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Friday, January 7, 2005 - 6:12pmSanction this postReply
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Now why the hell did they go and do that? For once they show a little backbone and now they are retreating. I just spent the last couple of days defending these fools and now they come up and pull this stunt off. I’ve always said, say what you mean and mean what you say; they said, “Nevertheless, thousands of the government's actions are more damaging to our rights. Far worse, for instance, would have been to pour the aid money into government programs and agencies whose very purpose is to violate individual rights…”

I can think of 350 million reasons why this is damaging to our rights and why this is the perfect time to talk about it. Why can’t anyone put their foot down anymore?



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Friday, January 7, 2005 - 6:21pmSanction this postReply
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Its about time for what?

Comparing this op-ed with the first, they seem to be only clarifying the title. The U.S. government not the U.S. as in everyone and everybody.




Post 2

Friday, January 7, 2005 - 6:39pmSanction this postReply
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I didn't read the original, but the rewrite has it exactly right as far as I can see.

The ARI site seems to have had a makeover since I last visited. It looks awful - spindly tiny fonts against a mass of black. Ugh! Looks as though some bloody postmodernist has done it - dark & foreboding, rather than warm & welcoming. Figures, I guess.

Linz



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Friday, January 7, 2005 - 7:40pmSanction this postReply
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The title of this post shows the irrational hate towards ARI or the principles of Objectivism (it's one or the other, or both). Tell me, what exactly was wrong with the original op-ed? Why is it 'about time'? I agreed with everything the original op-ed stated, I think the only reason for the clarification was to help non-objectivists understand what was being said. It seems also an attempt to clarify that all aid going over there from the U.S. is -not- wrong (as the title misleads); since everything in this country is paid with involuntary taxation, to target the Tsunami crisis (with an error in the title) might make some think it was talking about aid in general.



Post 4

Friday, January 7, 2005 - 9:28pmSanction this postReply
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RussK says: The title of this post shows the irrational hate towards ARI or the principles of Objectivism (it's one or the other, or both).

Sorry RussK, the title of Mrs. Branden's post does not suggest what you have stated above. However, your post does indeed show us something; that you don't know what the hell you are talking about.

George




Post 5

Friday, January 7, 2005 - 9:39pmSanction this postReply
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The tone and timing of the original piece was terrible, but I must say that the restatement is very awkward. I would suggest to them that they stop putting out shrill rudeness, but not revise it when they slip, for god’s sake.

Clarence, now is not the perfect time to talk about it. Consider the target and goal of op/eds. The target audience is not Objectivists, but the general public. The goal is to hook people who know nothing of the philosophy. People who know nothing of the philosophy will read, “U.S. Should Not Help…” as “Fuck ‘em!” and they will be turned off. Compare that to: “U.S. Can Help, We Have Smarts, Hearts and Warships…” or something like that. You don’t have to sell-out to fish for recruits, but you cannot use harshness at a time of terrible loss and expect to attract anyone.

Apparently, they actually agree. Maybe things are changing over there.

Jon




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Post 6

Friday, January 7, 2005 - 10:44pmSanction this postReply
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George, either the 'Well, well, well' is a snickering at ARI or it's a snickering at the op-ed, and I find nothing philosophically wrong with the op-ed.



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Post 7

Friday, January 7, 2005 - 11:28pmSanction this postReply
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Well Jon you could be right but all I have to say is that it was the "this is how it is" attitude that made me attracted to objectivism in the first place; it was the ARI who did it and I still respect them for it.



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Post 8

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 12:09amSanction this postReply
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Maybe YOU are right, Clarence. Sometimes, “this is how it is”, works. My introduction was The Virtue of Selfishness, at age 12. I grasped little at first and kept reading, in part because of the in-your-face smell to it. It’s difficult to balance getting attention vs. risking a bad first impression.

I respect the ARI, as well.

Jon




Post 9

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 1:10amSanction this postReply
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RussK,

I'm guessing Barbara said "it's about time" because the original article gave the impression that private individuals shouldn't be freely choosing to donate their money. So this clarification shouldn't really have been necessary - because the ARI should've made the distinction (i.e. between private aid and government aid) clearer the first time round, not 7 days later.

MH




Post 10

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 5:13amSanction this postReply
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Wait a second everyone. Let's think about this.

 

Isn’t ARI simply respecting the fact that extending a hand in an emergency is commendable? I think ARI’s article shows it is growing up. Given the context our government's commitment and involvement in many endeavors, one doesn’t single out, first and foremost, worthy actions for reform. One doesn’t start with the elimination of medical research or the condemnation of emergency help, for example. ARI is right to emphasize our opposition to constraints on productive activity, instead.

 

Perhaps this is where Axiomatic libertarians part ways with Objectivist libertarians. Axiomatics (as I call them) hold the non-initiation maxim as a deductive starting point and anything not supported by it is equally verboten – period. O’ists respect that liberty has a purpose; this modifies one’s current focus on where and how to reform the system to achieve greater liberty.

 

I think Rand’s praise of the Apollo space mission, back in 1969, might have been the first breaking point between Axiomatics and O’ists. I see ARI as continuing in Rand's tradition. Comments?

