objectivism,” Ed Powell invested the time to make a substantial comment which merits a substantial but quickish response.  In tone Powell’s comment related to ARI and the left-right political spectrum disagrees with my key points, but examining the concretes he provides evidence to support them. Let’s take a look at that.

First, Powell disagrees with my statement that ARI’s purpose “…is to spread the work and ideas of Ayn Rand, Objectivism…” which he identified as shilling, fleecing money from fans of Ayn Rand to give jobs to the staff of ARI.  In context of my post, I relate that statement of purpose with the hedgehog concept, which was part of Jim Collin’s finding in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t.  Following the link provided in my original post, for those unfamiliar with the hedgehog concept, we find that it describes “A simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding about the intersection of three circles: 1) what you are deeply passionate about, 2) what you can be the best in the world at, and 3) what best drives your economic or resource engine.” The hedgehog concept becomes the standard by which an organization assesses its activities and programs, especially new ones and issues of diversification, to determine whether there is actually an alignment to the organization’s mission.  Given this, the concrete criticisms of ARI by Powell are not a correction of the purpose that I stated, but particulars to consider whether or not ARI is focused on the purpose that I stated.

In general, criticisms are very important and should be taken seriously. Eliyahu Goldratt, creator of the Theory of Constraints, discussed how planning engages objections through a process called trimming.  I don’t have inside information on ARI’s finances so it is up to them to consider while I could only do so generally.  Powell’s criticisms of ARI fall into three categories: fundraising, editing of unpublished works, and whether ARI’s work is primarily to benefit its staff.

On fundraising, Powell has two areas of concern: the alienation of long-time supporters in favor of large donors and the influence that large donors appear to have over issues ARI highlights for contemporary analysis.  From the outside, it appears that at some point in the past ARI engaged professional consultants to help them improve their fundraising; they have previously acknowledged doing so related to training for media appearances. As I see it, ARI has a robust fundraising strategy targeting large, small and mid-tier donors; in my experience, it is those mid-tier donors who have the most long-term fundraising potential. Contrary to Powell’s grifting assertion, perhaps ARI could invest more into donor relationship management to provide more incentives and engagement w/ the non-large donors but I would be concerned about ROI and a distraction from core focus if they were to invest in that direction.  Related to the influence of large donors on issues, Powell cited three specifics: defending Israel, expanding the H1-B visa program, and failure to criticize Carl Barney’s past related to Scientology & as the owner of for-profit post-secondary schools.  These concretes can be addressed with the simple question of “Would the intellectual content of ARI be any different on these issues if there were no big donors?” In my opinion, the answer to that question is no; however, big donors supporting a new project or initiative can impact the scale, scope, and broadcast of a particular initiative.

On editing previously unpublished work for publication, Powell is concerned that such editing has made the previously unpublished work more clear and consistent without sufficient disclosure of alterations.  As even Rand’s work published during her lifetime went through an editor at the publisher, such an objection amounts to “the footnotes are not good enough.” Despite disclosing the editor on the cover and including a statement from the editor about their method, perhaps the footnotes should have been more extensive to detail the original text and the reasoning for any alterations. Yet, that is an optional value and the works were published with reasonable editing & disclosure.

On Powell’s assertion of the ARI grift, there is a simple question: “Would the staff members of ARI make more money in a different line of work?” The answer is yes, so no grift. Part of Powell’s concern seems more related to ARI’s international work as opposed to being focused only in the US. In the context of Burgess Laughlin’s lessons to be learned from the first few generations after Aristotle, the development of an international footprint was essential to not only propagating but saving Aristotle’s work; further, foreign scholars played an essential part in “reading, copying, teaching, translating, writing, and valuing” Aristotle’s work.

In summary, Powell used the same standard to assess ARI and level criticism as I stated was ARI’s purpose. Identification of suspected deviations from my statement of ARI’s purpose was the crux of his concretes. ARI is not immune from criticism & should actively engage in self-criticism through a formal lessons learned review of initiatives and programs.  While it is not always correct or informed, freely offered criticism should not be ignored, but instead chewed, trimmed, and impact plans going forward.

Changing the subject from ARI to the left-right political spectrum, Powell asserts that my “characterization of left and right is ahistoric.” Yet, that is the definition that I learned 30+ years ago…is 30+ years ago no longer part of history? Again, while disagreeing with my core point, Powell provides concrete evidence to support that point, which is that on that spectrum “Left is for change, while right is for status quo and tradition.” To be more expansive than I was yesterday from left to right, the political spectrum is “Radical – Liberal – Moderate – Conservative – Reactionary.” As I took that to be well-known and canonical, I did not spell it out but it will be helpful to see in the context of Powell’s concretes.

According to Powell, “The left doesn’t want just change, it wants revolutionary change.” On the left-right political spectrum, that is called radical.  While Powell associates the entire left of the spectrum with the radicals, they are not the whole of the left [see all the liberal members of the Intellectual Dark Web].  Meanwhile, people including myself have been having trouble figuring out what to call this Intersectialist/SJW/Progressive/Postmodern/Marxist grouping as they keep changing their own name.  In the 1930s and 1960s, they would be described as radicals [per the  left-right political spectrum].  While I had been calling them Leftists as it was a term that was generally understood, it is actually about as clear as Libertarian vs. libertarian…which doesn’t really translate via audio.  As I consider this more, the term radical collectivists is probably a more accurate name when considered as distinct from radical capitalists.

