Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hillary is Just Not That Scary



I read in the paper today that in a AP-Ipsos telephone poll that by a wide margin when people were asked which presidential candidate would make the scariest Halloween costume, 37% named Hillary Clinton, which was far ahead of her closest rival Rudy Giuliani at 14% and other presidential contenders at around 6%.

I know conservative radio talk show pundits and bloggers are trying to scare us to death with the thought that Hillary could be our next President, but I just don’t find her that scary.

Don’t get me wrong. I will more than likely vote for the Republican nominee over Hillary. If, however, the Republican nominee is Rudy Giuliani he will have to woo me. If we must have a Democrat, I think we could do worse than Hillary. She is no scarier than the rest of the Democratic pack, and less scary than Kucinich, Richardson, Edwards, or Obama. She does not advocate an immediate pullout of Iraq. She has been cautious in her foreign policy pronouncements, especially the threat posed by Iran. While I am sure I would not like her Supreme Court nominees, I doubt they would be any more liberal than those of any other Democrat.

I doubt she is the socialist bogeyman that the right is making her out to be. I suspect that if she is the next president she will be fairly moderate. Face it; Bill Clinton was a moderate. In fact, as Alan Greenspan has argued, you could say Bill Clinton was one of our best “Republican” presidents. With Bill Clinton we got Welfare Reform, something that had eluded Republican presidents. We got NAFTA and an extension of globalization and free trade. We got a budget surplus, a reduction in the national debt, and only a moderate increase in domestic discretionary spending. Clinton was not afraid to exercise American leadership and take us to war when the stability of Europe was threatened, but he avoided getting us bogged down in that war. All in all, Clinton was moderate to fairly conservative. I doubt Hillary Clinton is that far to the left of Bill Clinton. As Merle Haggard has said, the best thing Hillary has going for her is Bill.

The one thing that does slightly scare me about Hillary is that she will probably try to nationalize health care. However, she failed when she tried it as first lady and I doubt she will succeed as President. Anyway, unless Republicans push for market reform of health care, socialized medicine will probably eventually happen anyway. Hillary is probably no more likely to succeed in nationalizing health care than any other Democrat.

After eight years of a Bush presidency, nothing can scare me. Hillary is just not that scary.

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Bush is the biggest spender since LBJ

David Lightman McClatchy Newspapers


WASHINGTON — George W. Bush, despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing, is the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson. In fact, he's arguably an even bigger spender than LBJ.


“He’s a big government guy,” said Stephen Slivinski, the director of budget studies at Cato Institute, a libertarian research group.


The numbers are clear, credible and conclusive, added David Keating, the executive director of the Club for Growth, a budget-watchdog group. “He’s a big spender,” Keating said. “No question about it.”

Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors. To continue (Bush is Biggest Spender)

When someone ask me why I am a Republican, one of my replies is, “Because I believe in fiscal responsibility and small government.” I will have to scratch that reason off my list. Rod

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Poking Friends in the Eye

What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Is she trying to take away from George W. Bush the title of Century’s Biggest Foreign Policy Idiot? Are Democrats so invested in American defeat in Iraq that they want to help it alone? Why are they choosing this point in time to poke Turkey in the eye?

By a 27-21 vote last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution, which formally identifies the killings of the 1.5 million Armenians in the waning days of World War I as genocide. Turkish officials acknowledge the killings occurred but object to the designation "genocide." Maybe Turkey is a tad touchy on this issue. After all, Turkey did not exit at the time. Nevertheless, they find this resolution offensive. So offensive in fact, that when the Committee passed the resolution, Turkey recalled their ambassador for consultation. The Turks claim the events that occurred nearly 90 years ago was a result of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the resulting civil wars and anarchy, but was not genocide.

The reason this resolution is so ill timed is that Turkey and Kurdish Iraq are on the verge of war. At the end of World War I, when the victors divided up the Ottoman Empire, they forgot to give the Kurds a state. The Kurds were divided between Syria, Turkey and Iraq. For the last 90 years Turkey has been trying to assimilate the Turkish Kurds and make them more Turkish. Like many people without a country, the Turkish Kurds are not very happy. For the last 20 years, Turkey has been fighting a gorilla separatist movement in the south of Turkey. Since the Iraqi war, the guerilla movement has stepped up the war against Turkey. The Kurdistan People’s Party (PKK) has been committing terrorist acts in Turkey and then fleeing to Kurdistan and they have also been lobbing mortars into Turkey from Iraq. Turkey has had enough and the Turkish Parliament has passed a resolution authorizing their military to cross the border into Iraq to fight the PKK.

