Thanks, Ed! There's a lot to consider. Many self-identified conservatives have been attracted to Atlas Shrugged because they see it as an anti-socialist Noah's Ark: the Flood washes away the sinful. As "preppers" they expect and hope for a protracted reversion to 19th century technology, isolated communities, and the collapse of urban culture (civilization, literally). When I stop and think about The Fountainhead, I have to wonder what Atlas Shrugged could have been like. Perhaps The Brow of Zeus would have been the better titlte, suggesting a new age of realtiy, reason, and justice, from a new Athena.rather than Samson at the Temple.
You wrote: "But with thousands of children starving to death in our world every day, Istvan believes the situation will be even worse ... But for two centuries technology has dispelled the myth of resource depletion and allowed billions of human to live long and prosper. Continued abject poverty and starvation is mostly due to a lack of free markets and property rights."
Disadvantage is relative. Looking at the Monrovia protestors being shot at and shot in the Ebola protests, I noticed that they wear the same designer clothes as the people here in Austin. In the book She's Such a Geek! a doctoral candidate frmo Indian working in a lab here laments that she has to wait for a technician to fix a pump. She grew up middle class, privileged. Her father was a manager at the Mumbai Port Trust. But he took a bus to work; they did own a car; cars are for the wealthy. Unlike her American colleagues, she never learned to fix mechanisms. So, do we suffer the loss caused by a "broken window fallacy" because we never see the Ph.D. who never came to America because we "reduced" the number of "poor" people? Are possession of products by Tommy Hilfiger and Volvo the standards of achievement?
You cited Leon Kass: “In perpetuation, we send forth not just the seed of our bodies, but also the bearer of our hopes… If our children are to flower, we need to sow them well and nurture them, cultivate them in rich and wholesome soil, clothe them in fine and decent opinions and mores, and direct them toward the highest light. ... If they are truly to flower, we must go to seed; we must wither and give ground.”
I had to look up Leon Richard Kass. He was one of President George W. Bush's science advisors. "...best known as proponent of liberal education via the "Great Books," as an opponent of human cloning, life extension and euthanasia, as a critic of certain areas of technological progress and embryo research..." -- Wikipedia. His is an old argument; and one perhaps not easily ignored. Enduring power - political, cultural, philosophical, ... ethos, Zeitgeist... - conserves itself, making change more difficult.
Newton's London was a city of young people. When we say that the "median lifespan" was 25, we get that by averaging all the old people against all the dead babies. That was not London, though infant mortality was real. The modal age was 16 to 25. China experiences the same thing now. For 20 years or more, young girls legally underage have been leaving farms and coming to Shangai and other cities to work in factories. It is the largest human migration in history. You are going to be seeing them as managers -- and millionaires... Shanghai has 3000 billlionaires (renminbi: divide by 20; they are only tens-of-millions-aires).
[There's an old university joke from the days when all graduate students were in the same college. In the dining hall, some sociologists sat down at an available table with some biologists. After the usual pleasantries and chat, the biologists excused themselves. "We have to start some cultures." The sociologists were surprised; they started laughing at the pun. Then one asked, "How do you start a culture?" I do not know. But I may be witnessing one starting spontaneously...]
Be that as it may, Kass's point must be addressed. How do we assure that our living longer does not prevent that uprising of new ideas so critical to advance and progress?
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 8/21, 7:40am)