While Powell acknowledges that “The right wants to maintain either the status quo or some traditional understanding of the status quo ante,” he adds that the right “are for *gradual* thoughtful change based on understanding the ramifications of the change on societal institutions.” Concretely, Powell’s observations can be found in politicking and legislative compromise. The right’s expressions depends on whether they are in political power, when out of power they campaign for reform that amounts to the restoration of traditional principles [balance the budget, reform wasteful spending], but when in power it is stay the course and at most trim some of the innovations previously made by the other side. Meanwhile, when the need for change is overwhelmingly expressed popularly, then the legislators on the right will seek some small changes as an appeasement to preserve the tradition from significant change.  In addition, Powell observes that specific individuals on the right may focus on different aspects of the status quo as most important for preservation; that is very true, but when these individuals aggregate into a political coalition, the unifying theme of their alliance is preserving the status quo across a broad range of issues.

Despite asinine assertions of RHINO, both of the main US parties are coalitions that contain elements of the left, right, and center based upon the question of change. Since the 80s, there has been a diminishing of this diversity within each party.  As Tim Pool has reported, this has been particularly true for the Democrats recently; meanwhile, President Trump has been trying to pull more from the left into the Republican Party as a continuation of Lee Atwater’s Big Tent strategy.  As I said in the prior post, while Objectivists are radicals for capitalism on the left in the long term, it is beneficial that in near term contemporary politics that there are Objectivists on the left, right, and center politically so that we can create and advocate integrated transformation plans that both change the system to better protect individual rights while preventing the system from shattering at the same time.  Based upon his own statement, Powell and I agree on the near- and long-term objectives in my last sentence.

 

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Lessons from The Aristotle Adventure Applied to Objectivism

This post is a reply to Mr Cropper’s YouTube video “Objectivist Pnyx Is Hereby Assembled” in which he in part called me out to substantiate one of my earlier comments. On his vid “Mr. Cropper, Objectivist Driver” I had reasserted he needed to read the last section in Burgess Laughlin’s The Aristotle Adventure for a better understanding of how philosophical ideas are effectively transmitted over time. In effect, he requested that I provide specifics to substantiate my point.

As context for this exchange, in my opinion, Mr Cropper had been making erroneous derogatory comments about how unnamed Ayn Rand Institute [ARI] intellectuals did their job promoting Ayn Rand’s ideas. I heard his statements as parroting talking points from those who would destroy Objectivism by redefining it as an open philosophic system and not limited to Ayn Rand’s philosophic work.  He hypothesized that ARI intellectuals had been corrupted by their interactions in the Ivory Tower and were now saying things in an effort to please their Leftist colleagues.   Finally, he asserted that if ARI intellectuals couldn’t get their act together that he would take over leadership of Objectivism. Meanwhile, I did reply with vulgar humorous male banter equivalent to “I’m gonna kick your ass” to warn him that he was stepping into dangerous territory.

In his later vid, which included his request for my reply, Mr Cropper did provide a correct high-level summary about the travels of Aristotle’s ideas over thousands of years. However, my point is more particularly about the first few generations after Aristotle’s death and before Aristotle’s ideas had become more widely accepted.  Laughlin covered the details of this historical period [322-43 BC] in the second part of his book; below as an extra point, I provide an outline of that section excerpted from the book’s table of contents.  Despite effectively leveraging technology to scale, Objectivism is still in a roughly equivalent post-Theophrastus period beginning 285 BC.  For the purpose of answering Mr Cropper’s question, I will focus on Laughlin’s final chapter, “Lessons From the Past” and relate it to the work of ARI.

First let us be clear about ARI’s purpose which is to spread the work and ideas of Ayn Rand, Objectivism.  Its purpose is not to pass legislation nor win elections.  Nor is it to win the individual battles of the culture war. ARI staying true to its “Hedgehog Concept” can be a catalyst to advocates of reason achieving personal happiness, winning the culture war, and limiting government to its correct scope.  Meanwhile, others outside of ARI empowered by Rand’s ideas will be engaged in the deciding cultural and political conflicts.  Why does ARI talk about political and cultural issues? Those are hooks to engage an expanding audience for the ideas of Rand by demonstrating how to think about contemporarily relevant issues in the context of Rand’s philosophic work. Overtime, many people associated with ARI have engaged in non-ARI activities to apply their knowledge of Rand’s ideas to contemporary problems; for example, Alex Epstein and Don Watkins now with the Center for Industrial Progress.

A major lesson learned expressed by Laughlin was the need to publish standardized versions of the philosophic work as a failure to do so with Aristotle was a liability. ARI has worked to facilitate continuous publication of Rand’s philosophic work, including issuing previously unpublished work, making her work available through ever-changing technology and distribution outlets, and translating her work into multiple languages. Further, they maintain an Archive to retain and make available artifacts relevant to her philosophic work for study.

