Video: Ayn Rand on Israel and the Middle East Conflict

Fascinating interview on Donohue from 1979. My rough transcript:

“Whose side should one be on, Israel or the Arabs? I would certainly say, Israel, because it’s the advanced technological, civilized country, amidst a group almost totally primitive savages who have not changed for years and who are racist and who resent Israel because its bringing industry and intelligence and modern technology into their stagnation.”

“I don’t resort to terrorism. I don’t go around murdering my opponents. Innocent woman and children. That is what I have against the Arabs. That takes the conflict out of the sphere of civilized conflict, and makes it murderous, and anyone who resorts to force is a monster. And that’s what makes me condemn and despise them.”

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Pittsburgh Mayor Proposes Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog-Act, 1% College “Privilege Tax”

Pittsburgh’s Mayor Says He’ll Pursue 1% Higher-Ed Tax (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) (H/T TaxProf Blog)

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl plans to propose a 1% college-education privilege tax to council today, in a move that’s likely to set off a fight with the city’s schools of higher learning.

College and university representatives met with the mayor on Wednesday and argued against the tax, which would be assessed on a college student’s tuition. It technically would not be a levy on the students or their schools, but rather on the privilege of getting a higher education in Pittsburgh. …

The tuition tax would raise around $16 million a year.

This is right out of Atlas Shrugged. Tax the producers and those obtaining higher education in order to redistribute that money to moochers. Really Pittsburgh?

How about you encourage producers to obtain a College tuition, so that one day they can perhaps rebuild and revitalize your city? Who is Ben Roethlisberger, err John Galt?

Detroit Shrugging. A City Reborn From the Ashes of Statism?

Detroit is in a sorry state. From Fridays WSJ:

Detroit has been in trouble for decades. It has the highest taxes in Michigan, the highest murder rate in the country, and a dreadful public school system. Only 25% of high school students graduate each year. Its tens of thousands of abandoned homes offer safe haven to drug dealers and criminals. All of this has produced an exodus of businesses—there is no longer a single major department store in the city—and residents. Detroit’s population is less than half of its peak of two million in the 1960s.

With the collapse of the auto industry over the past year and a half, things have gotten a lot worse. Unemployment is now touching Depression levels of around 30%—three times the national rate. Businesses that depend on the auto industry are shutting down and more residents are hitting the exits. This is accelerating the erosion of the city’s tax base, producing a fiscal crisis that seems impossible to escape. The city’s accumulated deficit is currently somewhere between $300 million and $400 million. No one knows for sure because the city has yet to submit its 2008 audit; its annual budget is about $3 billion.

Detroit now more closely resembles a frontier town that needs not flashy stadiums and art institutes but basic services: police, firemen and good schools. Mr. Bing needs to confront the hard reality that the city needs to pare back its liabilities, identify infrastructure it can no longer afford to maintain, and (though this is anathema to Detroit’s political class) perhaps auction off portions of its 140 square miles to neighboring counties, shrinking to a size that its diminished population base can support.

However, check out this absolutely fascinating article about the disintegration, and possible rebirth of Detroit. DETROIT: URBAN LABORATORY AND THE NEW AMERICAN FRONTIER (H/T Adam D. on FB)

I often joke that Detroit is slowly reverting back to the State of Nature. This article confirms my theory, but provides an interesting glimpse on how capitalism and a sense of individualism is spring forth from the ashes of this once statist culture. Because the government has fallen apart, and is no longer able to provide services, people are relying on themselves.

This piece also highlights the absolutely crucial advantage of Detroit. It’s possible to do things there. In Detroit, the incapacity of the government is actually an advantage in many cases. There’s not much chance a strong city government could really turn the place around, but it could stop the grass roots revival in its tracks.

In most cities, municipal government can’t stop drug dealing and violence, but it can keep people with creative ideas out. Not in Detroit. In Detroit, if you want to do something, you just go do it. Maybe someone will eventually get around to shutting you down, or maybe not. It’s a sort of anarchy in a good way as well as a bad one. Perhaps that overstates the case. You can’t do anything, but it is certainly easier to make things happen there than in most places because the hand of government weighs less heavily.

