"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
-Samuel Adams

the Misanthropic Humanist:


20 January 2009

The Clarity of Truth

I DO NOT hope that Barak Obama is successful. I know why that is, but I've had trouble figuring out how to say so without developing "Limbaugh Echo Syndrome". I've known for a while that I've got something more to add to it, and Ayn Rand has helped me figure out what that is. It's truth.

I am a newly minted Ayn Rand devotee. I finally started reading Atlas Shrugged about a month before the election and finished a little more than a week ago. The the world that she created more than 50 years ago is absolutely stunning, not just in its applicability today, but in its tonal accuracy. I can't believe the number of situations and statements in this book that I heard repeated in our world on the same day I read them in the novel.

I am not going to become a rabid follower. There are people who have pretty much formed a cult around this lady, and I won't be one of them. In the short term, however, I will have to work at not constantly referencing our real world back to her imagined one since it is so fresh in my mind. I'll let it happen a few times, and I may even do a "book review" on the pages that I've marked. It could make an interesting article as well as a handy "cliff's notes" for anybody who can't stomach her hyper-wordiness. The point of this prelude is that what I got from this book was clarity. Not strict adherence to her philosophy, but a functional way of looking at something. I think the power of a philosophy is exactly its ability to clarify the world. My personal maturity when reading this notwithstanding, every other philosophy I've read up to this point has muddled the truth rather than exposing it. They've asked questions that merely led to more questions and a distinct lack of utility. Objectivism, at least in its political applications, leads me down no blind alleys.

So how did Ms. Rand show me a clear way of explaining my wish for a mitigated disaster during the Obama administration? I think I'd better give my original logic first: Barack Obama, if he's not a socialist, sure ran as one. He's a pandering populist who wants to restrict freedom at every turn and redistribute wealth. His Tax policies will depress the economy. The bailouts he'll sign will devalue the dollar, which will devalue everything I have, everything I save, and everything I earn. His conciliatory foreign policy will weaken the United States' standing in the world, which "lowers the tide for all boats" and will result in even more economic pain. And finally, to hope for Obama success is to hope for the ascendence of moral bankruptcy along with all the actual bankruptcy of these times. This is what I would have said before reading this book and, in fact, earlier today before I had my little epiphany. But I can already hear the futile argument that would follow:

Them: "But if he's successful, then those things won't be true!"
Me: "But he won't be."
Them: "Because people like you hope that he won't! You'll make it come true!"
Me: "No, I just know that it can't. Socialism cannot work"
Them: "But you just don't want it to work, because then you'd be wrong!"
Me: "No, I don't want it to work, because it is wrong."

And so on. I was thinking along these lines today, looking for a way to clarify the fact that I think Socialism and income redistribution in all forms are wrong, and if they "worked" that would be worse, and the opposite of what I want. I could make that exact argument, but it falls on deaf ears over and over again. People want us to give Obama a chance, but I now say, a chance to do what? If we take him at his word, if we accept his campaign as being his plan, then they are asking us to give socialism a chance. I'm afraid that it's already been tried, and it's failed every time. But here is the clarity: Socialism and income redistribution are ineffective and immoral. That is a truth. They fail because they should fail. An immorality of that size can appear successful for a period of time by mortgaging the future, and they can hold on with moderate, "acceptable" levels of failure for quite a while, but they can never approach the success of freedom. If Obama's reign is billed as success, it will be a lie. And that is all we need to know.


  1. Very good points. I like your line of thinking on a lot of things.
    I'm not as eloquent as you, but I'll try to express something that I've been thinking. I hope that Obama will realize that to keep this nation alive and well he CAN'T do all these socialist things he's promised to do. I'm hoping against hope that he really DOES want the best for this nation and that he will have the guts to change his tune. It's only a hope, a prayer, not a belief...yet, I hope!

  2. You have a stronger stomach than many of us do, and I'm certain you will need that strength in the days, weeks, and months to follow this inauguration--or coronation as it appears to be from the media coverage. I personally am too frightened to even begin to imagine the work that must be done to mitigate the damage to our nation and the disappointments that will necessarily follow these events.

  3. Truth and American History textbooks are not likely to meet again anytime soon. it's been awhile since they have. Your posting may turn out to be "the voice of one crying in the wilderness"

  4. Jolynn,
    I'm more afraid that when Obama does throw in something conservative to stem the bleeding, his adoring media will blame that very of salvaging act for the continued depression.

  5. Just like the media will blame Obama's failures on the "mess that Bush left". I'm not saying that Bush didn't make a mess of things. If anything he contributed to the leftward jerk that this country has seen since his re-election.

    Now more than ever we need to draw a clear line between truth and lies. We need to expose Obama's lies and half-truths IN SPITE of his media coverage instead of relying on the drive-by's to suddenly decide to do journalism.