Kurdistan has been our one success in Iraq. It is relatively prosperous, peaceful and democratic. The mess in Iraq is threatening to spin out of control and engulf the whole region in conflict. We do not want an Al Qaeda strong hold, a client state of Iran, and genocide in Iraq. The result of failure in Iraq could be horrendous. We do not need our ally Turkey going to war with the one part of Iraq that represents success. We need stability.

We need to be a moderating influence and try to get the Kurds and Turks to avoid war. Turkey is our friend; they are part of NATO and seek membership in the European Union. Turkey is a modern, secular, democratic, state with an Islamic population. As Bush said recently, “Congress has more important work to do than antagonizing a democratic ally in the Muslim world, especially one that's providing vital support for our military every day." And, he said "... one thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire."

A hand full of reasonable Democrats including Tennessee’s own Representatives John Tanner and Steve Cohen urged House Democratic leadership to stop the resolution. "We believe that this resolution at this time takes away or impedes our ability to bring the most swift rapid resolution of this situation in Iraq to a conclusion that is beneficial to our country," Tanner said. In a letter from Tanner and others to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they said, the resolutions would "threaten our operations and our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Also, eight former U.S. secretaries of state, Democrat and Republican, also opposed the resolution: Alexander M. Haig, Jr.; Henry A. Kissinger; George P. Shultz; James A. Baker III; Lawrence S. Eagleburger; Warren Christopher; Madeleine K. Albright; and Colin L. Powell. "Passage of the resolution would harm our foreign policy objectives to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia," said the letter signed by former Secretaries of State. “It would also strain our relations with Turkey, and would endanger our national security interests in the region, including the safety of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."

It looks like saner heads will prevail and that the resolution will not come to a vote. With George Bush as President and Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House, God help us.

Above quotes from CNN (Speaker Pelosi Hedges)

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Grant to preserve wilderness land near Caney Fork

By ANNE PAINE
Staff Writer, The Tennessean, Oct. 22, 2007

Another piece of the wilderness that lies in a corridor between Fall Creek Falls State Park and Scotts Gulf has been protected.

"The rugged, spectacular scenery rivals scenery anywhere in the world," said Kathleen Williams, executive director of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, one of the groups that worked to secure the funding.

Agencies and nonprofits today have conserved about 53,000 acres, including a 1,500-acre tract the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts recently acquired and Virgin Falls, where the waters appear from an underground cave before tumbling off a bluff. They disappear into another opening at the base of the falls. (To read full article....Grants to Preserve Wilderness)

My Commentary
Many people visit the Great Smoky Mountains, but in Middle Tennessee there is a natural treasure every bit as beautiful. It is unspoiled by the commercial tourist industry that borders the Smokies. Small sleepy towns and well tending farms dot the country side. The mountains of the Cumberland plateau has beautiful scenery, hiking trails, trout fishing streams, babbling brooks, caves, massive stone formations, and hundreds of waterfalls including Fall Creek Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rockies.

The land has some of the greatest diversity of plants and wildlife species in America. The land is beautiful to explore any time of the year. Taking a Spring hike you may find dozens of variety of wildflowers in bloom. And, if you visit the same trail a week later, some of those flowers will no longer be blooming, but new varieties will have bloomed out. For two months, the same trail can be a different hike each time. In the fall the Cumberlands can take your breath away as you gaze at a hill side and see the ribbons of fall colours. I find that a day trip to the Cumberland restores my soul and wipes away a months worth of daily stress.