What’s more, the fact that government is so weak has provoked some amazing reactions from the people who live there. In Chicago, every day there is some protest at City Hall by a group from some area of the city demanding something. Not in Detroit. The people in Detroit know that they are on their own, and if they want something done they have to do it themselves. Nobody from the city is coming to help them. And they’ve found some very creative ways to deal with the challenges that result. Consider this from the Dowie piece:

About 80 percent of the residents of Detroit buy their food at the one thousand convenience stores, party stores, liquor stores, and gas stations in the city. There is such a dire shortage of protein in the city that Glemie Dean Beasley, a seventy-year-old retired truck driver, is able to augment his Social Security by selling raccoon carcasses (twelve dollars a piece, serves a family of four) from animals he has treed and shot at undisclosed hunting grounds around the city. Pelts are ten dollars each. Pheasants are also abundant in the city and are occasionally harvested for dinner.

This might sound awful, and indeed it is. But it is also an inspiration and a testament to the human spirit and defiant self-reliance of the American people. I grew up in a poor rural area where, while hunting is primarily recreational, there are still many people supplementing their family diet with wild game. Many a freezer is full of deer meat, for example. And of course, rural residents have long gardened, freezing and canning the results to help get them through the winter. So this doesn’t sound quite so strange to me as it might to you. The fate of the urban poor and the rural poor are more similar than is often credited. And contrary to stereotypes the urban poor often display amazing grit and ingenuity, and perform amazing feats to sustain themselves, their families and communities.

As the focus on agriculture and even hunting show, in Detroit people are almost literally hearkening back to the formative days of the Midwest frontier, when pioneer settlers faced horrible conditions, tough odds, and often severe deprivation, but nevertheless built the foundation of the Midwest we know, and the culture that powered the industrial age. No doubt in the 19th century many of those sitting secure in their eastern citadels thought these homesteaders, hustlers, and fortune seekers crazy for leaving the comforts of civilization to head to places like Iowa and Chicago. But some saw the possibilities of what could be and heeded the call to “Go West, young man.” We’ve come full circle.

Indeed, Detroit seems to be reverting back to the State of Nature, but in a good way. Without the crippling yoke of government, people are starting to reacquaint themselves with the lost concept of liberty and freedom, and self-sustainability.

Perhaps this near-dystopian society poses a glimmer of hope for the future. If our march down the statist’s road to serfdom is completed, government will ultimately cease to exist as we know it. But from the ashes, the fortitude, resiliency, and determination of the human spirit will triumph.

God speed Detroit. Who is John Galt? (waiting for the commenters to rip me for invoking God and John Galt in consecutive sentences)

Pictures of the shrinking Detroit, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Who is John Galt?

Just shrug. 220 times.

—- AYES    220 —

Abercrombie
Ackerman
Andrews
Arcuri
Baca
Baldwin
Bean
Becerra
Berkley
Berman
Berry
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Blumenauer
Boswell
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Brown, Corrine
Butterfield
Cao
Capps
Capuano
Cardoza
Carnahan
Carney
Carson (IN)
Castor (FL)
Chu
Clarke
Clay
Cleaver
Clyburn
Cohen
Connolly (VA)
Conyers
Cooper
Costa
Costello
Courtney
Crowley
Cuellar
Cummings
Dahlkemper
Davis (CA)
Davis (IL)
DeFazio
DeGette
Delahunt
DeLauro
Dicks
Dingell
Doggett
Donnelly (IN)
Doyle
Driehaus
Edwards (MD)
Ellison
Ellsworth
Engel
Eshoo
Etheridge
Farr
Fattah
Filner
Foster
Frank (MA)
Fudge
Garamendi
Giffords
Gonzalez
Grayson
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Grijalva
Gutierrez
Hall (NY)
Halvorson
Hare
Harman
Hastings (FL)
Heinrich
Higgins
Hill
Himes
Hinchey
Hinojosa
Hirono
Hodes
Holt
Honda
Hoyer
Inslee
Israel
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Kagen
Kanjorski
Kaptur
Kennedy
Kildee
Kilpatrick (MI)
Kilroy
Kind
Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Klein (FL)
Langevin
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Levin
Lewis (GA)
Lipinski
Loebsack
Lofgren, Zoe
Lowey
Luján
Lynch
Maffei
Maloney
Markey (MA)
Matsui
McCarthy (NY)
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
McNerney
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Michaud
Miller (NC)
Miller, George
Mitchell
Mollohan
Moore (KS)
Moore (WI)
Moran (VA)
Murphy (CT)
Murphy, Patrick
Murtha
Nadler (NY)
Napolitano
Neal (MA)
Oberstar
Obey
Olver
Ortiz
Owens
Pallone
Pascrell
Pastor (AZ)
Payne
Pelosi
Perlmutter
Perriello
Peters
Pingree (ME)
Polis (CO)
Pomeroy
Price (NC)
Quigley
Rahall
Rangel
Reyes
Richardson
Rodriguez
Rothman (NJ)
Roybal-Allard
Ruppersberger
Rush
Ryan (OH)
Salazar
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Sarbanes
Schakowsky
Schauer
Schiff
Schrader
Schwartz
Scott (GA)
Scott (VA)
Serrano
Sestak
Shea-Porter
Sherman
Sires
Slaughter
Smith (WA)
Snyder
Space
Speier
Spratt
Stark
Stupak
Sutton
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Tierney
Titus
Tonko
Towns
Tsongas
Van Hollen
Velázquez
Visclosky
Walz
Wasserman Schultz
Waters
Watson
Watt
Waxman
Weiner
Welch
Wexler
Wilson (OH)
Woolsey
Wu
Yarmuth