  6. Bobby Hill, from Kind of a Big Deal's blog:

    I agree that if Obama succeeds then the country has failed. Look at it from a philosophical point of view; if the Socialist platform that Obama ran on is successful, then the very ideal that this country was founded on has been negated. Where the Gettysburg address says "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal..." does not mean that all men (and women) should make the same amount of money, or have the same car in their driveway, or eat the same food, or watch the same size TV. It means that everyone should be treated equally regardless of their heritage. If there were no rich people, then there would be no incentive for people to come up with new ideas, or to have a business, or to succeed. If Obama is successful, I submit that the foundation on which the economy of this country rests, will crumble or at least be very close to it. Gone will be the American Dream, whereby working hard and being innovative get you ahead.

    Historical precedent should be enough of a deterrent in and of itself. The health care system in the U.S. is the envy of the entire world. Why? Because our doctors are the best in the world. Why the best? Because they are motivated. Why are they motivated? Because they get paid comparably to their skills, and because they are respected for their skills. In the Soviet Union (future of the U.S.?) the health care system was abysmal. It was Universal, the doctors made the same amount of money as the rest of the population, so there was no motivation to be a doctor.

    Where are the stories about that aspect of universal healthcare, where is the media coverage of that failure? The Soviet Union considered their communist/socialist agenda to be a success, but history has shown us that it was not. Just as history will ultimately be Obama's judge.

  7. The American Dream today is to lift oneself up by pushing somebody else down, to take from those that have to give it to those that can't bebothered to even try. Socialism is the Left's idea of a new American Dream, because the one that this country was founded upon is outdated. We live, after all, under a constitution that is to be interpreted not from the point of view of those that wrote it but from the point of view of those currently in power. The Liberal elite is trying to redefine the morals and values for which America stands. Liberals like Obama undermine morality, because if there are no moral standards they are not accountable for the dispicable things they do. That's why he repealed Bush's ban on spending tax dollars in the form of international aid to support abortion on his second day in office and one day after the March for Life. This his where his and all Liberals' priorities lie, with killing the innocent and liberating the guilty (see Gitmo).

    On another note, Bobby. You don't even have to go as far back as the Soviet Union to find failed centralized health care. When the waiting period at maternity wards in Canada are 10 months for deliveries and pets get scheduled for MRI's before humans do, you have yourself a current-day failed public health care system.

  8. Well put Patriot Girl. Its true that Canada's universal healthcare is a failure, just it was true that the communist/socialist plan of the Soviet Union was a failure. The Soviet Union on the other hand was a failure of government whereas the Canadian government has yet to fail.

    I do have to disagree with you as to what the American Dream is. I don't believe that the American Dream has changed except in the minds of the Socialist left. People like you and I can still live the American Dream (at least until Obama takes that away from us) as it was originally intended. It is true that the Constitution was designed so that it can be modified to align with the times, but Socialism as designed by the radical left, i.e. Obama, is a much older and less effective form of government than the democratic republic that we live under today. So if we want the Constitution to be modified to keep up with progress then the answer is not the plan put forth by democrats on capitol hill.

    My objective in comparing Obama to the Soviet Union was to show that when those in power have no moral compass then the government and the people which they are supposed to serve are doomed to failure.

  9. Sorry, Bobby. Re-reading my comment I noticed that sarcasm does not translate well into written words. When I "characterized" the American Dream, I was pointing out exactly what it is not supposed to be. It is not equality of outcome but equality before the law that characterizes the American Dream. Again, sorry about the confusion.

    The same happened talking about the Constitution. I am actually quite wary about changing our founding documents as we see fit. I believe that the writers of our Constitution did an outstanding job of keeping it simple. Sometimes there might be the need to add certain rights, like voting rights or abolishing slavery. But I totally disagree with interpreting our laws differently just to "go with the times". When it says "shall not infringe", I think, it is quite obvious that the government has ABSOLUTELY no right to interfere with my right to bare arms. I like taking the law literally. When it grants the right to life, I believe it means ALL lives. I think you get my drift.

    I get your point about the Soviet Union being a great example of Socialism as a system of government failing. It is however easy to fall into the trap of agreeing with "social policies" that are nothing short of "socialist policies" in disguise. That's how it starts. Bit by bit our liberal government (with "social conservatives" in tow) chips at our freedoms under the guise of the Greater Good. They might have good intentions (I even doubt that) but that doesn't make the means and outcomes they are promoting good. That's why Canada (and Europe for that matter) should be a warning sign for Americans more so than the former Soviet Union. At least the Soviets didn't pretend that they weren't having a try at Socialism.

  10. I like MH's commentary here about Atlas Shrugged. I re-read it about six months ago. It always brings new clarity, like pressing reset on my mind. I would recommend any of the rest of her work to you as well, particularly her non-fiction and especially Intro to Objectivist Epistemology which, while very wordy and high brow in a lot of respects, makes a lot of the basis of her ideals very clear.

    Patriot Girl, as to your commentary about the "soft socialism" we are descending into, if you're not already familiar, I would suggest jumping into The Road to Serfdom, by FA Hayek. It reinforces much of what you're talking about, and helps to align and categorize into cogent arguments a lot of what we instinctively feel to be wrong with socialism, in that it ALWAYS leads to a totalitarian end.