This beautiful land is being threatened, however, by the growing population and development and by clear-cutting of timber. An organization that is taking the lead in preserving this treasure is The Tennessee Parks and Greenway Foundation. If it was not for this organization, many of the most beautiful sites in Tennessee would be lost. One reason this organization can be successful when state government cannot, is because they can act faster than the state government to save endangered sites. The wheels of government turn slow. By the time annual budgets are approve, legislation is passed, and studies are done, a threatened site is lost. TPGF can purchase the site and hold it until a state agency can purchase it. Also, TPGF has fewer bureaucratic processes to go through, so they can purchase sites at less cost than if purchased by the state, and since they are not in business to make a profit they can sell the property at a saving to the state of Tennessee.

TPGF operates on a shoe-string budget with low overhead and almost all the money donated to the foundation goes into purchasing endangered sites that have a natural feature worth preserving such as a waterfall or are home to an endangered species. In addition to purchasing property, TPGF saves the land by accepting donation of "construction easements" on property which limits future developments. In addition to the land that eventually goes into state hands in the form of state parks or wilderness areas, many farms will remain as farms or open space due to the owners voluntarily giving away their development rights. TPGF educates property owners on how they can bequest the beauty of the Cumberlands to future generations by placing these development restrictions on their property.

I am glad to see the natural beauty of the Cumberlands being preserved. Piece by piece, much of this beautiful mountain land is being saved. Kathleen Williams, Executive Director of The Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation is my sister. I am proud of her and the noble work she is doing. If you love the beauty of the Cumberlands or support the work of those that are saving our natural heritage you may wish to make a contribution to support this worth while organization.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Don't accept foreclosure without consulting a loss mitigation counselor first

The Tennessean, Saturday, 10/20/07
By ROD WILLIAMS


Believe it or not, mortgage companies do not want to foreclose on your home. They are in the finance business and not the real estate business. If you got behind on your mortgage due to a hardship and now the crisis is over, you can usually keep your home. Even if you did not have a hardship and simply mismanaged your money, you may be able to keep your home, if you can convince the mortgage company you can afford your house.

As a mortgage default and loss mitigation counselor, I am able to help most people I counsel avoid foreclosure and keep their home. If you are facing foreclosure, try to get an appointment with an experienced loss mitigation counselor. Unfortunately, there are not enough loss mitigation counselors to serve the people who need our service and most homeowners must deal with their mortgage company on their own. If you must deal with the problem on your own, here are some things you ought to know:

• Don't just ignore the problem. Many people who fall behind on their house payment simply put off dealing with the problem. As they fall further behind, they quit opening their mail or answering the phone. The sooner you deal with the problem, the more likely you are to find a solution that will help you save your home.

• Prioritize your bills. If you are facing financial difficulty and can't pay all your bills, pay the essential bills first. Pay secured debt before you pay unsecured debt. If you have two mortgages on your home, pay the first mortgage before you pay the second mortgage.

• Know that there are "work-out" options. While an FHA mortgage may offer more work-out options than other type of mortgages, almost all mortgage companies have programs to help you save your home.

• Reach the right person. When you first call customer service at most mortgage companies, you are talking to a person who is basically a bill collector, who does not know the work-out options that are available or does not have authority to offer them. Ask for the "loss mitigation department" or "work-out" department.

• Think before you give "financials." Sometimes your mortgage company may wish to take "financials" over the phone; other times, they may send you a packet to complete. "Financials" is a listing of your income and expenses. The mortgage company is trying to determine if you can afford the house and if they should work with you to help you keep it. How you complete the "financials" is extremely important. Usually, you need to show a positive cash flow, so you may wish to cut nonessential expenses such as cell phones, cable TV, gym and spa memberships and church contributions before you give your financials to the mortgage company. Another way you may increase your cash flow is by decreasing your income tax withholding.

• Don't agree to a plan you can't keep. Sometimes desperate homeowners will agree to a repayment plan, knowing they cannot afford the new payment amount. If you default on a repayment plan, the mortgage company will be reluctant to work with you on other work-out options.

• Consider bankruptcy. Sometimes a bankruptcy is the solution, if you cannot get a work-out plan from your mortgage company that lets you save your home. Talk to a bankruptcy attorney to see if bankruptcy is an option.