Some critics of Ayn Rand say that she failed to organize her work into an integrated philosophic system, but neither did Aristotle so such integration work fell upon others to complete as a necessary means “for later readers to grasp as a fully integrated whole.” While the most important of that work was completed by Leonard Peikoff in OPAR , ARI funds scholars who advance such work to organize and present Rand’s ideas.  ARI’s effort in this area, especially using scholars who were personally familiar with Rand and had the opportunity to discuss these ideas with her, is a major advance applying lessons learned from failures related to Aristotle’s intellectual heirs.

Unlike Aristotle’s successors, the existence of ARI not only advances the careers of scholars working on Rand’s ideas but protects them from threats. There is a commonly repeated story about how John Ridpath was opposed for tenure on the claim that he did not publish enough; his career was saved by support from F.A. Hayek. ARI has supported avenues to ensure that Objectivist scholars have access to being published. Further, their network of academics helps to create opportunities for them to spread Rand’s ideas through associations and public events.  Frankly, it is amazing how Objectivists scholars have gone from being targeted for career elimination by Marxist profs to now being sought out for their advocacy of Rand’s ideas. In contrast, Theophrastus [Aristotle’s successor] had to flee Athens where his school was attacked as “a nest of traitors.”

Laughlin identified six activities performed by those who preserved and advanced Aristotle’s ideas: reading, copying, teaching, translating, writing, and valuing.  Two of ARI’s most successful programs are the annual essay contests and books for teachers, which expands the number of students reading Rand’s ideas every year. Like the ancient copyists of Aristotle’s work, ARI manages the efforts of volunteer transcriptionists to recording in text live material such as interviews, speeches, lectures, and Q&A that were previously only available via audio or video.  In interviews, speeches, lectures, and courses around the world and on-line [including YouTube], ARI intellectuals teach Ayn Rand’s ideas to the public and respond directly to those with questions about her work.  Additionally, through the Objectivist Academic Center, ARI trains intellectuals to apply Ayn Rand’s ideas to their scholarship and advocacy. Yaron Brook has been very vocal about the success ARI has had getting Ayn Rand’s ideas translated into new languages.  While there have been a number of written works and in other media recently about Ayn Rand’s life and ideas, it is those that have been associated with ARI via funding, affiliation, archive material sourcing, or partnership that have provided the most robust, detailed, and accurate representation of Rand’s ideas [for example: see the participation of ARI in C-SPAN’s American Writers feature on Ayn Rand].  Throughout its educational efforts, including Ayn Rand Campus, ARI emphasizes the fundamentally personal and individualized value of Ayn Rand’s ideas as a toolkit for a person to independently build a happy life for their self.

Beyond those points articulated by Laughlin, I would point out that ARI has for decades been building up a community around the world based on shared values founded in Ayn Rand’s ideas.  Does that mean we agree about everything? Nope, but such a community has resulted in professional partnerships, networking, friendships, and marriages. In a world full of bad ideas, it is refreshing to be able to enjoy some sanctuary with others knowledgeable about Ayn Rand’s ideas in a campus club, community meetup, ARI event, or the ARI’s annual Objectivist Conference OCON.

BUT…now Mr Cropper says that he will drive the Objectivist bus instead of ARI. Given all the important work that ARI has been doing to promote Ayn Rand’s philosophic ideas, aka Objectivism, why does he think that it is necessary? Based upon comments that he has made repeatedly across many videos decrying those he calls “Obleftivists,” I have identified four main issues of dispute by Mr Cropper and they are all narrow concrete points within politics:

  1. Immigration: Cropper disagrees with ARI intellectuals focusing on a proper immigration policy for the US, which to Cropper sounds too much like the Democrats, instead of getting on board with the Republicans for a narrow reform of immigration laws that emphasizes a different method restricting immigration.
  2. China: Cropper thinks that ARI, particularly Yaron Brook, has been acting as apologists for China [sounding like Democrats] while Cropper seems to be more interested in a Cold War style containment policy towards China.
  3. President Trump: While Cropper disagrees often with Trump, he thinks that ARI intellectuals have been too critical of Trump by repeating spurious Democratic talking points and making doctrinaire statements without regard to additional relevant context [for example, Trump’s tariff policy].
  4. The Left: Cropper believes that Objectivists should join forces with President Trump to defeat the [collectivist] Left which is the urgent enemy.

In summary, Mr Cropper’s argument for his being given the steering wheel for the Objectivist bus is that Objectivists should spend more time, money, and effort promoting the ideas of Donald Trump in short term politics instead of Ayn Rand’s ideas in long term philosophy.  While I could go into detailed commentary about the specific concretes, my thoughts on the general idea were previously practically covered in my posts about Ari Armstrong’s suggesting that lovers of liberty join the Republican Party and my analysis of the factions within The Republican Hydra.

