Friday, July 28, 2017

Resurrecting an Essential Right

Here is a top-notch article by Tom McCaffrey, originally published by Canada Free Press.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of the Colorado baker who was forced, in
violation of his Christian beliefs, to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. The baker will argue that the state’s public accommodations law violates his freedom of religion and his right to “free expression.” The State of Colorado will argue that the baker’s refusal to accommodate the couple because of their homosexuality constitutes a violation of the couples’ rights.

If someone went about hitting people over the head for religious reasons, he would certainly be violating their rights. But anything less than the use of physical force infringes no one’s rights. A baker’s refusal to make a wedding cake for a couple, whatever his reason, is no more a violation of their rights than if he refused to attend their wedding.

A statute like Colorado’s that requires a person to act contrary to his religious beliefs does indeed violate his religious freedom. But freedom of religion is not the proper grounds for the Supreme Court to disallow the statute in question, because it is too narrow. An atheist might also find the idea of homosexual marriage morally offensive, but the First Amendment’s religious freedom clause would not be available to him.

Nor does it make sense to try to construe this case as a violation of the baker’s “freedom of expression,” when there is a much more natural and logical argument to be made that it is his property rights that have been violated. The baker owns the bakery where he bakes his cakes. How he uses his property—and whom he serves there—should be his business and no one else’s.

The problem with this argument, of course, and the reason the baker and his lawyers are not employing it, is that it would upset a half century of civil rights legislation and jurisprudence. Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because its Title II, which prohibited business owners from discriminating against customers on the basis of “race, color, religion, or national origin,” and its Title VII, which prohibited discrimination by employers on the basis of “race, color, sex, religion, or national origin,” constituted violations of the property rights of business owners and employers. Goldwater was right, but he paid a price for it. The baseball player, Jackie Robinson, called him “a hopeless captive of the lunatic, calculating right-wing extremists.” Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide that November.

It is not hard to see the roots of today’s political correctness in the Goldwater episode. No politician today would dare question the rightness of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But our failure to defend the institution of private property will be our undoing.

Property rights are the quintessential American right.

Property rights are the quintessential American right. More than freedom of speech or freedom of religion, property rights are what made America the country of individualism. All human endeavor requires land. All land is either publicly owned or privately owned. On public land, what an individual may or may not do must be decided collectively—by society or by the government. Only when land is privately owned may the individual decide for himself how to use it. Private land ownership is the foundation of individual rights.

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech are individual rights. The first says the individual’s right to think as he chooses takes precedence over whatever “the people” may want. The second does the same for his right to communicate his thoughts. But both depend on the existence of property rights. Try to imagine freedom of religion in a country where all the land and buildings were publicly owned—this as America goes about banning religion from public places; or imagine freedom of speech in a country in which the government owned all the means of communication.

Property rights secure the individual’s freedom to act according to the dictates of his own mind. Yet today we find ourselves in the curious position of defending the individual’s rights to think for himself and to communicate his thoughts freely, but of denying his right to act as wants. Instead, we subordinate the individual’s right to use his property as he chooses to the needs of society. We are losing touch with our individualist roots. We risk losing a great deal more in the bargain.

America’s foundational principles of the rule of law and equality before the law are premised on the primacy of the individual. Both embody the idea that one’s family background, one’s race, one’s religion, or any other such affiliations are irrelevant where the law is concerned; one stands before the law not as a member of a group, but as an individual.

The NSA’s spying on Americans, although widely criticized as a violation of their rights of privacy, was actually a violation of the property rights

The NSA’s spying on Americans, although widely criticized as a violation of their rights of privacy, was actually a violation of the property rights of the cell phone carriers who owned the phone records that the government was, in effect, confiscating.