• Remember, a house is just shelter. Sometimes it is best to sell the home before it forecloses, surrender the home by offering a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or let the foreclosure occur. We develop an emotional attachment to our home and hate the thought of losing it. However, if you got a bad loan, simply can't afford the house you purchased, and have no equity in the home, you are not really losing anything if you do "lose" it. Bad credit can be repaired. Three years after losing your home, you can again purchase a home. But next time you can prepare yourself, educate yourself, and do it the right way. Losing your home is not the end of the world

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Congratulations to Al Gore

by Ronald Bailey Reason Magazine, October 12, 2007
"Global warming is not the result of environmental sin; it is the result of human progress creating another commons problem. We do not need to "lift global consciousness"; we need to find a cheap, low-carbon source of energy. I have no doubt that man-made global warming is an economic and technical problem that an inventive humanity will solve over the course of the 21st century." To continue...Congratulations to Al Gore

I could not agree more! We must solve the problem of global warming, but not by spirituality and repentance. Rational people can solve what is a essentially a technical and economic problem. Rod

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dear Al, Congratulations!

Dear Al,

Congratulations!

I wish to congratulate you on winning the Nobel peace prize. I admire your work in raising the consciousness of people about global warming. I have had a change of heart from some years ago when I scoffed at global warming. I remember when they called you “ozone man” and “Owl” Gore, and I snickered. I apologize. You were a prophet crying in the wilderness. The science is in. The issue is settled. You were ahead of your time. Global warming is happening and the activity of mankind is a major contributing factor.

I know you have come in for a lot of criticism and ridicule. A few months ago, you got a lot of criticism from people who said you were a hypocrite because your 20-bedroom, 8-bathroom mansion in Belle Meade with heated swimming pool and gas-lamp- lined driveway uses 20 times as much electricity as the average house in Nashville. Also, some wondered why you need four homes. I don’t like hypocrites. I was disappointed to discover that Rush Limbaugh was a druggie. And, all of those family-value Republicans who have long-term mistresses disappointment me. Anybody might fall from Grace, but purposely living a lifestyle contrary to what you preach is wrong. It you are going to campaign for virtue, you should walk the walk. But, Al, I don’t think you are a hypocrite.

I understand you work out of your home and you have to host a lot of parties, and a mansion that big just takes a lot of electricity. It is often a tactic of people to attack the messenger when they don’t like the message. And, Al, your critics are not above playing the class-envy card. I know it is usually Democrats who play the class-envy card, but Republicans do it do when they can get away with it. The reason Republicans play the envy card less than Democrats is not that Republican are more moral; it is because it does not fit their agenda. The Democrats believe the size of the economic pie is fixed and it is their job to redistribute. Republicans believe we can always make a bigger pie. So, the use of envy simply fits the Democrat agenda better. But, in this case they are trying to use it against you. Populism is the often the refuge of scoundrels.

You can’t help it if you are rich and I don’t hold that against you. I would like to be rich myself. You being richer doesn’t make me any poorer. I don’t expect you to sell your goods and give the money to the poor. Anyway, you bought carbon offsets. Some have said purchasing carbon offsets is like buying indulgences, but if the offsets really do off set, then use all the energy you want. I don’t care. I don’t expect you to live like a commoner. And, I also understand you are remodeling to make your home more eco-friendly. You are changing out all or your light bulbs and I understand you are putting in the same kind of eco-friendly, geo-thermal heating system that George Bush has had in his home for years. Good for you.

Anyway, you won a very prestigious award. I have sometimes wondered, however, why the Nobel Prize ever got to be so prestigious. It is not recognition by your peers, like the Country Music Awards, and is not an honor bestowed on you by the United Nations or anything. Gallup didn’t poll the world to see who should get a Nobel prize. It is not like the Pope making you a Saint. Actually, the Parliament of the somewhat unimportant country of Norway selects five little-known people who decide who gets the award. Did you know that Mahatma Gandhi never did get the Nobel Peace Prize? Many think he did. He was nominated five times, but was never selected.

Al, I also know some people are trying to say that you did not deserve the Nobel Peace prize because your global warming work was not related directly to the cause of peace. However, I think the augment that if we have continued global warming, there will be conflict over natural resources and therefore, curtailing global warming will curtail future conflict has merit. Anyway, there was no other category you fit for a Nobel Prize.

