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Three young kids are being asked what they did on Christmas. One is a protestant, one is a catholic and one is an objectivist.

The first kid gets all excited when it’s his turn and says:

Oh oh oh, …we got up in da mornin, we has our brekfests – then the hole famiwee goes down to da church and we prays really hard to thank God for our presents. then we hurry home and we opens our presents and we play with all our presents all day!

The second kid is all excited too and says:

We got up an has our brekfastes too! Then we gots to opan all our presentes, then we go to da church and has da Christmas mass and we tank Jesus for our presents. Then we hurried home and we played with our presents all day!

Finally they ask the objectivist kid what he did on Christmas. He nonchalantly said:

“oh we got up and had a nice continental breakfast. Then dad said ‘It is time to celebrate!
So we got in the limosine, and he took me down to the toy warehouse and we looked at all the empty shelves.”

(all due homage to Dave Allen, R.I.P. for the original joke, slightly reworded for my O’ist friends)

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Dear world leaders,

You may be a politician, a businessman, an aristocrat, a president, governor, chancellor, CEO, King or Queen or any other person with such influence.  You may head a country, a state, a business, or an empire.  This letter is addressed to you who have the ability to sway a large group of people or have authority over a reasonable amount of territory.

This letter comes by way of a suggestion.  If you would like to see innumerable achievements and successes, if you would like to see your influence expand.  If you would like those people who look to you for leadership or follow your example prosper.  If you would like to increase the self worth of your holdings and the magnificence of the people you oversee.

There is a notion that was born among men, formed by men and instituted by men.  It is a notion that is disappearing rapidly from the one place on earth where it was tried in it’s purest form by men and for men.  When it was still untainted it proved itself as the means to expand those people under it’s domain in ways never before seen to achieve tasks and wonders never before witnessed in the history of man.  Those that followed it prospered and advanced faster than at any time in antiquity.

This notion consists of the principles of freedom, self-rule and of individual accountability and responsibility.

These concepts were once the means to greatness on the north American continent in the United States.  But these principles are rapidly deteriorating here and the prosperity they once brought with them is fading along with them.  When the promise of these notions was still strong, people flocked to the shores of this new land and built a nation to out shine any nation to ever come before it.  In many cases, they gave up all they had to come to a virgin land virtually unbroken by the hands and workmanship of man and built upon it’s soil a burgeoning society.  That society too is losing it’s luster with the loss of it’s freedoms and core principles.

The example has been shown through the history of the United States that ‘if you build it, they will come.”  My suggestion to you leaders is to begin with the original principles that spawned this great nation.  Remove from them the dated notions such as the 3/5ths compromise, institute a fair tax, and include the Bill of Rights but with a preamble that specifies those rights extend from the natural rights – not endowed by a creator but self-evident through reason and arrived at through logical deduction from the very nature of life – that all men are created equal and have the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I would strongly suggest to include the right to propriety over the products of  one’s life – to property, to one’s identity, a to a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Allow each man to pursue his own dreams and neither limit nor provide him largess toward that end.  Hold each man accountable for his own needs and desires and allow none to exercise force to prevent him from fulfilling them as long as he uses no force against others in their fulfillment.

Limit the power of the government to the protection of each and all in the collective against external threats and to the mitigation of disputes that arise among them.  And specify clearly that those limits are not to be usurped for any reason or as a result of any popular caprice.

Limit the power even of taxation to fees for the (limited) services of government and otherwise exercise a voluntary taxation policy among men.  If you provide sound government to enable the free will of reasonable men, they will support it willingly.

Allow no notions of state-sponsored compassion to seep into your governance.  Whether they come from subjective philosophers or intrinsic prophets, maintain a strict and unwavering abolition of any participation of such ideas in the rule of men.  Allow the men to follow whatever axioms they desire, but limit the rule of law to strictly objective principles and concepts.

Do this and they will come.  Do this and those that come will build your society, your business, your nation, your state or your empire for you.  You will not need to motivate them, leave them to find their own motives.   You will not need to supply them, let them find their own means of supply.   You will not need to teach them, they will build their own schools and form their own research facilities.  You will not need to build for them, you will instead see them building for themselves, for their profits and by extension for the others among them before your very eyes.