But nothing illustrates so clearly the precarious state of our freedom as does the government’s takeover of one seventh of the private economy under the aegis of Obamacare. Such an annihilation of the individual’s rights to look after his own health, to contract with any doctor he chooses, or to forego the purchase of health insurance altogether, would be unthinkable in a country with a proper respect for property rights. (President Obama’s closing down of the coal industry by executive fiat ranks a close second. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recent decision to expand the use of civil asset forfeiture, which often involves confiscation of the property of persons convicted of no crime,
reminds us that the Democrats have no monopoly on the dismantling of our property rights regime.)

Since the the 1960s, Americans have fought a losing battle to protect their liberties from a burgeoning welfare state and an ever more intrusive regulatory state. One reason we have been losing is that we have chosen to forego an indispensable weapon in this battle, property rights. We cannot save this republic without restoring the right of private property to its proper place in our Constitution.

Tom McCaffrey is the author of Radical by Nature: The Green Assault on Liberty, Property, and Prosperity

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Fake News of Faith

"Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life." – Ayn Rand

An agnostic is an atheist who shrinks from the intellectual task of proving that God or Allah as deities do not exist and never have existed. God did not “die.” He simply never was. The task is both a simple and a difficult one. The absence of God’s meddling into man’s affairs does not constitute proof of God’s non-existence in human affairs or in temporal matters, such as in science. This was the frequent position taken by our country’s Founders, most notably by Thomas Jefferson. One can’t “prove” the non-existence of something that isn’t there and never was here or anywhere. Deists believed that God the Creator of man and the universe retreated from human affairs, and then left the scene to reside for eternity shielded from human sight on his throne somewhere behind the Crab Nebula.

God’s purported existence is analogous to a child’s believing in the tooth fairy. The child falls asleep after losing a tooth, and is assured by a parent that if she is a good girl and goes to sleep, in the morning when she wakes up she will find a tooth, or a candy, or a silver dollar under her pillow. The parent will not divulge that she will be the “miracle worker.” I was often subjected to this species of duplicitous folderol. I suspected it was duplicity, and resented it, but as a child I did not have enough knowledge to contest it.

However, this has been and continues to be the epistemological and metaphysical state of mind of adults. Most atheists fail to convince believers of the non-existence of a “supreme being.” Although dedicated atheists, agnostics, and other doubters, such as Robert Ingersoll, and for a time Mark Twain, together with a host of contemporary atheists, argued often persuasively against the organized churches of virtually every denomination, highlighting their hypocrisies, persecutions, crimes, and lapses, but they were  invariably confronted and stymied by some form of the “I just feel that God exists and so it is true” argument, and so they ultimately failed to burst the fanciful bubble of a “First Cause” (a.k.a. the “Big Bang” hypothesis) because they neglected to point out the primacy of existence. With the believers, they took existence for granted, except that the reality they perceived was not an extraneous, subjective phenomenon, as it was to the believers. They did not know how to refute or answer an argument from feeling or from the argument from innate knowledge. They could not grasp how much believers were in denial of existence and closed to reason.

For a discussion of the primacy of existence, see Ayn Rand.

The basic metaphysical issue that lies at the root of any system of philosophy [is] the primacy of existence or the primacy of consciousness.

The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness), that things are what they are, that they possess a specific nature, an identity. The epistemological corollary is the axiom that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists—and that man gains knowledge of reality by looking outward. The rejection of these axioms represents a reversal: the primacy of consciousness—the notion that the universe has no independent existence, that it is the product of a consciousness (either human or divine or both). The epistemological corollary is the notion that man gains knowledge of reality by looking inward (either at his own consciousness or at the revelations it receives from another, superior consciousness).

From my observations, believers of all types – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. – do not even bother to “look inward” in search of the “truth.” They simply accept the existence of God as received wisdom not to be questioned. They’ve believed it for most of their adult lives and largely cannot or will not allow their faith to be shaken.

Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics.. .

Existence exists, and only existence exists. Existence is a primary: it is uncreated, indestructible, eternal. So if you are to postulate something beyond existence—some supernatural realm—you must do it by openly denying reason, dispensing with definitions, proofs, arguments, and saying flatly, “To Hell with argument, I have faith.” That, of course, is a willful rejection of reason.


Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.

If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something.

If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.

If you claim knowledge of that which does not exist but which nevertheless has a tenacious hold on
Occasionally, a believer will have this thought.
your consciousness in the face of the evidence of your senses and in defiance of reason, we can say that you are claiming “fake news.” It is, as a CNN reporter said of the network’s obsessing over President Trump’s alleged Russian connections, a big “nothing burger,” a multi-millennia old “nothing burger,” responsible over eons for incalculable lives lost or lives lived in misery and in vain and trapped in fathomless troughs of hope and wishes, all vacuums of unrealizable fantasies.

CNN and its allies on the Left in and out of politics (such as Special Counsel Robert Mueller) have faith that Trump committed a crime, so they are in search of one; it doesn’t even have to have anything to do with Russia. Their hatred of Trump is an all-consuming kind of religion, and they will not let it go. Other than Islam, Trumpaphobia is the only other faith I know of that is based on sheer, naked, unadulterated malice for the man and his policies, a hatred of the good for being the good.

CNN, Mueller, and the rest of the whole fake news gang are in pursuit of their own unrealizable fantasies.they adhere to a creed that does not even have a dogma. They all believe in “what ain’t so.”

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Fraud of Faith

Recently, a leading, pro-Brexit, and articulate critic of the European Union confessed that he has “faith”: Faith in what? In the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful Deity. To judge by the encounters I’ve had with Christians (I do not have many discussions with Jews or  Muslims on the subject of God), faith for people is a form of unquestionable certitude – almost synonymous with certainty – as an emotional means of knowing the truth about God etc. thanks to their unexamined feelings. Too likely their faith in the existence or condition of something not in the real world undercuts their profession of being reality-oriented. “I know that capitalism works and sets men free and that Britain can only become stronger if it leaves the EU.”  How does he know that? Is his epistemology and metaphysics poisoned by faith?  The mental compartmentalization of his faith and the real, of the provable or demonstratable of the real versus the unprovable, makes his fealty to reality untenable.

The position of most people is: “What else is there but faith in the Almighty, in miracles, in God’s goodness, and the sublime imperative handed down by God to treat all men as brothers? God created the universe, and everything. Sure, reason has its place in man’s existence but it must keep to its place – we’re not saying that doing the Hokey Pokey will start a car’s engine, in lieu of simply turning the ignition key – however , that is the limit of reason, logic, and of what we call cause and effect. Reason and reality are not substitutes for faith,” they aver with fervor. “The evidence of the senses and reason should not be the paramount measures of authentic knowledge.” So, they say; if the emotion is real and strong enough, so must be the object of that emotion.

An unexamined, spontaneous emotional appraisal is a dangerous thing. If one feels that something is true or right, then it must be true or right. What often stuns me is to meet someone who is otherwise completely rational and reality-oriented and then to hear him admit, in passing or unintentionally, that he believes in a Deity, or in a lucky rabbit’s foot. Faith in the reality of the non-existent and unprovable, to say nothing of the acceptance as “divine” handwork of the contradictory a (such as the destructive handiwork of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions), becomes a substitute for knowledge.