In any event, a lot of other people who got the Peace Prize also came in for criticism. Theodore Roosevelt got it for ending the Russo-Japanese War and some people said he did not deserve it because of his intervention in the Philippines to suppress a revolt snacked of imperialism, but it didn’t bother me. Another great Tennessean, Cordell Hull, got it for his roll in establishing the United Nations; yet his roll in pressuring FDR to refuse asylum to a shipload of Jews seeking asylum from Nazi Germany and their subsequent death in concentration camps should have disqualified him, some have said.

Of course a lot of people said Henry Kissinger did not deserve it, despite his role in negotiating the Vietnam Paris Peace accord. Some feel the secret bombing of Cambodia should have disqualified him and others feel his betrayal of our South Vietnamese ally and the subsequent massive deaths at the hands of the Communist in Vietnam and Cambodia should have disqualified him. And, some claim that Arafat should not have gotten the award because he was a terrorist. And, then there was the African woman who claimed HIV was engineered by white scientist to kill Africans, and some felt that that tarnished her image, and she did not deserve it. So, Al, you are not the first person who got the award that critics said should not have gotten it. It is a prestigious award, so you can rightfully be proud.

Now that you got it, what are you going to do next? I don’t think you have to worry about Bush getting the Supreme Court to take it away from you. I don’t think he can do that. So, you have all of this political capital. Not only do you have this prize, but also you have the two Oscars that your movie won, and a best selling book.

Face it you have raised consciousness. Mission accomplished! So, you don’t need to do Inconvenient Truth II, and one Live Earth was enough. I know Willie Nelson is doing Farm Aid for about the twentieth time, but I think one Earth Aid is enough. After the first one, it is kind of like reruns. So what next? I have a suggestion. Use your political capital to fight for a structural change that will really stop global warming. Don’t waste your enhanced prestige to tell people to change light bulbs or properly inflate their tires. Those things are commendable, but you know as well as I do, that if the problem is really as dire as you say it is, we must do more than that, or more than tinker with the CAFE standards.

In the past you have advocated a carbon tax, including, higher gas taxes. I know that during the Presidential campaign of 2000, you said we needed lower gas prices not higher gas price, but you were trying to get elected then and I don’t hold that against you. Since then, you have often called for a carbon tax. I know many of your most loyal supporters are not going to be happy until we are all living in caves and grubbing for worms. Some are not going to be happy until we remake human nature. But, that is not going to happen. Some of your most loyal followers may have other agendas rather than defeating global warming.

If we had a carbon tax, then people wouldn’t have to be persuaded to conserve because it is a moral choice; they would conserve because the harmful effects of carbon consumption was adequately priced. People respond to prices. There should be no free polluting of the environment with global warming emissions. All of the other alternatives would be cheaper if only carbon emissions were priced. Alan Greenspan, a guy who knows as much about economics as you do global warming, says the economy could tolerate a revenue-neutral gas tax of $3. So, Al, I hope you will not waste your new prestige on symbolic things and instead will make the best of this opportunity to make the structural change this planet needs. You can do it, Al!
I know this has been a long letter. Thank you for indulging me. Again, congratulations on the Peace Prize.

Oh, by the way, I ran into you at an art opening recently, at the Tag Gallery on 5th Ave. I am the guy who said, “Are you really Al Gore or an Al Gore impersonator.” Afterwards I felt so stupid. I think I had had one too many glasses of wine and was just surprised to see you out at an art opening, like a normal person. I am normally not a star-struck idiot. I am sure I did not make a good impression. If I every run into you again, I want to shake your hand and say, “Congratulations on winning the peace prize. I hope you move on to phase II of your campaign to save the planet.”

Sincerely,

Rod Williams

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Friday, October 12, 2007

How Ayn Rand Changed My Life

In 1992 I went to Annapolis, Maryland to attend a weeklong training session for a part-time job I had with the U. S. Department of Labor. At the first session of this training, after everyone had taken turns introducing themselves, the training instructor had us play an “ice-breaker” game. The instructor had each participant list his or her favorite beverage, book and broadcaster on a sheet of paper and turn it in. She then read off the three answers from each class participant and after each reading the class was to guess which list belonged to which person. More than one person listed “ice tea” and “The Bible”. I had easily listed “Bourbon and coke” and “Atlas Shrugged”, but not having a preferred broadcaster, listed “Katie Couric”, since that was the only name that came to mind.