 

 

(Edited by Jason Pappas on 1/08, 6:18am)




Post 11

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 7:10amSanction this postReply
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In my reading of Rand, I've come across very few (if any) statements that being charitable or benevolent is good.  Can someone identify such statements? 

For example, wouldn't an Objectivist have to consider it immoral to take care of a relative with Alzheimer's disease?




Post 12

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 9:57amSanction this postReply
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I think the only reason for the clarification was to help non-objectivists understand what was being said.


Exactly.

'Cause, accurately communicating the ideas of Objectivism to non-Objectivists is, like, the entire point of publicity.

Unless you think that the purpose of ARI press releases should be just to remind Objectivists of what they already believe.



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Post 13

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 10:22amSanction this postReply
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I've stated previously that I believe the original op-ed was proper and that I agree with it completely. I disagree with this new op-ed stating the original was inappropriate. What I find most disturbing is that this new piece is not credited to anyone other than ARI. What's up with that?



Post 14

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 11:10amSanction this postReply
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Neil,

"My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue."
Ayn Rand, "Playboy's Interview with Ayn Rand"

"The proper method of judging when or whether one should help another person is by reference to one's own rational self-interest and one's own hierarchy of values: the time, money or effort one gives or the risk one takes should be proportionate to the value of the person in relation to one's own happiness."
Ayn Rand, "The Ethics of Emergencies," The Virtue of Selfishness

"If the person to be saved is not a stranger, then the risk one should be willing to take is greater in proportion to the greatness of that person's value to oneself. If it is the man or woman one loves, then one can be willing to give one's own life to save him or her--for the selfish reason that life without the loved person could be unbearable."
Ayn Rand, "The Ethics of Emergencies," The Virtue of Selfishness
 
Regarding benevolence, David Kelly has written Unrugged Individualism: the Selfish Basis of Benevolence. I have not read this work yet, myself, but I intend to. And I already believe benevolence to be a virtue.





Post 15

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 1:15pmSanction this postReply
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Bob,

The second ARI article states:

"The American public's predictably generous response to assist these efforts is motivated by goodwill toward their fellow man. In the face of the enormous and undeserved suffering, American individuals and corporations have donated millions of dollars in aid; they have done so by and large not out of some sense of altruistic duty but in the name of the potential value that another human being represents. This benevolence, which we share, is not the same thing as altruism."

Based on your quotes from Rand, it would appear that the ARI has a more positive view of benovelence than Rand had.




Post 16

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 7:42amSanction this postReply
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The original article did have the tone of "Not one penny for these undeserving people!!!"  and that reflects very badly on Objectivists.  What if YOU were a tsunami victim?  Would you really refuse aid?  "Oh no, that's OK, just let me die, it was my own bad luck..."

The Objectivist view on charity, as I interpret it, is that it is perfectly OK to engage in charitable giving as long as it is not a sacrifice on your part.  The best form of charity is towards people that you know personally, since you can make sure the recipients deserve it.  If you read "Letters of Ayn Rand" you will see several examples of Rand's charitable giving:  she gave "Care" packages to friends overseas during the war, financial help to relatives, and donations to the Hollywood Studio Club, which had assisted her in her youth.

As for government charity, in principle Objectivists are opposed to it since it represents an involuntary confiscation and redistribution of wealth.  But the second ARI article recognizes that in the real world, charity is one of the things governments do, and it's not the worst thing governments do.  Rand did not condemn everything the government does that was not its responsibility, thus she celebrated the Apollo moon landing - she didn't write an article condemning the waste of taxpayers' money.




Post 17

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 2:32pmSanction this postReply
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Laure,

The examples you give concern relatives or a group that helped Rand.  Based on the quote

"The proper method of judging when or whether one should help another person is by reference to one's own rational self-interest and one's own hierarchy of values: the time, money or effort one gives or the risk one takes should be proportionate to the value of the person in relation to one's own happiness."

it would seem that helping some suffering Thai who lost his family is not really desirable.  That person or his family has no impact on my life (I don't even know him).

Again, I haven't seen this issue discussed in depth by Rand scholars so my analysis here is quite tentative.




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Post 18

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 2:44pmSanction this postReply
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I quote Rand again from the Playboy interview:
There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them.
Are the people of Indonesia and Sri Lanka worthy of our aid, given their support for the Islamists, with whom we are at war? An article in the Jewish Indianapolis has the courage to ask this question.

Disclaimer: I disagree with the writer about Thailand, since it does not support the Islamists.






Post 19

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 3:12pmSanction this postReply
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Two thoughts:
1. If the ARI was looking for publicity, they did this exactly the right way. An inflammatory press release, then a retraction which contained their real message. Probably reached ten times as many people.

2. As to the reasonableness of charitable giving to strangers in need; I have a formulaic solution to this problem. Consider the population of strangers falling on a continuum of moral goodness. On one side are the human waste and the truly evil people. On the other are the creative producers and thinkers. There is some neutral midpoint. Most people of good will have no trouble giving what they are able to persons on the "good" side. It ultimately benefits us to have productive, creative people survive and be motivated by acts of good will towards them. The problem is where does this 'neutral' point lie. Do most people fall to the "bad" side or the "good" side. If you believe there are more people to the "good" side, as an objectivist, you should have no trouble with charitable giving because you know that, on net, it ultimately benefits you.



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