They will exceed your highest expectations as long as you allow them to profit from their own endeavors, seek and keep their own rewards and interact freely with their fellows with the limited protection of whatever means of governance you [and they] choose to protect them from undue force or fraud.

Finally hold them ALL accountable for themselves and disallow them to petition you for largess and you will not see looters and leeches coming to join you.  If they do find parasites amongst them, let them wither – hold for those that refuse to achieve no mercy or compassion what-so-ever.  Praise the achiever and give him free reign, and all that which is under your control will prosper.

Sincerely,

Scott Webster Wood

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There’s a lot of talk and the start of action to the end result of ‘changing’ America. So what would it take to ‘change’ America? Rather than focusing on the actual steps of change, let’s focus on the pre-requisites.

Change is something that a great many people resist even if it is called for or necessary. Traditions represent ‘comfortable expectations’. Even if the end results of traditions could be improved by making changes, people generally tend to favor old routines.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I tend to look at the world philosophically. I don’t simply do to do, I stop an try to examine why. Whether that be for the purposes of repeating honored traditions or before venturing to take part in a change to those traditions. If a change would be an improvement, then by all means do it. If a tradition makes sense, then “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

It is more than likely that although I can’t say I recognize as much introspection and skepticism in most Americans, I do see at least a general desire to ‘do what is best’. Unfortunately the lack of the former misleads the latter. So, how do you set about ‘changing America’?

First you have to represent a need for change. Most people will seek change amidst hardship.

There are many types of people in this world, and in addition to those that want to ‘do what is best’ there are also those that have other motives. Perhaps ‘do what is best for them’ or to do what is best as defined by some idealistic view they have. If you desire change when most others do not, taking advantage of a crisis is a good time to interject your ideas. (Something else to consider, if you are already in a position of power sufficient enough to present and possibly implement changes, in lieu of a crisis to help facilitate them it might be in your self-interest to either create one or belay preventing same)

Second you have to represent that the ‘need’ for change is necessary by a given party in a situation. i.e. do we need to change how we behave, or perhaps the problem is the result of how another behaves therefore we need to change how we prepare and ultimately react or respond to their behavior.

Third, you need to get the individuals involved to feel a personal responsibility in one way or another; be it complicity, complacently or as a result of apathy – whether you use guilt or idealistic rhetoric. You need to convince people that they can or should make a difference in what they support and what they do and generally make them feel responsible for either what they have done or what they failed to do.

Finally you need to gain support for the suggested change. It has to be shown as better (or the alternative shown as ‘worse’) than the traditional way of doing things. If there are other suggestions, you have to show your suggestion as superior (or the others worse). This is an important epistemology here!

———-

So to change America:

* wait for a crisis or at least create the perception of one. (or perhaps create one)

Unemployment, the recession, poverty, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, crime, education, global warming, ozone depletion, global famine, natural disasters, global threat of terror, etc. etc. etc.

* denounce old ways of doing things, focus on the negative, ignore the positive.

Slowly but surely build up disdain and apprehension for American traditions and past times. This is a big one because we live in an information maelstrom where the media technology is now mightier than either the pen or the sword.

Capitalist is a bad word

Capitalist is a bad word

Demonize or otherwise negatively taint the notions that once inspired pride. Build a cloud of suspicion or questions of morality up in regards to defending the status quo – twist the notions being brought up when defending or supporting those ideals.
Champion and repeat ad nauseum any notions that support the ideals behind any changes proposed or that will help demonize any alternative. Infiltrate or take control of any mechanisms that might help facilitate such promotion, and in the process limit access to those same mechanisms by any means possible for opposing views. “stack the deck” in your favor as it were.
Make the words themselves that support your principles all but holy and the words of the opposition evil or even banned. (PC anyone?)
Profit is bad, taxes are good. Selfishness is bad, sacrifice is good. Individual prosperity and freedom (when others are suffering) is bad, prosperity for the masses (as defined by politicians and even when there’s no real basis to assume achieving it) is good. Being accountable for one’s self is bad, depending on government for everything is good.