When the moderator read my selections, several people guessed Louella Ballenger, one of the class instructors, as the author of my list. It seems that a few months earlier, in another training session, Louella had listed Atlas Shrugged. Some of her fellow instructors had remembered. After this exercise, I wanted to meet the other person who had listed Atlas Shrugged as her favorite book and when the mid-morning break came, I introduced my self. In our brief exchange during the break we shared how much we each had appreciated the book and we enjoyed our brief conversation and agreed to meet in the hotel lounge after class for a drink and more conversation.

When we met for that drink, we found out that we had much in common and enjoyed the conversation, and the drink tuned into dinner and then after dinner drinks. We continued to talk until late. The mellow lounge had, by this time, been taken over by punk rockers and high volume music and we continue to try to have conversation over the loud music, screaming in each others ear until we finally called it a night at about 11 o’clock.

We started the evening off talking about Ayn Rand and our political development and continued in the evening talking about current events, politics, history, our background, travel, family and children and numerous other topics. There was never an awkward moment. The conversation flowed from one topic to the other for hours. Louella was graceful, intelligent, well read, pretty, and charming. I was smitten. I had never felt so connected to another person in my life. I was excited to find someone who understood what I was talking about and who had read many of the same books and had the same heroes.

During that training week we socialized on several other occasions, often with other class members. After the week’s training ended, we continued to talk by phone and write each other letters. A few months later, I returned for another training session and our relationship deepened. To make a long story short, our friendship developed into a romantic relationship, we began visiting each other back and forth, took annual vacations together, and in 2003, Louella took early retirement, moved to Nashville, and we got married. Thank you Ayn Rand for introducing me to the love of my life.

I first read Atlas Shrugged when I was 14 or 15 years old. I plucked it off of a shelf at Anna Mae Denton’s Storefront Gospel Mission. My father who was a gospel singer would go to the mission to entertain the down-and-out and seek to save lost souls. The mission had a bookcase of used books to give away to the people they served. I doubt Sister Denton was aware that she had on her bookshelves a book by a leading atheist of the era.

Much of the book was over my head, but it stirred in me a passion for individualism, private property rights, limited government and freedom. I saw the distinction between those who see man as existing to be a slave to the interest of others and those who see that one’s obligation is to seek one’s own happiness. I saw a difference between those who wish to clamp down the human spirit and those who want to celebrate it. I clearly saw the distinction between those who lay claim to the wealth of others and those who are the creators of wealth and claim a right to what they create. The efficacy of the marketplace was clear, but so also was the moral argument for capitalism. After Atlas Shrugged, I went on to read The Fountainhead, We the Living, and Rand’s various collections of essays.

I again read Atlas on two other occasions, once in the mid 70’s when I was in college and again in the late 80’s. By the time I read the book the second and third time, I was better educated and better read. In some respects, I got more out of the book with subsequent readings. Having been exposed to economic theory and political philosophy I could more fully understand some concept that I am sure I did not grasp on my first reading. However, I was also less ready to accept her views unquestioningly. My belief in rugged individualism was tempered by other influences. And, ideology was tempered by practicality.

No doubt millions have read Atlas or Fountainhead and appreciated these books as steamy love stories or adventure-thrillers or mystery novels and skimmed over the political philosophy and never grasped their importance. Other however, read them and became more Randian than Rand herself. Like some Christians or Marxist, a few who become disciples of Rand spend their life trying to find the true meaning of the doctrine, they grapple with obscure hair-splitting analysis, and passionately seeks to purge from the movement those who are less pure than they. I never went there, and neither have most people who have been influenced by Rand. I have never considered myself an “Objectivist” and only for a few months in my life thought of myself as a libertarian, but the writing of Rand definitely influenced my political development.

Recently I saw in separate interviews, both former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pay tribute to Ayn Rand for their political development. Scores of influential people look to Ayn Rand as the thinker who helped develop their political philosophy. Not only did she influence political thought and economic theory but also was influential in the fields of ethics, aesthetics, and psychology. Her books have sold over 20 million copies and are still in demand and those inspired by her ideas have published numerous books and founded several academic and public policy institutes. The modern libertarian movement would not exist except for the influence of Rand.

