Elias presents ... a worm!    Thoughts on family, philosophy,
and technology


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Doom and gloom

What they don't know -- and neither does this country -- is that the United States is broke.

- Ayn Rand, 1974
It being Halloween, it's fitting to note that our economy is undead, a zombie moving on inertia from a life-force that is long gone. Despite a sucker's rally on Wall Street, I'm expecting stocks will go much lower within a year (as this thing gets properly priced in), and we'll see 10% or more unemployment in 2010. In the next few years, boomers who are retired or about to retire will tragically see that half of their life-savings has been wiped out, not to return in their lifetime; many homeowners who lose their jobs will quickly find themselves insolvent; and a growing wave of government entities of every kind and level will follow the dismal lead of Vallejo, California and go broke. There is not going to be another bubble to end the recession this time: deflation will be here for years, as the grim race plays out between the desperate quest for savings and the slaughterhouse of unemployment. The numbers of people and businesses and governments filing for bankruptcy in the next five years is going to be awesome and depressing. The cause of all of this, decades of federal economic policies and ad hoc measures of money and credit inflation, have zero chance of changing for the better; instead, we are already seeing these statist tendencies surging in both scope and depth. Meanwhile, the popular hatred of capitalism seems to be total now (if the chatter out of Republican candidates is any measure) -- but it, too, will grow as the financial pain reverberates, with capitalism taking the blame as it always has. At the same time, things have never looked so bright for the political aspirations of the Dark Ages-worshiping environmentalists; and when the economic meltdown evolves into a spiritual crisis, their unwitting friends, the Dark Ages-worshiping religionists, will be ready to lead. The only thing that seems to be missing from this perfect storm is a world war.

Given this setup, it will be miraculous if political crises do not erupt and alter our political reality quickly and catastrophically. How far off can Directive 10-289 be?

I am forced to the conclusion that we are witnessing the bitter end of the remnants of the American Enlightenment; and fascism -- in which every major enterprise is fundamentally controlled by the government -- will be here within a few years, perhaps a decade.

For America, I see only one hope: fully fund the Free Books to Teachers Campaign. Freedom will not survive the loss of Ayn Rand's influence. It never could have.


Monday, October 27, 2008

The intellectual betrayal of an age

Seen in a blog comment:
There once was an Alan Greenspan
Who sat at the feet of Miss Rand
Her ideas seemed fine
For just the right time
But till then honest banking be damned
Greenspan's intellectual betrayal -- of individual rights, of capitalism, and of Ayn Rand -- is of epic scope, even if this doesn't turn into Great Depression 2 (or something worse). He thought he could manage world markets better than they could manage themselves. He sought to personally maximize our wealth more practically than by the gold standard he had praised in his youth. He didn't want to destroy -- he wanted to control.

But his control proved maximally destructive.

The epitaph of Greenspan's life will be that after learning of the logical necessity for free minds and free markets from the greatest genius since Aristotle, he then chose a career in economic coercion which ultimately brought financial calamity crashing down around six billion people.

He now says: "I still do not fully understand what happened."

I wonder if rather he understands too well: that this is the finale of decades of cheating on the principles he had once known in order to get away with a life of power-lust.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Peikoff 10/20/2008

On the election:
I have this podcast to discuss ideas, not to choose among the lowest sub-humans.
The second answer in this podcast gives crystal-clear statements on the non-rights of fetuses before birth. The issue: biological dependence. I agree. And notice he does not mention the fact that fetuses have not yet started to exercise their rational faculty, which I've seen a few Objectivists make a big deal about, but I think it's irrelevant.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Economics in one post

Not this post, this one.

Mish Shedlock says of it:
It's a sad state of affairs that Bernanke who fashions himself an "expert" on the great depression knows less about the cause and cure of it than anyone who reads and understands the above article.
Mish's blog is, by the way, must reading for anyone who wants to hear about the economic outlook from a very sharp economist. (The current outlook in one word? Unemployment.)

A couple other good recent articles: one explaining that our Keynesian banking system is guaranteed to melt down regularly, just as it has done every few years or decades; and another which soberly explained the dire situation back in March and what must be done about it. This last is by the brilliant Objectivist George Reisman, who was voraciously reading economic treatises at age 14 before coming to study under both von Mises and Ayn Rand. Read his magnum opus online here.

The common theme of all the above? Shut down the Federal Reserve, cut government spending, and replace fiat money (which is, increasingly, just a bunch of IOU's taken against future tax receipts, i.e, against ourselves) with gold -- that is: get the government out of the economy or risk another depression.

Objectivists Ed Cline and C. August consider just how bad things are about to get, given that the statist deck of cards is stacked against us. Indeed, since Obama and Pelosi and Bernanke and Paulson (and governments around the world) will soon be running the show in unison according to the Marxist-Keynesian script of economic destruction -- the popular contempt for capitalism having reached a new crescendo -- we can no longer rule out as far-fetched that we may experience an economic-political disaster of epic scope in the next few years. Of course, neither can one predict that such is very likely to happen: even if you are an economist and this is your area of expertise, everything still hinges on the unpredictable, arbitrary actions of those in power.

But it is at least time to face the fact that a government-generated wave of unemployment is already on it's way.


Friday, October 17, 2008


A few weeks ago I started introducing the concept of "genus" to Elias. After only one or two examples ("animals" and "furniture"), he got it, to my amazement. Next he was telling me that the genus of his Legos is "toys."

The other night I was reading to both of the kids and brought up another example. That's when the smallest boo-boo decided that "genus" sounds like "penis." Things don't always go as planned with children, do they?

My purpose is to teach the methodology of figuring out explicit definitions. I can't think of any good reason we don't learn to habitually define our concepts from a very young age, though I'm sure many non-Objectivist parents would cringe (or scowl) at the thought. Part of Ayn Rand's genius must have been that she grasped the value of this, and did it, from a very young age.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mainely in Maine

Scenes from the Atlantic coast:


Friday, October 10, 2008

The ascendency of Lord British

Richard Garriott was one of my heroes when I was 15. He wrote the Ultima series of computer games, and the one I owned, Ultima IV, was in a class of its own for making morality a central aspect of gameplay. Your character's moral status was a measurement of your compliance, throughout the game, with eight virtues. I still have the game box, including a super-cool cloth map of "Britannia." And I can still picture the pages of a magazine interview of Richard back then. His words which I dwelled upon amounted to: if you want to develop cool software, the most important thing is to master the dry technicalities of programming. That interview was very inspiring to me.

Now, Richard, the son of a NASA astronaut, is spending his own fortune on a ten-day spaceflight. When he looks out the window back at Earth, might he see something like this?


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Waiting for Diogenes

Since this is the part in Atlas Shrugged right before little civil wars break out all over the country, I thought it might be helpful to pre-emptively research some super-inexpensive meals: beat this. And remember, you can always use the clapboard siding off of your newly remodeled McMansion to build a nice big bonfire for the cooking of said entrees. (Hint: start the fire with your IRA quarterly statements.)