More important than those specific issues, let me talk about the framework to use in order to analyze those differences within politics.  There is a lot of confusion about the political spectrum of left and right, that the meaning of those terms have changed over time, and that alternative political spectrums are needed; not true.  Left is for change, while right is for status quo and tradition. Objectivists are radicals for capitalism, the unknown ideal, thus they are for change and are on the left of the political spectrum.  Left doesn’t specify what type of change, but political reform of some kind instead of the status quo. Meanwhile, right is currently articulated through pragmatic stewardship [George H. W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Trump] or in a reactionary form that seeks to restore past traditions [political Christians, conservatives].  In context, left vs right is about either changing or preserving tradition relative to now.

How does this apply to Objectivists? In contemporary politics, different Objectivists will advocate policy views on the left, right, or middle.  In the long term, they all agree on the political destination of change, but have differences about how to act today to bridge the gap.  As ARI is advocating the radical capitalist ideas of Ayn Rand through its efforts to promote Objectivism, their speakers will emphasize the long term left political objectives of expanding the protection of individual rights.  Meanwhile, many Objectivists like Mr Cropper in contemporary politics think in the short-term by advocating right-wing views to defend the status quo from those on the left advocating expanding collectivist policies and are OK with making temporary alliance with the collectivists on the right.

Where do I stand on this spectrum? First, ARI is correct to advocate long-term the political principles of Ayn Rand as that is part of their hedge-hog purpose; additionally, they do make the disclaimer that transition policies will be required to achieve those conditions in the long term. Second, in the US, the right is worse than a broken clock and will be correct less than twice a day.  Meanwhile, the left seeks contradictory changes and forms a coalition that will settle the specific policies after an electoral victory [see the inability of California Democrats to agree on solutions for the state’s actual problems].  Neither is worth joining beyond temporary support on narrow issues focused on advancing the protection of individual rights. Personally, in contemporary politics, I am moderately left as I focus on multi-phased transition policies to get away from the ‘As-is’ model of the status quo towards the ‘To-be’ model of radical capitalism [for example, see my post How MoSCoW Can Fix America’s Spending Problem].

In summary, ARI is driving the Objectivist bus, has done so effectively, and they should continue to drive the bus.  Mr Cropper’s narrow disputes are differences caused by long term thinking by ARI and short-term thinking by those who ally themselves today with the right politically.  In contemporary politics, ARI isn’t a player as such is outside of their mission. Individual Objectivists are at liberty to advocate short-term political policies but should give attention to whether those policies move the needle towards protecting individual rights in the long term instead of simply selecting from a menu of policies offered by the political right.  Very often the popular voices on the left and right are both wrong on the same issue, which gives Objectivists an opportunity to articulate a change policy that advances individual rights.

Extra Point: Relevant Outline Excerpt from The Aristotle Adventure’s Table of Contents

Part 2. Underground Stream (322-43 BC)

  1. Aristotle’s School (to 322 BC)
  • Colonies and wars
  • The school in the Lyceum
  • The legacy of Alexander the Great
  • “Aristotle has made these dispositions…”
  1. Aristotle’s Two Best Students (322-285 BC)
  • Eudemus
  • Theophrastus
  • Theophrastus’ school in the Lyceum
  • Turmoil around the school
  • Fear and Flight
  • Theophrastus’ work in logic
  • Theophrastus’ will
  1. Inside the School (285-100 BC)
  • After Aristotle and Theophrastus
  • Straton
  • Lyco and the others
  • The fundamental cause of decline
  1. Outside the School (285-100 BC)
  • Difference between Alexandria and Athens
  • Alexandria
  • Athens
  1. Recovery (100-43 BC)
  • Into the light again
  • Rome’s entrance
  • Cicero’s studies
  • Tyrannio
  • Andronicus
  • For Aristotle’s work, mixed messages

 

 

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Thoughts of Employment Testing and Liability

Recently, Yaron Brook published interesting commentary about the Aunt Becky college admissions scandal.  He shared an anecdote about a conversation with company executives about why they don’t test job candidates in order to qualify them for employment.

Here is Brook’s video clip:

I think that his observations missed an important issue related to liability for equal employment practices.

Qualification testing for employment had previously been common, but it was destroyed by federal employment law in that a test created a burden upon the employer to demonstrate that it was racially neutral. Thus a requirement of a college degree became a racially neutral standard for protecting hiring practices from lawsuits. Subsequent court rulings have weakened that federal bias against employment tests, but HR departments that are more about legal compliance are not adapting to new opportunities.

Where are we today? Companies want third-party certification to qualify candidates for employment. This has been growing in IT and with the PMP. More is needed but employers still need to be hands-off about the development of these certifications to avoid potential liability.

In my experience, these third-party certifications are flawed in that there are still people without the ability that accumulate credentials and people with ability who are too busy working to accumulate credentials.

Federal laws and regulations related to equal employment policy need to be modernized [segregration ended more than 50 years ago] in order to allow HR compliance departments to become the leads in identifying the talent that is needed by today’s companies.

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How MoSCoW Can Fix America’s Spending Problem

In the past several years, I have been working on managing a multitude of requirements within a government project so that the objective was achieved on time and on budget. The lessons learned about setting and enforcing priorities are principles that scale to address our federal spending problem at the highest level and back down through all departments, agencies, programs, and projects.

