This and the President’s That

I’m biased against the President of the United States. I don’t like his, or his opponent’s, ideology. I don’t like the amount of power that his office wields.
But when the President says:

     If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

What does he mean by the “that” in bold? Is he speaking about the “roads and bridges?” I submit not, as those are “those” and not a “that.”

The President means to say that a person who has a successful business didn’t build that [successful business]. It is an elementary point of grammar. The success is a communitarian, collective one, and the credit must be spread around. Yes, you worked hard but “there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” Of course, you’re smart but, “[t]here are a lot of smart people out there.”

You were forced to participate in a system where the government took money from some people, then redistributed some of it to others, and provided services with some it. And since you were forced to participate in this system, the system gets the credit for your accomplishments. You didn’t accomplish them. They’re the accomplishments of the community, or society, of a beneficent government which has done so many great things for you. It is a call to believe in what the government can do. It is also used as justification for higher taxes.

It would be a good message, too, except for one thing: government isn’t voluntary. You can’t opt out of taxes and decide to use private roads, schools, retirement plans, etc. You are forced to do so, and then this compulsion is used as justification for further compulsion.

Respect for your fellow persons begins with acknowledging their autonomy–their right to make decisions for themselves. The President’s words, while they may be compelling rhetoric, cannot cover up the basic fact that he’s arguing against individual autonomy.

Riveting

I haven’t been following the latest contretemps over the extent of Romney’s involvement with Bain Capital during the time he was running the Olympics. Mostly because I frankly don’t care who wins the election–nothing is going to change.

But also because I cannot imagine a less interesting subject than SEC filings. Someone needs to put together a non-partisan timeline of facts accompanied by the jury instructions which would be given in a hypothetical criminal trial involving whatever it is Romney is alleged to have done. You would think that one pundit somewhere on cable news would do this, but one supposes it is easier to just bloviate ignorantly.

Chick-fil-A offers free chickenshit with every purchase

Chick-fil-A offers free bigotry with purchase

Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.

I used to get irritated by phrases such as “the biblical definition of the family unit” because, well… Polygamy, Rape victims forced to marry their rapists, Conflict between divorce laws in the Old Testament and New, and even conflicts within the New Testament itself (no divorce allowed, *MAN* may divorce wife if she is unfaithful, No divorce allowed, No divorce among believers, but things get complicated when unbelievers are involved. Continue reading

And I come back to you now – at the turn of the tide

Ros-Lehtinen is first GOP member of Congress to back marriage equality

Asked by the Washington Blade whether she’s a supporter of same-sex marriage in addition to backing DOMA repeal, Ros-Lehtinen initially expressed confusion about why the question was being asked, saying, “I don’t know why you’re asking that. It’s such a weird way.” But she later affirmed she’s a supporter of marriage equality.

This is much larger news than the President’s craven announcement concerning gay marriage. Gays will never be mainstreamed until there is a bipartisan consensus around their formal legal equality, even if there is no consensus on what that the exact contours of that equality are.

When Objectivists are right, but tedious

Forbes: The Dog-Eat-Dog Welfare State Is Lose-Lose

“That’s the beauty of capitalism. Because all economic relationships are voluntary, people only enter into them when each party thinks it’s to his advantage. When you accept a job, for instance, it’s not because the employer forced you to work at the point of a gun. It’s because you valued the paycheck more than other possible uses of your time. It’s a gain for you and a gain for your employer.”

See, the problem isn’t with what they’re saying. I tend to agree with 95% of Objectivist political philosophy. The problem is that Objectivists are awful writers. They actually try to incorporate stock phrases and cliches into their writing because they are the stock phrases and cliches used by the Dear Leader.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect Ayn Rand quite a bit. But she wasn’t perfect and she’s dead now. Reciting her words and treating her ideas as inerrant is a combination of creepy and tiresome to people not devoted to following her. I suppose you could say that I think Objectivism has a lot in common with religion; which is to say they’re imperfect human endeavors bereft of revelation.