A few months ago, I saw a replay of an interview with economist Milton Freedman. The interviewer asked him about the roll of Ayn Rand in political philosophy. He said that Ayn Rand is a “great place to start, but a poor place to end up”. I thing he is correct. There is a risk in reading Rand. A few will end up on the fringe, but most will not. Most who read Rand will be instilled with a moral basis for believing in freedom and will gain an understanding of why the collectivist impulse is morally wrong. Her work is powerful. If there is one single book that I would wish every young person would read, it is Atlas Shrugged.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

50 Years Later, Rand's Atlas Shrugged Still Relevant

By BILL VIRGINP-I COLUMNIST

For intellectual heft, the capacity to spark debate and controversy, the number of young people inspired by her writing over the decades, the endurance of her ideas as the basis of a philosophical movement, the broad influence of those ideas -- and oh yes, for the number of books sold -- she was the most important American author of the post-World War II era.

And on this, the week of the 50th anniversary of publication of her greatest work, "Atlas Shrugged," if you happen to disagree with that assertion, Ayn Rand would not be at all bashful in pointing out the grievous error in your thinking.
To continue reading: Atlas Shrugged


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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Congressman John Dingell Proposes 50-cent Gas Tax Hike to Fight Global Warming

Thursday, September 27, 2007
WASHINGTON —


Dealing with global warming will be painful, says one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress. To back up his claim he is proposing a recipe many people won't like — a 50-cent gasoline tax, a carbon tax and scaling back tax breaks for some homeowners.

"I'm trying to have everybody understand that this is going to cost and that it's going to have a measure of pain that you're not going to like," Rep. John Dingell, who is marking his 52nd year in Congress, said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press.
To continue reading: Congressman John Dingell Proposes….

My Commentary
Everyone who believes global warming is a reality and believes we must take action to combat it should rally behind this bill. It will be an uphill battle to get this bill passed and in fact, the bill is not even introduced at this point and is only a draft. However, up until this point there have been few serious attempts to deal with this important issue. Slightly increasing CAFE standards is not a serious attempt to deal with global warming and could actually be counterproductive. Higher CAFÉ standards may actually decrease the competitiveness of alternative fuels and cause American motorist to drive more.

Most people now believe global warming is a reality. Only Rush Limbaugh and a handful of other holdouts are still preaching that global warming is a hoax. The Bush administration, while not offering any real solutions, has changed its tune and now recognizes global warming as a serious problem we must combat. So while almost everyone recognizes the reality and seriousness of global warming most want painless solutions to combat it.

Many people have watched the documentary An Inconvenient Truth or 11th Hour or went to Live Earth parties and felt informed and virtuous. Being informed is good. Changing out a bad light bulb for a good light bulb is a good thing to do. Properly inflating your tires is commendable. Being entertained, feeling virtuous, and changing out a light bulb however, are not going to solve the problem of global warming. Waiting until human nature changes and people adequately value Mother Nature is not a solution nor is relying on voluntary conservation.

Unfortunately, neither will a 50-cent per gallon gas tax solve the problem. Many people think that to change the habits of American drivers and to make alternatives to carbon-based fuels competitive, we need a gas tax of about $3.00 a gallon as well as substantial taxes on other carbon fuels. A 50-cent per gallon tax however, is a start and is a much-needed structural change. It is recognition that those who put global warming emissions into the air should pay a price for doing so. The goal is not simply punitive however. People respond to pricing. If we want less emission of green house gases, we need to increase the cost of emitting green house gases. Once the structural changes are in place, the amount of the tax can be modified to achieve the desired level of reduction. Curently, there is no cost associated with putting global warming pollutants into the air; there should be. Mitigating the harmful by-products of production and consuption should be accounted for in the price structure. While a carbon tax is not the only method of combating global warming, it is by far the most efficient method.

The organization doing the most to promote a carbon tax is Carbon Tax Center. To learn more about carbon economics and why a carbon tax is the preferred method of achieving global warming emissions reduction, visit their site. This site will tell you how you can join the fight to stop global warming and specifically what you can do to support Congressman Dingell’s efforts. You can help this cause by joining and making a contribution to Carbon Tax Center.

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