I think that we have general agreement in our Congress and country that (1) the federal government as a whole spends too much money, and (2) that every item of federal spending has a constituency that says there is not enough spending on that particular issue. The math in that contradiction does not work as more plus more equal a worse spending problem.

Almost every idea for more government spending in isolation can achieve a majority of popular support, so that it is essential to take a more global view of spending in light of the actual constraints of revenue and availability of borrowing from private investors. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and congressional budget committees are supposed to be responsible for taking such a perspective, but that have been corruptly misguided by the political driver of using the budget as a vehicle to manage the distribution of political patronage in our modern Spoils System.

If the correction of the overspending problem is to be achieved as a goal, there are two directing concepts that are required a hierarchical codification for prioritization and a standard to guide it other than the ephemeral advantage of the political class and its key constituencies (a.k.a. factions in the dialect of Madison). This principled solution is in stark contradiction to the political lies offered as solutions such as a balanced budget amendment, line item veto, term limits, and extracting every penny from the “rich” as regardless of the political kabuki in the end our Congress must make hard choices about spending as in what not to spend.

In establishing the standard to guide the prioritization, we must level setting and agree upon a particular true observable fact from reality. Every item of federal spending is rooted in the issue that “we” must do something about a problem; however, the federal government is not and never has been the only mechanism for “we” to act. Independent of government, we are guaranteed freedom of association, which “we” have use to solve problems without government through private charities and businesses; anyone who advocates for a solution to a problem can privately use this right, regardless of a sanction of the majority, to freely cooperate with a like minded “we.” Further, in the genius of our federal system, most solutions that actually requiring a government action, to protect individual rights and subordinated retaliatory force to objective law, are implemented by our state and local governments. Thus, a federal government solution is not required for every “we” must.

Embedded in this recommendation is a particular goal that I have for our federal government and I hope that you share…I want our federal government to be a great organization that achieves extraordinary results, which I mean in the sense identified by Jim Collins in his popular book _Good to Great_. Key to the development of a great organization is the development of a Hedgehog Concept, which Collins defines as the intersection between the answers to three questions that I paraphrase for this purpose as:

  1. What can the government organization be the best in the world at?
  2. What fuels the health, vitality, and durability of the government organization?
  3. What is the government organization deeply passionate about?

My answers to those questions are, and upon thoughtful consideration I am confident that you will agree:

  1. Within the constraints of our Constitution, it is best in the actual world (as opposed to a Utopian fantasy) at protecting the individual rights of American citizens.
  2. Capitalism, a political system that protects individual rights, is the fuel of America.
  3. As found in the Declaration of Independence, the federal government is passionate about the individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As a purpose for our standard of prioritization of federal spending, federal government is an organization that must focus upon, within the context of our Constitution, protecting the individual rights of American citizens so that they are each free to independently exercise their virtue to enhance their life and achieve their own happiness. In applying this standard to issues of prioritization, all of Collins’ Hedgehog questions still apply, especially related to whether the federal government is the best in the world to act and spend in solving the underlying problem consistent with its purpose.

As for the hierarchical codification of prioritization, I have found Agile’s MoSCoW prioritization to be effective at prioritizing a large number of government requirements within a constrained environment, such as limited time and money. In general, there are four tiers with easily understood labels: Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t Have; which for our immediate purpose relates to whether a budget item will be in the budget or be completely defunded. Prioritization is done from the perspective of the customer, which we have expressed for this purpose in our standard for guiding prioritization, essentially the purpose. Further, the particular definition of each level is affected by the nature of the project, which for our purpose is budgeting federal spending in a period of transition from overspending to appropriate spending.

To be useful as a consistent and shared prioritization, each level of prioritization must be explicitly defined in writing. Related to prioritizing federal spending so that overall spending is reduced through elimination or possibly deferral of particular spending items:

  • MUST HAVE: Only spending by the federal government on this line item can meet the standard and must be funded at some level in order to subordinate retaliatory force to objective law (for example: military spending).
  • SHOULD HAVE: While others could be better than the federal government at achieving the purpose through spending, legacy government policy and laws have destroyed or handicapped other actors so that a transition plan, including substantially reforming existing laws, is requirement (for example: Social Security, which has a substantial unfunded future liability that will result in an automatic cut to future benefits).
  • COULD HAVE: Only spending by the federal government on this line item can meet the standard but funding is optional/contingent in competition with higher concurrent spending priorities (for example: security improvements at US Embassies).
  • WON’T HAVE: These items could be achieved outside of federal spending without substantial legislative revision such as only program elimination and possibly block granting funding to states for a fixed transition time period (for example: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting can be immediately eliminated with Patreon, Kickstarter, and their like privately free to solve the legacy financing problem).

In the first year of use, this federal budgeting prioritization plan could eliminate WON’T HAVE spending and save on COULD HAVE spending by either deferral, reduction, or elimination. In later years, transition plans for SHOULD HAVE spending will reduce federal liabilities and spending over a period defined by law. Future wish list spending proposal would be subjected to the same prioritization to control spending growth. Additionally, the prioritization concept should be used within the departments and agencies to prioritize their spending, which will help controlling for mission creep and rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse.