Emotions are not causeless, rootless, or inexplicable. Love is not blind. Nor is hate. Even indifference to an artwork, a person, or thing, as a pre-conceptual appraisal, has an emotional base. An emotion is partly a physiological response to one’s values, or to non-values, to likes or dislikes, to attractions or fear. It is closely linked to the excitation of the nervous system, in various states and strengths, depending on the appraisal of the value seen and responded to; but it is a value one is responding to. It just does not well up within one, causelessly; the cause must be discovered and examined because it always has one. Rational introspection is a key to “knowing” whether or not one’s appraisal of a person or thing is correct or anchored in reality.
Hoping such earnest wishing will make something so
The response can be positive, such as at the sight of Michelangelo’s “David,” which would be a value because it depicts man as he can and ought to be; or to its opposite, such as the sight of a Muslim bowing to Mecca and banging his forehead on the ground until it’s black and blue in obsequious, abject submission to an ethereal entity he has never seen and never will and could never prove exists; to question the existence of Allah or the morality of Sharia is to commit the Islamic equivalent of “thoughtcrime”; one’s response to such a sight can be contempt for the person or pity or some other negative emotion, and not complimentary. Yet an emotion is governed by one’s responses to values affirmed or newly created, or to values denied, attacked, or destroyed. One must exert mental effort to discover why.
Emotions are not a sure-fire “touchstone” means to knowledge, nor should they be regarded as reliable tools to knowledge. Emotions can indicate or signal a previously unconscious appraisal of a person or a thing, but they are not by themselves knowledge. Just because one may “feel” good or bad about a person or a thing does not tell one if it is good or bad; it can only alert one to a thing’s potential, or unexamined goodness or badness. Whether or not it is one or the other will require one’s volition; it requires the initiation of thought.

Wishing in earnest for something to come true.

Ostensibly many otherwise rational individuals are guilty of compartmentalizing their rational response to values and divorcing them from their paramount values, such as “faith” in a supreme being.  They resort to compartmentalizing because they cannot let go of the mystical element of faith. Belief in a supreme being is to them an unaccountable means of adopting a moral code from somewhere. Because it has no demonstrable origin, eluding the evidence of the senses, they do not feel obligated to attempt to prove it.
In her Hoover paper, The Challenge of Dawa, Ayaan Hirsi Ali goes into detail about the differences between the Medina and Mecca Muslims, and why only the Mecca Muslims could salvage and reform Islam as a “great” faith. The “Mecca” Muslims are basically peaceful. The “Medina” Muslims are warlike and bent on conquest.  Hirsi Ali’s introduction of this analogy begins on  page 11.

The main question here should be: Given Islam’s 14 00 year, rapacious, murderous rampage among Muslims themselves (the Sunnis vs. the Shi’ites and various Islamic sub-groups)  and against the West, why would anyone want to save it as a “great” faith? Given Islam’s sociopathic and nihilist nature, how can it be called “great”?

Islam is a more fundamental, more primitive religion. Period. Not so ironically, Christianity, although older than Islam, but with its own centuries of horrors, is less consistent in its dogma and practice; Islam is the more consistent religion, given its anti-life, anti-man, anti-individual premise.

Per Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Islam teaches you to put yourself last, and only by putting yourself last will Allah reward you at the end. Selfishness is a great sin in Christianity, but in Islam it is the greatest, unforgiveable sin, because selfishness in oneself explicitly denies Allah. One is expected to consciously efface oneself in deference to Allah’s pleasure. One’s sole “selfish” value must be Allah and obeying him.

Praying to Jesus or to Allah? Does it
make a difference? God is not
even a ghost.
As a “faith,” Islam is nihilist in nature. It is programmed or designed to erase all affirmative, pro-living-on-earth values. But, on an individual basis, is not the “reward” a promise of an eternity in “Paradise for having obeyed Allah’s every command? Isn’t that, for an individual Muslim, a selfish value or motivation? As a “faith,” Christianity at least stresses the importance of individual salvation, even if one is not a conscientious practitioner of the faith. However, when Christians pray, the praying is a form of focused wishful thinking; it is centered on the values of an individual, whether or not they are real of fanciful. When a Muslim prays, it is a form of utter abnegation of the self in obsequious deference to the non-existent.

Faith in a supreme being is a belief that the shapes of tall cumulonimbiform clouds actually mean something more than being collections of water vapor or frozen crystals. To read meaning into a cotton candy cloud, if it happens to resemble a face or a thing, is to engage in a hallucination or wishful thinking. Faith is a fraud.