Received Two Ayn Rand Books and Interview with Anne Heller, Author of Ayn Rand and the World She Made Forthcoming

I just received copies of two Ayn Rand biographies released on the same day. Goddess of the Market, Ayn Rand and the American Right by Jennifer Burns, and Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne Heller.

For purposes of full disclosure to the Obama FTC, I paid for the Burns book, but I received a complimentary copy of the Heller book. The perks of JoshBlogs 🙂

DSC02646

An interview with Anne Heller will be forthcoming.

I look forward to reading both of these fascinating books about a curious and enigmatic, yet massively influential figure in thought.

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Really Cool, Yet Scary Visual of the U.S. National Debt

Check out this scary visual of every aspect of the U.S. National Debt. It makes the sign in Manhattan look like a joke. H/T Adelle L.

I wish I could program a clock like this that would blare out “Who is John Galt” every time the debt increased, say a million dollars. It would never shut up.

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Taxpayers paid $24,000 per Clunker. THIS is why I refused to accept the Cash for Clunkers blood money

Although my license plate is pretty cool, my car is not. I drive a 1997 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan with 140,000 miles on it.

This past Summer, when the government launched the Cash for Clunkers program, I was intrigued. My car qualified for a $3200 credit, and dealers were adding incentives on top of that. My car worked just fine, and I didn’t really need a new car. But if I could get $6,000 off the price of a new car, and junk my Soccer-Mom car, I considered it.

After much moral vacillation, I reluctantly decided to participate. I was planning on going to a dealer to look at a snazzy new Ford Escape on Saturday morning. On Friday night, the Obama Administration, unexpectedly announced that they were suspending the Program late Friday night. They were running out of money to fund the program.

At first, I was enraged. Why should those who quickly utilized the rebate get it, while I don’t?

But then I realized something. I was no different from a Soviet who had to wake up at the crack of down in order to be the first on the bread line before they ran out of rations. I was instantly repulsed. I am not a serf. President Obama will not dictate to me the terms of when, where, and what kind of car I should buy. I would not participate in this travesty.

Ultimately, Congress jumped into action and added some funding for the program. I did not care. I was resolute.

People tried to coax me into accepting it. They would tell me, “you pay taxes, get some of your money back.” No. This is not my money. This is the money from taxpayers from across the Country. Their hard earnings were taxed, like the yoke on a donkeys back. I would not partake. While I will concede there are some public goods that justify taxing (roads, national defense, schools, etc-though that etc is not unlimited), subsidizing the destruction of perfectly good cars to replace them with marginally better cars aint a public good I can support.

Now, I realize I was right. CNN reports, Clunkers: Taxpayers paid $24,000 per car:

A total of 690,000 new vehicles were sold under the Cash for Clunkers program last summer, but only 125,000 of those were vehicles that would not have been sold anyway, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the automotive Web site Edmunds.com.

The Cash for Clunkers program gave car buyers rebates of up to $4,500 if they traded in less fuel-efficient vehicles for new vehicles that met certain fuel economy requirements. A total of $3 billion was allotted for those rebates.

The average rebate was $4,000. But the overwhelming majority of sales would have taken place anyway at some time in the last half of 2009, according to Edmunds.com. That means the government ended up spending about $24,000 each for those 125,000 additional vehicle sales.

I won’t even get into the insanity and economic stupidity of this program. The program paid car owners to junk their older cars in order to purchase marginally more environmentally friendly cars. See the Broken Window Fallacy for more details.

My opposition was largely centered on the fact that I did not want to encumber my fellow citizen with any additional tax burden. And the numbers bear out. Each vehicle sale cost America $24,000. Spread out among hundreds of millions of taxpayers, this is negligible, but quantifiable.

Who is John Galt?