At this point, you may ask, “How do you know that this plan would work?” While I could cite my professional experience, that success does not address the scaling question, so instead I will point to Albert Gallatin. He was Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury, who used the same prioritization to not only balance the budget, but also cut taxes and pay off half the federal debt by eliminating excessive Federalist spending from the prior Administration. Gallatin’s prioritized fiscal discipline enabled Jefferson to seize the opportunity of the Louisiana Purchase.

Contrary to claims that there are no viable solutions, this prioritization concept has already been demonstrated to work in controlling overspending on both the small and large scale, in both the private sector and government. The real question is “Do you really care about reducing federal spending or are you counting on dying before the consequences of our profligacy?” If the later, my daughter literally hates you personally for your irresponsibility in leaving your debts for her to pay. If the former, the above is a real, effective, and simple solution, so go forth and use it.

 

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NFL Anthem Protesters vs. Constitutional Rights

Colin Kaepernick has failed. More than a year ago, he started the anthem protests in the NFL by creating a spectacle through either sitting or taking a knee during the national anthem before the game. It is said that he did so to draw attention to a critical issue, but instead he has distracted from conversations that were already active long before his protest.

What issue is the cause? Based upon the conversations that we are having now, it is either:

  1. The unchallenged assertion that independent contractors have a right to engage in political activism at their workplace on issues unrelated to their workplace; and
  2. Debating whether it is un-American to intentionally disrespect symbols of America, like the anthem and the flag, as part of expressing your contempt for the current state of America either in general or on a particular issue.

On the first, try it yourself at your job, in front of your customers, and then it should not be too hard to learn the answer. On the later, this is a long settled issue allowing for individual freedom. However, neither were what Kaepernick wanted us to discuss, so epic fail.

Let us go back to his original statement to understand Kaepernick’s issue; he said:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

While he generally cites oppression against racial minorities, the expressed motivating detail is that police officers who shoot citizens are not being convicted of crimes.

Before the kneeling Kaepernick of pig-cop socks fashion, the issue of our fellow citizens being shot by our police officers was a subject of substantial public attention and debate as it is a vital issue of justice. However, he actually took the air out of that debate as it was distracted into a false free speech debate that had nothing to do with the government suppression of speech until President Trump put the bully back into the bully pulpit.

Returning again to Kaepernick’s orginial issue, cops are not being convicted for shooting citizens. Why not? In exercising their actual constitutional rights to a fair trial, due process of law, and trial by jury, the accused police officers have not been found guilty. Note that these same constitutional rights protected NFL stars like Ezekiel Elliot, Ray Lewis, and OJ Simpson when they were accused of crimes. Further, this deprecation of constitutional rights in favor of ideologically preferred outcomes was evident in the recently overturned Obama Administration policy that used Title IX to deny men accused of rape on campus of their due process rights.

Given his explicit use of SJW trigger words and his love of Cuban communist fashion, I have to consider his comments within the context of the regressive left political movement. Thus, Kaepernick’s objective is to create for cops the type of arbitrary system lacking due process that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell applies to review of player conduct. He advocates that reviews of police shootings come to an ideologically predetermined outcome by throwing out our constitutional protections for the accused, which have benefited all Americans regardless of skin color.

While Kaepernick appears to have gone full SJW, I do not think that is true of all the NFL kneelers, whose motivation are probably as diverse and disintegrated as a survey of any group of leftist protesters. Thus, despite being highly educated and playing a cerebral sport, by doing protest kabuki instead of using their words, these NFL players are failing to add to the discussion of the issue of cops shooting citizens.

I hope that we can dismiss this cult-of-personality distraction and get back to talking about real policy.

  • How should cops be armed?
  • Do we have enough non-lethal options to subdue resisting or threatening suspects?
  • Is there sufficient federal involvement related to review and prosecution of such shooting?
  • Is greater independence of prosecutors, such as being from the state Attorney General’s office, required in such shootings?
  • How can technology better collect evidence of police conduct?
  • How do laws related to drugs and domestic disputes increase risks of such shootings?
  • Do failures in psychological treatments increase risks of such shootings?
  • Does the post release treatment of felons, including related to reduced employment opportunities, increase risks of such shooting?
  • And much much more…
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The Rights of Bastards Reconsidered, On Govt Compelling a Man to Pay Child Support

Previously, years ago, I had posted about the propriety of the government forcing a man to pay child support with an emphasis on bastard children. At that time, I emphasized that the child had a right to support from its parents Everything that I wrote was correct from the perspective of applying current legal considerations, but that a government can take that means is not the same as saying that it should to the exclusion of alternate means for protecting the same essential rights. Further consideration of current facts has led me to altering my stance about what is the correct government policy.

Why the emphasis on bastards? It is one of those edge cases that both raises the most theoretical objections and has in reality had widespread devastating impacts on men and children around the world. Further, in using that particular word, it emphasizes the long legal history of this particular problem.

I think that it is without substantial controversy to say that government has an obligation to protect the individual rights of a child when such are violated by the parent(s). Fundamentally, those individual rights of an actual existing child (as opposed to an incomplete non-viable embryo or fetus) are based upon his or her right to life. When such issues are brought before a court for a decision, the court must act in a legal manner for the best interest of the child.