* demonize people who support opposing ideals or back traditional means.

Treason! Traitor. You hope change fails? I hope your kidneys fail. (paraphrased)
You’ve all followed the stories. Who are the demons today? Limbaugh? Hannity? Beck? Lavin? O’Rielly? Coulter? Even Joe the Plumber and Miss California Carrie Prejean got pulled through the ringer for just saying one sentence that didn’t fit the mold.

Far be it from me to support notions of nationalism. I agree with Penn Gillette on this one. “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country? I don’t owe Jack Shit to my country!!” Don’t support causes – whether they be causes for change or causes for tradition – without asking why, and examining the facts. Don’t fall for the hype, learn the basis, seek prior examples, review the analysis then decide for yourself!

America is great, not because we all bow down to a flag or kiss up to a leader. America is great because it was founded, guided and has always been based upon certain ‘ideas’ and ‘ideals’. Ideals that work and make sense; personal responsibility, personal accountability, individual liberty, right to expression, right to associate, right to write about all of the above.
And yes, America can remain great if and only if we remember that this list includes and requires the right and responsibility to defend against any and all challenges to any and all of the previous!

America will NOT remain great if ‘change’ represents advocating personal responsibility and accountability (to the government), taking away individual liberty for political expedience or (government-provided) ‘security’, limiting expression to what is ‘politically correct’, preventing association if it is not ‘all inclusive’ (as spelled out by government mandate) or restricting the press to what is deemed ‘fair’.
And no, it will not remain great if we limit the ability to defend it to a chosen few, again, selected and appointed by government.

Don’t buy it, don’t fall for it. Think for yourselves. Learn for yourselves. Choose for yourselves.

Yes we can? NO we shouldn’t!

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Originally posted to Facebook Notes

“I want to make something clear… I am not a conservative. I think that today’s conservatives are worse than today’s liberals. [..] If anyone destroys this country, it will be the conservatives. Because they do not know how to preach capitalism, to explain it to the people [and] because they do nothing except apologize [..]” – Ayn Rand {excerpt from the Tomorrow Show, 1979}

SW comment:
I have often said that as far as my identification with ‘being an objectivist’, it was not Ayn Rand and her writing that made me ‘decide’ to be an objectivist – i always was an objectivist thinker, Ayn Rand’s words simply validated a world view I already had and eloquently communicates the nature of that view in both her works of fiction and her essays and public speeches.
It never fails to astound me that when I find some other writing or read an essay I have not yet read or stumbled on footage of an interview, how things coming out of her mouth are almost identical to things I have thought, said or written myself.

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Originally posted to Facebook Notes

I have always had a problem with militant environmentalism. Especially when such extreme activism is nothing more than a facade for anti-industrialism or anti-capitalist socialism. But there is something more fundamental in those words that I have a problem with. This involves two preconceptions that those words represent.

The first preconception is that the ‘world needs saving’.

I have no doubt that there are areas of the world could use some help. I have seen for myself, as well as volunteered for, many projects dedicated to improving environmental conditions in various places around my community. Whether it be the River Rouge clean up, Paint Creek revitalization or building trout structures on the Ausable river. But the whole world???

Part of this stems from the limited capacity of the human mind as well as the arrogance of the human ego. The arrogance itself is also two fold. One part being the arrogance to assume that we, as a civilization that has existed in an industrialized state for less than 2 centuries can ‘screw up’ something that has been self-maintaining for 3.5 BILLION years. The second being, that if the entire world was in trouble, that we, as a civilization could do anything to stop it.

This does not mean that we can’t screw up small portions of it or that we shouldn’t try to clean up those parts we screw up. But this also does not equate to ‘saving the world’.

The second preconception is more subtle, but as a result, more insidious. Pure and simple, it begs the question that ‘if’ the world does need saving, it needs saving from whom? In short, the words are anti-humanistic. The only possible subject in that statement is to ‘save the world’ – from guess who – us!

As a result, I am highly suspect and critical of any group that asks me to ‘save the world’

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