Moved to Tumblr

May 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Nothing against WordPress — in fact, I love WordPress so much that I use it for other blogs, and it can get confusing to go back and forth between my anonymous life and my professional work. So follow, where I’ll do a lot more updating than I have over here at WordPress.

Categories: about

Onion: Romney haunted by helping sick get health care

April 21, 2011 1 comment

My favorite part:

“The major strike against Mitt Romney is that he not only tried to help people get medical care, he actually did help people get medical care,” conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg said. “No other Republican in the field has that type of baggage. And in the end, in order to defeat President Obama, the GOP needs someone who has a track record of never wanting to help sick people.”

via Mitt Romney Haunted By Past Of Trying To Help Uninsured Sick People | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.

Like a lot of good Onion stories, it’s funny because it has a grain of truth to it.

Whether Romney suffers in the 2012 primaries because he worked some pragmatic utilitarianism into his policies as governor will be the big test for the GOP. Does the party truly care about governing? Or just putting down “liberals”?

Categories: politics Tags: ,

John Locke: Not lost in dogma but full of practical thought

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Pardon the pun, but seriously — I didn’t even watch “Lost,” and I knew there was a character named after this great philosopher.

In any case, this is the start of a promising series at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, perhaps because Locke’s libertarian streak is far less rigid and unkind than Rand et al.

A Bleeding Heart History of Libertarian Thought – John Locke – Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

Categories: philosophy, politics Tags:

Libertarian hearts bleed … for themselves

April 15, 2011 2 comments

The Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog continues to disappoint. Today, it’s a whiny post that suggest that if Ayn Rand had just been left-wing, she’d be recognized as brilliant. Oh, woe is us.

The commenters, thankfully, have hit this softball over the fence. (Yes, I chimed in.)

Come on, guys — if you’re not going to present the unique nonpartisan point of view you were promising, give it up. So far, this isn’t “bleeding heart” libertarianism. It’s just “frat boy” libertarianism, using renegade academics to excuse a selfish lifestyle.

Two Hypotheses Concerning Ayn Rand – Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

UPDATE: The post disappeared. Fortunately, I have it cached:

1. If Ayn Rand’s novels had exactly the same feel, tone, and style, but were left-wing rather than whatever-wing she is, she would be considered one of the world’s greatest novelists by the literati who right now hate her writing.

2. If Ayn Rand’s novels had been left-leaning, the literati who now hate her as a person would excuse most of her moral faults (manipulativeness, drug-addiction, etc.) rather than condemn her as a bad person.

By the way, I don’t intend 1 and 2 to be a defense of Rand so much as a criticism of others.

For some evidence in favor of 1 and 2, see this study by Drew Weston.

If the post comes back up, let me know, and I’ll take down the re-creation. Utilitarians are happy to abide by reasonable copyright restrictions.

UPDATE 2: The post has been clarified and reposted. I think my comment is still valid, though perhaps the “frat-boy libertarianism” comment is a little harsher than it should be. The rest of the comments under the new post are frankly better than mine. Consensus: Rand was a mediocre writer who rose to fame because she had a unique view of the world.

That said, Mill isn’t exactly a fun read. At least Rand tried to do something unique.

Categories: philosophy, politics

Pass the potatoes? That would violate my duty to self!

April 6, 2011 1 comment

Surely most Rand disciples don’t apply her philosophy so rigidly to the dinner table. Right?

Our objectivist education, however, was not confined to lectures and books. One time, at dinner, I complained that my brother was hogging all the food.

“He’s being selfish!” I whined to my father.

“Being selfish is a good thing,” he said. “To be selfless is to deny one’s self. To be selfish is to embrace the self, and accept your wants and needs.”

It was my dad’s classic response — a grandiose philosophical answer to a simple real-world problem. But who cared about logic? All I wanted was another serving of mashed potatoes.

via How Ayn Rand ruined my childhood – Real Families –

Yard work, golf courses and collective capitalism

March 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Home ownership is both the pinnacle of freedom and the most tyrannical aspect of a relatively successful life.

The signature on a home contract is also a pledge to mow the yard, prune bushes whose species you may or may not know, move giant piles of leaves, and identify and destroy weeds. That means you have put down a huge down payment and promised 30 years of bank drafts for the right to do more work in your spare time left over from the job you’ve taken to pay for the house in the first place. (Or you could put down even MORE money and have someone else do it for you.)

Environmentalists, many of them arguing from a utilitarian point of view, would say single-family homes are just fine. It’s the golf courses, guzzling up so many lawn-maintenance resources, that they don’t like.

But in a utilitarian spirit, wouldn’t it make more sense for us all to give up our lawns and live around golf courses, where we can turn over the landscaping to people who know what they’re doing?

Or am I just trying to rationalize being lazy?

Update: The “pocket neighborhood” idea sounds terrific to me. Naturally, some of USA TODAY’s commenters think it sounds like Communism. No one’s forcing them to live there, of course, but it upsets their notion that life is nothing more than a competition and their big house is proof that they “won.”

Categories: philosophy

The rich are getting so rich (http://ow.

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

The rich are getting so rich ( that they’re employing us ( to keep them rich? Can we hold out for more money?

Categories: Uncategorized