Currently, the government’s policies related to the enforcement of child support are discriminatory and in some cases shocking to our sense of ordered liberty. On the later, with judicial passivity, a government acting in its own financial interests can order a man who is not the father to pay child support based upon the mother’s perjury or error as a means of recovering government expenses related to welfare. Technical means exist, through DNA testing, to prove paternity or the lack thereof but the courts do not protect the rights of an accused man by insisting on such evidence in these civil cases before issuing an order. In a return to the days of foundlings, in order to protect a child from harm by the mother, laws allow a woman to just drop off their child at designated public facilities or grandparent(s) without her retaining a legal financial obligation to the child; yet, a man has no unilateral method to renounce his financial obligation to the child regardless of his inability to pay.

Related to the best interests of the child, despite public policy compelling men to pay child support (including in the cases of bastards), the outcomes for children raised by single mothers are appalling with substantially increased future chances of education failure, criminality, and poverty.

Given these unjust and discriminatory policies that are leading to future life failures for the child, substantial changes are required if the government is to act to protect the child’s right to life. Part of that has to be removing financial incentives for the government to act against the best interest of the child related to collection of child support enforcement fees and reimbursements for welfare payments.

When a mother (or other legal guardian) comes before the court to request an order of child support for her bastard child (and perhaps for any child including in cases of divorce), this should be founded upon her admission that she is unable to provide the financial support that the child requires consistent with its rights, which may be determined by the court to be a false claim. Upon DNA evidence that the man is the bastard’s father, who was not so by being a clinical sperm donor, the man should be presented by the court with five options:

  1. Unless is he barred by his criminal history using the best interest standard from doing so, assume full legal custody of the child, if he is able to pay to care for the child (possibly with family assistance),
  2. Unless is he barred by his criminal history using the best interest standard from doing so, assume shared (half time) legal custody of the child, if he is able to pay to care for the child (possibly with family assistance), and have no additional child support payment to be made to the mother,
  3. Claim and demonstrate fraud, theft of sperm, or rape by the mother related to the conception of the child and receive neither penalty nor order of support,
  4. Make a mutually agreed financial settlement contract, which will have equal legal standing to any other contract, with the mother that will prohibit future new child support claims by the mother, or
  5. Renounce the child and pay a penalty equal to the price of three abortions into a private fund that aids indigent pregnant women with the cost of an abortion.

In the event that the man selects option 5, in order to protect the best interest of the child, the mother should lose custody of the child to the state unless family members of either the mother or father pledge in court to be guarantors for the financial support of the child, such terms by family members could include transferring legal custody to them and from the mother.

As an aside, it is fully proper based upon our right to free association for individuals to use public knowledge of a man’s renouncing of his child as reason to discriminate against him. As part of a background check, as an indicator of the man’s character or reliability, such could be grounds to discriminate in employment, housing, and credit score (thus, this should not be prohibited by law). As a service, It could also be legal for a dating website to flag this information in a man’s profile or deny the man access to the platform. Further, a government agency could make access to this information easier as is done with sex offenders.

This legal change should apply retroactively to vacate existing child support obligations and erase unpaid child support balances; however, there should be no refund of payments already made. Some fathers may choose to voluntarily continue these payments. Other parents may come to some new mutually agreed upon arrangement. If the mother is still unable to support her child, then she can return to court under the new paradigm.

The child support argument about the propriety in our age of sexual equality and legal abortions for a father having to pay money to a mother is superfluous. For bastards, the issue is the government acting legally in the child’s best interest in order to protect its individual rights. The current system of child support is failing children and destroying the lives of the father without benefit to the child. The presumption that a child is better off with a parent who can not afford to care for them has been a demonstrable failure. When parents, and their families, are unable to care for a child, a court order against a father for child support payments that cannot be paid is no aid to protecting the child’s individual rights.

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Thoughts on the Political Violence in Charlottesville

The recent political violence in Charlottesville has left me angry and sad. The ideas inspiring the violence are symptomatic of a concerning shift in our culture not just in the US but throughout the West.

The loss of life and injuries that were inflicted are appalling. The initiation of force through political violence has ABSOLUTELY NO legitimate role in our constitutional republic; NEVER as we have guaranteed freedom of speech.

In the criminal car attack, Heather Heyer lost her life. Additionally, while actively attempting to protect our fellow citizens’ constitutional rights to speech, assembly, and association, state troopers H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates, died in a helicopter accident. Further, dozens of others were injured in fighting between opponents and in the criminal car attack. Political violence destroys, cripples, and maims the lives of actual people, which is why we freely engage in protected political speech.

Thankfully, the driver in the car attack against marchers has been captured and charged. There is a rhetorical debate about whether this was a terrorist attack, including both Democrat and Republican officials stating unequivocally that is was a terrorist attack. Yet, instead of being charged with capital murder for the death of Heather Heyer as would happen in an act of terrorism, the driver has been charged with second degree murder. Which is it, was he a terrorist or not? If he was a terrorist, the driver should be eligible for death row, because that is what we do by law to terrorists in Virginia.

For me, the question of terrorism has an additional question related to required action. Where is the terrorist organization to be destroyed? If he is like a Unibomber, then the organization is a future one that the terrorist hopes to inspire. Evidence for such intent by him…a manifesto? Related to his potential affiliation with an existing terrorist organizations, is there evidence for one? By reports, the driver has been associated with the ideas of white racism and Nazism, but is there a group of other terrorists to round up?

Some have expressed doubts that the Klansman, neo-Nazis, and white racists were true representations of those who intended to speak in Emancipation Park before their speech was violently suppressed by the counter-protesters. Jason Kessler, the organizer of the event, spoke explicitly as a white racist in his announcing press conference; thus, I think that it is beyond dispute that white racism was the explicit motivation for the event that attracted racists. Yet, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others have reported that Kessler had been an Obama supporter and an Occupy activist. Either the philosophical differences between the SJWs and the white racists isn’t as big as they proclaim or Kessler hasn’t changed sides, but tricked the Klan, neo-Nazis, and white racists into a trap. I expect that it is the former.

To be clear, Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and white racists are the enemies of America. Whereas America is an ideologically founded country focused upon individualism and the protection of individual rights, those other groups are fundamentally collectivist and anti-individual. Yet, as vile and evil as those ideas are, adherents of those ideas have the free speech rights that they would deny to others. When they go beyond speaking to violating the rights of individuals through the initiation of force, then they are subject to criminal punishment.

Now that we have reiterated the obvious that selfish citizens oppose these racists, does that mean that we are on the side of the SJWs, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and assorted others in the counter-protest group? NO!! (Caveat: there were normal nice people in the crowd opposing the vile white racists, but they were effectively filler and not the leaders and organizers who framed the messaging.) That crowd is also full of racists, who are collectivists with hatred for individualism. Ideologically their unifying themes include hatred of reason, hatred of the Enlightenment, hatred of individual flourishing, hatred of America, and a love of human sacrifice (not in the Aztec sense, but in the Comte and Kant sense).

One of the things that struck me from the Faith Goldie video of the car attack was that the SJWs, et al marchers were celebrating that they had suppressed the free speech rights of the white racists. While I in no way intend to excuse the car attack, how ignorant and naive does one have to be to think that there would not be a violent retaliation eventually from historically violent groups like the Klan and neo-Nazis? Allowing such detestable groups to speak has the effect of keeping political action to speech and not violence. Leading up to this event, Antifa has been repeatedly engaging in escalating political violence (including destruction of property, suppression of speech, and physical attacks) without effective restraint by the police in areas controlled by Democrats.

For years, the SJWs and their allies have been invoking the strawmen of white racists and fascists especially against opponents who did not deserve such slurs. The consequence of this irrational posturing has been to actually resurrect the Klan, poke the dormant neo-nazis, and inspire new white racism in the ignorant young, who had become sick and tired of being rhetorically pilloried by racist SJWs.

It is fitting that this violence occurred in a college town, because it is public education that facilitated the creation of this political violence. Beginning with primary and secondary schools that teach that political violence is practical, that principles do not matter, that feelings are superior to facts, and that the purpose of learning is political indoctrination. Meanwhile, the rise of the SJWs on campus has led to corruption throughout our culture, the growing politicization of our lives, the subjugation of civil society, and the Puritanical attack upon free speech and against heterodox ‘thought crimes.’

Government has not only failed our citizens in education, but at this event they utterly failed to keep the peace. Government officials claim that they were well prepared. However, witnesses report that the police passively allowed the fight to break out between the opposing groups of racists both by poorly establishing boundaries between the groups and being inactive in the face of breaking violence. Given that the effect of this violence was to suppress the speech of the white racists, it should be investigated as to whether city officials were complicit, violated the court order, and intentionally deprived these despicable white racists of their civil rights.

What is a selfish citizen to do?

  • Personally, denounce the racists on both sides.
  • Challenge public officials and political candidates who associate themselves with the racists on either side.
  • In discussions, champion the ideas of American individualism, including freedom, as they are the antiseptic for the alien German ideas (Hegel) that are the ideological foundations of the collectivists of each side.
  • Object when others make excuses for the actions and ideas of the SJWs, Antifa, and the assorted white racists, including the Alt-Right and Identitarians.

Extra point, unfortunately, this comment is coded for those who are familiar with DIM: While I am not going to develop the idea in detail in this post, in viewing the cultural impact (much more than just politics) of the SJWs, I have begun to think of them as an emerging M2 (see DIM Hypothesis), which is a disturbing cultural shift from our current D1. While it requires research, my hypothesis is that they are integrating around Michel Foucault’s ideas around power, which were based upon his observations of the mentally ill. While Peikoff expected a rise of M2 from the religious right, some have disputed that and said that the ‘Left’ were a bigger problem today. My view is that when the culture shifts to M2 that there will be many alternative misintegrated options that will be there in the beginning but that the most effectively violent of those options may prevail in a contest. In Charlottesville, we see the SJWs and vile white racists demonstrate that their opposed ideas will be contested with violence.

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